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Old 02-05-2008, 10:55 AM
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Default Doctors to get a grounding in herbal remedies

Doctors to get a grounding in herbal remedies

Doctors to get a grounding in herbal remedies

Harriet Alexander Higher Education Reporter
October 13, 2007

ALTERNATIVE and herbal medicines have made a break for the mainstream, with the oldest medical school in NSW choosing to incorporate complementary therapies in the curriculum.
The University of Sydney's medical school will start offering classes in herbal and traditional Chinese medicine from next year after a 10-year overhaul of the program recommended that future doctors learn how to manage the majority of their patients who will be taking complementary therapies.

The dean of the faculty, Bruce Robinson, said the aim was not to fully train them to administer the therapies, but to appreciate how they might fit it into a patient's general health plan.

Many patients do not tell their doctors they are engaged in complementary therapies, either because they fear derision or because it does not occur to them, yet sometimes those remedies react with the treatment doctors prescribe.

"What we're aiming to make sure is the students now understand the basics of acupuncture, herbal medicine and so on," Professor Robinson said.
"It's not something medical schools have traditionally embraced. Most medical schools have turned their back on this and are treating it at arm's length and in 2007 you can't afford to do that."

Kit Sun Lau, a GP for the past 50 years and acupuncturist for the past 30, said the incorporation of such therapies into the medical program was an important step forward.
He became an acupuncturist after seeing one for his own pain, and experienced such a remarkable recovery that he could not ignore it as a therapy for his own patients.
"There was a lot of resistance to it when I started, a feeling it was quackery," Dr Lau said. "But I experienced a result, so I could not turn back.
"It offers a whole lot of things not covered by the conventional medical system at the moment."

Research indicates that up to 65 per cent of the population take some form of complementary medicine. About 90 per cent of GPs have referred their patients to acupuncturists and 80 per cent have referred them to meditation.

Monash University's medical school has taught its students about the pitfalls and potential of complementary therapies in one form or other since 2001.
A senior lecturer in the faculty, Craig Hassed, said an important benefit of doctors being versed in alternative therapies was that patients felt more comfortable volunteering that they were engaged in them.

"A doctor really needs to be able to enter into this conversation in a very respectful way and to be informed," Dr Hassed said.
"Medical schools should have a more integrated and comprehensive approach … because you can't really pretend to have an educated and modern doctor not knowing about what two-thirds of the general public are doing in their health care."

The University of Sydney plans to open a joint medical research institute between its medical and pharmacy faculties and China's Sun Yat-Sen University to undertake analysis of herbal medicines and alternative therapies.

The reluctance of of medical schools to become involved in teaching such remedies in some part owes to the lack of evidence-based research that they actually work, with notable exceptions such as the use of St John's wort as an antidepressant.

Professor Robinson said trials into the efficacy of herbal medicines had not been carried out extensively in the past because they were expensive.

This story was found at: https://www.smh.com.au/articles/2007/...696173816.html

Last edited by scorpiotiger; 02-05-2008 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 02-05-2008, 03:19 PM
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"An important step forward" indeed.
You're officially invited to visit my natural health blog: www.healthyfellow.com
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