Naturopathic Practice without Vaccines is not Primary Care Medicine

4270298263_f78ee9fca0_z

As part of my Master’s of Science program in Kiel, I am required to complete a “hospitation.” This means that I will spend a very brief amount of time in direct contact with patients who suffer from diseases related to my research.

In order to participate in this hospitation, students are required to meet with a physician to ensure good health and confirm our vaccination status. In an email message regarding this health visit, our program coordinator informed us that vaccinations are mandatory. End of story.

This made me pause and think about last week’s post regarding the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) possibly updating their immunization position paper.

When I entered Bastyr University’s teaching clinic, Bastyr Center for Natural Health (BCNH), as a naturopathic student, vaccinations were definitely not mandatory and still are not mandatory. 

Bastyr loves to describe its naturopathic medicine alumni as distinct and science-based primary care providers. However, Bastyr’s teaching clinic fails to offer one of the most basic medical services: immunizations.

Student clinicians do not need to be vaccinated at Bastyr’s teaching clinic

I distinctly remember entering BCNH in the summer of 2009 as a naturopathic student clinician. I was excited and ready to start seeing patients.

In order to start my naturopathic clinical training, I needed to be tested for Tuberculosis with the PPD test and the clinic needed to know my Hepatitis B vaccination status. If I was unvaccinated or unsure of my vaccination status, I could schedule an appointment at Walgreen’s for the 3-shot series.

Or not. I could also sign a waiver stating I preferred not to get vaccinated for Hepatitis B.

For the other CDC recommended vaccinations for healthcare workers, Bastyr faculty and staff never mentioned these essential vaccines. Nowhere in the Bastyr Student Clinician Handbook do these vaccine recommendations even appear. It is common for any healthcare facility to require medical staff to be vaccinated against the seasonal flu, MMR, chicken pox, Tdap, meningococcal, and Hepatitis B.

In hindsight, I find it strange that information was never provided to Bastyr students regarding the communicable diseases healthcare workers risk contracting from patients. I am even more surprised that no one discussed the possibility of non-immunized naturopathic students exposing patients and family members to communicable diseases.

Naturopathic primary care does not include proven disease prevention

While I was a naturopathic student from 2007 through 2011, no immunization  services what-so-ever were offered at BCNH, not even through Washington state’s Childhood Vaccine Program. (This is a state and federally funded program that provides vaccines to participating clinics free-of-charge.)

Sadly, BCNH still does not participate in this free and awesome public health program and does not offer immunizations for adults. I called BCNH in Seattle and asked about immunizations offered at the clinic. The receptionist kindly informed me that the clinic does not provide any vaccinations for children or adults.

A search for the word “vaccine” on the BCNH website returns no results. The pediatric wellness page, which describes the benefits of naturopathy for children, does not mention vaccinations. The woman’s wellness page fails to discuss the HPV vaccine. The senior wellness page does not mention the Shingles or Flu vaccinations. And of course, the immune wellness page talks about acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and naturopathic medicine for improved immune function.

To me it seems, Bastyr is an unwelcome place for vaccinations.

Feeding the political beast

Bastyr University and the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) insist that naturopathic medicine is a distinct form of primary care medicine that reduces healthcare costs and improves patient outcomes. In reality, because this “distinct” form of alternative medicine fails to incorporate vaccinations into its practice, naturopathic medicine can never be like how it’s promoted. I believe it is impossible for a medical practice to reject one of the most effective methods to prevent disease while at the same time claiming to reduce cost through preventative medicine. Those who reinforce this contradiction are immoral and dangerous.

I think it is a nice gesture that the AANP has drafted a new immunization position paper that suggests support for the CDC childhood immunization schedule. Yet, there remains a huge rift between the words in this new position paper and the practices of naturopaths in North America, even at their U.S. Department of Education accredited schools.

Until I see naturopathic teaching clinics offering and promoting immunization services to patients, I will continue to believe this new position paper is exactly what the naturopathic profession embodies: a bunch of marketing bullshit.

