Ye of Little Faith in Naturopathic Medicine

I have a hard time pinpointing exactly when I stopped believing in naturopathic medicine. It was a slow process. Doubt crept in insidiously when I first encountered minor issues with the profession. Initially, I saw only small medical risks from minor clinical transgressions. But, as is the case with all sins, I began to witness serious and dangerous naturopathic practices. Even though I had spent 7 years of study and practice and a quarter of a million dollars in student loans, I knew I needed to drop my faith.

I intentionally use the word “belief” to describe my experiences with naturopathic medicine. Naturopathic medicine is a philosophy, a worldview, and even a lifestyle. It is not a real and distinct medical system. Not everyone has heard of naturopathic medicine, but its principals can be found in any alternative medicine doctrine. In fact, it’s as if naturopathic medicine includes any and all tropes counter to science and borrows loosely from medicine when convenient.

For naturopaths, it does not matter if science refutes the traditional ways of healing. Because for naturopathic believers, what matters is not about what science says, but about beliefs in an alternative, magical healing force. Naturopathic medical beliefs include pseudoscientific ideas like vaccines cause more harm than good, any disease can be successfully treated with homeopathy, alternative cancer therapies are safe and effective, and nutrition can cure mental illness. These beliefs are dangerous and their promotion is unethical.

As with all institutions, naturopathy is diverse. Fortunately, not all naturopaths have the same degree of piety, and therefore, they certainly do not all practice the same way. A few renounce homeopathy and support vaccination. Yet, there is a clear absence of a “standard of care” within the profession. This problem is but one of the many flaws of naturopathic medicine in general. You, as a patient, never know what kind of naturopath will be diagnosing and treating you when walking through the office door.

This lack of cohesion is wrong. Science-based medicine depends on rigorous research and critical thinking. No medical system can be built and sustained on beliefs, hunches, conspiracy theories, notions supported by glaring biases, or lack of competency.

Naturopathic medicine is at a critical point in its history. Within the profession, there are debates between traditional beliefs and scientific evidence. While such dialogue seems like progress, the very fact that a supposed medical discipline is witnessing such debates speaks to naturopathic medicine’s lack of legitimacy. In medicine, science should always prevail.

  • Susan

    to be fair, you don’t know what kind of medical doctor, osteopath, acupuncturist, chiropractor etc. you’ll get when you “walk through the office door.” A patient should definitely take the time and initiative to research the practitioner they’re choosing to see.

    • Lynne

      @Susan: It may also be said that while you don’t know what you’ll get with osteopaths, acupuncturists, chiropractors, etc., who can have huge variances in their treatments and beliefs; you do know what you’ll get from the great majority of MDs who follow the standard of care–their treatment will be uniform within the parameters of proven science. Because it’s been proven, repeated and verified by other scientists, and passed the stringent muster of peer review.

      If you are referring to the few fringe MDs who have made up their own standard of care, or those who have bad bedside manners, I can agree with that! Although I would rather have a grumpy MD who is skilled than a warm and fuzzy practitioner who is scientifically illiterate.

      Best wishes to Ms. Hermes in her new venture. I applaud your fortitude.

    • Travis

      Well I can tell you that with chiropractors and acupuncturists you’ll be receiving unscientific treatment, for the most part.

    • Kat Moore

      I studied Acupuncture and Oriental medicine for three years before going back to medical school, getting my MD and then becoming a board certified Emergency Physician. Having been exposed to both avenues of study, I can assure you that Naturopathic/Alternative medicine has not the rigor, standards, evidence based, nor aptitude of traditional Western Medicine. My MD schooling was 1000 x more rigorous. The scientific method and the standards from medical and residency credentialing as well as board certifications from the 3 medical licensing exams, the intraining exams and finally board exams are strict, uniform, and highly regulated. If one has an MD an a Board Certification behind their name, you can be sure that they have passed a series of rigorous exams and standardized training. Are there bad MDs, of course but the process is incredibly rigorous and the vast majority of physicians practice within standards of care from their respective boards and practice evidence based medicine based on the most sound and recent research. That is not the case in Alternative/Naturopathic Medicine.

  • J.

    Hi britt! I have just discovered your blog, and I find it quite compelling that you have made such a shift, from the field on Naturopathy itself to the opposite side. I myself am a follower of the field who has recentl begun to be skeptical, after reading the many criticisms there are. I am idiots, what specifically made you make the shift? And would you mind sharing some of the dangerous practices you witnessed?

    • J,

      Curious* My,, what an ironic autocorrection!

  • Sarah Sorlien

    Hi, Britt,
    I am a physician who went down the rabbit hole of Integrative Medicine. I understand your point of view completely. Thanks for writing this. I will follow long with you.

  • Fernando
  • todd

    Its quite clear that you were unsuccessful in your career and thus chose an extreme opposite view point. When you help people day after day, then the logical path is to understand why and how (and you know, be inspired?!)… and further your studies that have brought you success. Naturopathy is a relatively new field and it struggles with its identity, thus finding strong education and mentors is difficult. If you couple this with a lack of natural ability in the field, I can see your tendency towards disillusionment. Im not talking about vaccinations or belief in Natural Cancer therapies, or other BS that many Naturopaths don’t stand behind by the way… im talking about everyday practice and giving people another option to succeed with their health goals.

    It seems that you couldn’t find success in the field so you chose to condemn it…. shame on you, shame.

    • Ryan

      I’m sure you know exactly what she’s thinking. Why have you chosen to personally attack her instead of asking questions? Do you intend to make “your side” look good while acting so unprofessionally or do you just not care and wish to be inflammatory?

      • B.D.S -Also need to self preseve a little- yet if you know me, you know me

        Ryan,
        I agree with your sentiments that this should not be centered on Britt personally. Britt, has raised great arguments and there are aspects to the field of naturopathy in which I agree with her stance and experience. I think a debate and questions to be addressed should be the following:

        1) In cases such as infectious disease, should personal choice outweigh societal wellness – we ban smoking in some areas, doesn’t vaccination address the many at the expense of personal choice of the few? I’m willing to accept that there will be adverse effects for the few yet the benefits outweigh the harm of not vaccinating for diseases that can decimate the health of many in society.

        2) Is it a requirement that clinical decision making be made by researched-backed clinical questions alone? When does “off-label” or “alternative medicine” have a place? If no evidence is available do we offer nothing to a suffering patient or with informed consent push into a realm of lower quality evidence, anecdote, or theoretical rationale?

        3) In evidence based medicine we are to incorporate the best available evidence, pair it with patient values and preferences, and use clinical judgment. If it was all evidence and science driven the patient preference and clinical judgment would be irrelevant. So why are these included by those who support evidence based medicine and it is written into the definition?

