Saturday, 22nd September 2018
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I read recently that the British National Health Service is set to end mainstream public funding of homeopathy. A clinic in Bristol was the last place to offer such a service in the UK, after the homeopathic treatment ceased to be offered at the Royal London Hospital of Integrated Medicine in April.

Amazingly, the trust that runs the clinic in Bristol said that homeopathy has been available there since 1852. Homeopathy will now only be offered to patients in exceptional circumstances.

Obviously, as a qualified homeopath who has been in clinic for some 20 years, I am a little biased, but the NHS's decision saddens me. I have worked in both traditional and complementary medicine for more than 35 years, and based on my experiences, I believe we should at least be exploring how different systems of medicine can help patients to heal.

In China, herbal medicine, acupuncture, cupping, breathing and massage are all part of the healthcare system. Ayurvedic medicine is one of several forms of traditional medicine used in India. Wander into a French pharmacy, and the chances are you will find a section offering homeopathic remedies. So there are examples across the world where complementary and traditional medicine happily exist side by side. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the same is also true closer to home. I know of various cancer societies, institutional survivor groups and suicide prevention charities who have recognised the benefits of complementary medicine, massage, acupuncture and so on, and who offer these treatments to their members. If the feedback I have heard is anything to go by, those receiving the treatments find them incredibly beneficial. Complementary medicine can help a patient who doesn't respond to the traditional approach, and it can also benefit them in a different way. I have a good friend who is the most wonderful masseuse, and she has helped many cancer patients to rediscover the amazing healing powers of touch.

Imagine if the HSE and Irish government took a similarly enlightened approach to those charities, societies and groups. The HSE's budget for 2018 is a huge €14.5 billion, and I would love to see even a tiny fraction of that money devoted to exploring what complementary medicine has to offer. My dream of seeing a hospital where complementary and traditional medicine co-exist is sadly some way off, but in the meantime, I strongly believe that we should be learning from the systems in other countries, and investing in more research into the different options for patient care.

Breda Gardner Homeopath, lcph, mcos rgn runs busy natural health clinics in both Waterford and Kilkenny.

Contact Health Therapies Clinic, 13 Gladstone Street, Waterford. Tel: 087 2025753 or Insight Natural Health Clinic, 15 Upper Patrick St, Kilkenny. Tel: 056 7724429.

She also presents monthly positive living seminars in Kilkenny. A native of Galway, Breda worked as a nurse for many years before studying a range of complementary therapies, including homeopathy, iridology, muscle–testing and nutrition.

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