Tighter regulation of complementary medicine is urgently required.
The dramatic capture of Radovan Karadzic, the “butcher of Bosnia”, dominated headlines this week. For many, his arrest has stirred up images of horror, but the whole episode also had something of the surreal about it.
Karadzic, a war crimes suspect and former psychiatrist, had reinvented himself as a complementary therapist. I was intrigued by his business card, which was headed: “human quantum energy”. I think you'll find that's Serbian for “bollocks”.
For those offering talking and complementary therapies, the revelation of Karadzic's success as an energy healer was unfortunately timed. It came in the same week that the woman who suffered brain damage while on a “hydration diet” recommended by a nutritionist had been awarded £800,000 and regulation is in the air.
New occupational standards for psychological therapies are being developed, for instance. As Andrew Billen outlined in The Times last week, they haven't gone down well with psychoanalysts, who complain that they reduce their profession to a series of tick-box questions.
There are other moves to protect the public in non-medical fields, with 12 types of complementary practitioners set to be regulated by a Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council. The idea is to provide a one-stop shop for the public to check out, via a website, a practitioner's fitness to practise.
But is there ever going to be a way to regulate the wilder fringes of alternative therapy? Many are based on fashion, not science. In fact, lack of research means that the mechanism of most is hazy. If people feel the benefit, it may be largely through belief in the practitioner. How can that be regulated?
Source - Daily Mail