Naturopathic “doctors” in California

On February 26, 2015, Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego) introduced CA Senate Bill 538 to remove scope limitations for licensed naturopaths in California. The bill aims to amend the existing law, the Naturopathic Doctors Act, so that naturopaths would be able to independently:

  • order, perform, review, and interpret results of diagnostic procedures
  • order, prescribe, furnish, or perform parenteral therapy and minor surgery
  • allow cervical routes of administration among the authorized routes of administration
  • allow naturopaths to prescribe medications without the supervision of a medical doctor, as currently required

This “scope modernization” bill, as naturopaths call it, is a big deal. It essentially allows naturopaths to practice medicine independently, paving the way for naturopaths to be more like real primary care doctors in the state. The California Naturopathic Doctors Association (CNDA) has summarized the importance of SB 538 for the naturopathic profession in California best:

It [SB 538] will further reduce barriers to the growth of the naturopathic profession in California, which has been stunted as naturopathic graduates opt to practice in states where scope is reflective of full naturopathic training.

This bill is also critical for the naturopathic profession because there is an accredited naturopathic college in San Diego. Bastyr University, San Diego opened its doors in the Fall of 2012. It is a hindrance to training naturopathic students without the legal ability to function as a primary care doctor. How, I wonder, are naturopathic students learning the ways of their profession without actually being able to practice the naturopathic procedures listed above.

With such a significant vote ahead for California lawmakers, it is important to provide these lawmakers and the public with information about how CA naturopaths are practicing. Here are some screenshots of naturopathic practice websites from California naturopaths who attended “accredited” universities:

Integrative Health Solutions

San Diego, CA

Integrative Health Solutionshttp://www.docbron.com/Home_Page.php

  • Most questionable advertised treatment:

Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation

Photo-oxidation therapy is also known as Photoluminescence or Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation (UVB).  A photo-oxidation (UVB Therapy) treatment consists exposing a sample of the blood to an ultraviolet (UV Ultraviolet “C” Light) light briefly.

Ultraviolet light has been used as a disinfectant for many years; most contaminated objects can be cleansed rapidly of viruses and bacteria by exposure to this kind of light.

 However, the most dramatic effect of ultraviolet irradiation is the stimulation of the immune system and various enzyme systems. Through a mechanism which probably involves increased production of lymphokines, the immune system is activated to “attack” either cancer cells or invading organisms.

  • We are now able to do this in a non invasive fashion making this an affordable and safe therapy available to all patients. 

Called Sub-Lingual Photoluminescence we can expose the blood to these UV rays without the need to remove the blood from the patients body. The UVB is delivered under the tongue to the sub lingual veins where the blood is very superficial.

  • Practitioners:
    • Bronner Handweger, graduated from University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine, uses the credentials “NMD,” which I am fairly certain is not allowed in California (see Naturopathic Practice Act regarding title usage)

Lotus Rain Naturopathic Clinic

San Diego, CA

Lotus Rain Naturopathic Clinichttp://lotusrainclinic.com/

  • Most questionable advertised treatment:

ABC BioEnergy Patches

The BioEnergy Patch provides a new and improved means of allowing the body to balance itself to reach optimal levels of performance. These are Bio Energy skin patches that can influence the energy field that surrounds all life forms via the central nervous system via a resonating mechanism. It’s like wearing a mobile software “app” that “re-trains” the automatic nervous programs that run our body’s operational systems. These frequencies communicate with and enhance the body’s natural energetic systems. By wearing the Bioenergy Patches the body receives corrective and energetic information that promotes health. The Patches allow the body to respond differently to physical, emotional and mental stresses

The ABC Energetic patches address conditions such as:

Skin, Hair, Focus, Stress, Lyme, Candida, Parasites, Toxins, Bacteria, Colds , Viruses, Fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, Diabetes, Arthritis, Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Migraines, AND MORE

  • Practitioners (called the healing team):
    • Kirstine Reese, graduated from Bastyr University
    • Hadas Hilewits, graduated from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, FABNO
    • Alisha Moadab, graduated from National College of Natural Medicine

Marin Center for Natural Medicine

Marin and San Fransisco area, CA

Marin Center for Natural Medicinehttp://www.marinnatural.com

  • Most questionable advertised treatment:

Prolozone Therapy

Prolozone® Therapy is regenerative injection technique developed and pioneered by Dr. Frank Shallenberger. It is excellent for all forms of musculo-skeletal and joint pain including chronic neck and back pain, rotator cuff injuries, degenerative and arthritic hips and knees, degenerated discs, and shoulder and elbow pain. The good thing about Prolozone therapy is that because it actually corrects the pathology of the disorder, there is a 75% chance for the chronic pain sufferer to becoming permanently pain free.