Image credit: Noodles and Beef. Some rights reserved.

  • darby

    Interesting take on the disadvantages of being a Naturopathic doctor living in the realm of anti vaccination dogma. I can imagine many NDs being frustrated by this. I think this is an important topic, one that will surely lead to the growth and development of the Naturopathic profession. Things are sure to get interesting.

  • Jerry

    You could have remained in the profession and voiced your concerns about vaccines and vaccinations and create real change. But you made your opinions irrelevant, in a large part, by taking the low road and just attacking them.

    The picture you are portraying is false. There are NDs who are proponents of vaccination and may even offer that service at their practice or refer to have it done.

    Also, there are vaccine injuries which you did not even gloss over. Even the WHO admits them, you’re not going to? Laughable 😀 . At least NDs also help patients with problems related to vaccination so yes they do lower cost for the medical system while most MDs are useless for vaccine injury problems.

    • nut

      At least NDs also help patients with problems related to vaccination so yes they do lower cost for the medical system while most MDs are useless for vaccine injury problems.

      How do Naturopaths help where Medical Doctors do not?

      • Jerry

        How don’t they? They treat the cause of disease, MDs cover it up

        • nut

          I am seeking clarificaiton on a statement you made regarding MDs are useless for vaccine injury problems.

          MDs cover it up

          Is that the total of your argument for the assertion that MDs are useless for vaccine injury problems? So that: when faced with an instance of vaccine injury MDs cover it up?

          How do naturopaths treat the cause of disease in the context of a patient presenting with problems related to vaccination?

          • Jerry

            they enhance your immune system so that you dont rely on harmful chemicals. MDs cover it up by suppressing symptoms and not treating underlying symptoms.

            • JGC

              What exactly do you mean by the phrase ‘enhance the immune system’?
              How can on reliably distinguish immune systems that have been enhanced from ones that have not?
              How can the extent of enhancement be quantified, and what units is that value expressed in?
              (Or are you just pulling catch phrases out of your nether regions?)

              • Jerry

                haha you’re nuts thats all I gotta say. Do you even know how studies are designed? You talk about quantification but know nothing of the sort.

                • David

                  Jerry. Please explain why you emphasize that the who did a study supporting accupuncture so we should all support it. Yet they have done 100x the studies on vaccinations and support the whole schedule but you do not support that.

                • cam

                  bro you’re hilarious keep up the good work

        • jgc

          What diseases do you beleive that naturopathy effectively ‘treats the cause of’ that standard-of-care evidence based medicine does not also treat the cause of?

          • Jerry

            all of em, take your pick

            • JGC

              Okay, I’ll pick ALL. What treatments does naturopathy offer that demonstrably generate better outcomes than current standard of care science based interventions?

              Be specific.

              • Jerry

                Sure in specifics, your comment is absolutely useless that is because what is presentable clinically is what matters.
                Go shadow some NDs and see it your self. Hear from the patients. Interview them your self. Thats whats important.

                • JohnAdam

                  Jerry,
                  I can’t belive I have to ask this of someone who is such a scientific genius, but have you ever heard of the Hierarchy of Evidence? Because if you had then you would have known that anecdotal evidence is at the bottom, it’s the least reliable form of evidence. Do you know why anecdotal evidence is considered the lowest form of evidence? Confirmation bias and post hoc ergo proper hoc both come to mind. Not a Doctors scam the worried well so it looks like they get better but they were not sick to begin with, confirmation bias. Or Not a Doctors rip off people who have self limiting conditions who would have gotten better anyway, post hoc ergo proper hoc. So it really comes as such a surprise when a little girl of your intellect would actually ask us to accept anecdote as proof. Especially when double blinded controlled studies show us that naturoquacky offers nothing beyond placebo. For thousands of years people thought bloodletting worked, should we go back to bloodletting?

                  One last thing, Jerry, if you decide to come back. Your mindless drivel would be tolerated better if you didn’t write like an 8 year old.

