Finding Cancer as a Young Naturopathic Doctor

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A mom was en route to my office. Her 5-year old child in the back seat was unresponsive. She was on the phone with our receptionist. She reported her kid could barely speak and was ghost white.

Speaking through the receptionist, I insisted the mom drive straight to the emergency room. But the mom insisted on seeing me.

When mom arrived, the child hung limply in her arms. The kid’s appearance was the classic presentation of a floppy child: unable to lift the head, eyes closed, hypotonic muscles, and insensitive to stimuli. The little one was markedly pale and thin. The kid needed emergency care from a medical doctor, not a naturopath.

We entered my office, and the mom’s friend sat in the waiting area. Mom launched into a detailed health history. This family did not use conventional medical care. Mom gave birth to numerous children at home with a lay midwife. None had been vaccinated. None saw medical doctors. Illnesses were treated with raw foods, fasting, hydrotherapy, herbs, and “detox” concoctions.

Against the father’s wishes, mom had brought the child to see me, the most “integrative” type doctor she could find, and she drove for five hours.

Her kid had not eaten for days. According to mom, the child had only wanted to drink powdered herbs mixed in water since falling ill. Malnutrition was obvious. But something else seemed grave.

I completed a physical exam of the child, while listening to mom anxiously describe the events that led her to me. I noted a low-grade fever, bruising, and pale conjunctiva. At the start of an abdominal exam, the child moaned and writhed. I wasn’t able to get far.

I explained to mom that her child needed emergency care, but she didn’t get it. My alarm bells were ringing, but I had to tread carefully given her family’s alternative lifestyle and her frantic demeanor. I worried I could scare her away, while at the same time I worried about leukemia.

I gently broached the subject of anemia which led mom to ask about blood transfusions with immense fear. She was against them.

I repeated: the kid needed to be taken to the hospital.

Mom then started to negotiate: What tests would the hospital order? Could I order these tests here? What could a medical doctor do that I cannot? Why was I so concerned?

Her fear began to break me. I wondered, maybe I could order the labs here and start the diagnosis process. No way.

She pleaded, “Before you make us go to the ER, would you talk to our naturopath back home?”

“Oh? You have a naturopath back home?”

“Yes! She has been our family doctor for years. She makes house calls. We love her.”

“Sure.” I stepped out of the room to call the other naturopath.

Naturopathic doctor: not a doctor

The conversation I had with this naturopath was frightening.

Her naturopath asked, “What you do think about the gallbladder?”

I was confused. “I am not sure what you mean.”

“Well,” the naturopath explained, “The gallbladder can cause symptoms like this. Maybe a gallbladder cleanse is needed.”

I became furious and all decorum dissolved. “No, this is a not a gallbladder issue. The child is anemic and may very well have leukemia.”

Instead of going back into the patient room, I sought the advice of another naturopath in the office–a cancer “expert.” This naturopath, I thought, would help me navigate mom’s fears and the impending hospital referral.

I was wrong. The advice was indolent. My questions were more or less regarded as rhetorical. There was no return to my urgency. There was no solid advice from someone who had been in practice for over 15 years. I walked away empty handed and deflated.

I took a deep breath and entered the patient room. “Your child is very sick,” I said. “The best option, the fastest option, and smartest option, is to bring your child to the emergency room and let them handle this situation. This is what I would do if I were you.”

Mom started to bawl. “We came to you to avoid the hospital!”

“Yes, I know. But I would not insist that you go to the hospital if I did not believe this was a life or death situation, and that the best medical care possible will be provided to you in the emergency room.”

Mom got her friend from the waiting area. The friend encouraged her, took the driving directions from me, and packed up. As the they walked out the door, I jumped on the phone to contact the emergency room to speak to the hem-oncologist.

Based on my description, the hem-oncologist immediately suspected leukemia. The child was admitted to the hospital that night and formally diagnosed a few days later after a bone marrow biopsy.

Team players

I remained in contact with this family for several months. Mom did not trust the hospital, the nurses, or the doctors. Mom would call me almost daily to consult. Eventually, the medical doctors caught wind of this and began calling me directly. They were utterly floored to learn that I supported all of their medical recommendations.

The hem-oncologist was particularly happy to speak to me. In her experience with naturopaths, she often found herself fighting their recommendations and treatments for cancer. She asked if I would be willing to come into the hospital and have a “roundtable” discussion with the family and medical team. I agreed. We hoped this would open lines of communication and re-iterate to the family that we are all trying to save a life.

The next week, however, the oncologist cancelled. The family decided to transfer to another hospital a few hours away.

I am still not sure exactly what happened. It took me some time in get in contact with the mom again. She was either very busy caring for her sick child, avoiding me, or both. When we finally talked, she made several vague comments about the father not wanting to pursue chemotherapy and wanting more opinions. I offered to drive to them and meet the oncologists. Mom declined. She was interested in speaking to my colleague, the naturopathic cancer expert, regarding therapies for leukemia. Yes, the same expert who couldn’t give me straight answers on what to do when the family first saw me in our clinic.

The road to recovery

Typically, the 5 year survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia is quite good with conventional treatment. The last statistic I read was around 85%. I suspect the 5 year survival rate without chemotherapy is not so high.