What is Prolozone Therapy?

Prolozone is derived from the Latin word “proli” (proliferate) which means to regenerate or rebuild, and the word ozone. Ozone is the most biologically selective and best connective-tissue-specific form of oxgyen for healing joint pain. Prolozone uses the power of oxygen to cause damaged tissues, joints, ligaments, and tendons to regenerate. This usually causes a complete healing, and a permanent end to pain.

How Does Prolozone Work?

The reason that some injuries completely heal and others do not has to do with circulation. In order for a damaged area of the body to regenerate and heal, it must have the critical elements that only the blood can provide: Vitamins, Minerals, and Oxygen.

Of these, by far the most important is oxygen. Low levels of oxygen cause an accumulation of lactic acid, which is what causes pain. Prolozone works in three ways. First, a local anesthetic medication is injected into the injured area to reduce pain and swelling. This leads to increased circulation. Next, the area is treated with vitamins and minerals that are critical for healing.

And finally, the area is infiltrated with oxygen in the form of ozone. The result is that the tissues get what they need to heal. And as they heal, the circulation to the area is re-established, and the treatment is complete. The response to treatment varies from person to person, but on average, most people need 4-6 treatments.

  • Practitioner:
    • John Monagle, graduated from National College of Natural Medicine, falsely calls himself “board-certified in primary care.” (I checked primary care board certification records, and naturopathy has no such board certification.)

Naturopathic Wellness Center

Los Angeles, CA

Naturopathic Wellness Centerhttp://www.nawellness.com

  • Most questionable advertised treatments:

Nutrient Infusions and Injection Therapies- IV and nutritional shots

Vitamin infusions via IV (intravenous) or IM (intramuscular) shows to be beneficial for a wide variety of common conditions and ailments. Infusions allow us to administer high, concentrated doses of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other agents to assist with various types of treatments. By bypassing digestion, it bathes the body in nutrients and can act as a jumpstart to the healing process. Sometimes it is necessary to jumpstart the healing process to give the body enough nutrients to allow it to restore balance.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy treats symptom expression using minute amounts of natural substances (plant, animal, mineral) to stimulate the body and cellular metabolism to correct its imbalance. These natural substances, if given in larger doses, can create the same symptoms it is chosen to treat. This utilizes the theory that like cures like. It promotes health on mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual levels.

Regenerative Injection Therapy

Prolotherapy is a regenerative injection therapy aimed at strengthening and stabilizing muscles, ligaments and consequently our joints. It is a recognized orthopedic procedure that an be effective post trauma, for over-use injuries or as a preventative measure. With a precise injection of a mild irritant solution applied directly on the site of the torn or stretched ligament or tendon, prolotherapy creates a mild, controlled injury that stimulates the body’s natural healing mechanisms to lay down new tissue on the weakened area. The mild inflammatory response that is created by the injection encourages growth of new ligament or tendon fibers, resulting in a tightening of the weakened structure. Additional treatments repeat this process, allowing a gradual buildup of tissue to restore, close to, the original strength to the area. Joints weaken when ligaments or tendon attachments are stretched, torn, or fragmented, and become hypermobile and painful.

For Athletes, prolotherapy can be the difference between retiring from a sport due to pain, instability or a dysfunctional joint and being able to get back into action with confidence in your body. More conventional approaches such as surgery or anti-inflammatories often fail to stabilize the joint and thus don’t offer lasting pain relief or healing. Prolotherapy, however, with its unique ability to directly address the cause of the instability, can repair the weakened sites and produce new fibrous tissues. This results in permanent stabilization of the joint. For athletes this can mean more stable ankles, knees, shoulders, hips, backs, etc.  This translates to more jumping capacity for the hurdlers, more stable shoulders for baseball players, stronger low backs for lifters, etc.

