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.

“Naturopathic doctors are trained as primary care physicians.”

This statement is false.

The education and clinical training of naturopathic doctors takes place entirely outside of the medical education system. The naturopathic system has been designed and managed by other naturopaths and positioned in such a way to eschew external review. There is no oversight by medical professionals or academic educators.

Naturopathic schools teach students pseudoscientific theories for the diagnosis of real and fake diseases and perpetuate the use of debunked and scientifically implausible treatments. A detailed description of my training from Bastyr University is available on ScienceBasedMedicine.org.

Here are some facts about naturopathic education based on my training at Bastyr, considered “The Harvard of naturopathic medicine”:

  • 88 hours in homeopathy and 146 hours in herbalism
  • 198 hours in combined massage, water therapy, and chiropractic
  • 55 hours in pharmacology
  • 850 hours of clinical training directly on patients
  • No standards of care
  • No clinical training on children
  • Lots of anti-vaccine promotion
  • No required residency

For comparison, by the time an actual primary care physician finishes residency training, he or she has completed about 20,000 clinical training hours and seen tens of thousands of patients.

“Naturopathic physicians have attended 4 year accredited medical schools.”

Liar, liar, pants on fire!

Naturopathic programs are accredited by the Council for Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). This agency operates independently from the Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME), which accredits medical schools in North America. The LCME has not accredited any naturopathic program.

This lie is being used to create a false equivalency between naturopathic school and medical school.

The U.S. Department of Education does not directly accredit schools or programs. Instead, the DoED uses private accrediting agencies for this task. Accreditation of a school or program reflects adequate administration, organization, and operation of the institution. It is not a stamp of approval by the DoED for any curriculum.

The LCME is a reputable organization staffed by medical professionals and academic educators. The CNME is run by naturopaths and “public members” who previously served as top-level administrators at chiropractic organizations.

For more information, please read this article.

“Naturopathic students take all the same courses as medical students.”

False and misses a crucial point.

Naturopathic students take basic science courses that allegedly parallel courses offered in medical school. However, this is an irrelevant point that distracts lawmakers from the most important part of medical training that naturopaths lack: a rigorous medical residency.

The skills and expertise needed for practicing medicine are not acquired in basic science courses, such as histology. The practice of medicine is learned during a physician’s residency and fellowship programs.

According to the American Medical Association,

The education of physicians in the United States is lengthy and involves undergraduate education, medical school and graduate medical education. (The term “graduate medical education” includes residency and fellowship training.)

The residency is a mandatory part of medical education in order to train competent physicians. Completing basic and clinical science course work and then passing licensing exams does not allow medical graduates to practice medicine independently. They must complete residency training. Medical schooling alone is not enough training.

The truth is that basic science courses offered by naturopathic programs have the same titles as those in medical schools, but the content is vastly inferior. Even in a best case scenario that naturopathic students get the same coursework as medical students, it is a moot point because medical residencies are not required.

“Naturopathic medicine is safe and natural.”

Liar, liar, pants on fire!

Naturopaths love dietary supplements. The problem is that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements in the same way that prescription drugs are regulated. Dietary supplements fall under a regulatory framework that operates independently from the FDA, which states:

FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.

According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements,

Supplements are most likely to cause side effects or harm when people take them instead of prescribed medicines or when people take many supplements in combination.

The FDA agrees: “mixing medications and dietary supplements can endanger your health.”

The sale of dietary supplements out of naturopathic clinics is a mainstay of naturopathic practice. Most naturopaths sell dietary supplements directly to their patients for a large  profit margin after prescribing them for health benefits. This is a glaring conflict of interest.

Emerson Ecologics, a company that sells supplements to naturopaths for resale, is financially supporting naturopathic lobbying and state licensing efforts. Its scientific advisor is the president of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

Naturopaths claim the supplements they sell in their offices are higher quality than the ones sold at health food stores. There is no data to support this claim. It is further troubling that dietary supplements often contain undisclosed or adulterated ingredients, which pose a great danger to those with allergies and those taking prescription medications.

Naturopathic medicine is not good for America

Most relevant to the political advancement of naturopaths is the predicted primary care physician shortage by 2025. Naturopaths aspire to fill this gap by becoming licensed in as many states as possible, with scopes of practice that would allow them to act as medical doctors.