I was listed as the child’s primary care doctor for awhile and would occasionally receive faxed updates from the new oncologist. Every report would end with statements about the parents refusing aspects of care. Mom eventually stopped returning my calls.

I think about this child all the time. I think about the obvious cancer presentation and how the other naturopath totally missed it. I think about mom’s emotional reaction and how this impacted my decision-making. I wonder what would have happened if the family sought care from their naturopath back home. What would have happened if they first saw my naturopathic cancer specialist colleague? Would the child have ended up on a gallbladder cleanse or intravenous mistletoe? Bleak outcomes would seem likely.

Sadly, this child was just the first gravely ill patient to come through my clinic’s door since I started there. Many were very confused into thinking naturopathic treatment for cancer is efficacious, and I witnessed many further misled into really whacky therapies. All were desperately looking for answers and guidance. All were scared and willing to try anything to save their lives, except, in many cases, surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. Conventional treatments were generally shunned.

I know from Edzard Ernst that the use of alternative medicine in cancer patients is positively correlated with shorter life spans compared to patients who did not use complementary/alternative medicine. I fear the reasons for this correlation is that alternative medicine causes direct harm to cancer patients or directly interferes with conventional treatments. I agree with Ernst that the reason for the correlation is likely a combination of factors.

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Do not Choose Naturopathic Cancer Treatment

One day while I was injecting vitamin C into a cancer patient as an adjunct to chemotherapy, the patient looked at me with tears and said, “I bet you think I am weak for choosing to use chemo.”

I replied, with all honesty, “I would do exactly the same thing as you. I would do whatever it takes to stay alive.”

Today my answer is different. I would do whatever it takes to stay alive, which means totally avoiding naturopathic medicine.

 

Photo credit: 1) Flickr user freeparking. Some rights reserved. 2) Jano De Cesare. Some rights reserved.
  • carbonUnit

    An anecdotal, but powerful, sad story. A mother is misled into nearly(?) killing her child by lack of effective treatment… I guess you never found out what happened? Did you check obits?

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

      I left my practice after mom stopped returning my calls. She never followed up after she received my notice of leave. I haven’t checked for obits. I like the think the child eventually ended up getting all the necessary care to survive and thrive.

      • David

        You are delusional. Naturopaths make up such a small part of the health care system. If they all disappeared tomorrow, the worlds health would not change or improve. If every md disappeared tomorrow….
        Why is it that nd are basically unable to prove a single thing they do if it works so well?

        • Petticoat Philosopher

          Ummm…check your reading comprehension dude because this entire blog exists to offer informed criticism of naturopathic pseudo-medicine from someone who was in the profession and is no longer. So I don’t know who you think you’re arguing with here. Did you actually read a single word of the post?

          • David

            Yes I know. My little rant was in reply to Ian and ended up in the wrong spot

            • Petticoat Philosopher

              Ah, fair enough. 🙂

      • Irina Krier

        Hi,

        This story touched me. I am currently working on leukemia genomics in Geneva, and my mother died of leukemia in 2009. I have two children.

        If it makes you feel any better, there’s a good chance, from what I have read from medical practice in the USA, that the parents would have been declared incompetent to make decisions for the child, and therefore that the relevant hospital would have asked a judge to make an injunction naming a temporary guardian for the child for the purpose of getting him the proper treatment. No doubt this would have caused a lot of stress in the family, but with the good remission rates for childhood ALL there’s a good chance he made it.

        https://depts.washington.edu/bioethx/topics/parent.html

  • http://motherfigure.com Meredith

    As a mom of three young children, this post really got to me. Watching an adult choose naturopathic cancer treatment is sad, but a child who can’t choose…that is tragic.

  • peter

    So, your education helped you figure out that it could possibly be leukemia and the same education led you to refer the child to ER which is encouraged by all naturopathic schools.

    Your education seems to have worked in this case, of course NDs just like MDs make mistakes and kill people but you didn’t. Good on you and good on the professors that drilled this stuff into you. Naturopathic medicine makes excellent doctors because of just this.

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

      My ability to recognize a very sick child does not equate to naturopathic education working. I do not think one needs any medical education to know that a limp, non-responsive, and pale child needs acute medical care.

      • Ken Hamer

        In fact it would appear that a “naturopathic education” would lead one to believe that “a limp, non-responsive, and pale child” is suffering from something benign, like an ‘un-cleansed’ gall bladder.

      • Mike

        I learned from the naturopath employed by a major hospital that to treat someone who has fainted, you just press their feet. Naturopaths are so irresponsible- glad you weren’t.

      • Ian

        Right, but you accurately guessed leukemia which is not a diagnosis some lay person would come to.

        Just admit it, naturopathic medicine helped you in that instance. It doesn’t really help your cause by saying everything about a profession that has been around a long time and growing is bad! It just makes you sound bitter and childish.

        • JGC

          Ian, she concluded that naturopathic medicine did not offer the patient a reasonable expectation of improvement and referred them to the local hospital’s emergency room for science based treatment.

          If that’s how naturopathic medicine ‘helps’, it would be far more efficient to skip the naturopathic exam/referral to licensed MD’s step, which only delays receipt of effective treatment.

