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   Apr 02

Hunt calls for Chinese medicine on the NHS: Health Secretary tells MPs there should be no limit on remedies even though benefits have not been proven

Tory MP said there should be no ideological bar to alternative treatments

Critics have said it encourages poaching of animals including rhinos

Mr Hunt, whose wife Lucia is Chinese, looked into how remedies could be integrated with Western medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine should be made available on the NHS where there is evidence it helps patients, Jeremy Hunt said yesterday.

The Health Secretary told MPs that there should be no ideological bar to Chinese remedies in the NHS – despite warnings from critics that many are untested and their benefits are unproven.

Some also encourage poaching endangered species.

Advocate: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, pictured with his wife Lucia, said there should be no ideological bar to the remedies
Mr Hunt, whose wife Lucia is Chinese, was asked what he had learned about the integration of traditional therapies with Western medicine during his visits to China.

He replied: ‘What I’ve learnt is that the most important thing is to follow the scientific evidence and where there is good evidence for the impact of Chinese medicine then we should look at that, but where there isn’t we shouldn’t spend NHS money on it.’

Chinese medicine can involve herbal remedies, acupuncture and massage therapy. Acupuncture is already available on the NHS in some circumstances.

NHS Choices says the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) recommends acupuncture as a treatment only for lower back pain. It adds Nice’s recommendation is based on scientific evidence.

An aide to Mr Hunt last night insisted he was not advocating the use of Chinese medicine, just stressing that NHS cash should be focused on treatments that are scientifically proven to work.

Alternative: Chinese medicine can involve herbal remedies, acupuncture and massage therapy

Mr Hunt has come under fire in the past over his support for homeopathy, but insists that his decisions as health secretary would be ‘based on science’.

Last year it emerged that Mr Hunt held private talks with Prince Charles on the potential role of homeopathy and alternative therapies.

Traditional Chinese medicine is blamed for fuelling demand for the poaching of species like rhino and tiger. Critics also claim many remedies are unproven to work and some may even contain toxins.

But supporters say they have proven their worth over thousands of years and should be considered for use alongside Western medicine. David Tredinnick, who raised the issue in the Commons yesterday, welcomed Mr Hunt’s stance.

The Tory MP, chairman of the all-party group for integrated healthcare, said: ‘He has clearly looked at it and thinks that where it is safe it should be used in conjunction with Western medicine, which is what they do in China.

‘Herbal medicine is not quackery – it has been used for thousands of years in China. In my experience – and I have used it – it can be really effective and reduce the amount of conventional medicine needed.’

Researchers in the United States recently said a poppy plant used for centuries in Chinese medicine may offer a new remedy for chronic pain.

They found Corydalis contains a powerful pain-relieving compound in its roots although added further toxicity testing was required.

Source: Daily Mail

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