        4) Will and can this argument ever end? Shouldn’t safety be the main issue and informed consent dominate in personal health decisions? What is our obligation to societal disease burden, health care costs, and patient freedom of choice – can we accept that one delivery of healthcare is unlikely to meet all the needs of people and therefore work together despite ego.

        5) Is the academic debate and “science based practice” debate versus “CAM” working for or against the patients whom make these choices for themselves?

        6) Shouldn’t we remember to focus on patient centered outcomes, choice and obligation to safety on a societal level. Science arises out of curiosity and desperation can spark ingenuity – thus case studies and series lead to research and ingenuity. Prazosin and PTSD in veterans as a prime example.

        I don’t agree with many of the pseudo-science practices within the field of naturopathic medicine, especially when delivered without informed consent and discussion of all therapy options and benefits and risk of each – including information of standards of care. I also don’t believe that outside of examples of NNT = 1 conventional practice is beneficial for each individual treated. There are issues in conventional practice as well, especially around standards – yet everyone does the “best” we can. In Naturopathic care, many patients are reluctant and/or refuse standard practice or it wasn’t effective for them – thus they seek an “alternative.”

        Medicine is greatly ego driven as is the push to publish and be respected for those in research. For those practicing Naturopathic medicine, they need to feel validated and to defend their professional choices even when they are not dogmatic “believers” in every alternative therapy. Science in medicine has improved what we can do, yet any health care professional that delivers that information well, educates, and includes the patient in the process may actually help scientific discovery be more effective for the individual.

        • WLU

          BDS, your entire comment is premised on CAM or integrative medicine being just another variation of real medicine. It is not. CAM is qualitatively different from real medicine, not a variation on a theme. In addition to being inherently unproven, many CAM modalities are inherently improbable. There’s simply no mechanism by which homeopathy or reiki could work, the mechanisms by which acupuncture could work are hypothetical, unlikely, and speculative, chiropractic is irrational nonsense for everything except back pain (and unproven for that), Ayurvedic medicine is based on prescientific speculation that has either not been tested, or been tested (often badly) and failed.

          Your point regarding vaccination is also flawed – the comparison is not “vaccines versus adverse effects from vaccination”, it is “adverse effects versus vaccination compared to risks of the diseases prevented. Further, the safety profile for vaccines is extremely good, and the more dramatic adverse effects are extremely rare – and often simply unproven.

          Comparison to “off-label” use is also wrong. Off label use is the use of a compound we know to be pharmacologically active in a novel way, on a system it is recognized to act upon. Homeopathy is the use of sugar pills, sprayed with water, alleged to have magical effects that are unproven and whose mechanism would require all of physics and chemistry to be substantially rewritten (but is wholly compatible with the placebo effect). The best bet is herbal medicine, but often these compounds are unproven, their effects speculative, their adverse effects unrecognized, and the concentration of the active ingredient (if there is one) varying wildly from batch to batch, leaf to leaf, and leave to bark. You simply can’t get a consistent dose, and if the therapeutic window is narrow, if the “safe dose” is at all close to the “lethal dose”, patients are exposed to significant and unwarranted risks. And that assumes the herb works in the first place (and that the bottle you are buying even contains it).

          Safety and informed consent and costs should all be priorities, but since all CAM is inherently of uncertain efficacy and safety, the cost to benefit ratio is inherently unproven – and if history is any indication, most CAM treatments simply don’t work.

          Your arguments are mostly false dichotomies or do not recognize just how unlikely most CAM treatments are.

    • Mike

      Ad hominem attacks and blaming the victim are not good ways to win an argument.

      Let’s not ignore the fact that naturopathy is based on a hodgepodge of pseudoscientific beliefs. As Ms. Hermes documents, naturopaths believe that fake medicine is real and that real medicine is to be avoided.

    • Suzi

      Todd,

      “Allopathic” doctors also recommend physical fitness, eating a balanced diet, and so forth. All of the MDs I know treat the whole person. She’s standing up for science-based medicine and I, along with many others, applaud her. Big Herba and alt medicine generates billions of dollars too, so of course she will have people like you condemning her.

    • Lynne

      Todd, inquiring minds want to know: what tiny smidgeon of evidence do you have that the reason Britt left her career in Naturopathy is because she was unsuccessful? You are speculating, while completely ignoring what she has described at length as her reasons to leave it behind.

      A hallmark identifier of alt med: mind reading the motives of scientists/MDs/pharmaceutical companies without having set foot in a high level laboratory or graduate level classroom.

      • Suzi

        Also, what is success in naturopathy? Is it coming up with some groundbreaking cure for an ailment that can actually be verified with research? Is it making a lot of money? Anecdotal evidence of “success” like testimonials?

        • Chris Hoult

          I imagine that success in Naturopathy is that nobody dies because of your ignorance.

          • Caitlin

            This thread is hilarious. Chris is probably right…

    • Denise

      “When you help people day after day, then the logical path is to understand why and how…”

      Really? First you help people, and then you figure out how and why?

      I would hope my doctor would learn the hows and whys before trying to help me.

    • Bryan

      It seems you have misunderstood what “helping” means. Giving people false hope, encouraging people to use methods which are not shown to be effective, and discouraging healthy practices are not “helping.”

      You are being intentionally vague about what the practice of naturopathy entails, because it really has no boundaries. To claim naturopathy is an “option” is like saying that driving off a bridge is an “option” so we should remove barriers from the roadside.

      The field is a fraud, and shame on those who promote and seek legitimacy for it. There is already a field for healing: medical science.

  • David

    Let me pass the mic to Ken Wilber:

    “The “Cartesian dualism,” or the mind-body problem, and which, for all its high-flying philosophical accoutrements, simply means this: right now you mostly likely feel that you have some sort of consciousness and free will, and yet physical science proceeds as if reality is a closed materialistic system. Even if philosophically you are a materialist, you have to constantly translate every experience you have into materialistic terms, because that is simply not how your experience arrives.
    Physicalism, in other words, violates the grain of how the world naturally presents itself (not to mention the fact that the majority of philosophers in the area simply do not believe that consciousness can be reduced to eliminative materialism). And yet, as a conventional physician, you are more-or-less forced to treat a patient as if the patient were essentially a biophysical or material system—medications for this, surgery for that, radiation for this, one physical intervention after another physical intervention. Your patients, when it comes to medicine, are physical machines, and yet in your own awareness you do not feel that you are a physical machine—and neither do your patients. The “Cartesian” problem in the conventional practice of medicine is simply that you are basically forced to treat a patient as if he or she were a physical machine, when both of you know otherwise.”

    Neither approach to medicine is wrong. They must be applied wisely to see the benefit of both.