        • Travis

          It’s like reading te average caricature of a conspiracy wingnut who think science = completely corrupt and that it’s the people with less training and education that also have beliefs that contradict both reality and their own systems of “medicine” * are somehow curing the “underlying” cause of disease. I hope you answer the question regarding vaccine risk in detail

          *chiropractic, homeopathy AND acupuncture? These shouldn’t be believable at the same time

          • Jerry

            So you’re against acupuncture too? lool you do know that the WHO has articles regarding the effectiveness of acupuncture right? No, of course not, you don’t real real research. You talk about it but when it comes to reading it you just welt under the pressure. I know you need basic literacy to read papers but you gotta at least try 🙁

            • David

              What about WHO recommendations for vaccines?

            • David

              Jerry, I still can’t stop laughing what an idiot you are. Trying to reference the same WHO that fully endorses every vaccine on the vaccine schedule. What did genius jerry say? Oh yeah. ..Almost all with an exception or two. Also depends on where your child is residing (e.g. endemic areas)

              • Jerry

                I have more education in my pinky than your entire family tree son. YOU are the idiot 😀

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

                  Jerry, you have consistently shown rude conduct in discussions. You are now banned for breaking the comment etiquette: “When pointing out hypocrisy or false information, please be as respectful as possible.” In the future, you may do better for yourself to show compelling evidence to demonstrate your points. Clearly, your pinky finger is not knowledgeable, unless of course you believe in magic.

                  • Travis

                    Maybe there will be a defender of NDs who will actually contribute substance next time. It did get tiring seeing the same insults over and over when what I really want to see is someone try to (but probably fail) provide evidence of the greatness of NDs, that vaccines are unethical, etc.

                  • JohnAdam

                    Travis,
                    I agree it got it a little tiring, but still comical. I started to feel sorry for him a little bit as you could see he was starting to spiral out of control as he was realizing his only defense was to insult people. Hopefully he comes back with evidence but I highly doubt it.

            • JGC

              Jerry, please cite what, in your opinion, represents the single most credible and compelling study supporting the conclusion the most credible and compelling evidence that acupuncture performs better than placebos as a treatment for a non-self limiting injury or illness.

            • JohnAdam

              ” you do know that the WHO has articles regarding the effectiveness of acupuncture right?”
              Yes, and they are all about 20 years old and all have some serious issues in methodology. Why don’t you post what you think is the one study that supports acupuncture the best?

              Maybe read the following, it’s a pretty good skewering of the WHO and acupuncture.
              http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-1996-who-acupuncture-report/

              Bring on the ad hominems, Jer!

              • Jerry

                Yes there are articles supporting all sorts of claims but acupuncture has stood the test of time. Thousands of years! Also it is still used in hospitals in Asia and in the emerging superpower China.

                • JohnAdam

                  Appeal to antiquity and appeal to authority, you’re quicly filling up my logical fallacy bingo card.

        • JohnAdam

          Let’s review all the baseless, vague, non-specific and pseudoscientific assertions that ol’ Jer has made:

          Naturoquacks can treat antibiotic damage, whatever that means, whereas MDs are useless to treat antibiotic damage. Can you provide any peer reviewed references to back up this nonsense?

          Not a Doctors can treat vaccine injuries whereas MDs are useless. Again any evidence to support this aside from your mindless blather?

          Naturoquacks treat the cause of disease whereas MDs just cover it up. For the third time, evidence please, and not what came out of the distal end of your GI tract after your last detoxing colon cleanse.

          Sounds like some more fake diseases that Not a Doctors love to make up in order to sell their victims so they can then sell fake treatments and supplements. So tell us what treatment modalities do you use to treat the above fake conditions. Reiki? Accupuncture? Detox? Colon Cleanse? Gallbladder flush?

          Alright sparky, let’s make it easy. How about just one high quality, large N, blinded and placebo controlled peer reviewed journal article proving any of your bullshit? You seem to be able to come on here and blow alot of hot air, how about backing up your childish proclamations?

