Prince Charles Urges the WHO to Make Use of Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

At the 2006 World Health Assembly in Geneva, the annual meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO), Prince Charles addressed the 192 members of the Assembly for approximately thirty minutes, urging the WHO to better support the utilization of complementary medicine in the healthcare of patients the world over, according to the Associated Press. Stressing the benefits of traditional therapies, particularly acupuncture and herbal medicines, Prince Charles advocated a better blend of available medical therapies, and encouraged the WHO to think twice about relying primarily on Western medical knowledge.

Concerned that an enormous amount of valuable medical knowledge was being wasted, and even lost, as Western physicians eschew the use of therapies that did not originate in the West, Charles stated that he believed that the “proper mix of proven, complementary, traditional and modern remedies, which emphasize the active participation of the patient, can help to create a powerful healing force in the world,” reported the AP. “This is where orthodox practice can learn from complementary medicine, the West can learn from the East and new from old traditions. Many of today’s complementary therapies are rooted in ancient traditions that intuitively understood the need to maintain balance and harmony with our minds, bodies and the natural world,” Charles continued.

Acupuncture is a form of medicine that originated in China and has been practiced in the East for over 3,000 years. Despite the incorporation of modern Western medical techniques into the medical centers of the countries of the Eastern Hemisphere, acupuncture remains a uniform medical therapy. The practice of acupuncture has been gaining in popularity in the West over the past twenty years, and several clinical trials support its efficacy in the treatment of certain conditions. Prince Charles would like the WHO to take a closer look at the practice and to support its use worldwide.

Prince Charles would also like the WHO to consider the benefits of Herbal Medicine. According to Charles, herbal remedies have low incidence of side effects while showing positive results, the AP reports. Currently not subject to FDA investigation or regulation, herbal medicines are available over the counter, without the requirement of clinical trials or intensive testing to prove their safety and efficacy. However, despite the fact that they are not required, clinical trials have been performed to study the success of herbal medicines, and several of the studies have showed promising results for their use.

Because of the loose regulations around herbal medicines, many health organizations refrain from supporting their use. A long time advocate of complementary and natural medical remedies, Prince Charles urged the WHO to take another look at herbal medicines and to support their use throughout the world. As quoted in the Associated Press, Charles stated “I believe that the proper mix of proven complementary, traditional and modern remedies, which emphasizes the active participation of the patient, can help to create a powerful healing force in the world.”

Prince Charles was applauded by the members of the WHO who were in attendance at the World Health Assembly, but it remains to be seen just how far their warm reception of his words will go toward better WHO support for the utilization of complementary medical therapies like acupuncture and herbal medicine.

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