© The Christchurch Mail
19 October, 1992
For most of us there is a difference between the word "health" and the word "disease". Yet for decades the term "health practitioner" or "health service" has identified those who are concerned with issues about disease, rather than maintaining good health. Doctors, hospitals and the "health" system became the ambulances at the bottom of the cliff. But Christchurch's College of Natural Medicine believes attitudes are changing, albeit slowly.
"I think there is general dissatisfaction with the treatment of a symptom rather than the problem. "people are coming to realise that one doesn't need to pump one's body with pharmaceutical drugs to make it feel better," says Wynne Murray, administrator at the college. "Not so long ago the medical profession denied the link between smoking and cancer, that diet was irrelevant to ‘health' and said that acupuncture was quackery. "Smoking is now definitely linked with cancer, dieticians are now a recognised profession and acupuncture is used by doctors and has spread throughout the world."
Each individual is the expert about his or her own "health" or "wellness", says Michael Cole, director of the college. "Once you realise this, it is then possible to take control and discover those things in life that keep you healthy and happy. "By harmonising or maintaining a balance between thinking, breathing, eating, relaxing and moving, you will naturally move toward a feeling of wellness." The philosophies embodied in natural medicines encourage each individual to maintain this balance – a balance that is unique to each individual. "By taking control of our lives, we take control of our health."
Health consciousness has become a booming industry, he says. "Take a look around, there are more books, educational programmes, equipment, choices of healthcare and health supplements than ever before."
"The only problem now is how to start, or how to make a choice from the multitude of opportunists." The most important factor in maintaining health is for people to give themselves time to listen to their inner needs, he said. Many people are so busy giving out to others, or achieving or being told what to do by others, that they have no time to themselves. When they have made time there are a wealth of things to discover. Libraries were an excellent source of material and many societies had sprung up within the community following various disciplines. These proved a good place for people to meet like-minded folk.
Additionally, there were many providers of courses in the various philosophies embodied in natural medicines and the College of Natural Medicine in Christchurch is New Zealand's largest. Courses proposed for 1993 will cover naturopathy, homoeopathy, health science, massage, counselling and traditional Chinese medicine known as TCM.
Homoeopathy is attracting a great deal of interest in the community, according to Dr Wendy Isbell, a Christchurch-based physician and homoeopath. "It is not that people are dissatisfied with conventional medicine, rather that they want to have their illnesses treated and then go a step further and regain full health and well-being."
People sometimes subscribe simultaneously to conventional medical treatment as well as homoeopathy. Homoeopathy is used for the whole range of medical and psychological conditions in children and adults, as well as for treating general poor health, she says.
Another form of Health care is acupuncture and Ms Jane Harper is a health care therapist specialising in it. A traditional Chinese medicine which originated more than 5000 years ago, acupuncture is drugless pain relief which assists in prevention against disease. "It aims to treat the cause as well as the symptoms – it's holistic in its approach," she says.
"It can effectively treat many common ailments – colitis, haemorrhoids, shingles and Bell's Palsy, for example." Glandular fever, urinary tract infections and many gynaecological conditions can all be treated by acupuncture, she says. Massage is the forte of Heather Wright, a certified massage therapist. Intention is the key to a good massage, she says. The therapist and the client have to be clear what the client wants from them and what he or she is prepared or trained to give. A good massage therapist not only has the techniques and knowledge to be good at what he or she does, but also needs to have an inherent sensitivity to the needs of clients. Massage manipulates the soft tissue increasing the local blood circulation of the area being worked. It warms up to the touch. Fresh circulation gets in, which in turn aids the elimination of metabolic waste from the tissues, keeping circulation at an optimum. Pain relief may be a major factor for many people seeking massage to loosen up tight and taut muscles causing pain, headaches and migraines. "Massage brings us back into our bodies; out of our heads, into the shell we live in."