          If that task is to hard, try this:
          You name one thing that alternative medicine has contributed that has impacted the human condition and I’ll have to name 5. You want to try that one out?

          • Jerry

            “whatever that mean” yes, yes we got it youre very ignorant and cant think for yourself. Anything else? Btw I didn’t read through any of that as its garbage. You on the other hand keep reading my comments maybe something will get through?

            • JohnAdam

              Why can’t you actually answer a question and provide any evidence for what you say? You continually dodge requests for evidence and respond with ad hominem attacts. What you add to the conversation is the equivalent of flea excrement. You act like spoiled 8 year old girl who stomps her feet and puts her fingers in her ears when she can’t get her way. Please explain how “whatever that means” in reference to non-specific antibiotic damage is ignorant?

    • jgc

      Jerry, for what vaccine on the recommended childhood schedule does the risk associated with its use exceed the risk associated with remaining vulnerable to infection by the disease it protects against?

      • Jerry

        Almost all with an exception or two. Also depends on where your child is residing (e.g. endemic areas)

        • jgc

          And your evidence that all but one or two of the vaccines on the recommended childhood schedule are assoicated with greater risk thatn that associated with remaining vulnerable to infection would be…well, what?

          You do actually ahve some, don’t you?

          • Jerry

            Evidence? for your level of intelligence? No sorry, you need more schooling then we’ll talk ok? 😀

            • JGC

              Got nothing, huh? Suspected as much.

              • Jerry

                you on the other hand have tons of BS, suspected as much 😀

            • Travis

              Intelligence /= education.

              Your comment was the classic dodge seen by creationists for decades and that we see from anyone who doesn’t know how to defend their position.

            • Kpg

              Perhaps you could share your evidence anyway. If it goes over our heads, you can gloat even more about how stupid we all are.

        • CurtW

          Jerry: “Almost all with an exception or two.”

          I would like to see you support that statement. Why dont you pick one vaccine on the recommended childhood schedule and support your stance with references to statistics of vaccine risk vs risk of VPD from the published peer reviewed medical literature?

          And if you state the risk of a vaccine preventable illness is zero because someone is living in a country where the disease has been eradicated (due to vaccines) then I would like you to build an ethical argument in favor of Freeloading.

          Should be easy for someone as scientifically literate as you.

          Curt

          • Jerry

            freeloading? what do you mean there? Hey, keep pumping your kids full of vaccines bro, I hope they never procreate if its gonna be your genes theyre putting out lol what a joke!

            • Travis

              There’s a lot of problems with what you said but I’ll address something most others wouldn’t bother with since you’re unlikely to accept anything I say about vaccines:

              His genes aren’t solely responsible for his position on vaccines. Almost all of it is certainly the result of how he was raised and his education, since that’s how beliefs are formed.

              Or do you think that it’s not better education that makes one antivax but instead it’s genetics? HA

              • Jerry

                its superior genetics to question everything especially vaccines and their perservatives. Definitely its the genes.

                • David

                  I am taking up the cause for jerry now that he is gone! –not. But I did read this article at the suggestion of another Jerry type, and have to admit it is quite well done–although not found in a very prestigious journal
                  http://www.jams-kpi.com/article/S2005-2901(14)00114-9/pdf. I do not think evidence supports the use of meridians etc. maybe acupuncture does produce local beneficial local inflammatory response. Although a difficult study to design, I still think going for a 1 k swim could outperform acupuncture and chiropractory any day.

    • Jason K.

      You could have remained in the profession and voiced your concerns about vaccines and vaccinations and create real change. But you made your opinions irrelevant, in a large part, by taking the low road and just attacking them.

      So Britt’s criticism of naturopathy isn’t valid because she left the field, but you would have totally listened to her had she only remained in the fold. Sure.

      You know, I’ve seen this exact same defense before, except it was a guy defending Mormonism against a book critical of the religion on the grounds that it was written by an ex-Mormon. The author couldn’t be trusted either, you see, because by leaving the faith she became a “tainted source.” Who can believe anything an ex-Mormon says? They have an agenda! If she had remained a Mormon and worked for change from inside, then she might have had some credibility.

