Dangers of Regulation
by Dr Patrick Quanten MD
Complementary Therapy has moved into a phase where a lot of time and effort is put into regulating and legislating therapies and qualifications. Political debates are raging about who should and who should not be allowed to practice. I would like to raise a few points in that respect that might shine a different light on these issues.
Let's first of all examine the two models that we can base medicine on. Modern medicine is build according to a model that is inert, inorganic, materialistic, mechanical, which only considers the physical body and treats the mind as a physical entity. Biochemical medicine emphasises the use of inorganic substances (drugs), mechanical testing, invasive treatment methods like surgery and a passive approach by the patient, wherein the therapy is usually applied without changes of lifestyle or awareness. It is based on dissection or study of the dead body and identifying the visible forms in the disease process. While most sophisticated in methods and information of all healing systems it is the crudest form of medicine in terms of treatment - fixing the body like repairing a machine.
The method used by Naturopathic medicine is organic, naturalistic, energetic, based upon a recognition of the life-force and its role guiding biochemical processes. It emphasises the harmonisation of the life-force through natural substances like herbs, food, diet and exercise. It often considers lifestyle and may consider psychological conditions. It deals with the general energy imbalances rather than the particular pathogens. A complete system of healing also considers the spiritual factors in the disease process and the spiritual qualities inherent in natural substances. Naturalistic medicine does not mean just employing the substances of nature on a gross level. It means recognising the intelligence inherent in nature and using substances of nature in a qualitative and conscious manner. This requires connecting with the force of nature on an inner level.
The real issue is not how complex our knowledge or treatment is on either a biochemical or naturalistic basis. It is how much we connect the patient with their own life-energy and the spiritual intelligence behind it. This often requires simplicity and a return of responsibility to the patient. Such simplicity is not a sign of lack of insight but of going to the core.
How can we be sure that it is that connection between receiver (patient) and giver (therapist) that plays the most important part in influencing the healing process?
Well, for one there is the placebo effect. After extensive research it still has not been explained by our scientists and is commonly regarded as a nuisance, a disturbing factor within research. It is so unpredictable, so unreliable and so disturbing that researchers would like to pretend it does not exist. Even the effectiveness of a placebo in a given circumstance varies greatly. In six double blind studies placebos were found to be 56% as effective as morphine in relieving pain. Why? One factor that affects the effectiveness is the method in which it is given (tablets, injections, operations, etc.). Another factor is the attitude of the doctor when he prescribes the placebo. Understanding the role that such factors play in the placebo's effectiveness is important, for it shows how our ability to control the body is molded by our beliefs. The Federal Office of Technology Assessment in the USA estimates that more than 75% of all current medical treatments have not been subjected to sufficient scientific scrutiny, a figure that suggests that doctors may still be giving placebos and not know it.
Proof that the observer changes the observed by his own beliefs, is now starting to emerge. We do know that experiments with very definite results at one centre (re-tested and confirmed) have not been reproduced at others. But the most astonishing evidence has come from quantum physics, where it has been established that the only time quanta ever manifest as particles is when we are looking at them. For instance, when an electron isn't being looked at, experimental findings show that it is always a wave, not a particle. Physicists are able to draw this conclusion because they have devised clever strategies for deducing how an electron behaves when it is not being observed. Experiments by, amongst others, Sir William Barrett, Leonid Vasiliev, the Stanford Research Institute in California, The Princeton Anomalies Research lab and Professor Charles Tart at the Davis Campus of the University of California have shown that we are deeply interconnected with each other, even when we are not consciously aware of it. Studies have shown that when a person in one room is given an electric shock, it will register in the polygraph readings of a person in another room. A light flashed in a test subject's eyes will register in the EEG readings of a test subject isolated in another room.
Taking this connection into account, we, as therapists, influence the people that have come for help, full of hope and expectation, far more than we ever realised. This also confirms the belief that the therapy is not so important, but the therapist is of vital importance. A person who is able to help a lot of other people is a good therapist, even if he/she has no or minimal qualifications. Qualifications make good technicians, not good therapists. A good therapist has to be a good person, with an honest unselfish goal in life. No qualification, no unity and conformity in training standards is going to give him/her that. And this is the greatest danger waiting around the corner for complementary therapies!
It is time for alternative practitioners to become alternative in their view of health. It is all about allowing the body's own healing powers to get to work. The effect of this is only limited by the individual's barriers to the healing; the therapy used is only important in so far the individual can relate to it and therefore allow the process of healing within himself to take place. To put the various therapies in pigeon holes, labelled with indications, cautions and side-effects, is no different from allopathic medicine and indicates a similar world view. It doesn't take into account patient "co-operation"; it does not make the patient the determining factor in the outcome of the treatment; it views no improvement in symptoms as a failure of the treatment. Within this system, it matters not whether you treat solely the body, the body energy, or the whole of the person. You have failed to see that you can be no more than a facilitator for an internal self-healing process.
I am afraid that the politics that govern the idea that allopathic research into complementary therapies is badly needed in order to give these therapies their rightful place in our society, are no more than self-indulgence trips by people that feel hard done-by in the current system. Recognition of your work only comes from the benefit people experience from asking your advice. What more do you want than the knowledge that you are helping people? Or are you afraid that your next door neighbour is a better healer but has spent less time at school? Or are you afraid that all your skills and compassion is not going to provide you with the income you feel you are entitled to? This is not about protecting the public from malpractice, this is about protecting your little patch from intrusion?
Are we going to tell mothers it is now illegal to "kiss a child's pain better" unless the mother has the proper qualifications? Has there been enough research into the effects of a kiss on an injured child? Have the side-effects been properly investigated? Is this just a placebo effect, and should therefore be ignored or sneered upon? Has the active ingredient of Love been isolated yet?
Let's not be swept away by statements made by interested parties about what people need. That is no different from adverts telling which product is the best, or the pharmaceutical industry ensuring that the only answer to our health is the pill they produce. Is society ready to make the same mistake again by regulating and consequently restricting Complementary Therapy?
Dr Patrick Quanten MD