    • gewisn

      “Physicalism, in other words, violates the grain of how the world naturally presents itself”

      I contend that is incorrect.
      The world presents itself physically. You perceive it through a hodgepodge of representations and narrowed spectra, then interpret it according to a whole host of experiences and biases. The fact that you perceive the world different than it is, and even cojure up agency and agents that don’t exist (like “the universe seems to be conspiring to make me late to work this morning”) does not mean we ought to utilize the same imperfections in perception and understanding when developing and administering medical aid, or engineering auto safety systems, or GPS devices.

      Imagine if NASA did worried about accommodating how you perceive the universe, instead of how it is.
      “Yes, I understand what your calculations of gravity and trajectory show, but it feels more right that we should aim the rocket at where the moon is now, and not where you think it will be three days from now when the rocket arrives. What if the moon decides to go another direction? You can’t prove that it won’t choose that. Doesn’t the moon want us to land there? I think it does. Then it will surely stay in place for our rocket to hit it.”

  • http://www.NiceGuyJim.com Hominid

    The comparison between alopathic and naturopahic doctors is a false dichotomy, mostly because neither are fully characterised by their ideals. Any “regular” doctor is a slave to tainted research bought by big pharma, so please don’t state that they are based on pure unadulterated science… research is often skewed to attain the desired results – we hear reports of this all the time. That, on top of a myriad of possible and effective cures that are NOT available because they are not patentable. (Big pharma again). So please do not place modern medicine on the pedestal of idealism that you (the royal “you”) say it deserves…

    • Suzi

      So the alt medicine industry doesn’t make billions of dollars? I think you are forgetting “Big Herba.” Some oncologists talk of their patients losing all of their savings to alt medicine because they are seeking to “heal” from cancer.

      • MedAdmin

        “Some oncologist?” Anecdotal at best. Fox News headline-ish in reality.

    • Lynne

      Hominid, there is a roar of wind echoing in the air from the hundreds of thousands of scientists and universities throughout the world who are shaking their heads when they hear that their research results are bought by big pharma, or skewed to attain desired results (resulting in career suicide due to the peer review process). Also head shaking from those hundreds of thousands of researchers whose discoveries aren’t connected in any way to big pharma. That’s a mighty big effort to keep so many scientists in line with Big Pharma’s “secrets”. And no, their jobs don’t depend on it.

      Big pharma has its problems, but there are built in checks and balances and oversight that make it very difficult to sustain a hoax, which can ruin a scientist or a company. Unlike big supplement/herbal/etc. who have free rein to make any claim they like with no oversight.

      • Matthew

        While I agree whole-heartedly, some academic researchers somehow maintain their standing despite repeatedly being proved to be falsifying their research. Makes me so angry, really. I was working in Japan as an English teacher, and one of my students was a doctor, a medical researcher who would complain at great length about how two particular researchers, one at The University of the Ryukyus and one at Tokyo University who were proven to have falsified results in tens (or hundreds, in the case of the Tokyo researcher!) of published studies, and retained their jobs.

        That said, those actions are considered scandalous in the scientific community and are condemned, rather than rewarded. The ideal scientist sets out to prove herself wrong, not right, and most researchers I’ve met do just that. Medical science is always advancing thanks to that, and I would rather trust my health care to somebody who has tried to prove themselves or other wrong and found it impossible, and thus had to accept whatever treatment as the best currently available.

    • Badly Shaved Monkey

      Hominid

      Some planes crash. That does not mean that magic carpets can fly.

      Always good to see vague hand-waving rhetoric from an advocate of SCAM therapies as a substitute for specific claims backed up by specific evidence.

      You wish to defend naturopathy? Tell us, should its practitioners use homeopathy? If so, give us an example with well-founded research to support its use.

    • WLU

      What is the budget of the NIH? What does the NIH fund? Do non-US governments fund similar programs?

  • Suzi

    To go on, patents are what spurs innovation (economics 101). Also, “research is often skewed to attain the desired results” might be the case sometimes. However, science is self-correcting. Anything that would cause “skewed results” will be weeded out through further research, etc. You can count on other scientists to frequently scrutinize the research of their peers. Also, sometimes there is no absolute “effective cure” for some ailments. Unfortunately, we don’t have complete control over our health. We wish this were the case so we go searching for it in alt medicine.

  • Katia

    I can understand a lot of what you’re saying. There’s just as much, however, that I wish you had elaborated on, for example clearer examples of where naturopathic medicine is purposefully steering clear of scientific research. CCNM (canadian college of naturopathic medicine) in Toronto has put out a statement saying it is pro-vaccination, that it has taken a stance for vaccinating children. Nutrition does indeed play a very important role in mental health (as Fernando already pointed out with his link, and any simple search in pubmed will turn up a number of papers looking at links between mental health and various foods and nutrients). Using naturopathic treatments as a complement to chemo or radiation therapies for cancer makes sense and has nothing to do with ‘belief’ because it is helping to maintain the health of both the body and mind as your patient undergoes the very damaging (but needed) conventional therapies. Students at naturopathic colleges are not taught to discourage these conventional therapies.

    There is in fact so much scientific data out there that shows how painfully detrimental some side effects of pharmaceutical drugs can be to the health of patients, or how ineffective certain protocols are that are still kept in use, or how many drugs are prescribed with a wide brush stroke to the general patient population, given to patients who do not really need them and to whom the drugs may cause more harm than good.

    I agree, “in medicine, science should always prevail.” But in medicine, the health of your patient should prevail more, and that sometimes goes outside of the boundaries of science at the moment. Health is complex. Health is food and living conditions and genetics and drugs and love and environment and relationships and stress and and and. I don’t disagree with following scientific research and seeing where it leads us.. I disagree with the reductionist-slant that that sentence puts forth.

    • Suzi

      “But in medicine, the health of your patient should prevail more, and that sometimes goes outside of the boundaries of science at the moment. ” This should say it goes outside our boundaries, in general.

      CCNM also teaches homeopathy: “A versatile and gentle treatment approach, homeopathy can relieve ailments from allergies to eczema, insomnia to indigestion, headaches to hot flashes, chronic fatigue to fibromyalgia.” See: http://www.ccnm.edu/what_homeopathy

      In regards to alt medicine for cancer patients, one oncologist writes, “Research shows that nearly 70% of cancer patients and a staggering 90% of patients enrolled in an early phase clinical trial use alternative therapies. We now know that many of these therapies are not only unhelpful but are downright dangerous. Herbs and supplements can interact with chemotherapy and reduce its efficacy, a real drawback when therapy is given with curative intent.”
      See: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/03/what-do-doctors-say-to-alternative-therapists-when-a-patient-dies-nothing-we-never-talk

      • Patrick

        The amount of ignorant comments being made here is astounding. I don’t even know where to begin to disentangle and correct them. So I won’t fully bother. For instance, there are natural therapies that support chemotherapy and radiation. They have evidence. A couple the highest level of evidence: Cochrane Review meta-analysis, such as mistletoe lectins.
        Yes, natural therapies can be dangerous is misused and there are plenty of standard medical therapies that are equally or even more harmful when misused.
        The conceit that modern or allopathic medicine is solely based on evidence is laughable. It strives toward it, but day-in and day-out lots of off-label and unproven remedies are used. Certainly Naturopathic medicine does more of this. It is just a shame that viewpoints are so polarizing and closed. Certainly a lot of the frustration comes from a broken medical system (not practitioners) who do not spend enough time with their patients, who are overworked, and who are too readily prescribing pills instead of looking into preventative healthcare. Again, it is largely a systemic problem.