      Of course, Mormons are strictly forbidden from questioning church doctrine while they are members, so it’s unlikely her criticisms would have been listened to had she stayed. That was just a fiction the man used as a pretext to dismiss her criticisms. By cutting himself off from any viewpoint that wasn’t pro-Mormon, he effectively isolated himself from any information which might conflict with what he already believed.

      When skeptics say proponents of pseudoscience often behave like members of a religion, this is exactly what they mean.

      • Jerry

        “So Britt’s criticism of naturopathy isn’t valid because she left the field, but you would have totally listened to her had she only remained in the fold.”

        Yes exactly! Now you’re starting to get it 🙂

        “When skeptics say proponents of pseudoscience often behave like members of a religion, this is exactly what they mean.”

        More like skeptics use science as their religion even though theyre not actually literate in anything scientific. Lets just say they are a fan of science, something they wish they knew about but completely do not lol

        • Travis

          You don’t understand the difference between evidence-based beliefs faith (NOT evidence-based) if you think anyone treats science like “their religion”

          It’s people like you who think that everyone NEEDS to have some kind of dogmatic faith in the first place and hence always attribute faith where it is irrelevant

          • Jerry

            Science this and science that. Define Science for me Travis. It seems you have no clue what you’re talking about as expected. Did you know science is ever evolving and what we thought about drugs 20 years ago is not the same today? Of course you didn’t.

            Oh and thanks for the thumbs down folks, very mature of all of you lool I guess what else would I expect from religious folk 🙂

            • JGC

              A definition I’ve always liked is “pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world by means of a systematic methodology based on evidence”.

              And no, I’m not aware that what we thought about drugs 20 years ago is signficantly different today: what do you think that difference is?.

              • Jerry

                read above

            • Travis

              That’s hilarious coming from the guy who thumbs down every post of mine.

              You’ll have to be more specific. I’m pretty sure our general understanding of drugs and medication is not radically different from 20 years ago. I imagine it’s mostly the same considering our understanding of things like digestion are largely unchanged… feel free to enlighten me, though.

              • Jerry

                for example off label using. using the drug as not how the manufacturer intended. and a billion more examples. you really think medicine does not evolve? wow you need to read son.

                • Travis

                  I never said “medicine does not evolve”. Try not to strawman, please.

              • Constitutional1

                “…our understanding of things like digestion are largely unchanged.”
                You are wrong. Digestion and related absorption is a complex process and some of the biochemical mechanisms are still being worked out we are continuing to learn more about it all the time, often reversing previously held assumptions, just as with other areas of the biosciences. (As with the uptake of collagen peptides vs. an “amino acid only” view of small intestine protein catabolism and byproduct uptake. Or as with the ongoing work with large intestine gut bacteria and their production of SCFA’s and other nutrients and their consequential effect on the body.)

        • Petticoat Philosopher

          So what you’re basically saying is that, if someone has left the field of naturopathy because they came to believe that it had too many problems for responsible practice to be possible, by definition, that person’s opinion isn’t valid. It’s okay to be a little critical of naturopathy but if you’re too critical, than your opinion is automatically meaningless? Dude, that makes no sense.

        • nut

          You don’t have to go to the moon to know it is there.

      • Lighthorse

        That reminds me of the time I had to attend a meeting at the company headquarters of a dietary supplement company in Utah owned by Mormons. No coffee was served because it contains caffeine, yet the pop machine in the office was well stocked with cola containing plenty of the same alkaloid. It turned out that, at the time, they had some financial involvement in the company making the cola, which apparently made it alright to drink.

  • NDs are awesome

    Why did you go to Naturopathic Medical school again then? Seems like a big waste of 4 years and 200 grand. Maybe conventional Medical school would’ve been more to your liking. Bye Felicia! Lol that was lame (and potentially a bit rude), but I couldn’t help myself 🙂

    • Jerry

      Most likely she wasn’t able to make it financially as an ND and became disgruntled. Or perhaps her skills weren’t up to par with other NDs. Tough to say but good point.