This possible future is a dangerous one.

We need more physicians. We need more nurse practitioners. We need more physician assistants. We need fewer naturopaths.

More naturopaths can lead to the following outcomes:

  • Higher health care costs for patients. Naturopaths frequently need to refer their patients to medical professionals for the management of chronic and acute illnesses.
  • Increased medical errors due to accidental herb/supplement-drug interactions and missed diagnoses.
  • Increased spending on dubious practices, such as homeopathy, esoteric blood tests, essential oils, high-dose vitamin injections, detoxification, coffee enemas, or ozone gas therapies.
  • Increased confusion for patients that the U.S. government endorses disproved and implausible practices by practitioners without real medical training.
  • Increased number of unvaccinated children, leading to a higher prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases. Naturopaths overwhelmingly do not support vaccination.

The primary impact of naturopathy is negative, but naturopaths will present sugar-coated arguments that are emotionally appealing. I encourage lawmakers and their staff to ask difficult questions of the naturopaths sitting before them. America deserves medicine that is based in science, not fringe practitioners who take shortcuts.

  • http://naturocrit.podbean.com/ Naturocrit Podcast and Blog

    Great post. I remember lobbying similarly when in ND school, around 1999. A bunch of us students were bused to the Massachusetts statehouse, I think. That’s when I first met….ND Joe Pizzorno, Jr.

    -r.c.

    • Joe

      Great article, as usual. You might want to change mute to moot.

      • https://www.naturopathicdiaries.com Britt Hermes

        got it. thanks

        • mortymooze

          Naturopathy has lost its way and has gone off on too many tangents.
          Ben Lust and the original Naturopathic community stressed BASIC VITALISTIC modalities: diet, exercise, rest, fasting, fresh air and sunshine. Adjuncts such as massage, water baths and body work were secondary.
          Bottom line: Naturopathic Doctors try to emulate M.D.’s white coasts and all and fundamental naturopathy is is forgotten in search of that evasive healing potion.

          • Thomas Mohr

            Actually this is only partly true. For his American School of Naturopathy, Lust scraped together everything he could find, reaching from hydrotherapy over homeopathy to ayurveda and yoga. In fact he had finished the New Your College of Homeopathy. In fact, Lust’s vision was an invasion free natural medicine and the things he used for his “College” constitute roughly 2/3 of the naturopathy canon taught today – interestingly without major scientific progress.

  • Thomas Mohr

    Britt, with regard to the courses taught at ND schools, you probably should have mentioned that the academic credentials of the teachers are in most cases that “homeopathic” that they would not be accepted into a PhD program internationally.

    • https://www.naturopathicdiaries.com Britt Hermes

      True. There is so much discuss, really. I have a few more posts coming to coincide with DCFLI, so perhaps I can make that point elsewhere. Thanks for the suggestion

      • Thomas Mohr

        BTW, I loved your post on KevinMD.com. However, with this NPLEX study guide there are some way brighter pearls. One is the dizzy, fatigued female with excessive thirst. The differential diagnosis in this case ranges from pretty harmelss things to really serious diseases like diabetes or a brain tumor. The differential “diagnosis” is Yin deficiency, Phlegm stagnation, Qi and Blood deficiency, Kidney essence deficiency with appropriate therapies. Utter bullshit. The one I loved most was the woman with hypertension combined likely with unstable angina pectoris. And – aspirin is only good for costochondritis. With GERD it may even worse the condition and with angina pectoris…. one needs far tougher stuff.

        • has

          Agreed on Britt’s KevinMD.com post, and it’s wonderful to see Britt getting wider exposure as the public is in desperate need of education as to what’s really going on, and she really is the most wonderful spokesperson for ND/AltMed’s dirty deeds.

          BTW, props to Britt too for respecting your frank calling out of “utter bullshit” as exactly what it is once lives are on the line. Which is way more than can be said for the censorious quislings over on KevinMD.com who nuked both my comments calling out some of the more idiotically infantile and potentially dangerous apologetics:

          In response to Luxurychick:

          Gibbering PoMo nonsense. Medicine either works or it doesn’t, and while all the flashy salesmanship and preening ego stroking in the AltWorld may make it popular it does not make it right. Evidence or GTFO.

