Teachers Health teaches woo

In a worrying gesture toward a profession concerned with education and critical thinking, the NSW Teachers Federation’s Teachers Health Fund has given a ringing endorsement to unproven and disproven alternative health practices, without any caveats or suggestions there might be serious doubts about them.

Nicole Lestal, the editor of the Fund’s Health Matters publication, says in her editorial in the Winter 2011 issue of the publication that “it’s good to know that your Teachers Health Fund Extras products afford you coverage for a range of alternative therapies to help you to combat those awful winter bugs, and feelings of general ill health.”

The practices covered by the fund include acupuncture, Alexander technique, aromatherapy, Chinese herbal medicine, homeopathy, kinesiology and reflexology.

Statements made in the publication endorsing such practices are extremely credulous and verge on the ridiculous. For instance …
• Acupuncture: “When healthy, an abundant supply of qi or ‘life energy’ flows through the body’s meridians – a network of invisible channels through the body.”
• Homeopathy: “Its effectiveness has been clearly established by over 200 years of clinical experience.”
• Kinesiology: “… identifies the elements that prevent the body’s natural internal energies from accessing life enhancing potential within the individual. … it works with the body’s innate healing intelligence to restore balance and health to neurological and physiological function.”
• Reflexology: “Reflex points, which relate to all parts of the body, can be found in the feet, hands, face and ears. These points respond to pressure, stimulating the body’s own natural healing process. The body starts progressively clearing blockages, and re-establishing and balancing energy flows.”

We have contacted the Teachers Health Fund, asking them for an indication they have done any assessment on these practices, and that their “unquestioning endorsement is based on more than an unbridled (and childlike) enthusiasm for practices that are more fitting for a new age organisation than one devoted to the teaching profession”. We await their response.