Byron Bay naturopath Reine DuBois says complementary and alternative medicine is gaining more widespread acceptance, including among the medical fraternity.
Byron Bay naturopath Reine DuBois says complementary and alternative medicine is gaining more widespread acceptance, including among the medical fraternity. Kate O’Neill

Journal attacks medical options

ALTERNATIVE therapies like naturopathy and homeopathy cannot be dismissed as “a waste of time” and should go hand-in-hand with conventional medical practice, says Byron Bay complementary medicine practitioner, Reine DuBois.

Ms DuBois was responding to comments from the University of NSW's Emeritus Professor of Medicine, John Dwyer, in this month's edition of The Medical Journal of Australia, in which he says treatments like homeopathy, iridology and reflexology are “useless”.

Professor Dwyer argues that it is unethical to prescribe alternative treatments that lack an evidence base and to do so is to abandon scientific medicine.

“Consumers of health care are increasingly exposed to a plethora of nonsense (non-science ) claims that waste their money, distance them from effective health care strategies and not infrequently, cause harm,” he writes.

But Ms Dubois, who has been practicing naturopathy and homeopathy for 12 years, said Australians spend $2 billion on complementary therapies each year because they are safe and they work.

“Complementary and alternative medicines have a much lower rate of side effects and the public like this option,” she said.

People also wanted more than the 15 minute consultation and prescription provided by a conventional GP, she said.

Ms DuBois, who plans to open a $5 million integrative health facility in Byron Bay next year, said the effectiveness of many alternative therapies and medicines may not have been scientifically proven, but seeing results among her patients was proof enough.

Alstonville GP and member of the Northern Rivers General Practice Network, Tony Lembke, said many patients chose complementary therapies and many appeared to benefit from their choice.

But he said it was a GP's responsibility to let patients know what treatments have been shown to be effective, what treatments are not effective and what have been shown to be unsafe.



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