Leah Wood for Reform MHRA
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Model Leah Wood is campaigning for a radical shake-up of the health system to reduce the influence of giant pharmaceutical companies.
Leah, the daughter of Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, believes the public has become too dependent on medication prescribed by doctors.
“People need knowledge to judge for themselves what is out there rather than getting prescribed pills for everything,” says the 38-year-old mother of two, who is an organic lifestyle advocate.
“Pharmaceutical companies have too much power and we have become used to medication instead of seeing what else is out there.”
Leah is backing a petition launched by the pressure group, the National Health Federation, to restructure the MHRA, claiming it is a ‘puppet’ of the pharmaceutical industry.
The call comes in the week the influential Academy of Medical Royal Colleges warned that doctors were giving too many patient test and drugs they don’t need while the British Medical Association called for a dedicated NHS helpline and website where people hooked on prescription drugs can get advice.
“There should be more choice available and we should be able to use alternative ways of healing ourselves providing they are safe,” adds Leah. “People should have the freedom to try other avenues when they are ill.
“It is clear that some of these medicines are not vital and we don’t need our bodies clogged up with chemicals. But the big pharmaceutical companies have too much influence and other remedies are overlooked or banned. I am really concerned that there is a level playing field so everything can be considered.”
Leah’s grandmother Rachel Karslake was diagnosed with breast cancer but used an organic lifestyle to combat the condition. Her mum Jo, an organic pioneer who split from the Rolling Stone seven years ago, revitalized her diet by preparing fresh organic food.
“The doctors gave Nan all these treatments and made her do chemotherapy but she wasn’t getting any better so she decided to take matters into her own hands. She took homeopathic treatments and supplements and my mum and Auntie prepared organic food for her,” says Leah, a fashion model and artist. “We are convinced it helped her.
“Had she been eating badly then I’m sure the cancer would have had little trouble going round her body.”
Rachel died last year, aged 81, from kidney failure.
Leah, who lives in north London with her financier husband Jack McDonald and children Maggie, seven, and Otis, four, adds that the government should also provide more health and dietary information for the public.
“Not enough people know what is inside their food or even if they need the medicines prescribed by doctors,” she says. “We need to look after ourselves as much as possible to prevent illness not to rely on doctors once we get ill.
“It is time there was more knowledge out there and for the public to take a bigger interest in their own health”
She believes in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and not relying on conventional medicines if healthier alternatives are available. “I was brought up with alternative medicines and homeopathy and have been taught the importance of eating well. You are what you eat. I try and stay healthy. I go to the gym, I run, I take vitamins. You can often heal yourself through diet and lifestyle and I think it is important not to overmedicate.
‘I use homeopathy and alternative remedies a lot with my kids. There are so many alternatives but people do not realise they are available because the pharmaceutical message is so strong.”
She is urging the public to sign a petition to reform the MHRA and promote alternative therapies.
Leah adds that her father is still fighting fit and enjoying the demands of parenthood since is third wife, Sally Humphreys, 38, gave birth to twins Gracie Jane and Alice Rose in May.
Ronnie also has son Jesse Wood, with his first wife and former model, Krissy Wood, daughter Leah and son Tyrone from his second marriage, to Jo, and Jamie, Jo Wood’s son from a previous marriage, whom he adopted.
“It’s bizarre, I have so many nieces and nephews and now I have baby sisters and I’m almost 40 years older than them,” she laughs.
“I haven’t babysat yet but I’ve been around and I’ve cuddled them and tried to keep both of them quiet at the same time. They are very, very sweet.
‘Dad is superfit, but he has to be with the two new babies. There’s no great secret, as a family we always laugh and try to be happy. Even though things can be tough, my upbringing was actually quite stable.’
As well as being a busy mum, Leah is also a designing a baby clothing range and is working on artistic projects.