          In response to David More (medical student!):

          Your apologetics are an excellent reminder, were it needed, that medical school neither teaches nor requires a basic grasp of scientific principles or critical and logical thinking. That religiously devoted acolytes of CAM work harder and show greater dedication than lazy-ass students of med school does not in any way make them or their ‘education’ correct.

          Special-pleading faux-med lunacy propagates unchecked and uncriticized through society in its absolute Religious Certainty that it is Right and everyone else is Wrong. Yet somehow mildly harsh language when making a vitally important point ostensible adults on how badly their “thinking” sucks is way more unacceptable than smugly sitting on one’s hands while rampant hubris and impenetrable ignorance that already defrauds and harms thousands attempts to escalate its effects to millions every way it can.

          Gods forbid KevinMD.com and their shruggie medical ilk ever gets involved in a Real Science knife fight: those delicate pearl clutchers wouldn’t last two minutes. Never mind the horrific effects of All-Natural disease coming to its holistically untreated conclusion. But don’t worry, I’m sure sCAMster PR will sweep all that upsetting nastiness right under the rug in no time flat. At least it’s consistent in that, and no doubt pleasingly calm and polite in demeanor too which is so much more important than not making people killed.

  • tgobbi

    Britt tells us that naturopathy students receive “198 hours in combined massage, water therapy, and chiropractic.”

    Chiropractic? The irony here is that the vast majority of “doctors” of chiropractic (the “mixers”) practice naturopathic “medicine” as much as they do chiropractic. Or, restated, D.C.s are as much naturopath as chiropractor. It isn’t at all unusual for D.C.s practices to include herbalism, supplementation, hydrotherapy and even homeopathy – among others.

    A further irony is that the original intent of chiropractic’s founder was to perform his voodoo using nothing but the hands. “Chiropractic” = “done by hand.”

  • NS Alito

    Well, aside from that, what’s wrong with naturopathy?

  • LinnieMae

    Thanks for the heads-up! I’ll plan to contact my federal representatives tomorrow. It’s just scary that these NDs would get medical reimbursements from our medicare system, when it’s already such a huge chunk of the federal budget. Convenient for naturopaths to brand themselves as the anti-medical establishment rebel, unless they can get their hands on the dough reserved for real medicine.

  • Marcel

    “Naturopaths claim the supplements they sell in their offices are higher quality than the ones sold at health food stores. There is no data to support this claim. It is further troubling that dietary supplements often contain undisclosed or adulterated ingredients, which pose a great danger to those with allergies and those taking prescription medications.”

    The problem of adulterated supplements is not only significant, but one recognized by the American Botanical Council who have an entire program devoted to analytical methods for their determination in botanical products. As for the New York Attorney General’s much publicized claims of adulterated botanical products on the basis of DNA barcoding, the method has since been criticized for lack of accuracy and applicability.

  • Jethro Cohen

    Thanks for the great article. I have a special interest in so-called “alternative medicine” after a schizophrenic family member became obsessed (and still is) with natropathy, homeopathy, colloidal silver, you name it. If it goes against established medicine, he was for it. Long story short, his distrust in modern medicine nearly killed him when he caught pneumonia. Ever since then, I have done a lot of reading to try to find out why people get sucked in to this alt-med scam. I have come up with the following conclusions:
    – Alt-med practitioners are in it for the money
    – Alt-med practitioners deliberately take advantage of the gullible and uneducated
    – Alt-med practitioners initiate “big pharma” conspiracy theories to win customers
    – Alt-med practitioners deliberately take advantage of the special status of supplements and herbal remedies in order to avoid the FDA exposing their products as complete bunk.

    I’m sure there are some alt-med practitioners who genuinely believe in their woo. Those are the ones I am most concerned about as they are less likely to refer a sick person to a real doctor.