          • Ian

            Any primary care doctor would refer the patient to the emergency room as she did. No one would have been able to treat that patient adequately at that time or give some reasonable expectation.

            An MD would have later referred to an oncologist which an ND cannot legally do. You guys really think highly of MDs lol they are pretty ignorant and get a lot of things wrong.

            • nut

              “Any primary care doctor would refer the patient to the emergency room as she did.”

              However from the article above it is clear that Naturopaths failed to refer or even support another colleague toward said referral.

              • Ian

                Whats clear? It’s a story not an article!

              • nut

                It is clear that Naturopaths failed to refer or even support another colleague toward said referral.

              • Michael MD

                That is true but when you bringing a child to the ER most ERs have a separate pediatric ER for children with pediatricians who have a fellowship in emergency medicine. So the referral would come from a pediatrician.

            • David

              Ian
              How are you so knowledgeable about what MD do and do not know. Unless you went to medical school or work closely with them, your comments are all anecdotal.
              We are just so lucky that all these naturopaths are available to further the medical knowledge of the world. So many ND have won the noble prize. They contribute so much to the health of the world.
              By the way do you realize that an oncologist is an md. You keep saying md know nothing ? But speak of specialists as if they are different and somehow not trained as an md?

              • Michael MD

                No. Ian is correct. A pediatric hemotologist is a referral by the pediatrician. No way a ND could do that referral. The pediatric hem still needs a primary (peds) to make the referral.

          • Britt Hermes

            Agreed. The patient had to pay for my office visit. Both time and money were wasted. And I spent time trying to figure out how to admit this patient to the hospital quickly. The fastest way was via the ER. I called a ped-hem/onc, who called the ER and asked them to look out for the child. If I had been an MD with admitting privileges, I would have been able to arrange this transfer more efficiently, follow-up better with the patient (and Mom), and visited the child in the hospital.

        • Ken Hamer

          Wow. That just seems downright desperate.

          • Ian

            Wow, why even type out one-liners? 🙂 I love it when “science defenders” have no substance 🙂

            • Charles

              The great thing about science is that it is true whether you believe it or not.

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

          Hi Ian. Naturopathic medicine did not “help me.” The study of pathology led me in the right direction. I was wrong about other things. For example, I thought the child would need a transfusion. But the ER explained to me that children can often become very anemic, and bounce back quickly without the need for a transfusion. I also did MANY shadowing experiences (through school and residency) with medical doctors including oncologists and pediatricians where I learned a lot about medical diagnosis and treatment.

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

            Also, my (somewhat) medical competence is not proof that naturopathic medicine is sufficient, adequate, as good as med school… and so forth.

            • Ian

              Nor is it evidence that there is anything wrong with naturopathic medicine. You have just provided a story and it really depends on the readers’ opinion if they believe you or not.

              There are no facts contained within your story, just a sad story with a somewhat encouraging ending.

              • nut

                “Nor is it evidence that there is anything wrong with naturopathic medicine.”

                There is plenty wrong with the naturopathic industry or have you not been reading.

              • JGC

                Ian, the fact that homeopathy, acupuncture and energy healing such as Reiki are integral parts of naturopathy is all the evidence needed that something wrong with it.

          • Ian

            ER employees especially nurses have a lot of knowledge that most MDs who have been in family practice for a while. Naturally they would know more than any MD or ND. Again it was good that you referred the child which is what any qualified primary care physician, whether MD or ND, would have done.

            If anyone missed this in your office it only speaks to their personal lack of knowledge and need for education/discipline, it does not stain naturopathic medicine one bit. Just like MDs that kill people due to ignorance (e.g. medicine interactions).

            • nut

              My local Medical Doctors are fantastic, indeed I am in good health today because of the knowledge and support they have given me over the past couple of years. Your slurs toward them are ill-conceived.

              • http://ronsNHhme Ian

                We have good MDs and good NDs and then there are terrible ones. You’re lucky to have a good MD, good for you. That’s where your argument begins and ends 🙂

            • david

              Ian:
              This is where your ignorance of what most MDs do come into play. Unlike naturopaths, most MD do not sit in their offices and see mostly healthy people. Most MDs see quite sick people daily, they may do ER shifts themself, they may do operating room assists, they may do maternity delivering babies. There skills do not deteriorate such that they know less than a ER nurse. ER nurses are competent but they are competent in protocols not in diagnosing diseases!

              • Ian

                no they do not. MDs see acute cases that are of no immediate concern most of the time. ER nurses actually have more ER knowledge since that is their only concern. Your view of MDs is too rosy for anyone’s good.

                • Michael MD

                  ER nurses are good but they shouldn’t have the degree of knowledge as a board certified medical doctor. At least not in my experience

        • Petticoat Philosopher

          From the transcripts and syllabi that Britt has shown us, it appears that there is some legitimate science-based medical education going on in naturopathy programs–enough to probably put the knowledge of the average naturopathy student somewhat above that of an average layperson. But it’s still not enough to qualify one to practice medicine and it’s also doesn’t account for the majority of the material–if you took all the homeopathy and other woo-woo, what you’d have left could probably be covered in some non-matric courses at a community college, rather than an expensive 4-year program that gives you nothing but a bogus credential.