        • mho

          Do you have a link to that Cochrane review you’re talking about? because the Cochrane Review I found
          said the bulk of studies were of a very low quality, that the evidence from Random Control Trials was weak.
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18425885
          I’d say “weak” is an overstatement.

          In addition, your post illustrates one of the problems with naturopathic doctor’s attempts to be scientific. Some evidence, no matter how sparse, is enough for nds to jump into treating patients. In your practices, patients are test subjects–with none of the safeguards or objectivity of clinical trials, and a sore lack of peer review.
          And, I might add, injectable mistletoe is not approved for use in the U.S., so why is it administered at all by nds (in the US)? and how do they import it?
          I applaud Britt for writing this blog.

        • mho

          And, what does that mean, “support chemo and radiation”? Make it more effective?(which you would know, how?) Increase potency (which would be dangerously stupid, since the quantity of chemotherapy is measured, for efficacy and for safety) ? It makes patients feel better–better than what? what are your measures for quality of life? Assuming there was improvement how do you know what improved quality would be attributed to–the attention of a caring person, the expectation of positive outcome, or what? If the positive response is from something other than the drug–why give the drug at all? and so on… you get my drift.

        • WLU

          There is a considerable difference between prescribing a drug off label versus homeopathy which has no effects versus an herb never tested for safety let alone efficacy.

  • Suzi

    ‘A quick plug into their website indicates that the school propagates vaccine fears. I put “vaccin*” into the “find materials” search bar of the Learning Resource Centre of the CCNM website and returned this: http://lrc.ccnm.edu/polaris/search/searchresults.aspx?ctx=3.1033.0.0.1&type=Keyword&term=vaccin*&by=KW&sort=RELEVANCE&limit=TOM=*&query=&page=0&searchid=4

    That alone makes it obvious that the school supports and spreads vaccine misinformation, but is there more? Yes. Where to begin? Saveria (Rena) A. Zambri has been a clinic supervisor at the campus out-patient Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic since 1997. She specializes in “…pediatrics including perinatal health, well-child check-ups, homeopathic prophylaxis (as a choice for/with convential vaccinations)…”. http://www.ccnmihc.ca/practitioners/saveria_zambri

    The Robert Schad Clinic info online includes a pediatrics tab. It states: “We provide….[e]ducation and counselling around vaccination decisions”. A clinic supervised by a person that believes in the power of homeopathic immunization is providing vaccination counselling to parents. http://www.ccnm.edu/pediatrics

    From: http://www.domoreharm.ca/2014/05/canadian-college-of-naturopathic.html

  • Dr. Donna

    Let’s see. Where has science led us…The USA is one of the sickest developed countries in the world.

    Patients flock to Holistic Doctors bc their current Doctor does not promote their health. Current traditional medicine “manages diseases”. Actually, Naturopaths do care about research. We also know research can be slanted and there is much more to health than science. Science based research results can simply reveal in favor of the business that funded the study. The mechanistic approach to medicine has taken the heart and soul out of it and has become cold. Disease Care is big money and the pharm companies roll in money. Just because Naturopaths love their pts. and have big hearts does not mean they dismiss science and hang out hugging trees all day.

    As for the Healing power of Nature…That is a God thing and yes, to some it may be magical. God created the body to heal naturally. When given the right environment (i.e. healthy lifestyle), the body will heal even faster. If your cuts never heal, perhaps you are an exception.

    We were taught in med school that there are many situations to NOT use homeopathy. After 13 years of practice, I have not met one N.D. that believes all diseases can be cured with homeopathy. As for “alternative cancer therapies being safe” …compared to what? Skin burns from Radiation or vomiting from Chemo and not being able to eat without severe GI pain? When has raw juicing and coffee enemas killed a person or made them incapable of eating or walking to the bathroom bc of extreme fatigue? Does dignity not matter? Chemo has been “approved” to be effective for about 5 or 6 types of cancer despite the serious side effects. Yet, it is used on all types of cancer at any stage and Yes, gives false hope and EMPTIES the pockets of the near dead pts. My aunt is an example. They used her for “experimental ” therapy.

    This type of medicine is barbaric and ROBS people of more than their money and dignity. Fair medicine comes from the heart, Fair medicine presents ALL Options and not (the Doctors personal opinion). All pts. should be counseled in what their choices are instead of Doctors taking advantage of their trust in them and the pts. fear of dying. It makes me sick to think conventional medicine pushes a particular therapy upon these very sick people, like chemo, that is FOUNDED BY SCIENCE to be ineffective or only “EFFECTIVE” bc it extended life 10 days, while taken away any quality of life they may have had without it.

    Why is it necessary to prove that eating healthy and living healthy promotes health.
    Do we need to prove that holding a newborn promotes life in order to do it? Why refute that moving your body makes you feel good and drinking water helps you prevent constipation. Effective Naturopaths teach their patients how to stay healthy and prevent disease. I have never seen this not improve a compliant pt. to some point OR completely heal them….Yes, I mean 100% healing. On the flip side, other than emergency care and infectious disease (at times), I have never met a person who shared a story about how conventional medicine turned their health around and they are abundantly healthy. Instead I hear this….”noone listens to me”, “after they told me the news, I went to my car and cried and felt completely alone and hopeless”, “my Doctors are treating my symptoms, and not getting to the real problem”, “taking all these medicine makes me feel worse”, “I have new problems I did not have before”, the list goes on and on…OH, and the best one is “they say there is nothing they can do for me”. Now where in medical school were we taught to play God and steal a persons hope? I do not mean lie to someone who is apparently dying, but why would we say “throw yourself over a bridge, its useless”. Doctors told my father after his brain aneurysm this:…”Your Dad will be a vegetable the rest of his life”. I have seen “incurable” cases from John Hopkins completely cured. Magic? Not quite. Basic Natural Medicine. I find this letter hopeless, bitter, degrading, and would have never expected a Naturopath would turn on its own for the sake of “science”. We do support solid research from credible authors. We think through what we do. We take time to listen and do behind the scenes work on cases (unpaid). We tailor our programs to each person and use the most gentle therapies available first. We look up ALL of their medicines and check for interactions.