    In essence, Alt-med practitioners are the embodiment of pure evil 😛

  • Jethro Cohen

    Thanks for the great article. I have a special interest in so-called “alternative medicine” after a schizophrenic family member became obsessed (and still is) with natropathy, homeopathy, colloidal silver, you name it. If it goes against established medicine, he was for it. Long story short, his distrust in modern medicine nearly killed him when he caught pneumonia. Ever since then, I have done a lot of reading to try to find out why people get sucked in to this alt-med scam. I have come up with the following conclusions:
    – Alt-med practitioners are in it for the money
    – Alt-med practitioners deliberately take advantage of the gullible and uneducated
    – Alt-med practitioners initiate “big pharma” conspiracy theories to win customers
    – Alt-med practitioners deliberately take advantage of the special status of supplements and herbal remedies in order to avoid the FDA exposing their products as complete bunk.

    I’m sure there are some alt-med practitioners who genuinely believe in their woo. Those are the ones I am most concerned about as they are less likely to refer a sick person to a real doctor.

    In essence, Alt-med practitioners are the embodiment of pure evil 😛

    • Thomas Mohr

      Jethro, Quote: “Alt-med practitioners are in it for the money”. Given the fact that many have troubles paying back their tuition fee (vz. a very good article on this website) this can only be the case for the minority. I think there is a different motivation. A typical alt-med story goes as follows: person gets a ailment (whether real or only imagined is unimportant) for which there is no easy cure in medicine. This person searches for an alternative and feels better after being treated by an ND. Additionally there seems to be a certain psychological predisposition like a helper syndrome. Add to that the notion that naturopathy is “natural”, “soft” way to treat diseases and you have the perfect ND student. This problem is aggravated that ND students do not learn how to think scientifically, I.o.W. they are a pretty uncritical bunch and genuinely believe in what they are doing. In short words, the classical well meant is the opposite of well done.

      • has

        One can be “in it for the money” and still make a loss: just look at MLM schemes, which are every bit as much driven by deep personal investment in irrational belief systems. Still, while most AltMedders’ major motivator may be personal ego, I’m sure most wouldn’t say no to a healthy wad of filthy allopathic greenbacks given the opportunity. Alas, not everyone can be a Joe Mercola or Boiron when it comes to turning a profit: even with modern standards of education and profligate internet echo chambers there still aren’t nearly enough rubes to go around them all.

        Though AltMedders are certainly working hard to fix this: their evangelical zeal for validating and strengthening their personal religion by propagating it to everyone else as well is slowly (if not always successfully) gaining ground. Cdesign proponentsists could definitely pick up a tip or two from CAM’s successful ongoing infiltration of medical education. (NDs are not the only ones who aren’t taught how to think scientifically, whereas “Hey, whatever sells!” is a lamentably successful lesson in any language.)

        Ultimately, until adults are willing to grow up and be adults and discard all their cherished childish comfort blankies – God, CAM, Kim Kardashian, and so on – then they will always be easy marks for irrational belief systems, because how can anyone effectively learn to critique other such nonsensical beliefs while devoutly special-pleading for one’s own?

    • https://www.naturopathicdiaries.com Britt Hermes

      Alt med practitioners are probably not in it for the money. Most do not make enough to pay back their loan debt and live, and many leave the naturopathic profession for this reason alone.
      Alt med practitioners are probably not intentionally taking advantage of patients. I think less than 20% of NDs are knowingly offering fraudulent therapies. We believe what we are taught in school.
      As Thomas said below, we are not taught to think critically or scientifically to understand what is plausible, or not.
      They tend to believe in conspiracy theories of all kinds.
      They genuinely believe supplements are safe and effective. For some reason, Big Supp Industry isn’t a thing in their minds.

      I don’t think NDs are intentionally “evil.” They are just very uneducated and ill-informed.

      • dr_for_real

        Britt, your comments are brilliant. I love your passion and relentless search for truth in health care . . . Been following you on Twitter a lot also, but this is my first post. I value high quality discourse. Shout out to “Kelly” above–don’t agree with your content/thoughts, but very impressed with your civil tone, and I think I get what you were trying to communicate.

        I am a physician. I work with children exclusively. I have first hand knowledge of the poor choices some families make, and how it profoundly (and negatively) affects their children’s health. In my opinion, this is done out of ignorance, and sometimes arrogance.

