My name is Drew Rouble, and I am a Canadian medical student at the University of Toronto (U of T). I am a proponent of consumer advocacy and the protection of patients from healthcare exploitation, specifically that caused by natural health or complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). There is considerable amounts of misinformation about CAM that confuses patients and medical professionals alike. To aid informed decision-making about CAM, I created NaturoFAQs.com as a resource to provide concise, simple, non-judgemental, and enjoyable summaries of the evidence (or, more frequently, lack thereof) behind natural medicine.
A 14th century dispensary is similar to how supplements are sold by licensed naturopaths.
The internet never forgets. On May 31st, Facebook reminded me of an old post I made four years ago asking friends for ideas on merchandising in a “medical” setting. The truth is I was asking for help to create cute and catchy flair for supplements, health gadgets, and detox programs for sale at the naturopathic clinic where I worked.
Most, if not all, naturopaths sell dietary supplements or medications (like thyroid hormones) directly to patients. Many naturopaths also sell “wellness packages” that bundle supplements with several office appointments, lab tests, and therapies such as acupuncture, lymph drainage, and intravenous injections of vitamins and minerals. Very little, if any, of these products and services are supported by high-quality evidence. Nonetheless, naturopaths make money off these sales, and unlike in any other medical profession,
Troll Ave in Seattle, located a few blocks from Bastyr University’s naturopathic medicine clinic.
I’ve acquired a troll-like follower on Twitter who runs an anonymous website at brittmariehermesfactcheck.com. His or her aim is to verify that the information I publish about naturopathic medicine is true. Spoiler alert: The arguments are less than compelling.
My bottom line is that naturopaths do not receive enough medical training to justify their legislative agenda. Naturopaths insist that they have received an education that is on par with that of a medical doctor. Rather than show why this claim is true, they frequently call me a liar. It does not seem to matter that I’ve shown my course syllabi and other documents from Bastyr University, my alma mater and the self-proclaimed Harvard of naturopathic medicine.
A full-fledged effort to debunk me seems to be underway. Counter petitions have been started. Fake websites have been made. Domain names have been registered using my name in bad faith. I am perplexed, but not entirely, that they choose to target me as a menace to their profession instead of addressing potentially devastating threats they harbor on the inside. I am talking about the blatant quackery of naturopathic medicine.
Here is one example.
Below is my response, solicited by Edzard Ernst, to naturopaths accusing me of libel, being a pharma shill, and failing at naturopathic medicine. He kindly published it on his blog. (Important note: his books were highly influential on my departure from naturopathy and comprehension of the dark depths of alternative medicine.)
I find it amusing to be accused of being an unsuccessful practitioner of naturopathic medicine. I graduated with high grades from Bastyr University. I landed a highly competitive naturopathic residency. Had I remained in practice, I would currently be eligible to take the naturopathic pediatrics “board-certification” exam offered by the Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
I was making decent money at my practices in Seattle and Tucson. By all accounts, I was a successful naturopathic doctor. My bosses at the Tucson clinic had even asked me if I were interested in becoming their business partner! Continue reading
When I started the “Naturopaths are not Doctors” petition (below), it was on the heels of the annual naturopathic medicine lobbying event where naturopaths “storm” the U.S. Capitol to advocate for their alternative system of medicine. I thought my petition would be an easy way to voice opposition to their political agenda, which includes getting NDs licensed in all 50 states by 2025 and their inclusion in Medicare with a pilot program as soon as possible. My petition against naturopathic medicine was an experiment. It turned out I scared the crap out of naturopaths. Continue reading
Naturopaths often mention that their licensing exam, the NPLEX, is a rigorous test of medical knowledge that ensures standards of care. This point always looks good to the unsuspecting.
Consider the following sample from the 2013 official study guide for the NPLEX: Continue reading
It may be very difficult to practice naturopathy in Illinois without committing a crime.
There are seven naturopathic programs that are accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education. Graduates of these programs are eligible to become licensed naturopaths in 20 U.S. states or territories and five Canadian provinces. Six of the accredited naturopathic programs are in U.S. states or Canadian provinces that license naturopaths as medical practitioners. The seventh is in an unlicensed state. This anomaly raises serious legal and ethical issues.
How can naturopathic students in an unlicensed state be lawfully trained if their instructors are not licensed naturopaths in that state? How could the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education have signed off on this? Continue reading
Ozone is not cyclic in the same way that is it not a safe or effective medical treatment.