      • jgc

        “Or perhaps her skills weren’t up to par with other NDs.”
        Clearly her skills are not only as good as but superior to at least some other ND’s–the one with 15 years experience who thought a ‘gall bladder cleanse’ was in order and the supposed natuorpathic ‘cancer expert’ Britt consulted in her office–as evidenced in “Finding cancer as a young naturopath”:

        • Jerry

          ok so you’re naive enough to take her word as gospel I see how it is. I wish I lived in your delusional world, wait no I’d rather not lol

          • JGC

            I’m naive because I find Britt’s posts credible, but you’re not because you accept the efficacy of naturopathic interventions uncritically despite strong evidence that naturopathic education is sub-standard and many of the treatment modalities naturopathy embraces (homeopathy, acupuncture, reiki) are either not known to be effective or are known to be ineffective?

            Jerry, you owe me an irony meter

            • Jerry

              how are they not effective? for every one study you have on acupuncture not being effective i’ll show you one for being effective. ready set go

              • David

                Jerry I have a challenge for you. You say you are so well educated. How about we both put down are education. Whoever has more and from better schools the other permanently leaves this board never to post again.

              • Alexandra80

                if you could cite one, double-blinded study subjected to peer review that shows that acupuncture is more effective than a placebo, then no doubt you would have.

                • Constitutional1

                  I am not an acupuncture advocate, but you haven’t spent much time looking, have you? Here are a couple studies you can plug into Google Scholar.

                  1) A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Acupuncture in Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

                  2) Acupuncture compared
                  with oral antihistamine for type I hypersensitivity itch and skin
                  response in adults with atopic dermatitis – a patient- and
                  examiner-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial

                  3) Abstract PD4-7: A
                  randomized placebo-controlled trial of acupuncture and gabapentin for
                  hot flashes among breast cancer survivors

                  4) Acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy to
                  pharmacological treatment in patients with chronic pain due to
                  osteoarthritis of the knee: A 3-armed, randomized, placebo-controlled
                  trial

                  • PrimaryCareDoc

                    My response to these studies-
                    1) This was not a double blind study. The acupuncturists were blinded, but the participants were not. The sham device did not penetrate the skin, while the real acupuncture group had needs that were inserted up to 2.5 cm and rotated vigorously to produce a di qi sensation, which is a deep, painful ache. These were Japanese patients who probably had had acupuncture before. There is no way the participants didn’t know if there were really getting the treatment or not. Useless study.

                    2) Same thing as 1)- the placebo acupuncture needles were not inserted at all, while the true acupuncture group had the needles inserted 3 cm AND electric current applied to produce a “strong sensation.” In addition to this, the results say that there was no difference between the true acupuncture group and 10mg of certrazine. A negative study.

                    3) Full text not available, so I can’t evaluate the study (so I doubt you have evaluated it, either)

                    4) Same as (3).

                    Next!

    • Travis

      She’s written articles on why she went for Naturopathic and then her escape later on.
      If you’re honestly interested and not just trying to be insulting then go check out her other articles

    • JohnAdam

      The real question is why would anyone go naturopathic school? It is a big waste of 4 years and 200grand….for anyone who goes. You come out with a degree in fake medicine where you pretend to be a doctor, treating the worried well, diagnosing fake diseases and selling them useless remedies, none of which are based at all on science. Naturoquacks are not awesome, they are completely useless.

  • David

    Hey Britt
    I would love to see an article on live blood analysis. The biggest naturopathic scam of all. Somehow they can tell you all that ails you with a blood smear that a hematopathologist after 15 years of training cannot!?! Moreover they give you a shopping list of vitamins and herbs to buy at a tidy profit from themselves. If any md did this he would lose his license on the spot and probably be criminally charged with fraud. But naturopaths are above the law