HEALING ALTERNATIVES by ZOLTAN P. RONA, M.D., M.Sc. There are over 100 different types of

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HEALING ALTERNATIVES by ZOLTAN P. RONA, M.D., M.Sc. There are over 100 different types of alternative healing modalities currently offered by an army of practitioners in Ontario. Some have a long history of acceptance (herbology, acupuncture, homeopathy, biofeedback, etc.) while others are less understood (radionics, mind mirrors, crystal healing, etc). Assessing the pros and cons of each would be a gargantuan task suitable for a major study or book. Give me another 30 years or so and I'll get back to you with it. The way I view all of these is rather simple and likely to change as time goes by. First of all, few, if any of these practices could be considered alternatives to standard medical care for diagnosed diseases. If anything, they might qualify under the heading of "Complementary Medicine". This means that once medical therapy has been instituted, some of these other modalities could be additionally employed to enhance healing. My primary concern at that level is the safety of the modality in question. If the practice somehow interferes with ongoing medical treatment, it cannot be considered safe. For example, the use of certain herbs in the treatment of rectal bleeding as an alternative to appropriate medications can make the problem worse. Another example would be the use of macrobiotic diets for a resectable (curable) breast cancer as "alternative" therapy. There are no alternatives when it comes to disease. There are also no guarantees but there are standards of acceptable practice enforced by laws designed to protect the public. Now, I know there will be many readers out there who will argue that all these laws do is protect the medical monopoly. But, I strongly feel that the line has to be drawn somewhere. The powers that be (governments, medical associations, etc.) are fairly open to complementary practices, an emphasis on wellness and a well-informed public that takes more responsibility for health care. Arguably, at this time, this is based on cost saving concerns, but it's at least a step in the right direction. If an Aryuvedic doctor (see "Quantum Healing" by Dr. Deepak Chopra) can help an individual get to the root of why he or she has a diagnosable disease in the first place, the intuitive complementary therapy may be of great help in getting the medical treatment to work better. No authority would prevent such a thing and I doubt there is any record of such occurring in the past five years in any event. What about the effectiveness of all these complementary modalities? Here's where I have a problem. If I am to make a judgment on radionics, for example, how do I do this? Like past life regression therapy, trance channeling, Christian fundamentalism, hypnosis, aura reading, reflexology and many others, the scientific evidence (clinical trials, double-blind studies, etc.) just aren't there. The same, however, can be said for about 80% of all currently available medical and surgical therapies including coronary bypass surgery. To therefore condemn a modality on the basis of "it's not scientific" would eliminate at least 80% of the products in any drug or health food store. It would eliminate a far higher percentage of medical alternatives which may prove to have some indispensable value in years to come. I think we have to be conscious of other ways of evaluating data and therapeutic modalities than the scientific. I don't know yet what these are with any degree of certainty so I keep studying. I like to keep an open mind. I occasionally fill it with data and expectations of benefit for my patients when a new or different modality presents itself, but, more often than not, empty it as I gain further data and experience. Who knows? Two hundred years from now, someone will read this article and think to himself, "Boy, how come this guy didn't realize that no therapy really works and it's all in the way we use both sides of our brain synchronously?"

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