          I also recall Britt saying that she made a concerted effort to expose herself to legitimate, science-based medical practice during her education. The credit there goes to her initiative and sense, not to the field of naturopathy. She went above and beyond what was required of her. She could just as easily not have done so and still ended up with the same degree.

          • Ian

            Bogus credential? You do know that naturopathy is regulated in some states and in most provinces?

            Your comment is based on zero facts and you’re supposed to be a representative of science? lol

            • Petticoat Philosopher

              Regulated? The expression “fox guarding the henhouse” comes to mind.

              • http://ronsNHhme Ian

                So who’s the fox? Are you a conspiracy theorist (yikes run away). But seriously so you don’t trust the government, you don’t trust other MDs who support NDs, you don’t trust MDs that have undergone ND training, you don’t support pharmacists who have supported NDs. These are some of the folks you claim to be the “Fox”!

                Do you just have a hate-on for NDs? Or are you just really paranoid?

              • JGC

                I’d say the Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Board of Medical Examiners between 1998 and 2001 qualifies as having been a ‘fox’, wouldn’t you Ian?

                In 2001 that board fired its executive director, following the discovery he had misrepresented his credentials (he had not received an ND from a Los Angeles college as claimed on his license application), had shredded documents and copied exams.

                This followed an investigation by the Arizona Auditor General’s office, which in 2000 found the board’s licensing procedures were seriously deficient: not only had their licensing exam never been validated, the board consistently ‘adjusted’ scores upward so that everyone who had taken the exam since 1998 was given a passing grade regardless of their performance on the exam.

                In the February 1999 exam, for example:
                none of the 18 applicants scored the necessary 75% to receive licensing

                the board elected to have all scores adjusted upward
                it also elected to give applicants full credit for about one-sixth of the exam that was deemed “too difficult” only after all applicants had failed

                despite being given full credit for the section retroactively deemed ‘too difficult”, 9 out of 18 applicants’ grades were STILL below passing

                the board elected to have additional “adjustments” made to these exams

                the multiple ‘adjustments” resulted in one applicant receiving full credit for 90 incorrect answers in the second part of the three part exam

                Perhaps you see now why noting “naturopathy is regulated in some states and in most provinces” fails to be persuasive evidence the credentials are not bogus, and why the cliché “fox guarding the chicken coop” is appropriate?

              • Petticoat Philosopher

                I’m referring to the supposed naturopathic regulatory bodies that are pretty much a joke. Don’t see how that’s not obvious. No conspiracy theories here, sorry. You’re the only person in this conversation who is highly invested in believing wild fiction.

        • David

          Nd cannot diagnose anything themselves. They wait for a patient to come to them with a diagnosis and then try to treat it with their hokey treatments. An nd would never be able to diagnose a neurological disorder or look in a patients eye and see glaucoma, etc. but they are happy to give some bogus treatment.

        • Jonathan Graham

          Just admit it, naturopathic medicine helped you in that instance.
          What principle of natruopathy was employed? Whoops…can’t say can you. Here’s an easy thought experiment. Suppose they had taken them to the village shaman and he gave the same advice. Did Verdun (Voodoo) help those people? What about if they got the same advice from a witch? Psychic healer?

          What you’re doing is conflating two ideas:
          i) “They were helped by someone who possesses some body of knowledge X” and
          ii) “They were helped through the application of the body of knowledge X.”.

          While i) is true it does not necessitate ii)

      • David

        Ian!!
        You show a complete lack of understanding of an md training. Md trains almost a 100 percent of the time in the hospital dealing with people who are sick enough to be hospitalized. The primary question an md asks when seeing a patient is this something dangerous; and number two does this patient need to be hospitalized. If the answer is no to one of these questions then a big part of the md brain shuts down! Because md knows that 90 percent of things people come in with gets better with time. This is where naturopaths and chiros come into play. Because they take these patients who get better with time, give them some hokey treatment, and then claim success when they get better!!
        A naturopath has no experience dealing with truly sick people. There training is 100 percent office based

        • JGC

          “Because md knows that 90 percent of things people come in with gets better with time.”

          Citation needed, that 90% of all physician’s visits are to address self-limiting illnesses or injuries (because 90% of my and my families visits to the physician sure haven’t been for things that would have gotten ‘better with time’ without meaningful intervention.)

        • http://ronsNHhme Ian

          With time eh? So is that what MDs are selilng? lool So chronic diseases get better with time? Are you joking? NDs typically deal with chronic diseases not sprains and colds. People typically don’t have enough money to pay an ND for those things. They just either deal with those or go to MDs to be told to wait lol

          By the way MDs do a crappy job with people’s health and usually cannot treat anyone. Thats a big reason patients end up at an NDs office.

          • JGC

            ‘NDs typically deal with chronic diseases not sprains and colds.”

            If, of course, by “deal with” you mean ” offer interventions that have not been shown to be safe and effective (like homeopathy and acupuncture)”.

            Not also that the list of ‘chronic diseases’ ND’s dealwith includes ones which don’t actually exist (like Persistent Lyme Disease).

            “By the way MDs do a crappy job with people’s health and usually cannot treat anyone.”

