Junkfood Science: Deep cleansing breath

January 10, 2007

Deep cleansing breath

In an excellent post, Shinga at Breath Spa For Kids continues the debate over homeopathy’s role in medicine, adding insightful perspectives from across the pond where Prince Charles openly supports alternative modalities.

As was discussed in Should we care what works and what doesn’t?, alternative remedies are being increasingly prescribed by some healthcare providers, despite concerns raging in medical journals for their disregard of science. Shinga describes a paper in a recent issue of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology finding most prescriptions for homeopathic remedies in Scotland are being written by just 5% of the doctors and most prescriptions are written for babies.

Women are the most receptive to alternatives, the research shows, and her post shares interesting information and asks fascinating questions about the commonest alternative prescriptions and why women are embracing them.

She kindly references a Junkfood Science Special, Healing Water, in discussing the lack of scientific support and ethical issues surrounding homeopathy in medicine. As doctors raise important questions about the efficacy of homeopathy and alternatives in the UK’s National Health Service and why they are being prescribed so frequently, Shinga says concerns are growing about their possible harm. One troubling fact the researchers found was that 4% of the patients who were prescribed a herbal remedy were also prescribed a drug that is known to interact with herbal medicines. They also worry if patients are able to discuss these therapies and their concerns over conventional medications with their doctors and receive sound information.

Shinga writes:

Dr. McLay criticised the prescription of homeopathic remedies to children. Speaking to The Herald, he commented that many doctors had told him they use homeopathic remedies as placebos in children to pacify the parents....From the study in Scotland, it would seem as if some doctors feel conflicted about prescribing homeopathic or herbal remedies but do it in order to preserve a therapeutic relationship with a patient or, where relevant, the parents.

She closes by asking a penetrating question:

Although the prescriptions may be offered for the best of motives, should they be dropped from the NHS inventory of prescription medicines because they are only prophylactic against awkward conversations?

Recommended reading!

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