What’s the best approach for treating prostate cancer? Don’t ask a naturopath.

“The Quack” by Albert Anker

Journalists seem to have a difficult time reporting the latest medical findings. Headlines often serve as click-bait rather than conveying accuracy. Last week, news coverage describing a study that investigated different treatment options for early-stage prostate cancer is one such case that generated some alarming and contradictory headlines.

In the reported study, researchers randomized 1643 men aged 50 to 69 years with stage T1c disease about evenly into three treatment groups: 1) active cancer surveillance; 2) prostatectomy; and 3) radical radiotherapy. The study indicated that patient survival rates were equally high at 99% across the treatment groups after a median follow-up time of ten years. There was a significant difference, however, in metastasis frequency and disease progression between the active surveillance group and the two treatment groups.

Men who choose active surveillance of their localized prostate cancer may regret their decision. If prostate cancer metastasizes, curable treatments are no longer available, and these men may suffer painful symptoms of their cancer spreading into adjacent tissues or throughout their bodies. Continue reading →

Posted in AANP, Cancer, Science, Standards of Care | Leave a comment

NaturoFAQs.com: Dispelling the Spin of Natural Medicine

Naturopathy mostly does not work

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.

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Posted in Guest Post, Patient Harm, Science, What's the harm? | 323 Comments

In-office sales is an ethical problem for naturopathic medicine

14th Century Dispensary

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.

Your Memories on Facebook screenshot

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, this sort of profiteering is rampant in the naturopathic community and extremely unethical.

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Posted in AANP, About me, Ethics, Standards of Care | 1,166 Comments

Naturopathic medicine has too much quackery

Troll Ave in Seattle, located a few blocks from Bastyr Center for Natural Health

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.

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Posted in Bastyr University, What is naturopathic medicine? | 556 Comments

An ex-naturopath is a successful naturopath

Edzard Ernst's writings have greatly influenced my coming out of the rabbit hole of naturopathy.

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

Posted in About me, Ethics, Politics | 89 Comments

The petition that riled naturopathic medicine

The petition to end all petitions.

The petition to end all petitions? Image from redalertpolitics.com.

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

Posted in AANP, Politics | 73 Comments

A question off the naturopathic licensing exam (NPLEX)

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

Posted in Licensure, Politics, What is naturopathic medicine?, What's the harm? | 70 Comments

NUHS: an unlawful but accredited naturopathic program?

Crime_Scene

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

Posted in CNME, Ethics, Licensure, Naturopathic Education | 82 Comments

Ozone therapy in naturopathic medicine

ozone molecule

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

Posted in AANP, Ethics, Licensure, ozone, Patient Harm, Politics, Standards of Care, What's the harm? | 188 Comments

Fact-checking naturopathic talking points at DCFLI

Naturopathic students and me lobbying at DCFLI; May 21st, 2011

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

Posted in AANP, Bastyr University, Critical Thinking, Ethics, Licensure, Politics | 35 Comments