'Old' treatments enter new age

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 March, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 March, 1993, 12:00am

THERE are believed to be several thousand holistic practitioners in Hongkong.

Much of holistic healing is described as ''New Age'', even though some of it - such as acupuncture and homeopathy - is centuries old.

Exponents of holistic healing say unlike conventional medicine it deals with a person on all levels - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

They believe that while orthodox medicine treats only the symptoms of an ailment, alternative treatments go directly to the cause. It is preventative medicine, essentially causing a person to change his or her lifestyle and beliefs in order to attain lasting good health.

Natural substances are used - plants, herbs and flowers - as it is believed chemicals should not be put into the body unless absolutely necessary.

Many holistic treatments take much longer to work than those of orthodox medicine, so clients (the word patient is rarely used) are advised they will have to invest a lot of time and money to have ailments treated and prevent others.

Many holistic practitioners prefer to use the term ''complementary'' medicine, as they believe there is still a place for orthodox health care.

The worry is that the popularity of holistic medicine has led to the development of vague, ''fringe'' treatments which have little scientific basis.