  • Practitioners:
    • Jennifer Abercrombie, graduated from National College of Natural Medicine
    • Adam Sutherford, graduated from National College of Natural Medicine
    • Alexandra Carswell Engle, graduated from National College of Natural Medicine

Berkeley Naturopathic Medical Group

Berkeley, CA

Berkely Naturopathic Medical Grouphttp://berkeleynaturopathic.com

  • Most questionable advertised treatments:

Homeopathy

Based on the Hippocratic principle that ‘like cures like,’ homeopathy is a gentle yet powerful energetic form of medicine that matches the vibrational patterns of an individual. A well-chosen remedy assists the body in carrying out its natural restorative processes.

Biotherapeutic Drainage

One of the most advanced forms of homeopathy, biotherapeutic drainage is a gentle yet very deep healing modality. Different from a cleanse or detoxification protocol, biotherapeutic drainage works much more deeply on cellular and energetic levels to enhance the natural routes of elimination. This restores the functioning of cells, organs and body systems.

Clinical Detoxification

With so many different “detoxes” promoted in books and in the media, choosing the one that is most appropriate for your needs can be challenging. Our doctors are highly trained in the art and science of detoxification. We help you avoid harm by creating a customized detoxification protocol that is best suited to both your daily reality and your medical needs.

  • Practitioners:
    • Elizabeth Korza, graduated from National College of Natural Medicine
    • Tara Stoop, graduated from Bastyr University, founder of Stoop’s Study Supplies, a former online resource for Bastyr students that offered copies of old exams and quizzes
    • Anne Van Couvering, graduated from National College of Natural Medicine

Conclusion

The above profiles are a non-random sample of naturopathic practices in California. I did not seek out any particular practice or naturopath. I simply used the results given to me by Google. All of the above naturopaths attended one of the accredited naturopathic colleges in North America.

The above practices represent the marketing and selling of pseudoscience and debunked medical therapies to patients. The listed advertised treatments are a waste of money, at best, and harmful to patients, at worst. I fail to see how ozone injections are safe.

Furthermore, the advertised treatments represent something far more telling about naturopathy: none of them are science-based. The naturopathic profession repeatedly insists that naturopathy is based on the best scientific information available. But California naturopaths certainly are not practicing in alignment with this statement. In my opinion, the above practices represent naturopathy as a whole throughout North America.

Naturopathy is not a “distinct system of primary health care.” Naturopathy does not “combine the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science.”

Naturopathy serves as a facade for passing off expensive fake medicine to vulnerable patients who believe they are receiving quality medical care. California naturopaths are profiting from this ruse, at the expense of patient safety.

Join me in protecting Californians from dangerous naturopathic practices. Please contact your local CA representative and let them know you oppose SB 538. If you live in San Diego, please contact Senator Marty Block directly.

Doctor oppose 538 sample letter

General oppose 538 sample letter

30 Replies to “Naturopathic “doctors” in California

  1. “order, prescribe, furnish, or perform parental therapy and minor surgery”
    “parental therapy?” Could this be a typo?

  2. Naturopaths who pander to the gullible with both unproven and potentially dangerous procedures and substances under the guise of medicine should be held to account by federal and state authorities; not provided with the freedom to add pharmaceuticals and routes of administration for which they have little to no training. I see no reason not to conclude that passage of the bill would increase the risk of harm to patients as naturopaths would then be able to combine all sorts of treatments and procedures without first establishing their efficacy or safety.

  3. Could you post Marty Block’s direct email address? I do not have a California address but my uncle who lived in CA was a victim of a naturopath who did not recognize the signs of a dangerous heart attack (he had extreme backache, so was sent to a chiropracter instead of the emergency room). He cannot speak out from the grave, but I would like to.

  4. Could you post Marty Block’s direct email address? I do not have a California address but my uncle who lived in CA was a victim of a naturopath who did not recognize the signs of a dangerous heart attack (he had extreme backache, so was sent to a chiropracter instead of the emergency room). He cannot speak out from the grave, but I would like to.