            Which is why no one with a chronic disease such as asthma, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, congestive heart failure, COPD, hepatitiis B, HIV/AIDS, etc. have ever benefited from the care provided by licensed MD’s.

            Oh, wait…

            • http://ronsNHhme Ian

              You’re delusional, the World Health Organization has concluded that acupuncture is much more effective than pharmaceuticals for chronic pain for example. You really love bashing homeopathy I can see which you think is your ace in the hole lol Well chap, even MDs use homeopathy around the world so there must be some benefit otherwise why would they want to alienate themselves. Wake up, the medical world doesnt just include Western doctors.

              “Which is why no one with a chronic disease such as asthma, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, congestive heart failure, COPD, hepatitiis B, HIV/AIDS, etc. have ever benefited from the care provided by licensed MD’s.

              Oh, wait…”

              Yes, do wait and open your eyes. Not everyone benefits from conventional treatments for chronic diseases and these people do benefit from alternative treatments. Unless you’re gonna claim that no one ever sees a benefit after consulting with an ND, which is of course ludicrous.

              To make things more complicated for you and your weak arguments (if they can even be classified as arguments lol), MDs and NDs often work in conjunction. Yeah I know your beloved MDs actually work with NDs in patient care and they dont disrespect them like you do.

              • David

                Yet again Ian, you are the one who is delusional. The WHO has been widely criticized for their endorsement of acupuncture and since had retracted the majority of their recommendations. They relied on studies with no controls. Since the advent of the retractable needle as a control, study after study has shown that acupuncture is nothing more than a placebo effect. Just look at all the cochrane reports
                As to md working with nd, again you are wrong. I work in the medical field in both a rural and urban setting and it is rare indeed that they collaborate. I would estimate 90% of md outright believe that naturopaths are incompetent quacks and dangerous. 9% tolerate naturopaths because they feel it is better to collaborate then to make the patients choose (ie. When quacks offer cancer cures like this quack in Florida). Then there is perhaps 1/100 flaky md that believes in naturopathy or work in integrative clinics. And even in an integrative clinic, it is not a partnership, it is always the md that is the quarterback.
                I’m not sure what your background is where you have such biased info. Maybe you are on of these guys who hangs out in herbal stores and crystals shops, so you have a skewed view of how the rest of the world lives.

                • Michael MD

                  http://umm.edu/news-and-events/news-releases/2005/study-analysis-shows-acupuncture-effective-for-treating-chronic-low-back-pain This was a 2005 study done at University of Maryland stating for chronic low back pain acupuncture is effective.

                  • David

                    Michael:
                    Pretty well every single type of alternative medicine has been unable to prove effectiveness. Perhaps acupuncture is the only one that has shown some effectiveness. However, as I stated in my previous post, most of the evidence for acupuncture has been debunked since the advent of a good placebo in the form of the retractable needle. Evidence is slim at best. https://www.painscience.com/articles/acupuncture-for-pain.php

                  • Michael MD

                    The University of Maryland study was conducted by the medical school they used a double blind process. This was not done by naturopaths.

                  • JGC

                    What you’ve linked to (Manheimer et al) isn’t a study done at the University of Maryland, Michael: it’s a meta analysis of 33 different studies done elsewhere by a researcher associated with U of M. The authors don’t indicate that the studies were double-blinded (or indeed blinded at all) only that they were controlled.

                  • cruz

                    Which makes me wonder whether Michael MD, is really MD or stands for Michael from Maryland?

                  • nut

                    The link you provided is actually a news release. The review to which it reports is actually a meta-analysis of pre-existing studies. The actual title is Meta-Analysis: Acupuncture for Low Back Pain (MAALBP).

                    MAALBP was not double blinded, in fat the review notes the need to approach the meta-analysis in light to the studies’ “heterogeneity”. You will have to re-read the review for further clarification on this. Also you note that it “was not done by naturopaths” but you should note that under Grant Support it lists the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and BackCare and the British Medical Acupuncture Society. It also lists the Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: Employment: A. White (British Medical Acupuncture Society); Grants received: A. White (BackCare), B. Berman (National Institutes of Health); Grants pending: B. Berman (National Institutes of Health) but that is not to cast aspersions on the validity of the review, just another consideration.

                    You would have seen in MAALBP the listing at the start under “Limitations: The quantity and quality of the included trials varied” and also on the following page “Cautions: Quality of included trials varied”; good science is so important.

                  • Michael MD

                    One you are stating an absolute which even in the allopathic field which I practice most of us would not agree there is no benefit and nothing to learn from CAM

                  • JGC

                    What benfits do you believe accrue from the integration alternative medical modalities–which I’ll remind you by definition means integrating modalities which either have not be shown to be safe and effective or have actually been shown NOT to be safe and effective–with standard of care evidence based medicine? I can’t think of a one. (Insert obligatory aphorism regarding integrating cow pie and apple pie here.)

                  • nut

                    The data do not allow firm conclusions about the effectiveness of acupuncture for acute low-back pain. For chronic low-back pain, acupuncture is more effective for pain relief and functional improvement than no treatment or sham treatment immediately after treatment and in the short-term only. Acupuncture is not more effective than other conventional and “alternative” treatments. The data suggest that acupuncture and dry-needling may be useful adjuncts to other therapies for chronic low-back pain. Because most of the studies were of lower methodological quality, there certainly is a further need for higher quality trials in this area.

