Author breaches ethics.
Article Type: Letter to the editor
Author: Sharpe, Graham
Pub Date: 04/01/2011
Publication: Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032
Issue: Date: April, 2011 Source Volume: 17 Source Issue: 3
Accession Number: 255086047
Full Text: The article "Is it time to integrate medical and natural health care?" by Richard Harman, published in your February issue, must be answered with a resounding "No!", more so given the material offered by the author. So-called alternative medicine will not lead to some mythical nirvana. Indeed, the future of providing health care in an economically restrained era lies in rigorous analysis and research, not in nonsensical talk of energy fields unknown to science or commonsense.

The author also breaches all concepts of morality and ethics by calling for the acceptance of these "therapies" without the requirements of clinical trials. In other words, without their being tested for efficacy and safety. Further, he offers the astonishing and indefensible claim (without validation) that so-called alternative therapies are unsuitable for such trials. It is interesting to speculate what the Health and Disability Commissioner would say about unproven therapies being used on patients.

In referring to placebos in the context of homeopathy, he asks why a first remedy does not work, when a second or subsequent remedy does. This demonstrates his lack of understanding of placebos. Testing homeopathy against a placebo is essentially testing two placebos against each other. This will sometimes show a difference, usually of minor degree and of little real clinical relevance.

Some of his claims are frankly dangerous, for example curing Guillain Barre with homeopathy or treating autism with Bodytalk (relying on the discredited theories of applied kinesiology).

The article is in essence an advertisement for his own work, and a call for public funds to be paid to him. This is the real, but unsavoury and unacknowledged aim of those who call for the "integration" of alternative medicine into public health care.

I was astounded you published this article in a nursing journal.

Graham Sharpe, MB ChB,


Richard Harmon responds: Dr Sharpe appears to have a closed mind towards anything he doesn't understand. As o scientist, he will surely know that science cannot prove a negative, like "energy fields do not exist". My article was an honest attempt to enable these fields to become known to science.

He may be interested to hear that complementary medicine has moved a long way over the last 12 years. The US Navy has large hospitals at its bases in Norfolk, Virginia and Son Diego, each of which has a ward dedicated to healing touch. All patients are passed through those wards for healing work, with the result they recover faster and the drugs bill is reduced.

My "claims" were not claims, but reports of events that did occur. They are not backed up by trials of a thousand people with the same ailment and mind-set, because there are no such people. Instead, these reports introduce possibilities for doctors to look at.

To Siouxsie Wiles, consider trials of a homeopathic remedy. Any single remedy may only clear drive percent of cases, because there are many different remedies for any ailment, depending which one fits best. The correct result would come from a full treatment for each person, accepting whichever remedy was finally successful. Is that how clinical trials are done?

Healing work is not scientific, because it includes love, intuition, intention and other things, which science cannot measure.
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