Prince Charles was recently accused of being a ‘snake oil salesman’ because of his support for complementary therapies like homeopathy, and also because he supports the Duchy Originals Detox Tincture products.
Professor Edzard Ernst - who claims to be one of the leading researchers in the field - called so-called ‘snake-oil salesmen’ dangerous and in a comment that he made to the Guardian, he said, "There are no official criteria for a snake oil salesman, but if they existed, I think Charles would fulfil them."
Personally, I think it’s pretty unfair to have a go at Charles for accepting that there are other ways to treat illness than drugs, and my background in spas and complementary health means that although I’ve come across some pretty daft therapies on my travels (I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw a friend having a ‘Sound Reflexology’ treatment many years ago) I do strongly believe that most forms of holistic therapy are valid.
There have been plenty of studies backing up holistic therapies – here’s a few.
1. Acupuncture – great for pain relief (it sorted my back out many years ago) lower back pain, headaches and arthritis. German researchers tracked more than 3,000 people suffering from osteoarthritis in their knee or hip – the people who had acupuncture felt significantly more pain relief than the people who didn’t.
2. Hypnosis – meant to be very effective for pain relief, tension headaches, anxiety and insomnia. Doctors at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City look at 80 studies and found that In 89 per cent of surgical patients who had been hypnotised needed less pain medication and recovered faster.
3. Massage. We all know a massage feels good but it’s also great for treating stress, back pain and anxiety. Studies conducted at the University of Miami proved that massage relieves back pain, and also improved the immune system in women who had breast cancer.
4. Tai chi can be used to improve balance and posture – and in a study which involved 278 elderly people at Vrije University in Amsterdam, people who did tai chi three times a week for six months had 50 per cent fewer falls.
5. Yoga. Can help to calm body and mind so it’s perfect for stress relief, but it’s also good for lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and depression. In a study that took place at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, 98 people suffering from heart disease or diabetes practiced yoga postures and breathing techniques and then reported significant reductions in their total cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Still think it’s all snake oil, Mr Ernst? What do you think, have you had a good (or bad) experience with holistic therapy, at a spa in the UK or anywhere else?