I used to be a naturopathic pediatrician. I graduated from Bastyr University and did a one-year residency in naturopathic pediatrics and family medicine. Like many naturopaths, I branded myself as an expert in treating children with behavioral and developmental problems, including autism, ADHD, anxiety, and learning disabilities. If you were the parent of a kid with one of these conditions and had an appointment with me, you would have left my office with a bottle of pills containing L-methylfolate.
Naturopaths are taught that children exhibiting behavioral and developmental problems should be checked for MTHFR gene mutations, which could affect an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase—that attaches a methyl (CH3) group to folic acid allowing it to be used in DNA biosynthesis and in the processing of the amino acids methionine and homocysteine.
There are real health consequences of having certain polymorphisms in the MTHFR gene, but genetic testing is not necessary to detect them. The most severe problems with this gene are neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly, which are detectable during pregnancy with ultrasound. Other MTHFR polymorphisms result in high blood levels of homocysteine which can cause problems with the eyes, blood clotting, skeletal formation, and cognition. Okay, but there is a simple blood test for homocysteine levels.
In fact, the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics states that “MTHFR polymorphism testing has minimal clinical utility.”
I attended my first QED this past weekend in Manchester, England. Question, Explore, Discover is an annual science and skepticism conference, and this year’s QED was the largest in its six-year history. I had a great time and highly recommend that readers attend next year.
I gave a talk on the main stage titled The Right Detox: how to detox an entire belief system in five easy steps. I described how I fell into and then out of being a naturopathic “doctor.” (I hope to be able to link to a video of it in the future.)
Here are some reactions and live tweets from the audience: Continue reading
Another child has been severely harmed by a naturopath. This time in the UK.
A four-year-old boy with autism received naturopathic treatments that landed him in the emergency room. The boy had severe dehydration and dangerously elevated calcium levels. A naturopath had prescribed a regimen of vitamin D, calcium, cod liver oil, zinc and a long list of other substances that included silver, enzymes, salts and trace minerals. Continue reading
I am honored that Naturopathic Diaries has made the shortlist for the 2016 blog category of the Ockham Awards by The Skeptic magazine. I really appreciate the support I’ve received from the community. Thank you!
The winners will be announced at the QED convention in Manchester on October 15th. I’ll be giving a talk at QED and will be around for the whole weekend. It will be great fun!
(Also, we are looking for someone who is also attending QED to join our team. The QED quiz will be at 18:00 on Friday October 14th. Contact me on Twitter @NaturoDiaries, or try @drpaulmorgan and @ArchaeoHermes.) Continue reading →
“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 →
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