    I am sorry your schooling did not teach you true Naturopathy and you feel slighted and like it was a waste of time and money. I am sorry the school you attended did not spark your love for healing and helping those who seek and trust your guidance.

    Please do not project your unhappy experience to others who are looking for true (long term) healthcare. They will never find lasting health in a science book or in the walls of conventional medicine. I wish you the best in your new endeavors.

    • Ken Hamer

      I love interminable, bombastic, invective filled rants like this. To me it’s clear evidence that the howlers know the sun is setting on their pre-scientific and superstitious world, but hope that if they loudly wail on long enough with their arms flailing then maybe, just maybe, they might be able to delay nightfall.

      It’s fun to watch.

      And oh yeah…

      “When has raw juicing and coffee enemas killed a person or made them incapable of eating or walking to the bathroom bc of extreme fatigue?”

      See: http://www.nature.com/ajg/journal/v105/n1/full/ajg2009505a.html

    • Badly Shaved Monkey

      OK. Time for a round of Fallacy Bingo.

      I’ve inserted numbers. Anyone who is interested, name the fallacy indicated by each number after each fallacious statement. I struggled to pin down a few of them with exactly the right descriptor, which I think just goes to show how slippery fallacious arguments can be. I’d love to see whether my list agrees with other people’s. One of the most interesting aspects of my time observing SCAM therapists is seeing how they string together their arguments and just what mental contortions are required to protect their belief system.

      Let’s see. Where has science led us…The USA is one of the sickest developed countries in the world.

      1. …

      Patients flock to Holistic Doctors bc their current Doctor does not promote their health. Current traditional medicine “manages diseases”. Actually, Naturopaths do care about research. We also know research can be slanted and there is much more to health than science. Science based research results can simply reveal in favor of the business that funded the study. The mechanistic approach to medicine has taken the heart and soul out of it and has become cold. Disease Care is big money and the pharm companies roll in money. Just because Naturopaths love their pts. and have big hearts does not mean they dismiss science and hang out hugging trees all day.

      2. …

      As for the Healing power of Nature…That is a God thing and yes, to some it may be magical. God created the body to heal naturally. When given the right environment (i.e. healthy lifestyle), the body will heal even faster.

      3. …

      If your cuts never heal, perhaps you are an exception.

      We were taught in med school that there are many situations to NOT use homeopathy.

      4. …

      After 13 years of practice, I have not met one N.D. that believes all diseases can be cured with homeopathy.

      5. …

      As for “alternative cancer therapies being safe” …compared to what? Skin burns from Radiation or vomiting from Chemo and not being able to eat without severe GI pain?

      6. …

      When has raw juicing and coffee enemas killed a person or made them incapable of eating or walking to the bathroom bc of extreme fatigue?

      7. …

      Does dignity not matter?

      8. …

      Chemo has been “approved” to be effective for about 5 or 6 types of cancer despite the serious side effects.

      9. …

      Yet, it is used on all types of cancer at any stage and Yes, gives false hope and EMPTIES the pockets of the near dead pts. My aunt is an example. They used her for “experimental ” therapy.

      This type of medicine is barbaric and ROBS people of more than their money and dignity.

      10. ….

      Fair medicine comes from the heart,

      11. …

      Fair medicine presents ALL Options and not (the Doctors personal opinion). All pts. should be counseled in what their choices are instead of Doctors taking advantage of their trust in them and the pts.

      12. …

      fear of dying. It makes me sick to think conventional medicine pushes a particular therapy upon these very sick people, like chemo, that is FOUNDED BY SCIENCE to be ineffective or only “EFFECTIVE” bc it extended life 10 days, while taken away any quality of life they may have had without it.

      Why is it necessary to prove that eating healthy and living healthy promotes health.

      13. …

      Do we need to prove that holding a newborn promotes life in order to do it? Why refute that moving your body makes you feel good and drinking water helps you prevent constipation. Effective Naturopaths teach their patients how to stay healthy and prevent disease.

      14. …

      I have never seen this not improve a compliant pt. to some point OR completely heal them….Yes, I mean 100% healing.

      15. … [Loving that weasel word “compliant”]

      On the flip side, other than emergency care and infectious disease (at times), I have never met a person who shared a story about how conventional medicine turned their health around and they are abundantly healthy.

      16. …

      Instead I hear this….”noone listens to me”, “after they told me the news, I went to my car and cried and felt completely alone and hopeless”, “my Doctors are treating my symptoms, and not getting to the real problem”, “taking all these medicine makes me feel worse”, “I have new problems I did not have before”, the list goes on and on…OH, and the best one is “they say there is nothing they can do for me”.

      17. …

      Now where in medical school were we taught to play God and steal a persons hope?

      18. …

      I do not mean lie to someone who is apparently dying, but why would we say “throw yourself over a bridge, its useless”.

      19. …

      Doctors told my father after his brain aneurysm this:…”Your Dad will be a vegetable the rest of his life”.

      20. …

      I have seen “incurable” cases from John Hopkins completely cured.

      21. …

      Magic? Not quite. Basic Natural Medicine. I find this letter hopeless, bitter, degrading, and would have never expected a Naturopath would turn on its own for the sake of “science”. We do support solid research from credible authors.

      22. Not a fallacy as such, but loving your use of another weasel word there, “credible”. Though I suppose it drifts into Special Pleading.

      We think through what we do. We take time to listen and do behind the scenes work on cases (unpaid).

      23. …

      We tailor our programs to each person and use the most gentle therapies available first.

      24. …

      We look up ALL of their medicines and check for interactions.

      25. …

      I am sorry your schooling did not teach you true Naturopathy

      26. …

      and you feel slighted and like it was a waste of time and money. I am sorry the school you attended did not spark your love for healing and helping those who seek and trust your guidance.

      Please do not project your unhappy experience to others who are looking for true (long term) healthcare. They will never find lasting health in a science book or in the walls of conventional medicine.

      27. …
      I wish you the best in your new endeavors.

      28. No you don’t.

      Twenty seven fallacies in one post. Actually there are more, but I decided not to chop into ‘Dr’ Donna’s paragraphs any more than I have done.

      • Badly Shaved Monkey

        As an example, I’d say that 1 is a combination of petitio principii and cum hoc ergo propter hoc. If it really was true that the USA was one of the sickest developed countries then blaming modern science (assuming the author can accurately measure the ‘science’ content of a society) leads to a false imputation of causation from correlation.