                    The above is from Cochrane website, a 2011 study, with bold added by myself. It mirrors the meta-analysis you posted.

                    High quality trails need to be done. Randomised controlled trials published in
                    China have been shown to be positive in 100% of all cases. Bias must be considered outside of China and this must be addressed through high quality trials otherwise you are left with low quality guesses.

                  • Michael MD

                    It was done buy the Uni of Maryland Medical School and one in the UK. There were 2,100 participants it met Fischer and p tests. Even Mayo and Hopkins uses acupuncture. Don’t refute actual studies unless you read them. I did.

                  • Michael MD

                    By

                  • JGC

                    “Even Mayo and Hopkins uses acupuncture.”
                    Which might attest to the growing popularity of alternative medical intervention, but in no way argues that acupuncture is effective-agreed?

                  • nut

                    … Don’t refute actual studies unless you read them. I did.

                    Is that directed at me? Bit of a repost but:

                    I hope you can see from the above I didn’t actually refute anything, I posted more information that directly supports your indirectly linked review. I did add the bold formatting because the need for “High Quality Trials” is so important and of course you would have seen in Meta-Analysis: Acupuncture for Low Back Pain (MAALBP) the listing at the start under “Limitations: The quantity and quality of the included trials varied” and also on the following page “Cautions: Quality of included trials varied”: good science is so important.

                    Just in case you still don’t think I had read the review (I also read the news release) you will note that I state “Randomised controlled trials published in China have been shown to be positive in 100% of all cases” and I use this to infer that bias is an important consideration. The statement comes from your indirectly linked MAALBP half way down on the last page in the first column: “RCTs published in China have been shown to be positive in 100% of all cases”.

                  • nut

                    Oh dear.

                  • JGC

                    That wouldn’t be the 2005 study that concluded “No evidence suggests that acupuncture is more effective than other active therapies”, would it? hardly a ringing endorsement. I’ll note that if senior author Edzard Ernst did consider the possibility that acupuncture might possess some actual efficacy in 2005 he changed his position as additional studies were conducted. Speaking with resepct to a 2012 meta-analysis (“Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis”, Vickers et al) Ernst stated that the study “impressively and clearly” showed that the effects of acupuncture were mostly due to placebo. “The differences between the results obtained with real and sham acupuncture are small and not clinically relevant. Crucially, they are probably due to residual bias in these studies. Several investigations have shown that the verbal or non-verbal communication between the patient and the therapist is more important than the actual needling. If such factors would be accounted for, the effect of acupuncture on chronic pain might disappear completely.”

                  • nut

                    When I read the study the other day I noted that about the “other active therapies” and I tried to see exactly what these other therapies were but couldn’t.

                  • david

                    michael:
                    your study is from 2005, looking at studies that occurred prior to that date. The whole acupuncture literature was turned on its head mostly after that date when they started to use proper controls with a retractable sham needle. If you look at the cochrane reports, they revised their conclusions based on these new studies. I suggest you review the new body of literature and not rely on
                    “old news”.

              • nut

                The reason naturopaths don’t mind being alienated is because they do not practice evidence based medicine.

                “The official body for Australian GPs has asked pharmacists to strip their shelves of homeopathic products and warned doctors not to prescribe them because they do nothing.

                The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has formally recommended GPs stop prescribing homeopathic remedies and says pharmacists must also stop stocking such products because there is no evidence they are effective in any way.”

                http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jun/03/australian-doctors-told-not-to-prescribe-homeopathic-items-as-they-do-nothing

              • JGC

                “You’re delusional, the World Health Organization has concluded that acupuncture is much more effective than pharmaceuticals for chronic pain for example.”

                Based on what evidence demonstrating greater efficacy, Ian? Be specific.

                “Not everyone benefits from conventional treatments for chronic diseases and these people do benefit from alternative treatments.”
                Your evidence that these people have benefited from alternative treatments such as homeopathy and acupuncture would be…what, exactly, Ian? Be specific.
                “Unless you’re gonna claim that no one ever sees a benefit after consulting with an ND, which is of course ludicrous.”
                That isn’t my claim, though, is it? My claim is instead that there is no evidence that any of the treatment modalities naturopath’s offer that are not also common to standard of care science based medicine have been shown to be efficacious.
                “Yeah I know your beloved MDs actually work with NDs in patient care and they dont disrespect them like you do.”
                That some MD’s work in concert with ND’s does not argue that the alt-med treatments (like acupuncture and homeopathy) ND’s offer are effective, Ian.

  • Cruz

    Wow, the part where two or more naturopathic physicians got it wrong, did not even come close to proper diagnosis or better yet, send patient to ER, you willfully chose to ignore. Cognitive Dissonance is a “d”itch!

  • Ken Hamer

    I doubt it was her witch doctor education that helped her “figure out” it might be leukemia, and was actually her own good sense and self-learning.

    But as to your claim that naturopathic diploma mills encourage referrals to emergency rooms, it would appear on the face of it that most naturopaths would be more likely to kill someone in serious distress as a result of their nonsense education. Examples at hand would be the clown that suggested a “gallbladder cleanse” and the “cancer expert” naturopath who felt that a child at death’s door was no big deal.

