Health And Wellness Tips & Information

Should alternative medicine be brought under mainstream regulation?

"Quacks fly in all directions as alternative medicine regulation fails: As panic and confusion spread among the practitioners of alternative medicine, Martin Robbins calls for the industry’s products and practices to be brought under mainstream medical regulations"

"Why is there a need for an alternative medicine regulator in the first place? This question has never been answered satisfactorily. Either a product is a medicine, in which case it should be allowed to make health claims and be regulated as a medicine by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), or it is not, in which case it shouldn’t be allowed to make health claims and should be regulated in the same way as, say, a packet of Tic-Tacs."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/apr/16/quacks-alternative-medicine-regulation

Comments?
‘Know The Cause’, I’d rather you answer the question please. I want intelligent feedback.
Mr E: I guess you are not across the Simon Singh/British Chiropractic Association issue. The problem there is that chiropractor members of the self regulating organisation have been making bogus claims in their marketing about being able to heal childhood diseases, like asthma. This is a good example of a requirement for proper regulation. Thanks to Simon and others, one out of four chiropractors are now under investigation in the UK.
Aristo, thanks for the answer, but clearly alt med is unable to regulate itself in terms of its lack of efficacy, RCTs, safety, bogus claims and products, etc. So who should be policing all these things? So far the consumer only have the skeptics on their side.
Lightning: I think you are trying to make individual cases to muddy the waters. Surely if alt med in general is making health claims, then in the public’s interest they should be governed by the same general regulation as mainstream medicine, which also makes health claims? And I’m sure osteopaths, if they meet the proper criteria could be represented in the regulatory authority.

Fallacies and self contradictions aside, thanks for the detailed answer.

But you lost at me at ‘reductionist’ You are now entering woo territory.

And the sexism was uncalled for, btw.
Rhianna, "It must be remembered that not all herbals will be effective, many conventional drugs are put through testing, only a handful make it." Good point.

Hi Gary.

Yes, absolutely. If the AltMed industry want to continue making health claims then it should be put on the same evidence base as conventional medicine, this will make the practice safer and maybe less people will be scammed. AltMed is a multi billion dollar industry….the vast majority of it unregulated. Now things like homoeopathy, acupuncture and Reiki would fail at the first hurdle because they are completely implausible and this is one of the reasons why the alties claim such activities should not be subject scientific and clinical evidence.

However, where herbals are concerned, there is an absolute need for tighter regulations as they contain active ingredients and have the ability to cause the same side effects as conventional drugs if taken incorrectly. Putting herbals on evidence base may actually be very beneficial for herbalists because it may help to prove efficacy. Right now, herbals are a bit of a minefield. They are essentially unregulated drugs. When buying herbals in a shop there is no way of knowing the exact quantity of the active ingredient in the drug and some have been found to be contaminated with with various other chemicals.

There is no specific standard of efficacy and safety with most herbal remedies. Most haven’t been thoroughly tested for efficacy, drug interactions, toxicity and teratogenicity. In the UK, steps are being taken to make this practice a little more safe. Herbal remedies in the UK are probably quite weak, so some may argue that the risk of toxicity is low, but there is no way to measure this.

It must be remembered that not all herbals will be effective, many conventional drugs are put through testing, only a handful make it. And lets not forget, herbals are better, more effective and safer when they are standardised.

@ Lightning: I agree with the "nanny state" comment, but where health care is concerned, regulation is important, as I am sure you can agree.

I’m all for allowing people the freedom to make an informed decision, however if you walk into a shop and pick up a herbal drug, how can you make an informed decision if you don’t know whats in it?