        There is clearly more work for “allopathic” practitioners to do, and we don’t have all the answers (BTW, I don’t refer to myself as anything but a physician . . . “allopathic” tends to be used by non-physicians). I have studied 2-3x longer than most NDs, am required to maintain certification through rigourous CME standards, and have to answer to a college that is scrutinizing my practice at every turn; not to mention a government that is very quick to vilify us in the name of cost savings while wasting precious tax payer money to cover their mega-financial blunders over the years . . . But we do the job because we believe in what we do, and we have the stats to back us up. Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is clearly the way to go, and it is responsible for the improvement in health care worldwide . . . It’s not perfect, but it’s light-years ahead of anything else we have. Those who contest this notion should remember that policy is often directed by politicians who have a very different mandate than physicians and scientists.

        One of the dangers of naturopathy that I haven’t seen mentioned here (??), but is nonetheless certain, is the increasingly common practice of deferring to an ND for untested, unreliable, and potentially unsafe “treatments” for relatively common conditions, that can effectively, safely and easily treated with conventional medicine (my kind of medicine). This is underscored when the condition is in fact a life-threatening event in a child that goes unrecognized by an ND, and frankly horrible “advice” is offered–the unwitting parent has been manipulated, but feels comforted because they made a choice to go against mainstream medicine . . . This is what they wanted all along, and I would wager this same parent has other values that contradict most common social policies and edicts.

        And then the child dies . . .

        I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I have already seen this 5 times in my 15 year career . . . There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of cases that do not get reported, and the media is very selective and very deliberate about which stories they choose to follow. I know this because I also used to work in the Emergency Department, and I still have many colleagues who work there–we share our stories often. Corporate philosophies and confidentiality requirements restrict our ability to bring attention to these cases in any meaningful way.

        Anyway, sorry to ramble . . . Again, love the work you’re trying to do. Will keep reading with enthusiasm.

      • has

        I don’t think NDs are intentionally “evil.” They are just very uneducated “and ill-informed.

        This. However, one does not need to be evil in order to do it. Putting personal beliefs before others’ well-being, refusing even to consider that one might be ignorant or wrong, or the potential for harm one can cause by doubling-down on those dangerously wrong beliefs by propagating and acting them out to and on other people, and willfully ignoring and outright denying the consequences of those actions when it all goes horribly wrong, and then doing it all again, and again, and again; that is absolute evil in itself.

        To quote Steve Weinberg: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” And what are AltMed and Theism if not immediate and even intimate neighbors within the larger spectrum of irrational belief systems, to the point where “religion” is a natural umbrella term for both?

        If we cannot criticize or correct ourselves, we have absolutely no business in undertakings that put other people’s health and lives on the line. And since the first rule of any religion is: The Word is True, self-criticism and self-correction are not only unapplicable to it in particular but outright verboten in any form, because one that door is opened even a crack the threat it creates to one cherished belief could easily cascade to all. It is definitely no way to practise medical care, nor even live a good and responsible life in general.

  • Mortene3

    If naturopaths have been thaught anything about proper pharmacology they must either encounter a substantial cognitive dissonace when being thaught homeopathy, or their pharmacology teaching must have been worthless crap!

  • Kip Hansen

    Ms. Hermes,

    It would be helpful for legislators if your supplied a specific list of “difficult questions” that should be asked and considered regarding naturopathic medicine.

  • kelly

    Everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion, but I’m not sure what the point of this blog is? Why put so much energy into hate? There are areas of both alternative and conventional medicine that are truly great. If I were in an accident or had a serious illness that required quick meds of course conventional medicine is the way to go, but alternative medicine has it’s place too! It is great for non-immediate care, and in instances where the individual has time to allow his or her own body to heal itself. I have worked with BOTH conventional medical practitioners and holistic practitioners and have seen patients recover from incredible things in both fields. Some people respond very well to conventional medicine, and some do not, and they respond very well to alternative medicine. To say that one or the other is better is not really fair, it is not that black and white. And to say that naturopathic medicine is not good for America really is not fair as well. I come from a country where we use a great deal of naturopathic medicine (as it is second nature to us) in instances like I said above- when the illness is not an immediate threat, and it very well respected and has been very successful. It’s hard to say that naturopathic medicine is as dangerous as conventional medicine. Our very own health-care system is responsible for a great number of adverse health effects. John Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health released an article in 2010 that noted how many deaths occurred from health care errors alone: 80000 deaths/year from nosocomial infections in
    hospitals, 106000 deaths/year from nonerror, adverse effects
    of medications,12000 deaths/year from unnecessary surgery, 7000 deaths/year from medication errors in hospitals, 20000 deaths/year from other errors in hospitals.

