Herbal effect

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 April, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 April, 1994, 12:00am

''HOO-HA Over Herbal Cures'' (South China Morning Post, March 16) did little justice to ''alternative medicine'', including the use of Chinese medicine in Britain.

The truth is somewhat different. A recent survey published in a medical journal found that many British doctors are turning to ''alternative'' courses of treatment which are proving to be at least, if not more, as effective as medical drugs.

Many hospitals in the UK are using alternative therapies. The British Government has also said that GPs can provide, and refer patients for a variety of complementary therapies - such as acupuncture, herbal treatment and homeopathy.

The minority of serious side-effects recently attributed to herbal medicines pales to insignificance when compared to the widespread problem of side-effects of medical drugs. A recent study in the US confirmed previous such British studies in showing that 10 per cent of all hospitalisations were the result of patients suffering severe side-effects to conventional drugs. And 50 per cent of those so admitted had been prescribed their medicines by pharmacists.

New data has emerged that shows the under-accounting of vaccine-induced serious health problems. The problem will continue to rise until less dangerous complementary therapies take a wider role in modern medicine.

To point the finger at a small area of such therapies while ignoring the much wider implications does no service to the patient body.