Royal Alternative Medicine

In recent decades homeopathy has become one of the fastest-growing forms of alternative medicine, particularly in Europe. The proportion of the French population using homeopathy increased from 16 per cent to 36 per cent between 1982 and 1992, while in Belgium over half the population regularly relies on homeopathic remedies. [1]

Providing placebo therapies for patients is much cheaper than providing real medical treatment. Thus alternative medicines offer a cheap alternative to those members of the ruling class intent on gutting existing health services.

The Prince of Wales, a long-standing opponent of modernism, consequently sees alternative medicine as the way forward. For example, in recent years he commissioned a report into the efficacy of various alternative treatments, which was undertaken by the former economic editor at The Sunday Times, Christopher Smallwood.

Disturbingly, the ensuing Smallwood Report concluded that almost £200 million could be saved if only 4 per cent of British GP’s were to primarily offer homoeopathic treatments. With such (mis)solutions on hand it is equally worrying that Smallwood himself is currently the chairman of the St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust.

In 1993 in order to formalize his lobbying efforts on behalf of complementary therapies, the Prince of Wales set up the now-defunct Foundation for Integrated Health. The Prince then worked his magic on the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which from 2003 until 2012 allowed the former head of the Foundation for Integrated Health (1998-2008), Michael Fox, to serve on their influential board of directors.

Such Royal connections helped paved the way in late 2006 for the controversial decision by the MHRA to introduce rules to allow homeopathic remedies to specify the ailments for which they can be used to “treat.”

Here one might observe that vocal supporters of this anti-scientific decision in the House of Lords included Lord Colwyn (who is a patron of the National Federation of Spiritual Healers, and vice-president of the Blackie Foundation Trust which provides grants to support homeopathic practitioners and counts HRH Princess Alexandra as their patron) and the 30th Countess of Mar (a campaign hero of The Ecologist magazine).

Other than the Prince of Wales, the one other man who played a critical role in founding the Foundation for Integrated Health was the successful confectionery businessman, Ian Marks. Like the Prince, Marks’ has a predilection for magical thinking and is a patron of the New Age educational charity Wyse International. Marks’connection to Wyse International is particularly informative as this charity is home to all manner of Theosophical types; being chaired by Hugh Lee Askar, a hotel owner-cum-psychosynthesis practitioner.

At present Ian Marks is a proud trustee of Health Empowerment Through Nutrition, a charity, based in Malvern, UK, whose web site notes it “is dedicated to combating poor nutrition particularly in the African sub-continent.” This nutritious charity is chaired by Peter Wallace, a businessman who spent the first part of his career in marketing and product development with companies such as Sir James Goldsmiths’ Cavenham Foods; then late served as the chairman of the Bristol Cancer Help Centre (1994-8) — which is strongly supported by the Prince of Wales; and Wallace is now the chairman of the vitamin and mineral supplement company, Cytoplan.

Significantly, Health Empowerment Through Nutrition counts Professor Kristín Vala Ragnarsdóttir as a member of their scientifc advisory board, which is important because she is the former chair of the leading green organization the Schumacher Society. The Schumacher Society in turn is closely connected to the work of the mystically-inclined Soil Association, which in 2005 awarded their annual Consumer Education Award to the controversial celebrity nutitionalist Dr. Gillian McKeith. [2]

As noted at the beginning of this article, for large numbers of the public to reject a rational approach to medicine in favour of ineffective alternative therapies like homoeopathy is dangerous to say the least; moreover such a flight from reason fails to address the root causes of their concerns. Instead it is important that the working class should work together to demand that both medical research organizations and pharmaceutical corporations are effectively regulated to serve the public interest, and brought under public ownership so they can be democratically run to prioritize public health not corporate profits.

Notes

[1] Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst, Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial (Corgi, 2009), p.117. Homeopathy is a well-worn form of magical treatment that maintains that the weaker the treatment the stronger its effect; with  a typical 30C homeopathic treatment containing less than one part per million million million million million million million million million of the original substance which is alleged to have some sort of curative function.

[2] For detailed criticisms of Dr. McKeith, see Chapter 7 of Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science (Forth Estate, 2009). One might observe that McKeith has a “PhD” from the Clayton College of Natural Health which is not a acredited university and pretty much sell PhDs. Her husband however is a laywer and she is prone to taking out libel actions against those who challenge her medical legitimacy.

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