Prince Charles calls for a more holistic approach towards medicine

The Prince of Wales, who has long been a strong supporter of homeopathic medicine, has called for a more holistic approach towards medicine and the nation's health.

Complementary and orthodox methods of tackling diseases should be used in tandem, Prince Charles told a conference of medics on integrated health at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, but not at the expense of losing the best of what complementary practices offer.

While stressing the importannce nutrition had to play in fighting growing health problems such as childhood obesity and allergies, Charles praised TV chef Jamie Oliver's efforts to improve school meals. He also highlighted attempts by head teachers to combat behaviour problems through diet.

Since first raising the issue in the seventies Prince Charles said there had been a real shift in thinking on homeopathic medicine.

At that time the Prince was criticised for "attacking modern medicine", but today he was rewarded by being made an honorary fellow of the Royal Society.

According to Charles one in five people turn to complementary therapies, and three-quarters of people would like to see them available on the NHS.

But he also advised individuals to take responsibility for their health by "choosing nutritious, organic, locally grown food", because, he claims, years of over-refining, processing and polluting food had led to the adverse health problems people suffered and inflicted on their children.

An over-reliance on packaged, processed food was damaging the nation's health and was leading to food-related epidemics and chronic diseases, he said.

In stating the nation had lost touch with the source of their food, the Prince referred to a study which found a link between nitrate levels in vegetables and gullet cancer.

Another study by Durham County Council showed that children's behaviour and concentration was improved by doses of fish oils and certain fatty acids.

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