    Of course, there are errors in both alternative and conventional medicine, but that is my point. It is not fair to single out one as being better. They are different! Oh and it is also not fair to say “there will be less vaccinations.” I don’t know how your naturopathic experience was or who you interacted with, but it clearly wasn’t very positive! Not all naturopaths are quacks like you seem to believe. I know a great deal who do support vaccinations, and who also work together with MDs. Not all naturopaths are ignorant of conventional medicine, and some can even prescribe meds when appropriate.

    It is completely okay that you did not like the alternative field and have pursued a different degree, and I congratulate you on that! Everyone must find their niche, but please don’t be ignorant of how the alternative field could help the conventional field. I have witnessed many a miracles with the help of alternative medicine. Many people who are here today thanks to alternative medicine would be extremely disappointed to read your posts. People will continue to be naturopaths regardless of your opinion, so maybe supporting regulating the field wouldn’t be such a bad idea? We should have compassion for each other and support each other. Instead of saying “ALL naturopathic medicine is bad, DO NOT become a ND” why can’t we say “naturopathic medicine has some faults….let’s make it better.” Instead of breeding hate and putting your energy into something so negative, why can’t you agree to disagree and focus on the good you can create with your new found passion? Hate only generates hate.

    • Thomas Mohr

      Kelly, as I have often explained, there is *no* alternative medicine. There are treatments that work, and treatments that do not work. Treatments that work are *by definition* medicine. Most treatments in “alternative” medicine are either highly experimental or hypothetic – or simply do not work. With regard to your argument to make naturopathic medicine better. If you strip naturopathic medicine from non-working treatments, what remains ? Medicine.

      With regard to deaths in the medical system, this is a tu quoque fallacy and therefore rejected.

      The problem with people with inferior medical knowledge applying therapies that likely will not work (as NDs are and do) is that the probability that something bad happens to the patient is greatly increased. Lay persons are not able to assess the competency of a physician, that means they are not able to recognize that when dealing with an ND they are dealing with somebody with an inferior medical eduction who might apply a treatment that will not work and cause a delay – with potentially severe consequences.

      • kelly

        Okay so take away the word “alternative.” “Medicine” is the system of preventing, curing, and treating disease….okay so naturopaths practice medicine. Let them practice medicine. Comparing them to MDs is nonsensical, they each do different things.

        This whole blog is a tu quoque fallacy, so I think an article published by a highly regarded medical school is actually pretty valid.

        And what is your background sir and your relation to the author? I see your comments all over this blog and am wondering what influences your views and why you are so invested in this author…because I hope, really hope, that you are never (or were ever) in the position where you are extremely ill, and you are suffering for years on end, with treatment after treatment, desperately trying to survive for your family, friends, children etc., and just when it seems like death is your only answer that you have an opportunity to try something new, and “god forbid” it works because it is not “conventional,” but low and behold it actually does, and those children don’t have to be alone. I hope you are never in the position where you are turned away from doctor after doctor for an “incurable” disease to find out when it was too late that there was someone who was cured from that very disease by a ND. I hope you never stare into the eyes of a dying child who’s parents refuse any non-conventional treatments, but you know children who were saved by and ND, and its killing you to wonder “what-if” after they have passed. Because I have. Iv’e watched families torn apart, desperate for anything that works, and finally..finally, they tried an alternative method and all the years of suffered were finally relieved.
        And if you have as well, then we have something in common and for that I am sorry. But really you shouldn’t turn your back away 100 percent.
        What if it were the other way around…what if alternative medicine was the way of America, and conventional medicine was not as popular, yet you knew there were great aspects of conventional medicine that were great. Would you keep that away from the world? Maybe you were saved by conventional medicine, and if you were, I’m extremely happy, but just remember that on the other side of that someone was saved by alternative medicine. I hope one day you are graced by the opportunity to talk to survivors of horrible diseases who were treated holistically and I hope they touch your heart like they have touched mine and realize that there is no ONE way of medicine.
        Like I said, I have worked with BOTH sides of field. There are great NDs out there who work with MDs with great results. There is room in this world for NDs. Just look to other cultures who use natural medicine with success. Our medical system is ranked very poorly across the world, you think it would hurt to allow complementary medicine to be practiced? Well, our medical system is already hurt! If you are so evidence and science based then why would you be against allowing more naturopathic medicine to be studied in order to find what does work?