    1. Hi
      J.Elizabeth,

      I think its really great that you want to contact the California
      legislator. In case Britt doesn’t have an email for Sen. Block, I’ve
      looked up some information and posted links below. It seems the links
      off the state website only let you send 200 character comments so I
      phoned the contact number below and left a message with asking what
      the procedure would be for getting a longer email, or attachment,
      sent. I think the phone below probably goes to administrative aides,
      who are usually good about returning calls.
      (State Capitol, Room 2206 Sacramento, CA 95814 Phone: (916) 651-4101)

      I have a suggestion though. In my state, I’ve found that the bill
      sponsors are unlikely to change their own bills but, the members of
      the appropriations committee will be very interested in hearing why
      they should or shouldn’t vote for it. I’d also recommend sending an
      email to the Senator who represents the district where your uncle
      lived. The first link has the general index of Senators, the second
      has a “find my legislator” page. The third link goes right to the
      appropriations committee members. If you click there, you’ll get the page to send a comment to a Senator.

      Thanks for doing this. Its so important that they hear stories about real
      people.

      http://senate.ca.gov/senators

      http://senate.ca.gov/

      http://sapro.senate.ca.gov/

      http://senate.ca.gov/content/appropriations-1st-extraordinary-session#

      Appropriations Members:

      Senator Ricardo Lara (Chair)
      Senator Patricia C. Bates (Vice Chair)
      Senator Jim Beall
      Senator Jerry Hill
      Senator Connie M. Leyva
      Senator Tony Mendoza
      Senator Jim Nielsen

      Coauthors: Senator Hueso (since he’s co-sponsor, he may also be inflexible)

      State Capitol, Room 2206
      Sacramento, CA 95814
      Phone:
      (916) 651-4101

  5. I don’t know if you noticed this, but this UVB Therapy might actually be cancerogenic. The resoning is as follows: It employs UVC which is high energetic UV radiation with a very high capability to damage DNA. However, the penetration is not deep enough to reach live skin cells therefore the association between UVC and melanoma is not very big. However, this is normal skin with a thick layer of dead cells. Sublingual we are dealing with a mucous membrane with almost no protective layer. Since the lamp is apparently strong enough to reach underlying blood vessels, it sure is strong enough to cause DNA damage in the epithelium – with likely cancerogenic effect. I.o.W. they are offering a potentially dangerous therapy which is not proven at all.

    1. Thanks, Thomas. I was going to mention the same thing. What I would like to know is why the US FDA has failed to action on such a practice.

        1. No. Treatment by a doctor is a civil law contract in which the FDA has no standing. In Germany (and other European countries) this is codified in civil law which basically reads as follows: A patient has the right to treatment according to accepted medical standards if it has not agreed upon otherwise. I guess this is similar in the US. Therefore quackery done by licensed people is prosecuted for fraud and not for medical malpractice.

          1. What if any regulatory body in the U.S. is responsible for the protection of patients from the unproven, ineffective, unsafe, and potentially dangerous practices of naturopaths in the U.S.?

            1. Let’s leave out unsafe procedures which are a clear ethical no-go. However, with regard to unproven etc. treatments Doctors have a wide leeway in treating their patients and this is a very good thing since it is the patients decision which treatment s/he chooses. However, there are a few provisions. The patient has to be informed in full and understand the consequences of the treatment and no false health claims have to be made since this is akin to fraud. Exactly there is where Naturopaths run afoul with the law.

              1. Yes, I’m quite aware of informed consent, which definitely has it’s place, such as off-label drugs and pilot and phase 1 clinical trials. My guess is that naturopaths are having patients sign waivers to the effect that they may be treated with experimental substances and practices without sufficient evidence of efficacy, thereby allowing them to profit from all manner of useless treatments; homeopathy being just one.

                1. I hope Brit answers this question, but I don’t think they are having clients sign off. That was one charge they could use against the Washington ND, Catanzaro, who was treating cancer patients with some concoction of his. He did get a year’s license suspension, but he’s back in business now.

                  1. Louise, legally that is not so much a problem of waivers, it is a problem of advertising things. Take for instance:

                    “The ABC Energetic patches address conditions such as:
                    Skin, Hair, Focus, Stress, Lyme, Candida, Parasites, Toxins,
                    Bacteria, Colds , Viruses, Fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, Diabetes, Arthritis, Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Migraines, AND MORE”.

                    In the EC such an advertisment is illegal without supporting clinical studies. Once again, the relevant matter of fact is NOT selling pseudotreatments, but selling pseudotreatments *as effective* despite one should know that they are ineffective – that constitutes fraud.

