What’s billed as a “Health and Wellness Expo” this weekend in Waterloo will offer all the aroma-therapy, homeopathy and healing energy you may need. Hypnosis will be featured, as well as holistic healing and all kinds of herbs. Larry Hanus is with the Iowa Health Freedom Coalition, a group of natural healers, educators and consumers who support alternative healing methods. He says their purpose is to educate people and help pass laws that would “allow people free access to these modalities” and healing methods like herbalism, homeopathy, “healing touch” and other practices. Hanus says they’re a broad range of healing methods that span thousands of years and says that herbalism and homeopathy were once “dominant nethods of healing in the state of Iowa.” He says while they get little respect from mainstream medics, the group’s proposed a law that would recognize alternative healers and shield them from being prosecuted as quacks. They’d disclose the nature of their practice and promise not to do surgery, prescribe drugs, give X-rays, and as long as they provided treatments with ” no demostrated risk of harm,” they’d be free from the risk of being prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license. The law was proposed in the Iowa Legislature this past year, but did not win approval. Hanus cites the experience of former Iowa Congressman Berkely Bedell as evidence alternative medicine works. Bedell came down with Lyme disease that Bedell says doctors couldn’t cure until he went to a Minnesota dairy farmer who treated him with milk from a cow that had been injected with the Lyme disease virus. Hanus says it saved Bedell’s life and the farmer was prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license. Bedell went on to propose a law that was passed nearly a decade ago that removed the FDA’s oversight from a host of “nutritional supplements” and other products. Jerry Karbeling with the Iowa Pharmacists Association says now they’re not regulated by laws that govern other products like drugs. He says the herbal-product manufacturers are allowed to offer products and sell them with much more lenient guidelines, as he says they don’t have to prove a product’s safe and effective as they would with a prescription or nonprescription product. Karbeling says there’s a good reason to regulate anything people eat or drink, hoping it’ll make them healthy. He says if a patient’s to make a rational choice of an alternative or complementary therapy, they need to know what the potency is, and whether the dose they get will be consistent. Karbeling says pharmacists don’t necessarily oppose alternative therapies and products like herbs, but want people to know more about them and their effects. While a number of alternative products go through a process to assure the dose of their active ingredient is consistent, he says that is not required. And Karbeling says lots of herbal products have more than one active ingredient, and not all are quantified or even shown on labels. He says Saint-John’s Wort, for example, was an herbal therapy that gave some patients very bad reactions when they took it along with prescription anti-depressants. A speaker Saturday at the Expo will tell about international talks on a “codex” that could mean more standards for vitamin and food supplements. The health and wellness expo is all day Saturday at the Waterloo YWCA.
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