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Naturopathy: Your One-Stop CAM Shop

Recently, Minnesota has formally endorsed naturopathy. This has been the subject of many emails sent to the SGU regarding both the law itself and the nature of naturopathy.

I process claims from naturopaths every day from all over Canada. And I see just how much money people are spending on this nonsense. It’s quite disheartening. So I thought I’d do a little research and find out just what is Naturopathy.

Practitioners of naturopathy describe it as a “system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine.”

Naturopathy is a form of so-called complimentary and alternative medicine which claims that the body has an innate ability to heal and maintain itself. It combines many forms of woo such as acupuncture, colonic irrigation, chiropractic, diet, exercise, herbs, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, and the list goes on.

Naturopaths generally prescribe “natural remedies” to their patients as well as suggest dietary changes.

They do not normally use or suggest any form of synthetic drugs or surgery, however in some states Naturopathic Doctors (ND) are licensed to prescribe certain pharmaceuticals and even perform minor surgery.

The term “Naturopath” was popularized by one of its founders, Dr. Benedict Lust, to describe a person receiving education in the basic medical sciences with an emphasis on natural therapies.

Dr. Lust founded Naturotherapy along with Sebastian Kneipp. Kneipp is also known for his “Kneipp Cure”, a form of hydrotherapy involving the application of water through various methods, temperatures and pressures.

Dr. Lust attended and graduated from the New York Homeopathic Medical College in 1901 where he was ironically ridiculed for his beliefs in natural medicine. Later, Lust purchased all rights to the term naturopathy and opened the world’s first naturopathic medical school in New York City and founded the American Naturopathic Association.

As I said before, the nature of my employment requires that I process receipts from naturopaths. I see a good 40-50 naturopath receipts every day. Usually for a simple consultation that ranges from $80 to $210. About 20% of the receipts include some form of “natural remedy” from vitamins, to herbs to homeopathic preperations. About half of them describe the symptoms that the patient is being treated for and, of those, about 90%-95% are either “stress”, “pain” or “fatigue”.

Naturopathy is basically your one-stop shop for alternative medicine. Treatments range from acupuncture to “aligining the moon”. Whatever that means. Naturopaths are regulated and given “full licensure” in 4 Canadian Provinces, 14 US States, the US Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.

For a better understanding of the new Minnesota law and the Naturopaths’ “cult-like behavior”. Check out the first of a series of posts by Dr. Kimball Atwood on Science-Based Medicine.

4 comments to Naturopathy: Your One-Stop CAM Shop

  • SimonS

    I must have missed that post, Mike- what is your job? I find myself rather heartlessly hoping you work in insurance so you can take a big “claim denied” stamp to all these bullshit receipts.

    I seem to remember reading somewhere that this law will allow naturopaths to call themselves “Doctor…”. Can anyone confirm that? I’ve got 2 degrees, including one in veterinary medicine, and I don’t even get a masters let alone the right to call myself doctor; and frankly that’s the way it should be.

  • DLC

    Minnesota: Welcome to the Naturopath Collective.
    You have been Assimilated.

    Really.. I gotta stop watching old STTNG reruns.

  • Sporkyy

    Do you really consider diet and exercise to be “forms of woo”?

    I think I know what you’re saying, that naturopaths use diet and exercise in woo-ish ways, but I think it goes far beyond that into a far more insidious territory. It’s like the Ten Commandments parody in Kissing Hank’s Ass. Hank instructs his followers to “Use alcohol in moderation”, “Eat right” and “Wash your hands after going to the bathroom”. Including a few common sense things makes it easier to accept all the other uncommon and nonsensical stuff.

    I had a friend once who was a fan of naturopaths. She used that sort of argument (“What do you have against diet and exercise?”) on me when I asked her some questions about diagnosis and treatment in naturopathy.

  • alexjbutterfield

    while exercise and diet aren’t “woo”, if that’s part of their practice it should be included. Ommitting it would only allow the chance for proponents to change subject by saying that skeptics overlook these other areas of practice. Not a good argument- but since when did they need those?

    I aslo gather that the authors job is in the health insurance business. And it gave me the thought – is there something health insurance providers can do to help eradicate bad /none medicine, CAM, whatever you wanna call it?

    It seems to ne that insurance providers have a vested interest in not paying out on claims for medicine that doesn’t work. Refusing to pay such claims might lead to trial if quacks believe they aren’t being fairly treated by insurance companies. But if the insurers argued that they only pay for medical treatment when its validity is supported by scientific studies then it might help in the fight against the campaign for double standards in medical testing.

    It also seems at a glance (I could be wrong) that this would reduce the number of claims that insurers paid- as many people, when faced with the choice of paying for “natural” remedies (which won’t even solve the problem), or having effective treatment that is covered by their insurance, would choose the treatment that might solve the problem and prevent a recurrence.

    Also then I could start a niche insurance company that caters to quacks. I could have a charismatic duck as the logo.

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