                  2. Ah, but you see, they are very carefully NOT claiming to “treat” or “cure” those conditions…they are only addressing those conditions, which as no meaning in the US. They could be in trouble for claiming to treat or cure, but not otherwise.

                  3. Well, the EU is in such cases a lot tougher. You are forbidden to make *any* health related claim if you can’t provide studies, even if you only say that it addresses a certain condition. Additionally, NDs are only allowed (somewhat) to practice in a very limited manner if at all. In Austria f.i. they are forbidden to practice as in many European jusridictions. Likewise an ND is not accepted as a degree at master’s level that would entitled you to start a PhD. This is the reason why Britt is pursuing a Master’s degree and not a PhD like an MD would.

                  4. Well, the EU is in such cases a lot tougher. You are forbidden to make *any* health related claim if you can’t provide studies, even if you only say that it addresses a certain condition. Additionally, NDs are only allowed (somewhat) to practice in a very limited manner if at all. In Austria f.i. they are forbidden to practice as in many European jusridictions. Likewise an ND is not accepted as a degree at master’s level that would entitled you to start a PhD. This is the reason why Britt is pursuing a Master’s degree and not a PhD like an MD would.

                  5. No, that’s not so careful. Medical conditions named in direct conjunction with the use of a product are blatantly implied medical claims in the U.S. against which the FDA can take action. Moreover, “addressing” means directed to, which implies an application to disease.

                  6. Ah, but you see, they are very carefully NOT claiming to “treat” or “cure” those conditions…they are only addressing those conditions, which as no meaning in the US. They could be in trouble for claiming to treat or cure, but not otherwise.

                  7. Louise, legally that is not so much a problem of waivers, it is a problem of advertising things. Take for instance:

                    “The ABC Energetic patches address conditions such as:
                    Skin, Hair, Focus, Stress, Lyme, Candida, Parasites, Toxins,
                    Bacteria, Colds , Viruses, Fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, Diabetes, Arthritis, Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Migraines, AND MORE”.

                    In the EC such an advertisment is illegal without supporting clinical studies. Once again, the relevant matter of fact is NOT selling pseudotreatments, but selling pseudotreatments *as effective* despite one should know that they are ineffective – that constitutes fraud.

              2. “However, with regard to unproven etc. treatments Doctors have a wide leeway in treating their patients and this is a very good thing since it is the patients decision which treatment s/he chooses.”
                Until and unless the patient experiences an adverse outcome, at which point a licensed physician can be found guilty of medical malpractice if he has departed from the current standard of care.

                1. Here the legistlations seem to differ. At least German and Austrian law have a specific clause that a specific contract overrides standard of care. It goes as this: The treatment has to be done in accordance with accepted medical standard [and now the clause] except something else has been agreed upon. Available in German here: http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bgb/__630a.html

            2. The first line of defense, so to speak, should be your state legislators–if they haven’s already, they should not be licensing them.
              If the state does regulate NDs (which actually means the state will do nothing because everything is “standard of care” in naturopathy) –if regulated, look on your state website for the dept. of Professions and Occupations, or health professions, or possibly under the medical examiners board. They should be charged by medical boards with practicing medicine without a license, so if you have a complaint, please file!
              Or, look at the Attorney General pages for filing a fraud complaint.
              Medicaid is about the only Federally regulated program –I think NDs have at least partially infiltrated the VA, and the Indian Health Services. Otherwise, regulation of naturopathic “doctors” is up to the state.
              The FDA and FTC (who both have phone lines to take complaints) regulate drugs and devices.

            3. The first line of defense, so to speak, should be your state legislators–if they haven’s already, they should not be licensing them.
              If the state does regulate NDs (which actually means the state will do nothing because everything is “standard of care” in naturopathy) –if regulated, look on your state website for the dept. of Professions and Occupations, or health professions, or possibly under the medical examiners board. They should be charged by medical boards with practicing medicine without a license, so if you have a complaint, please file!
              Or, look at the Attorney General pages for filing a fraud complaint.
              Medicaid is about the only Federally regulated program –I think NDs have at least partially infiltrated the VA, and the Indian Health Services. Otherwise, regulation of naturopathic “doctors” is up to the state.
              The FDA and FTC (who both have phone lines to take complaints) regulate drugs and devices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *