The king of alternative medicine: King Charles III’s love for homeopathy, ayurveda and yoga

Faith and ideas of King Charles III have been in focus for decades for veering away from mainstream thought. Yet, he has valiantly promoted them, often at the cost of getting harshly criticised and sometimes even lampooned. His abiding interest in alternative medicines and therapies such as homeopathy, ayurveda, yoga and herbalism has not exactly endeared him to scientific experts, but his long-held earnest belief that modern medicine must be tampered with traditional medicine is increasingly getting popular.

In the wake of Covid he reflected upon the healing and therapeutic power of yoga, which he described as an “accessible practice” that helps manage stress.

“This pandemic has emphasised the importance of preparedness, resilience and the need for an approach which addresses the health and welfare of the whole person as part of society, and which does not merely focus on the symptoms alone,” he said, in a recorded video message for a virtual healthcare event called Wellness After Covid in May last year.

“As part of that approach, therapeutic, evidenced-informed yoga can contribute to health and healing. By its very nature, Yoga is an accessible practice which provides practitioners with ways to manage stress, build resilience and promote healing,” he said.

In 2018, King Charles III had hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Science Museum in London to launch a new Ayurvedic Centre of Excellence, aimed at creating a first-of-its-kind global network for evidence-based research on Yoga and Ayurveda. Queen Camilla is believed to be a Yoga enthusiast.

The Covid cure controversy
During the pandemic, Dr Issac Mathai of Soukya got in the news after then Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik claimed that Dr Mathai had treated King Charles III for Covid-19. However, the office of King Charles III refuted the claim. Dr Mathai used to visit the royal couple several times in a year for follow-ups whenever he went to London, the Bangalore Mirror had reported. “On this visit, I carried with me immune-boosting medicines which I distributed to about 40 of my patients there. I gave it to Prince Charles as well and I had explained about it to the NHS person who was there too,” Dr Mathai had told the Mirror at that time.

These medicines, Arsenicum Album 30 (ARS ALB), and Rhus toxicodendron (RHUS TOX) 200, were common homeopathy medicines available in most countries, he said. “As homeopathic medicines are prescribed based on symptoms, on the basis of the symptoms of Covid-19 that have been reported, we had identified homeopathic medicines that could help boost the immune system, thereby strengthening the body’s defense mechanism to fight against viral attacks,” Dr Mathai said.

“The medicines were given to thousands of people whom we have treated, both in India and all over the world, including Prince Charles. Later, around March 14th, Prince Charles’s office contacted me first when his symptoms were mild. After four-five days, he got out of it. We are in touch on a regular basis.” Dr Mathai had told the Mirror. Dr Mathai called the AYUSH Minister after that. “My intention to talk to the minister was to emphasise the inclusion of homeopathy and other AYUSH medicines for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19,” he said. Since it was public knowledge that King Charles III was at Soukya late last year, and more recently he had tested positive for Covid-19 and then shortly after, negative; the minister might have put the two together and stated that Ayurveda and homeopathy helped treat and cure him, he had said at that time.

Correcting the modern medicine
Over the past many decades, King Charles III has lobbied for the traditional medicine systems to be included in the National Health Service of the UK, undeterred by opposition of scientific experts who deem traditional medicine such as homeopathy pseudoscience. In 1982, the Guardian reported, he chided the British Medical Association for modern medicine’s obsession with cells and molecules at the expense of traditional, holistic medicine.

“I have often thought that one of the less attractive traits of various professional bodies and institutions is the deeply ingrained suspicion and outright hostility which can exist towards anything unorthodox or unconventional,” he said. “I would suggest that the whole imposing edifice of modern medicine, for all its breathtaking successes, is like the celebrated Tower of Pisa, slightly off balance.”

In 2016, he had proposed a solution to the growing crisis of antibiotic over-use in animals and humans, telling an international gathering of scientists and government officials in London that he treats his own cows and sheep with homeopathy. “It was one of the reasons I converted my farming operation to an organic – or agro-ecological – system over 30 years ago and why we have been successfully using homeopathic – yes, homeopathic – treatments for my cattle and sheep as part of a programme to reduce the use of antibiotics,” he said.

He had also started a charity, The Foundation for Integrated Health, for promoting the inclusion of traditional medicine in the National Health Service of the UK. The charity was later closed down after allegations of financial fraud.

Not just King Charles III, many others in the British royal family, including the late Queen Elizabeth II, believed in the healing power of homeopathy and herbs.

(With inputs from TOI)

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