My dabble with alternative medicine began and ended quickly during the onset of labour.

The lavender oil I had believed would ease my first child's entry into the world in an aromatic haze was tossed out in favour of a chemical concoction shot into my arm faster than you can say anaesthetist.

Since then I have not been a fan of alternative medicine. I don't believe arnica helps with bruising.

Tea tree oil may smell nice but it doesn't nuke the nits like ParaPlus, and I think a headache is best cured by paracetamol rather than an arrangement of needles in the skull.


I'm even more cyncial about homeopathy.

In the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend it was reported that New Zealand doctors are expected to back the findings of an Australian study that says homeopathic remedies do not work.

A draft paper released last week by Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council stated homeopathic remedies were no more effective than a placebo when used to treat 68 health conditions.

Conducted by a working committee of medical experts, the paper assessed 57 clinical studies that tested homeopathic remedies on a range of ailments including asthma, arthritis, sleep disturbances, cold and flu, eczema, burns and even heroin addiction. It concluded there was no reliable evidence that homeopathy was effective.

One could argue that the placebo effect could be a viable medicine in itself, if it makes one feel better.

But if people are swayed into expensive consultations with homeopaths and prescriptions that are not supported by the regulatory requirements of medicine, then sick people are being potentially misled.

The paper does not go as far as suggesting a ban of homeopathy, but if it is supported by New Zealand doctors, then hopefully people will examine homeopathy more closely before shelling out.

In my view, the first step in treating an unwell person should first be a medical diagnosis.

Some natural and complementary approaches to healing do have a valuable place but should be recommended by practising doctors who have knowledge in conventional medical science.