Australian assault on natural therapies?

The Medical Board of Australia (MBA) has instituted a public consultation that could end up drastically restricting access to natural therapies. Whilst the stated intent is to seek feedback on options for clearer regulation of medical practitioners who provide complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments, the endgame may be more wide reaching. The MBA is justifying the move by stating that, “The draft guidelines aim to prevent harm that may occur directly from the complementary and unconventional medicine or emerging treatments or indirectly, from delays in accessing other treatments”. The consultation targets a wide range of natural health therapies including homeopathy and naturopathy along with regulated professions such as chiropractic, osteopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture. The guidelines also target complementary and alternative medicines such as food supplements and herbal medicines. This follows recent reforms to private health insurance that will remove a wide range of natural therapies from being covered. Whilst the consultation is limited to medical professionals who practice other forms of medicine, this is likely the thin end of the wedge given the Australian government's long-term disdain for natural medicine. If, like us, you believe in protecting freedom of choice in healthcare, then please share your concerns with the MBA and pass on the message to your friends so they can also be heard. Submissions should be marked 'Consultation on complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments' and be emailed to [email protected] by close of business 12 May 2019.

Assault on Irish VAT campaigners

The backlash on campaigners fighting the imposition of VAT on food supplements in Ireland has (predictably) started. Equally predictably is that it’s being led by a renowned skeptic, David Robert Grimes. In his article for the Irish Times he claims ‘non-medical’ supplements are ineffective, may be harmful and are no better than snake oil. Despite his claims, there are literally thousands of published research papers showing supplements can yield substantial benefits to large numbers of people. Compared to the level of harm from pharmaceutical drugs and medical interventions, any potential risk from food or botanical supplements is minute. Whilst a healthy diet is always the preferred option to obtain the nutrients, cofactors and bioactives needed, there are times when this is not possible, which is where supplements – concentrated nutrients in dose form – come in. We believe continued consumer access to supplements is vital wherever you live, which is why we’ll continue to campaign for freedom of healthcare choice.

Naturopathy is effective

Flying in the face of continued attacks on complementary medicine, a new review adds to the growing body of evidence showing efficacy of natural therapies. Confirming the effectiveness of naturopathic interventions for a range of complex chronic conditions, the review included 33 studies from across the globe. It places the Australian government’s decision to remove private health insurance rebates for naturopathy (and other natural health therapies) further under the spotlight. Naturopathy and other natural health therapies are pivotal in empowering citizens to take responsibility for their own health and relieving the burden on already overstretched health systems. A key tenet of the ANH-Intl health sustainability blueprint is the development and use of a system that promotes health creation rather than disease management.

GM in the news

Despite reports from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), South African biosafety authorities and the Tanzanian Government stating Monsanto’s GMO drought-tolerant maize (MON87460) doesn’t perform as advertised, GM advocates continue to push it on unsuspecting developing African nations. As the pressure to accept GM crops continues to mount, the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) decision to refuse access to the toxicity studies used to approve the pesticide, was wrong. The Court ruling indicated that the public’s right to access information on EFSA’s decision overrides the protection of commercial interests as glyphosate is intended for release into the environment. This comes as the Ramazzini Institute releases a new study, echoing previous studies in showing the detrimental effects of exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides. This study is more powerful than previous ones as it demonstrates reproductive and developmental effects in male and female rats at a dose currently considered safe in the US (1.75 mg/kg bw/day). As evidence grows against the use of GM crops and their associated chemical counterparts, how long will it be before regulators put the protection of citizens and the planet ahead of their crony connections?

Statin controversy continues

The controversy over statins continues with the publication of a new study reporting a 38% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in patients who have used statins at any time. Following 9,535 people aged over 45 years over a 15-year period, the study supports previous findings that statins impair insulin production. This brings into sharp focus the need for fully informed patient choice and consent when to comes to patients deciding whether or not take prescribed drugs, particularly one as controversial as statins. For more on the ongoing ‘statin wars’ read Rob Verkerk PhD’s recent report.

The new ‘high’ of UK blood pressure

The over-medicalisation of healthy patients is set to continue with the announcement from the UK’s National Institute for health and Care Excellence (NICE) of draft guidelines proposing a lowering of the criteria for the diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure. In what would amount to a huge windfall for Big Pharma, NICE estimates around 450,000 men and 270,000 women aged under 80 years could become eligible for medication. Responding to the consultation, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) warned against overdiagnosis recommending instead the use of “weight control, careful diet and better exercise” to manage blood pressure. Fundamental to stemming the rising tide of chronic disease is a move away from health systems seeking disease in individuals to one that promotes health as outlined in our health sustainability blueprint.