        • Thomas Mohr

          “Medicine” is the system of preventing, curing, and treating disease….okay so naturopaths practice medicine. ” First you have to add using effective treatments and NO many naturopaths do NOT practice medicine. There is a paper on naturopathic practices in Canada showing that the top modalities offered and applied are things like homeopathy, etc.

          It would be really interesting if you could provide data on naturopathic medicine saving lives as opposed to medicine. Or data on any naturopathic treatment that has proven to be superior to state-of-the art treatments in the dramatic manner your write. I am talking of studies and not just anecdotal evidence because the hjallmark of medicine is being able to cure reliably.

          As for my credentials I am biotechnologist in medical science, cancer research to be more specific working in computational biology. Aside that I am from Europe and *our* medical system ranks very well. I am not invested in the Author but in naturopathic medicine because in my speciality naturopathic medicine does not save from dying, it subjects patients to treatments and tests that are either highly experimental and/or do not work and/or interfere with state-of-the art treatment – with likely deadly consequences. I on my side hope that you will never come into the situation after having tried naturopathic medicine, thus delaying proper treatment that fate has spoken the dreadful sentence “TOO LATE”.

          • kelly

            I agree that Europe ranks very well, and is far superior to America. I am originally from Europe as well and had very good medical care while there. I commend you on your hard work and degree.
            I have explained that I see the benefits from both sides – I am not against conventional medicine, but you fail to see that. I am only saying it is not fair to say that there is ONE absolute in medicine. There are advantages on both sides. And there are many experimental tests in conventional medicine that expose patients to deadly consequences as well, so again there is no absolute.
            I see you are far too vested in your own views to see both sides, and that is fine. I support both types of medicine and will continue to do so. I will just agree to disagree and continue watching the miracles in both modern and alternative medicine that I get to on a daily basis in my field.
            I am sorry you think I write in a “dramatic” manner, but unlike you behind a computer I have seen these diseases firsthand, and I am sorry I am not allowed to release their records for your interest in “research” and “the evidence.” And unlike you, I heard the sentence “too late.” And guess what..I am still here. Your comments are offensive to those you have been through the worst.
            SO cheers to you and your accomplishments, this was not meant to be a hostile conversation. I just hope one day we can all practice compassion and work to improve the world based on our individual strengths and niches. Cheers

            • Thomas Mohr

              Well, in medicine there is something like risk management, i.o.W. the risk of a treatment is assessed by weighting potential benefits vs. risks. In many modalities of naturopathic medicine this is non existent. The advantage of naturopathic medicine if you so will is the extensive personal care, i.o.W. the ND listens to you. For that however you do not need an own medicine.

              I am glad you survived the worst, whatever that was. However, defending modalities that do not work is offensive to those who where deluded into believing these modalities would work and have been harmed, in the worst case who have NOT survived. I think this is the majority, by far.

              • kelly

                And righteousness has killed more people than smoking. SO waste not your words on them, they won’t hear you anyways. Thank you for your opinion, I wish you luck in your field!

                • Thomas Mohr

                  In the study we have discussed extensively here, 87 women elected CAM over state-of-the art treatment in breast cancer. Within 5 years, 61 of these women where dead. In the comparison group, 81% survived. That translates into 44 in (words: forty four) completely unnecessary deaths due to CAM. In this one hospital alone. Do you understand now why naturopathy is NOT an alternative ?

