Homeopathy slur 'a scandal'

KATE SAUNDERS
Last updated 05:00 20/04/2011
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A New Plymouth doctor says a medical researcher's claim that homeopathy is crazy is a "national scandal".

Dr Joe Rozencwajg, of Natura Medica Ltd, has been practising natural medicine in New Plymouth for 10 years and said homeopathy can be successful.

"We (homeopaths) know what we are doing, we are properly trained and we should be given the minimum respect we deserve."

He said homeopathy was a medical approach that was different from conventional medicine in that it treated the patient, not the symptom.

His comments come in the wake of Tauranga general practitioner and adjunct professor at Victoria University Shaun Holt's claim that GPs should not be using homeopathic medicine or referring to homeopaths.

The long-time critic of homeopathy's campaign to discourage referrals was triggered by a directive from the Medical Council last month informing doctors of the standards of practice in regards to alternative medicine.

The council did not oppose it if patients were well informed regarding effectiveness and there were proven benefits.

"I'm just trying to educate people about what it involves so they can see that it's totally crazy," Professor Holt said. "My major concern with it is it clearly doesn't work at all. In itself it's not dangerous but it's when people use it instead of treatment that works that there's a problem."

Professor Holt said people with serious illnesses, such as depression and cancer, could suffer serious consequences by using homeopathy.

"So many doctors refer people to a homeopath but doctors themselves aren't sure what it entails. More than 90 per cent of patients don't understand what it is."

Dr Rozencwajg said the comments were a "national scandal" that were offensive to GPs too as, according to Professor Holt's writing, 15 per cent of GPs use homeopathy.

He said the basic principle of homeopathy – that substances that create a problem in a healthy person, prepared properly, can alleviate the same symptom – had been demonstrated conventionally with Ritalin treating Attention Deficit Disorder.

With over 25 years experience as a doctorin Belgium South Africa and Israel, Dr Rozencwajg was inspired by alternative medicines after personal experiences.

Homeopaths are voluntarily registered in New Zealand and Dr Rozencwajg belongs to the Council of Homeopaths.

When asked if GPs in New Plymouth referred to him, Dr Rozencwajg said the answer was yes and no.

"I've never received a written referral but a certain number of GPs here say to their patients maybe they should have a look at homeopathy. There's still a kind of black stigma on it. I believe some GPs are scared of it because they can be told off by the medical council."

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Dr Rozencwajg was happy to refer patients to those practising conventional medicine and said "everything had its place".

"No homeopath in his right mind will discard any other techniques. The difference is we don't hurt people. The only side-effect we sometimes have is that a treatment doesn't work."

He said his waiting room was empty because he "treated his patients too well so they don't need to come back frequently".

Professor Holt acknowledged that people were increasingly turning to alternative medicine.

"I think that may be to do with dissatisfaction with medicine and bad experiences with the public health system."

He believed the reason homeopaths did well was because they had long consultation times.

- Taranaki Daily News

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