        We ‘know’ by this same logic that the decline in pirates has led to global warming;

        http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2012/03/23/true-fact-the-lack-of-pirates-is-causing-global-warming/

        and that organic food causes autism;

        http://io9.com/on-correlation-causation-and-the-real-cause-of-auti-1494972271

        We immediately see the difficulty where fallacies are mingled carelessly in service of a making a point that satisfies their user’s rhetorical imperative.

        And all this just from Donna’s opening sentences!

      • KelleyB

        Nice to encounter you here, BSM. Thanks for taking the time to illuminate all the problems in D’s comment. I found the prospect of doing so exhausting.

    • NH Primary Care Doc

      You’re promoting coffee enemas, and yet you’re the one accusing MDs of robbing their patients of dignity.

      Oh, the irony.

    • gewisn

      “I am sorry your schooling did not teach you true Naturopathy”

      Ah, the “no true Scots-naturopath” arguement.

    • WLU

      Where did you go to med school at all that they taught you homeopathy?

      Even cancer patients cuts heal, it just doesn’t help them with their cancer.

      If cancer is completely curable in nature, why do we find wild animals with tumors? The Tasmanian Devil even has a type of cancer that is contagious through bites.

      If doctors are too greedy to allegedly treat their patients properly, I just have one question – do naturopaths charge for their services?

      If naturopathy is about keeping people healthy and preventing disease, why do they oppose vaccination?

      If doctors are so against eating healthy, why do so many medical associations recommend a diet made up of mostly whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables?

      If you wish her the best in her new endeavors, why do you spend your entire comment trying to make her feel guilty, stupid and incompetent?

  • Katia

    I clicked on the link you posted for your ‘vaccin’ search in the LRC search engine. The top results from the page your link directs me to are:
    1. Vaccine, from the International Society for Vaccines and Japanese Society for Vaccinology.
    2. Perspectives in vaccinology.
    3. Infectious diseases of the fetus and newborn infant.
    4. Cranberry: vaccinium macrocarpum
    5. Vaccinations: a thoughtful parent’s guide: how to make safe, sensible decisions about the risks, benefits and alternatives. (sounds pretty legit to me, no fear mongering here. doesn’t even promote one way or another, just offers education and you can’t know more without reading its content.)
    6. Childhood vaccinations: answers to your questions.
    7. Vaccinations: a collection of articles, letters and resources 1979-1989.
    8. Vaccine free: prevention and treatment of infectious contagious disease with homeopathy; a manual for practitioners and consumers. (first in the list to promote alternative to vaccines, debatable if its propagating fear or not)
    9. Vaccine adjuvants: preparations and methods.
    10. The vaccine guide: risks and benefits for children and adults.

    not much fear propagation here.. scanning down the rest of the book titles, there are others that promote using homeopathy and others that are anti-vaccination. It’s a library collection in an academic setting. It makes sense to have books on all perspectives, which is what is found here. The only conclusion about the stance of the school that can be drawn from this search is that both sides are taught. What is promoted in class is what’s most important and that can’t be found by doing a search of the library catalogue. And the school’s position on vaccines is pro.

    Also, the quote you provided about Saveria Zambia doesn’t show up anywhere on the link you provided… I googled the quote and her name and the only place it popped up was the source you found it from (domoreharm.ca)

    there’s the saying don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I think that greatly applies here.

  • Pete

    I can already hear the conspiracy theorists accusing her of being a shill for big pharma, in exchange of paying off her student loans.

    • KelleyB

      ^^*chuckle*

  • http://naturopathicdoctoronline.com Dr Adrian Nasager Nd

    Hi Britt,
    I just discovered your blog and I wanted to thank you for your candor. I am naturopathic doctor myself and I appreciate and share many of your concerns about the profession. I agree that naturopaths are a widely diverse group and it is a real issue that patients don’t know what type of practitioner they are going to get. I teach a class at the naturopathic college where I help students to get clear on the kind of healer they are and to clearly express that to their patients. I hope this blog has made your readers aware that they need to be selective in finding a naturopath. That being said, there are some good docs out there who follow scientific principles and treat based on sound clinical reasoning. Naturopathy is about providing real alternatives to a population based medical system for people who choose or need a different approach. I work in collaboration with medical doctors and I see no reason the two can’t co-operate; in fact I see a great need for it. Every day in my practice I help people who haven’t been helped by the public system. I also refer patients to medical doctors with different skills and tools when I think they could help them better than I.

    • Mike

      Mr. Nasagar: Thank you for your comment acknowledging faults within the naturopathic profession.

      Your web site claims that you “solve” numerous conditions including hormone balance, digestion & IBS, cardiovascular health, diabetes, weight loss, mental and emotional health, infections & immunity, cognition & memory, allergies & toxins, and pain & arthritis.

      No naturopath is capable of competently treating all these conditions. Perhaps you should learn about the Dunning-Kruger effect?

      You also say “If your doctor or specialist has told you there is nothing wrong you likely have a functional disturbance. This means your body or mind is not working the way it should but you do’t [sic] have a diagnosable disease… yet. “

      This make no sense. If your doctor can’t find anything wrong with you, you likely have something wrong with you? But you don’t have a diagnosable disease, i.e. something wrong with you?

      What percentage of quackery is acceptable for a doctor to practice? I used to think some naturopaths could be relied upon if it was only minimal, say 10%, but since reading more on what naturopaths actually learn and believe and seeing that even the most science-based naturopaths include some woo in their treatment recommendations, I’ve decided that 0% is acceptable.

      The only thing that would give me increased confidence in a naturopath would be if he or she renounced their education like Ms. Hermes has done.

      • http://naturopathicdoctoronline.com Dr Adrian Nasager Nd

        Hi Mike,
        Thanks for your feedback and giving me the chance to clarify.

        Diagnosis in conventional biomedicine focuses on identifying diseases that can be coded using the ICD-9. This approach has the advantage of classifying single conditions which clearly match an established set of diagnostic criteria and is useful for creating a common language for research, inter-professional communications, and population health initiatives.

        A functional diagnosis identifies the underlying mechanisms at play in individual cases. Many conditions have similar mechanism; for example inflammation can underpin arthritis, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. So in this model we have 2 principles: One mechanism can produce many diseases; and one disease can have many mechanisms. This is how naturopaths (and others) are able to successfully treat many different conditions and often don’t specialize in a very narrow scope.

        This is also why if your doctor can’t find something ‘wrong’ with you there may still be a significant health issue. Let me give you some examples:

        1. Your doctor recognizes there is something wrong but it doesn’t match any diagnosis she/he is aware of. For example the number ICD-9 codes will soon increase by 5x with the ICD-10 system meaning the current system is already misclassifying diseases.

        2. Your symptoms or test results are not severe enough yet to be classified as ‘disease’. Many diagnoses hinge on a subjective assessment of symptoms and there is no direct test to rule them in or out.

