by Deanne Apostolou

March 2019

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Natural Medicine Forum

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Traditional Medicine for the Modern Practitioner

On Friday night 8th March, Dr Stuart Glastonbury came to Newcastle

to talk about “Integration or Integrative” delving into the complexities

of healthcare pluralism in the Australian healthcare sector.

Dr Glastonbury completed his Western Herbal Medicine (WHM)

training in Sydney in 1999 and then went on to complete a Bachelor of

Medicine at the University of Queensland. Dr Glastonbury identifies as

a GP who is also trained in WHM. He spoke about his concerns that an

“integrated Dr” is just a GP who sells supplements, who may not

necessarily have any formal training in WHM, Nutrition or Naturopathy.

He believes that integration should entail acknowledging your own strengths and limitations – be strong in your beliefs, acknowledge what you do well, but also know your limitations, and know when to refer to other healthcare professionals. 

Dr Glastonbury feels that there is a lot of heterogeneity in Traditional Complementary Medicine (TCM) and that this will affect the ability to become a registered profession. Even though, up to two-thirds of the Australian population use some from of CM, and the annual expenditure of CMs exceeded the pharmaceutical expenditure in 2017.

Stuart explained that it is frowned upon by the RACGP to refer patients to CM practitioners due to the differences in educational standards amongst the education providers, and that GPs do not like to be told to complete a battery of tests for the patient. 

It was a very relaxed evening that felt more like a round table discussion, which enabled everyone to ask questions, including Stuart, who asked everyone “Where do YOU stand?” do you want to be a traditional, independent, autonomous CM practitioner?, an integrated allied health practitioner?,  or even a GP?

He finished with this advice: “Be strong and powerful in what you do. Do your thing and love what you do”.

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