Naturopathic Medicine Week 2015


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Today marks the beginning of Naturopathic Medicine Week 2015.

Leaders of the naturopathic profession use this time as a means to promote naturopathic medicine as “safe, effective, and affordable.” As a former naturopathic doctor, I completely disagree.

Is naturopathic medicine safe?

Naturopathic medicine is not safe. Naturopathic “doctors” (ones who went to accredited schools, like my alma matter, Bastyr University) are not trained in biomedical science. Instead, they study concepts that have been disproven for hundreds of years.

Naturopaths believe that a magic force, called the vis, is responsible for determining the health of the body, mind, and spirit. This notion is similar to the ancient Greek concept of the “four humors” or the ancient Chinese belief in qi and meridians.

Much of what naturopaths do in practice relates to somehow manipulating this magical force. They choose from a variety of treatments in order to restore the vis, which can then heal the body. Unfortunately, they are not trained well enough to identify actual diseases or to apply correct treatments.

Naturopaths overwhelmingly oppose vaccination in one form or another. Anti-vaccine notions are taught in the accredited schools, and naturopaths regularly discourage their pediatric patients from receiving vaccinations on time or at all. This anti-vaccine practice has been associated with outbreaks of childhood diseases, and related injuries and deaths.

Is naturopathic medicine effective?

Naturopathic medicine is not effective. The American Cancer Society has concluded that “scientific evidence does not support claims that naturopathic medicine can cure cancer or any other disease, since virtually no studies on naturopathy as a whole have been published.”1

Naturopaths claim their medicine is effective, but they offer no evidence to support this claim. Instead, naturopaths rely heavily on anecdotes and testimonials, which are not valid pieces of evidence.

A vast majority of naturopaths practice homeopathy, which is considered the ultimate medical deception of all. Naturopaths also attempt to treat all kinds of disease with massage, chiropractic adjustments, and applications of water to the body. They also say and do all sorts of other wild and crazy things from IV ozone and hydrogen peroxide to spectacularly misunderstanding medical research.

Is naturopathic medicine affordable?

Let me answer this question with another question. How can a practice be affordable if it is not safe or effective?

What to do…

Naturopathic medicine should be avoided. I speak from experience.

As a patient, is it dangerous to put your health in the hands of a naturopathic “doctor.” I have witnessed countless examples of naturopaths egregiously missing diagnoses, devastatingly overtreating otherwise healthy patients, and committing a host of other egregious acts of malpractice, without even knowing they were making mistakes. These acts cost lives. Please reconsider visiting a naturopath.

As a medical professional, it is an ethical minefield to have professional relationships with naturopaths. Many patients often seek out naturopaths to conceal information they hide from their medical doctors. Naturopaths often play into this dynamic and can unwittingly take advantage of patients who are already curious about alternative medicine. Naturopaths recommend a huge array of supplements which they conveniently sell right out of their office. Please be critical of naturopaths.

Law and policy makers should know that naturopaths are bad for public health. Naturopaths say they will make medicine better, but honestly, naturopathy makes medicine worse. They transport it back to the way it was hundreds of years ago. Please do not support bills advancing naturopathic medicine.

It is true that the medical system has serious problems, but promoting a system of fake medicine distracts from having a real discussion about how to fix problems.

I can assure you that naturopathic medicine cannot provide solutions. It is a red herring.


 

1) Russell, Jill; Rovere, Amy, eds. (2009). American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Complementary and Alternative Cancer Therapies (Second ed.). Atlanta: American Cancer Society. pp. 116–119.
Image credit: ‘No Matter’ Project, some rights reserved.