        3. The problem you have is not considered by your doctor to be a ‘treatable condition’ and ‘normal’. Fibromyalgia is a classic example of a real condition that was for years dismissed as psychosomatic.

        4. Most importantly, the final say on whether a person feels healthy or not, is there own. My patients know when they don’t feel well. Naturopaths see the group of patients that are not helped by the conventional system. This is why we know that functional issues are real and can be helped.

        I don’t pretend to be able to solve all medical problems, nor do I promise to fix every individual case of the conditions I can treat. My training in various different systems of medicine has taught me that there are many ways to see a problem and just because I might not see the solution, doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.

        • Taylor

          So you are saying in naturopathic school you learn how to tell the difference between all of the underlying biochemical mechanisms of the numerous types of inflammation associated with diseases? You are also saying that you learn how to detect disease before it presents to a medical doctor? You are saying you can actually treat conditions?

          You must be really made of magic.

          • DY

            “Magic’s just science that we don’t understand yet.”

            ― Arthur C. Clarke

            Keep on with the strawman arguments Taylor, you’re doing great.

          • Badly Shaved Monkey

            So you are saying in naturopathic school you learn how to tell the difference between all of the underlying biochemical mechanisms of the numerous types of inflammation associated with diseases?

            What training in SCAM actually confers is the ability to give a good narrative while the disease takes its own course. The leechmen and quacks of bygone days had exactly the same power and exactly the same efficacy.

        • Badly Shaved Monkey

          Mr Nasager

          Indeed, medicine is difficult. But any scheme which generates homeopathy as an answer to medical problems is just a childish pretence of the real thing, jealous of and copying the forms of real medicine but empty of content.

          While your patients comprise the worried well and while real medicine is in the background to pick up the pieces you can play with people’s health and tell them and yourself how wonderful you are without having to make any real difference that could not be equally well accomplished by making them a nice cup of tea and at much lower cost.

        • Ken Hamer

          How exactly is it that because a “group of patients that are not helped by the conventional system” you “KNOW” that an issue is real, and more importantly how you know it can be helped? Seems to me those 2 sentences encapsulate the entire philosophy of sCAM: Others don’t know the answer, therefore I do.

          Real doctors don’t know how to cure or even treat every condition. But more importantly, they know they don’t know. In these cases they will attempt to mitigate the symptoms.

          More importantly though is the first part of that section, the part that says:

          “4. Most importantly, the final say on whether a person feels healthy or not, is there own. My patients know when they don’t feel well.”

          So called alternative “medicines” are all about making the person/patient “feel” better, while real medicine concentrates on actually making them better. I suspect that that almost anyone can be made to “feel” better with the right cocktail of pain killers, sedatives, hallucinogens, antipsychotic, and other narcotics. They might also be made to “feel” better using magic medicine.

          But even that is not a reliable indication that they are actually better. There’s a long history of victims of homeopathy and other snake oil either claiming to be, or held up to be by their promoters, “feeling healthier”. Perhaps the most famous example is Steve Jobs, who in spite of all the hocus pocus nevertheless died of the original, well understood, and potentially treatable cause.

          Moreover, as describe in the “Placebo, where are you?” SBM article mentioned elsewhere even when people claim to “feel” better after some placebo, unbiased and objective measures show that in fact there was not improvement.

          Given a choice between feeling better, and getting better, I’d probably choose the latter. But I can see how if the treatment was very difficult some people might wish to avoid it, possibly by turning to alleged alternatives.

          But then you’re provide hospice, not medicine.

    • Badly Shaved Monkey

      Do you use homeopathy?

      • http://naturopathicdoctoronline.com Dr Adrian Nasager Nd

        Give unto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s.

      • http://naturopathicdoctoronline.com Dr Adrian Nasager Nd

        All joking aside, I’m willing to use almost anything if I think it will help my patients. Homeopathy is not my first choice because of my preference for evidence based treatments and because, like many others, I have trouble understanding how it works. That being said, I have used homeopathy when it was the best available option or when a patient has requested it and some patients have reported clear benefits from it. There are many treatments whose mechanisms are unknown both in alternative and conventional medicine. Still, it is better to help a patient by using a treatment that is poorly understood than to fail to help ( or worse, harm) a patient with a treatment that is well understood.

        • Taylor

          Homeopathy is not my first choice because of my preference for evidence based treatments and because, like many others, I have trouble understanding how it works. That being said, I have used homeopathy when it was the best available option or when a patient has requested it and some patients have reported clear benefits from it.

          You could choose to do nothing, because homeopathy does not work. Since you probably, somewhere deep inside, know that it doesn’t work, you couldn’t possibly charge patients money or bill insurance for that, right?

        • Badly Shaved Monkey

          It is not that we don’t ‘understand’ how homeopathy works. We know it does not in any meaningful sense.

          Only fools think otherwise.

          You seem to show done awareness that it is a mere placebo, so your choice to sell it to some clients suggests a depressing level of cynicism.

          Your responses encapsulate the problems of naturopathy. Even if contained some valid insights into care for patients it is so thoroughly riddled with utter nonsense that it really loses any credibility or moral right to deal with sick people or even the worries well.

          • Badly Shaved Monkey

            Autocorrect fail;

            You seem to show SOMe awareness that it is a mere placebo, so your choice to sell it to some clients suggests a depressing level of cynicism

          • http://naturopathicdoctoronline.com Dr Adrian Nasager Nd

            This is great discussion because it outlines a lot of common misunderstandings. I don’t want to turn this wonderful article into a debate about homeopathy because naturopathy and homeopathy are not the same.

            I would like to address the issue of placebo though. It is a common mistake to think that giving a placebo is the same as doing nothing. The placebo effect describes a real effect that occurs when a patient receives an “inert medicine”. By definition, the placebo effect proves that sometimes taking some action produces more benefit than doing nothing EVEN IF we think the medicine itself does nothing.

            Ironically, placebos are the most evidence-based treatment of all because they are the standard by which everything else is measured. I suspect homeopathic remedies are something different than placebos; but if they are anything MORE than a placebo than their effects are LESS amazing than the placebo’s.

          • Laura

            So you are OK with your treatments being nothing more than placebo?
            Then your standards aren’t very high, because for a treatment to be accepted in mainstream medicine, it has to do better than placebo.

          • Laura

            Also, doctors in 1900 did placebos just fine. When lots of people died in childhood.
            And doctors in the Middle Ages did placebos just fine. While the Black Plague was killing off a large part of the population.
            If you are content with a treatment being no better than placebo, you are content with not very much.

          • Badly Shaved Monkey

            Why don’t you want to talk about homeopathy. Homeopathy is arrant nonsense. Naturopathy incorporates it into its system. Homeopathy is an excellent test case for your critical faculties.

