Naturopathic practitioners should be banned from treating minors.
I recently made this proposal in the context of the tragic death of Ezekiel Stephan, whose parents are on trial in Alberta for failing to provide the necessities of life. Ezekiel’s parents needlessly caused him to suffer from bacterial meningitis, in part by getting care from a licensed naturopath, Tracy Tannis, ND.
In the trial, Tannis and one of her staff members have given conflicting testimonies about their interactions with Ezekiel and his parents. It is not clear if Tannis urged Ezekiel’s parents to immediately take him to the emergency room, but it is clear that she dispensed a tincture containing echinacea to Ezekiel’s mother to treat meningitis. In fact, the physician’s report from the emergency room at Alberta Children’s Hospital supports this point.
Tannis’s recommendations were dangerously contradictory. On the one hand, Tannis claims to have urged Ezekiel’s mom to seek emergency care, but at the same time, she suggested something like, “This herbal product BLAST can help.” In selling a concoction to treat meningitis, Tannis diluted whatever medical urgency she claimed to convey.
The story of Ezekiel Stephan highlights the ethical and legal tragedies that licensed naturopaths bring to society. Licensed naturopaths themselves and legislators who affirm licensure do not realize that naturopathic training is nothing like legitimate medical school training.
I have written about the poor training of licensed naturopaths in general, but I have yet to detail the fatally flawed pediatric training that NDs receive in their accredited programs. I graduated from Bastyr University in 2011 and took every pediatrics course offered at the time. I went on to complete a one-year residency focused on pediatrics in a private naturopathic clinic. If I hadn’t walked away from being a naturopath, I would now be eligible for “board certification” in naturopathic pediatrics, yet another misleading status. Practically, however, any licensed naturopath can claim to specialize in pediatrics.
My experience puts me in a unique position to show what naturopathic training looks like from the inside and why, especially for children, naturopathic care is dangerous. In addition to my residency patient logs, I support this point with a critical review of pediatrics syllabi from Bastyr University (Seattle, WA) and Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (Phoenix, AZ). I then asked some pediatricians in the U.S. and Canada about their training and thoughts on my training. Continue reading