Local News

State Wants To License Holistic Medicine Practitioners

Posted December 9, 2004

— Holistic medicine is becoming more and more popular. A recent national survey shows 62 percent of adults have tried an alternative therapy. Now, there is a push in North Carolina to license those who practice it.

Three years ago,

Jo Ann Rochelle

slipped into a diabetic coma after taking her herbalist's advice to stop using insulin. The herbalist was found guilty of practicing medicine without a license.

"That person was not educated adequately, was not licensed, and we know that type of thing could happen if we do not have adequate licensing," said state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird.

The state already licenses certain types of alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and massage. A legislative committee is considering a proposal to license anyone who practices natural forms of medicine. You would need to have a 4-year degree from one of four accredited universities across the country.

"We don't look at disease or illness. We look at the person as a complete unit," said Sunny Wang, who practices energy kinesiology.

Wang said she has seen great results with her technique as have other natural health professionals concerned about the proposed license.

At a meeting in Raleigh, lobbyists talked about fighting the bill. Boyd Landry, of the Coalition of Natural Health, said the people offering the service and consumers would be the people who would suffer if the bill passes.

"It puts each of you out of business. There's no ifs, ands or buts," Landry said at the meeting.

Opponents said the bill would put 150 practioners out of business, while providing licenses for only a handful who have the required education. The four schools offering that education are in Connecticut, Washington State, Oregon and Arizona. The legislative committee will vote on this next week.

Right now, 11 states -- mostly in the northeast and northwest -- license people who practice alternative medicine. Blue Cross Blue Shield offers discounts on some alternative medicine. In some cases, patients can get 30 percent off for programs involving acupuncture, yoga or nutritional counseling.


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