Homeopathy: A Sweeter Pill
Five years ago, while she was expecting her third child, Lee Edgware started to suffer excruciating lower back pain. It was caused by loosening of the ligaments - a common problem during pregnancy - but Lee, 35, a biochemist from North London, found that even after she'd given birth to her son, the situation did not improve. "There were episodes of three to four days where I couldn't even hold my baby," she says. "It was so bad that I had to spend some time in a nursing home after the birth and for six months afterwards, I found it hard to get out of bed, walk or go down the stairs.
"My GP referred me to a physiotherapist, but the pain was still there," she says. "I did pilates, Alexander technique, and of course I sought conventional medical help to deal with the agony - but the only treatments available were very strong painkillers, which I didn't want to take regularly. Painkillers masked the symptoms, but didn't get to the root of the issue. So my GP sent me to the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital."
Each year some 470,000 Britons spend £25m on homoeopathic remedies, and sales are rising between 15 and 20 per cent annually. And this week, the RLHH, one of five such specialist centres, is moving back to its Queen's Square site after an £18m refit. This coincides with the recently published - and widely publicised - guide to complementary medicine by the Prince of Wales' Foundation for Integrated Health, which has been funded partially the Government.
Dr Saul Berkovitz, a consultant at the RLHH, has had as good an education as mainstream science can offer, studying at Cambridge University and Charing Cross Hospital in London.
'During my training, I began to feel there was something lacking in hospital medicine," he says. "When serious disease had been excluded, the drugs were often too strong, like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Side-effects of orthodox medication consistently rank amongst the leading causes of hospital admission, ill health and death."
Berkovitz also saw a potential "domino effect". "Say, for example, codeine has been prescribed for arthritis. This can cause constipation, so another drug is prescribed to treat that. Where does it stop? Homoeopathic treatment is a subtle process, like retuning a violin which has gone slightly out of key."
Since she first visited the hospital four years ago, Nina Barnett is in good health. She took two homoeopathic pills twice a day until the pain eased, to "tighten the ligaments", a treatment not available in conventional medicine. If the pain comes back, she needs to take them again until it eases, and for two weeks afterwards.
"I'm not saying they waved a magic wand because that didn't happen," she says. "But five years down the line, I'm much better. Since my treatment, I hardly ever need any painkillers, despite cutting back on exercise and having no physiotherapy."
The above article is based on extracts from the full article which appeared in The Independent newspaper in the UK on 14 June 2005, written by Miranda Levy.
Posted on June 21, 2005 07:48 PM
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