May 24 2016

Naturopaths Are Not Doctors

Herbal Medicine

This is the title of a change.org petition started by former naturopath, Britt Hermes. Please take some time to read and hopefully sign it.

Hermes has a significant insight into the state of naturopathic practice and education, since she was trained as a naturopath. She came to the conclusion that she was duped into a scam of a profession and now she tries to raise awareness of naturopathy to protect others from this scam.

Pseudosciences often depend upon ignorance of what they actually are in order to promote themselves and gain public approval. In the case of naturopaths they also depend upon the ignorance of politicians as they seek licensure, and then to expand their practice privileges and to force insurance companies to pay for their services.

In short, naturopaths desire all the status and privileges of medical doctors, but without the training, experience, or science-based standard of care.

You may think I am being hard on naturopaths, but that is likely because they have been successful in selling their narrative and confusing the public about what they actually do.

Hermes gives an excellent list of references that describe in detail naturopathic practice and standards (there basically are no standards) so I will refer you there, but here are some highlights.

Core to naturopathy is homeopathy, which constitutes a large segment of their training. Homeopathy (something most people also do not understand) is pure pseudoscience. It is not simply herbalism, as much of the public believes; it is a two century old system of magical thinking. Its core principles are not based in reality, and hundreds of studies have essentially shown that homeopathy does not work for anything.

There have been several systematic reviews of the clinical research and they conclude that there is no evidence that homeopathy works for any indication. Homeopathy cannot work, and when studied it does not work. Any profession or practitioner that relies upon homeopathy, therefore, is itself an illegitimate pseudoscience.

Naturopaths, in fact, use an eclectic array of interventions that only seem to have one thing in common – they are not based in science or reality. They will often mix in some common sense advice about diet and exercise, but that comes with a liberal helping of pseudonutritional advice.

Hermes details how naturopaths do not even receive significant clinical experience during their training. They are simply taught a bunch of abject nonsense then sent out to hang up a shingle.

Licensing naturopaths will not and has not helped this. They will simply be left to regulate themselves, without any standard of care.

Unfortunately, naturopaths tirelessly lobby state legislatures to gain licensure and expand their privileges. Such efforts are often opposed by those defending the public’s health, but the naturopaths just keep coming back year after year. Eventually they win, ratcheting up their ability to practice and eroding basic protections for the public.

The best defense is to raise public awareness of what naturopaths actually are, and to inform politicians so that they can make rational decisions. It takes vigilance, by those who have nothing financially to gain.

If you are not convinced, then read the references provided by Hermes. If you are convinced, sign the petition.

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