  • Oliver

    Was there a class in emergency medicine at Bastyr? Insteresting to see an emergency course at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Its probably basic and most likely laughable. I’ve come across a few people in my area in my nursing career that shun conventional medicine and vaccinations. Fortunately in some cases, there wasn’t anything serious. But have you seen a child with a nasty whooping cough? Its terrible to see. Parents didn’t vaccinate and the child tested positive for pertussis. Hopefully the parents got a valuable lesson when contacted by a physcian in public health. Just sayin’.

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

      Hi Oliver, maybe, but I cannot remember off hand. We were required to do a CPR class. I’d have to check my transcript, which is posted in the ND education post.

      • Oliver

        Britt, you did the right thing to the best of your ability to fight tooth and nail by trying to convince the mother to take her child into the ER. I applaud your judgement, reasoning, rationale, and ethics you have come across in your former career. I wish you all the best in your studies and new career!

        To all the opponents of conventional medicine and naturopaths, here is common sense knowledge: TREAT THE SYMPTOMS AND STABILIZE THE CHILD FIRST. Do not delay initial treatment.

    • TheMan

      Taking an emergency class does not go as far if you don’t have the tools to perform in that situation… What I am saying is that if someone is dying on the street, an EM doc won’t be able to help since he/she won’t have any equipment or tools to do anything…

      • JGC

        My mother (a physician) saved a neighbor who’d had a heart attack on his front steps by maintaining CPR until emergency services arrived.
        Don’t underestimate exactly how useful a tool knowledge, training and preparation can be.

        • TheMan

          You can learn how to perform CPR in 15 minutes…

          • Ken Hamer

            And apparently you can do it without any of the “equipment or tools” that are required for someone “dying on the street.”

            Clearly you know nothing of ABCD, the golden hour, or any of the other medical constructs developed by real medicine in the last half century.

            Like something as simple as carefully applied pressure to reduce “D”eadly bleeding. Like the administration of something as common as every day aspirin in the case of stroke. Like the elevation of limbs for shock. And any number of other techniques than can have a massive impact on the medical outcome of someone dying on the street, that require virtually no equipment or tools whatsoever.

            They just need the knowledge, which apparently most naturopath pretendes lack.

          • JGC

            That’s kind of my point, Man: knowledge and training in and of itself is a valuable tool that can demonstrably be used to save lives even when you may not have other tools at hand–and, as you point out, sometimes isn’t even difficult to acquire.

  • Peggy

    This is a heartbreaking case, and I’m glad you recognized the real problem. I kept wondering, though, when someone would call 911 and summon an ambulance for this unfortunate child, whether the mother agreed or not. Isn’t this a case of child neglect and/or endangerment? The child was gravely ill and malnourished. Adults can choose whether or not they want to receive appropriate medical care for themselves, but they cannot deny care to their children.

  • Dorothea Cist

    This is such an obscenely compelling and, potentially, heart-breaking story. It boggles the mind to realize that you left it for your, maybe, 10th blog! If this story were true and the goal was to discredit naturopathic medicine, any thinking person would have mentioned this horrific experience far earlier than the topics of some of these other crank blogs.

    I am beginning to suspect that you are not real.

    • Travis

      But she’s posted her transcript…
      Also, although emotional arguments are effective she seems to have so much material that your argument falls flat. She’s provided a lot more substance thus far and so we’re all grateful, especially her education breakdown.

  • Dorothea Cist

    Britt, I just listened to your Prism interview. And, I realize that you did actually go to Bastyr. I am so sorry that you missed out on the most valuable parts. Good luck in your future.

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

      No need to apologize. I got everything I needed out of Bastyr and am well on my way to a new career where I can educate the public and lawmakers about the naturopathic “medicine” sham. I feel very lucky that people are visiting/ reading my blog and engaging in this important discussion about the education and practice of naturopathic practitioners. Thank you for reading and posting.

  • Peta

    This is a tragic, yet unfortunately all too believable tale.

    What I am most curious to know is: were you provided with anything resembling training in Mandatory Reporting as part of your education at Bastyr – even if just offered as an optional subject? Do any Tertiary Institutions which teach Naturopathy etc. not insist on including this as part of their education of ND’s? [Or is it perhaps considered to be a COI?]

    I ask as in Australia, you cannot work or volunteer near children without receiving regular training in when to report suspected abuse or neglect of children. I know several people who work in medical and related fields and this applies to them in particular.

    I cannot imagine quite how stressful this situation must have been for you to navigate…

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

      Hi Peta, I am trying to remember if this was taught. We may have touched on it in peds. I had this training due to my previous volunteer work at Children’s Hospital, in an adolescent group home, and with children with ASD. Sometimes, it is hard to remember exactly where I learned what I know. For example, how I know the signs/symptoms of leukemia or how I know how to recognize abuse.

      With some discussion, I convinced mom to take her child to the ER. In my mind, she was doing the right thing and there was no need for a 9-1-1 call.

      I still contemplated reporting the parents, but after the child was admitted to the hospital, I felt this was out of my hands as I was not exactly sure what the parents were consenting to and what was being denied. I trusted the ped onc and nurses to make this decision. Thank you for your comment.