                  • kelly

                    Haha you really dont understand my point. Im NOT against conventional medicine. Im just saying naturopaths have a place too! Theyre extremely helpful in managing lifestyle diseases, diets, and offering complementary therapies. And what about all the people who die from conventional studies as well?? Your arguments really aren’t very good. Everything you say that happens in “alternative” medicine happens in conventional as well. People die from studies, experimental drugs, malpractice, drug side effects, etc. It will happen in ALL types of medicine. As you said there is risk management. And why are you citing the same study over and over again, were all aware that this is your favorite study…..you do comment on every post. Im aware of all the pros and cons to both sides of the fence….not sure why you are adamant about defending conventional medicine. No one is taking it away!!! Of course there are bad naturopaths, just like there are bad MDs, but the good ones are excellent at balancing both conventional and naturopathic methods. Just like there are excellent MDs. The author must love you, she doesnt even have to write posts, you do the work for her. Well, sorry to tell youbut naturopathy, and actually the entire holistic field, is only growing day by day. So we either choose to improve the field and allow for research to be done to properly regulate these practitioners or we choose to fight against them and allow them to practice in unregulated terms. There was a time conventional medicine was bad too, maybe its not so bad to improve the field. And instead of spending hours fighting people on here why dont you focus all that energy in your field? Sounds like you could get a lot done there with all the energy you have here. So again, we agree to disagree. Say what you will to this but i wont respond again because we will just go in circles. Now, i actually have more positive things to focus on. Keep an open mind, it wont kill you(;

                  • Thomas Mohr

                    Kelly, there is one HUGE difference between medicine and naturopathy. In medicine you do not routinely pour experimental drugs into patients. It is unethical. In naturopathy you do. You would be astonished which things naturopaths do. Browse a little through the studyguide of NPLEX. My favourite was the management of a women with sky high blood pressure (like 170 to 120) and possibly signs of an unstable angina pectoris. Instead of immediate application of a
                    drug to lower the blood pressure thus substantially reducing the risk of heart failure Aspirin was recommended plus some homeopathic remedies. The nearest advice, i.e. immediate referral to a cardiologist was not even mentioned. the next best favourite was a women with fatigue, chronic dizzyness and excessive thirst. Instead of a referal to check for diabetes or brain tumors the recommended treatment was a Qi and blood cleaning. This is what naturopaths actually do. I also have extensively studied the academic credentials of Bastyr University. ITGhree quarter of the faculty would not be eligible for even for a Postdoc position at another university. The academic output of the University was less than two douzen papers in 2015. I alone have 10 papers on my list for 2015. You can not tell me that these people are life style experts.

                  • has

                    Ouch. Looks like your correspondent’s done a flounce. I guess that means her arguments were much too good to squander on you. And so one more opportunity to learn or self-correct came to naught, and nothing changed or evolved. The AltMed belief system in a nutshell.

  • Mberg6417

    Great article. I had no idea (until today) that Naturopaths are lobbying to be considered MDs and treat patients as an alternative to primary care physicians. That is incredibly unnerving. I am an actual MD and I can tell you that the 4 years of medical school and 3 years of residency for Family Practice or Internal Medicine is barely enough to make you a good doctor. A lot of that depends on how much you put into it during those years, who you train with, what hospital system it is, etc. When you finish medical school (before residency) you know just enough medicine to be considered dangerous. Most primary care doctors manage minor acute diseases and chronic conditions like diabetes, heart failure, hypertension. Absolutely none of these diseases can be adequately treated with naturopathy. There is no supplement or essential oil that will treat them. And to allow a Naturopath to prescribe “real” medicine would quite literally kill thousands of people a year, due to complete lack of understanding of the indications, effects, and interactions. Medicine and the human body’s reaction to it is not something you can learn in a few weeks of naturopathy courses. My two cents. btw, my residency and fellowship training was 6 years AFTER 4 years of medical school. And I have to complete 50 hours of additional training every 3 years and 250 every ten years just to remain licensed. You know, like a naturopath.

  • gwen rothberg

    yeah – we had a ND come in to our large, Level 1 teaching hospital to seek mentoring from an oral surgeon. She agreed initially, and when he posited to her during his observation of an I&D of a Ludwig’s Angina case that he had discovered the cure for Down’s Syndrome, all work stopped for a moment. When he expounded that he was absolutely certain it was a dental problem, she threw him out of the OR and called security. There is now a much more vigorous screening process for observers to come in to the OR.