Tomorrow, Monday May 23, 2016, licensed naturopaths and their students will “storm” the offices of lawmakers to lobby for naturopathic medicine. This day will mark the culmination of the annual naturopathic lobbying event called D.C. Federal Legislative Initiative (DC FLI) organized by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
Yesterday, I wrote a guide to understanding the main lobbying points used by naturopaths. The bottom line is that naturopaths’ pants are on fire.
While licensed naturopaths grossly misrepresent themselves to advance their agenda of being recognized as “primary care physicians” and gaining access to the Medicare program, they also don’t like to talk much about their use of illegal and dangerous treatments. And, they don’t like to face the evidence that naturopathic doctors are incapable of self-regulation in a manner that upholds medical ethics and professional standards.
Today’s post focuses on the naturopathic use of ozone therapy. Continue reading
Naturopathic students lobbying at DCFLI. (I am seated in the middle.) May 21st, 2011.
Every year, naturopathic students and practitioners go to Washington D.C. to lobby for naturopathic medicine during an event called the DC Federal Legislative Initiative, DCFLI for short. The event is organized by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP). I participated in DCFLI, five years ago today, weeks away from graduating from Bastyr University.
All naturopathic students are heavily encouraged to be politically active. Naturopaths simply have too much at stake, especially, their massive amounts of student loan debt that is on par with that of graduates from real medical schools. As a dutiful naturopath-to-be, I had high hopes of advancing my profession and career.
I went on to practice in Arizona and Washington for three years before learning that naturopathic medicine is based on discredited and dangerous practices without any demonstrable medical training. I now advocate against the naturopathic profession, state licensure of naturopaths, medical scope expansion, and inclusion in health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
It is my opinion, as a former naturopath, that naturopathic practitioners cause more harm than good.
The following information will be useful to lawmakers who are considering support for the naturopathic agenda after having been visited by naturopathic lobbyists, like myself five years ago. Continue reading
Medical equipment looks appealing but out of place next to flowers.
This week, May 9-15, 2016, is Naturopathic Medicine Week in Canada. Let’s celebrate by recalling some problems with this alternative system of “medicine.”
- Naturopathy is based on a pre-scientific understanding of health and disease. Naturopaths believe that a magic force, called the vis, is responsible for determining the health of the mind and body. This notion is similar to the ancient Greek concept of the “four humors” or the ancient Chinese belief in qi and meridians. It is simply magic.
- Naturopaths are not doctors or physicians. They are not trained well enough to identify actual diseases or to apply correct treatments. We should look no further than the tragic demise of the Albertan toddler, Ezekiel Stephan, after his parents treated his bacterial meningitis with do-it-yourself herbal concoctions. After his mother suspected he had meningitis, she went to a licensed naturopath, Tracey Tannis, and left with an herbal preparation of echinacea.
- Naturopaths aggressively lobby for licensure and self-regulation by sugar-coating their medical education and standards of care. (You can read more specifically about naturopathic training in pediatrics here.) I once lobbied for naturopathic medicine at the U.S. federal government during the annual lobbying event, DC FLI, in Washington, D.C. I now feel ashamed that I had taken part in this propagation of misinformation about the profession to lawmakers.
- Naturopaths use a cornucopia of pseudoscientific methods in clinical practice that have been disproven by the scientific and medical communities or not shown to be plausible. These include homeopathy, herbal medicine, dietary supplements, saliva testing, bio-identical hormone replacement, blood allergy testing, applied kinesiology, and intravenous therapies of high-dose vitamins, minerals, ozone gas, and hydrogen peroxide. They also mis-characterize any plausible mechanisms by which these treatments could work and the evidence supporting safety and effectiveness.
- No major, respected medical organization endorses naturopathic medicine. This is not because medical doctors are worried about competition. It is because they are concerned about patient safety.
Naturopathic practitioners, even though many are licensed by governments, often find themselves in legal and ethical grey zones. If you are a patient of a naturopath or know someone who is, I encourage you (or your friend or family member ) to ask for the answers to the following questions in writing:
- Is the treatment approved for [your condition] by Health Canada or the U.S. FDA?
- Who manufactures the substance or device and where?
- What are the specific indications for the treatment?
- What are the specific side effects and risks associated with the treatment?
- What evidence supports the use of the treatment?
Happy Naturopathic Medicine Week!
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