  • Ellegra

    Hi Britt,
    you stated that you received your ND license at Bastyr and briefly worked at AZ. I was curious to check the records for your ND license and didn’t find any. Can you comment on that?

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

      Sure. I am not currently licensed in any state. I was licensed was under my maiden name.
      My transcript is uploaded here: https://www.naturopathicdiaries.com/nd-confession-part-1-clinical-training-inside-and-out/
      Record of my WA license is here: https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/providercredentialsearch/SearchCriteria.aspx
      My AZ license should show up as Retired or expired, but I just checked and it does not. That is a mistake by the AZ board. (No surprise there.) But feel to Google my maiden name.

      • NH Primary Care Doc

        I love how people come on here thinking they’re going to some how “catch” you in a big lie, like you didn’t actually go to Bastyr or work as an ND. I mean, you blog under your real name. You’ve posted your transcripts.

        I guess Ellegra is demonstrating the excellent critical thinking skills s/he is learning in ND school.

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

          What gets me is that all the necessary info to confirm my identity is right here on my blog. It is just that people never seem to read the posts.

  • Kay Kay

    I have received nothing but help from my clinical nutritionist. I have a good bit of common sense and I can see a lot of good that comes from eating a whole food diet and abstaining from foods our bodies are sensitive too. My entire family sees this practitioner. He practices Nutritional Response Testing. We have been detoxing chemicals, metals and parasites. Oh, and before you start in on making fun of the parasites. Let me tell you. The proof is in the pudding. Or poop in this case. I have seen what I have been passing and it’s real! Not my imagination! I have worms and they had been making me ill! I feel so much better now that I am killing them and passing them out. I wish it wasn’t true but it is. My worst nightmare. At least now I know what it is so I can treat them. Mainstream medicine doesn’t even look at parasites until there is a crisis of some sorts! Well I don’t want to wait until then! I wonder how many people are suffering from them as well?
    My entire family have all improved, from my children who experienced wakefulness at night, distended belly, always hungry, circles under the eyes, severe allergies, nosebleeds, my IBS and fatigue just to name a few. I am sure there are plenty of holistic health practitioners who try to extend beyond their field of expertise but I will tell you that we have been helped so much.
    My kids sleep thru the night, have normal appetites, the dark eye circles are gone, bowel movements are regular, nosebleeds are rare instead of daily, my energy level is almost normal and my son who suffered 5 years of allergy shots only to be right back where he started, now can breath thru his nose and sleep peacefully at night without any sinus meds! Before you discredit every practitioner, listen to those of us who have been helped, not hurt. Do not call all of them quacks! I am not a doctor but I do tons of research and think thru my decisions and balance it all out with common sense. I believe there is a place for medicine but I also believe it is overused and nutrition is overlooked. My family and I are so much better off now than we were. If one of us contracts a serious condition of course we will seek help from mainstream medicine. There should be a balance of nutrition and medicine. Unfortunately it seems there is a huge gap between the two. Finding foods that cause inflammation and eliminating them, eating a well rounded whole food diet sustainably raised is best. Eliminating preservatives and additives and food dyes, eliminating sugars and refined foods. Detoxing the toxins in your body that cause illness. These all go a long way in helping us all be healthy. If you encounter a health crisis, by all means, find a great doctor to help you but for a lot of common complaints, these other treatments can improve quality of life without medication.

    • Ken Hamer

      It’s hard to tell if this is satire or not.

      • Kay Kay

        It’s not. Just my experience with alternative medicine.

        • Ken Hamer

          That’s very unfortunate… ’cause it means you’re speaking nonsense.

          Given the problem you children had prior to visiting your “clinical nutritionist” (aka “toothyologist”) it seems they have much larger problems than just nutrition.

          • Kay Kay

            You can’t argue with results. My children are healthier and happier than ever before. They are not skinny or obese and rarely get sick as their immune systems can now fight off infection where they used to catch every thing that came along. I am offering information for those who may be discouraged by what they are reading here. Not ALL alternative practitioners are “quacks”.

    • PrimaryCareDoc

      It’s amazing how many of my patients have claimed to have “parasites” to me…even to the point of bringing in the “worms” from their stool. Without exception, when I send the “worms” to the lab, they are either vegetable matter or mucosa. Not worms. Not parasites.

      • Kay Kay

        I can only speak from my experience. I know what I feel and see. I know what I am dealing with and others that have shared similar experiences with me. I do not discount the concern, care and expertise of the medical profession. I honor and value them as they are needed in our care. I just disagree with the disdain towards holistic and nutritional care combined with medicine.

    • JGC

      “I have seen what I have been passing and it’s real! Not my imagination! I have worms and they had been making me ill!”

      I don’t doubt that you’re passing something. I’m curious, however, how you’ve factually established that what you believe to be worms/parasites actually are worms/parasites. I trust it’s on some basis other than “Yup, sure looks like a parasite to me..” Care to describe the method?

      “Detoxing the toxins in your body that cause illness.”

      What toxins, exactly, and what illnesses do you believe they are causing? How have you established that the improvement you believe you’ve experienced as the result of ‘detoxing’ actually is due to the ‘detoxing’ you’ve undergone?