            Real medicine offers efficacy plus placebo effects. For significant physical diseases any true placebo effect is small to non-existent. Ordering SCAMsters the idea they might be eliciting a ‘powerful placebo’ has become a convenient sop to avoid giving direct offence by saying that most of SCAM does nothing at all.

          • Badly Shaved Monkey

            This is great discussion because it outlines a lot of common misunderstandings

            Um, haven’t you noticed that you are having your arse handed to you by several other commenters. This is not a discussion, it’s an unresisted trashing of your trade, it’s a rout not a contest.

          • Badly Shaved Monkey

            Another autocorrect fail;

            OFFering SCAMsters the idea they might be eliciting a ‘powerful placebo’ has become a convenient sop to avoid giving direct offence by saying that most of SCAM does nothing at all.

  • Carl

    It’s a god thing, eh? Which one? Good luck with that trial design.

  • Laura

    “nutrition can cure mental illness”
    I don’t quite know what is meant by this.
    But food reactions can cause psychological / psychiatric problems. For example, it seems to be pretty well accepted that if someone with celiac disease eats gluten, they can have psychological issues as a result.

  • http://www.childrenintherapy.org Linda Rosa

    Ms. Hermes: Thank you for your essays. I gave copies of two of your essays to some Colorado state senators who are considering allowing NDs to treat children under the age of two.

  • Badly Shaved Monkey

    Mr Nasager

    Before you wed yourself too completely to the idea that in selling placebos you are providing some great service, I think you should read this;

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/placebo-are-you-there/

    • http://naturopathicdoctoronline.com Dr Adrian Nasager Nd

      It seems that Badly Shaved Monkey is right, this isn’t a discussion but an attack. I’m not interested in fighting here or defending naturopathy against an “unresisted trashing” to people who have clearly made up their minds about what they believe. I understand your skepticism, I really do. And that is why I am ending my participation in this discussion, nay, “trashing”. I am open to being persuaded, by arguments logical and intuitive, of things I don’t presently believe. I know this because I didn’t always accept all forms of evidence. I love good research and haven’t rejected RCTs in favor of anecdotes. I have seen the limitations of one method of pursuing the Truth and had the humility to acknowledge other sources.

      • Badly Shaved Monkey

        I love good research and haven’t rejected RCTs in favor of anecdotes.

        .

        And yet you said;

        I have used homeopathy when it was the best available option or when a patient has requested it and some patients have reported clear benefits from it.

        which completely undermines your claim to be able to sift the alleged gold from the trash in naturopathy.

        Obviously you cannot be forced to participate in this exchange but I think the point at which you flee the field says enough about naturopathy to satisfy any observers.

        • Laura

          the point at which you flee the field says enough about naturopathy to satisfy any observers.

          Unfortunately, namecalling and emotionally loaded language tend to make more of an impression on people than any rational observation. They tend to drive people away, especially if the namecalling is aimed at them.
          The Skepti-Forums on Facebook do a pretty good job of keeping the discussion science-based and not insulting.
          But the moderators often have to chide people to quit ad hominems and non-science based criticism directed at alt-med types.

  • Laura

    Adrian Nasager:

    the placebo effect proves that sometimes taking some action produces more benefit than doing nothing EVEN IF we think the medicine itself does nothing.

    What the placebo effect means is that some people say they are benefited by a pretend medical procedure.
    That doesn’t necessarily even mean they think they are benefited. They may just be trying to say the right thing or please whoever did the procedure. People are very influenced by other people and will often believe what they think they ought to believe, at least temporarily.
    Even if they think they are benefited, it doesn’t mean they are actually benefited. They may be reinterpreting their experience as being the result of the medical procedure. For example, if someone has less pain because they’re excited by taking part in some research and that distracts them from the pain, they might report a benefit. Or maybe they have less pain because of something else in their life, unrelated to the research – and they attributed the improvement to the medical procedure.

  • Laura

    Naturopathic medicine is a philosophy, a worldview, and even a lifestyle

    And the philosophy seems to be a large part of the placebo effect. You can see some of the naturopaths here practicing their placebo effect, in their “philosophical” way of talking.
    The alt-med practitioners I’ve come across, have been very “philosophical”. It seems like a technique that alt-med practitioners generally use.
    If being “philosophical” works as a placebo effect, maybe MD’s should do that more.
    I don’t trust philosophers with my medical treatment, but apparently that kind of talk creates belief in a lot of people.
    Not to criticize real academic philosophers, they are trained in precise thinking.

  • MedAdmin

    7 years? She spent 7 years? On a 4 year degree?

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

      Hey MedAdmin, I can see how this was confusing. 4 yrs on the post-grad Bastyr degree and then 3 yrs in “residency” and practice. I updated the post so it is clear. And, no, I have not fled the country because of student loan debt. Germany provides free graduate education. I am grateful for being able to return to school without accumulating more debt.

      • cam

        By the look of one of your other posts Britt it would appear you never got past year 1 nutrition with making yourself anemic and all.
        But that’s obviously everyone else’s fault meaning the whole system, everyone and everything in the whole history of man kind other than medical science must also be wrong because you gave yourself anemia.

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  • Hans

    I had been into holistic healing since I could remember. My parents raised me in it. I became interested in became keenly interested in becoming a herbalist while working at a healthfood store. But at the same time, my skepticism was starting to get slowly stronger. The reason was that there was no standard of care. I remember looking into Naturopathic school and surmising that it was basically a glorified witch doctor. I decided not to pursue it.

  • Alex

    This blog is brilliant! Very brave of you to come forward, I look forward to reading more in the future.

  • Tim

    I feel like the blog is a little bitter and hateful. Just because Brit couldn’t hack it in the real world as a doctor, doesn’t mean that naturopathic medicine is all bad. In four years, her new blog will be entitled ‘confessions of a former biomedical researcher’, where a washed up old divorcee tells the world what a waste of time marriage and ‘biomedical research’ is. We can all pick faults in things – thats easy. How about blogging about something positive? Just a thought.

    • Ken Hamer

      Nah, I think her problem was she couldn’t hack it as shyster and had a profound distaste for snake oil.

      If you want positive though, you only need to read the previous blog entry. Very positive — made me feel great for days after reading it.

    • JGC

      Now that you’ve got that personal attack out of the way, Tim, have you anything substantive to bring to the table? Evidence demonstrating Naturopathy achieves outcomes as good or better than science based medical interventions, for example? Evidence that Bastyr’s and other ND programs are uniformly excising homeopathy and acupuncture from their curricula (that would be a positive note indeed)?

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

        Tim will not be able to find such evidence, as it does not exist in his version of the”real world,” where naturopaths are considered doctors and being able to “hack it” means using pseudoscience and deceiving patients.

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

      I am amused by this negative post criticizing my negativity.