Across the pond, practitioners in the UK have many of the same woes we do - battling the skeptics and the critics. Oriental Medicine is not a system of healing that lends itself to traditional research methods and as a result, most of the studies out there are small with plenty of limitations that fuel traditionalist criticisms. Thankfully, there are competent, educated practitioners like Nina Wilson who defend the wrote and tired attacks our profession.
Published on 26/05/2006
Healing hands: Nina Wilson believes that complementary therapies could save the NHS money By Pamela McGowan
THERAPISTS have defended their profession after a group of leading UK doctors this week labelled complementary medicine as "bogus" and "unproven."
The critics urged NHS trusts to stop using treatments such as homeopathy and Reiki because of a lack of evidence that it does any good.
But west Cumbrian therapist Nina Wilson, who practices oriental body balance and acupuncture, has hit back at the comments.
She said she has seen how acupuncture can help to heal people who have had no luck with western practices.
This includes back and neck problems, muscle strains and repetitive strain injuries, which often results in patients having to undergo surgery if seen by western doctors, she said.
Miss Wilson, who is based in Whitehaven, added that it is hard to carry out controlled, clinical tests into treatments like acupuncture because unlike western techniques, it does not focus solely on a specific problem and it varies with every individual.
But she said that in China it is used alongside conventional medicines in hospitals and some patients choose it as an anaesthetic when having major operations.
She believes the UK government could actually save money if it were to make complementary medicines available on the NHS, alongside existing treatments.
"I treat a lot of people who have been able to go back to work after being off with long-term injuries. That saves money," she said.
The criticism of alternative practices was made in a letter written by 13 medics and sent to 476 health trusts.
In north Cumbria, the primary care trusts do not directly fund any such treatments. However a spokeswoman told the News & Star that if a doctor or physiotherapist was trained to carry out a procedure such as acupuncture and decided to use it, it would be covered.
Carlisle Reiki teacher and hypnotherapist, Marion Dunlop, has also worked as a nurse and believes the two approaches can work together in harmony.
She said billions of pounds have been spent on research into western medicine. However, complementary therapies have not had that investment to prove or disprove their effectiveness.
"I would argue that just because the scientific evidence isn't there it doesn't mean it doesn't exist," she said. "People existed for thousands and thousands of years before we had western medicine and survived."
But she added: "I am not knocking western medicine. We always view ourselves as complimentary."