Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, July 07, 2017

Alert: Grain of Salt Required 

"FALSE. Naturopathic doctors are not medically trained. They learn pseudoscience. Stop lying."
"They [student naturopaths] take classes with the same names as medical school courses. But pseudoscience and nonsensical information is integrated into every course."
Britt Hermes, biomedical researcher

"True or False? Naturopathic doctors are medically trained?"
"Of course we are. It's time for a second opinion about your health [check out ''."
Public relations video, Canadian Association of Naturopaths
A scene from a video campaign by the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors highlighting its members' “medical training.”CAND/YouTube
"[The videos belong to a three-year plan] to educate the public and to ensure they're aware who naturopathic doctors are and what they do."
"[Though] very definitely not doctors [naturopaths have] very similar training [the primary variance is their] philosophical approach] to patients."                     "[Naturopaths] treat patients as an individual and look at all aspects of their health." "[The position of the CAND and the profession] is that we understand the value of the role of vaccines and we are not opposed to vaccination."                                                                                                              Shawn O'Reilly, executive director, Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors
"If naturopathic medicine were governed by science, as practitioners increasingly claim, they would not provide: detoxification services, homeopathic remedies, most herbal remedies, and cosmetic facial acupuncture.  But these types of services are, as evidenced by clinic websites, the core of naturopathic medicine.  If you don’t believe me, I invite you to Google “detoxification and naturopath”.  You will get a list of clinics offering things like colon cleanses (useless, potentially harmful, and a bit disgusting), ionic foot baths that create an “energy field similar to that found in the human body” (so scientifically ridiculous that it borders on parody), and infrared sauna therapy (ditto)."
"The profession is not wedded to a scientific worldview. It is a practice built around a philosophical framework based on the alleged 'healing power of nature' or, to quote the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, the 'principle of healing through the cooperative power of nature' and the 'individual’s inherent self-healing mechanisms.' This kind of rhetoric may sound inviting, particularly since it plays to eternally popular and consistently unsupportable idea that 'natural' is always better (try consuming some arsenic, tar sand, or mercury). It is, however, scientifically meaningless.
What naturopaths – and, for that matter, other alternative practitioners – increasingly suggest is that they are in a position to integrate the best of both conventional and alternative practices. They can, or so they claim, slide between the worlds of pseudoscience and science. They can offer ionic footbaths and, at the same time, push provincial governments for the right to provide patients with more conventional, and potentially harmful, procedures and drugs.
"So, it's very misleading to say 'medically trained', as I think most would interpret this as 'science-trained'."
Timothy Caulfield, health policy expert, University of Alberta
Dr. Caulfield headed a study published in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences recently wherein the discourse led from overtly anti-vaxx within the naturopathic community to "those that subtly undermine the relevant science". Within the naturopathic community there were those who linked thimerosal a preservative based in mercury, to autism and Asperger Syndrome in the complete absence of credible evidence in support of their claim. Aside from which almost all vaccines in Canada are thimerosal-free.

In response to the blatant stretching of the truth in the advertisements released by the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, Dr. Caulfield feels that advertising laws should be more regulated to reduce the likelihood of alternative medicine providers to their self-regulation status, and to restrict their practise in offering unproven tests and treatments to patients trusting their public relations bumph. An earlier study of Dr. Caulfield's found without much exception that naturopaths claim the efficacy of scientifically unsupported therapies like homeopathy, colon cleansing and IV vitamin therapy.

An undergraduate degree is a requirement for admission to naturopathic training programs; that undergraduate degree is acceptable in any field of study, along with prerequisite sciences studies. What follows is a four-year program of full-time study which includes basic science, clinical sciences and diagnostics. Over 80 percent of its students, according to CAND's executive director Ms. O'Reilly, "come in with a health sciences type of degree" so they fit right in to the following 1,400 hours devoted to basic medical science courses like biochemistry, anatomy and embryology.

One woman who graduated from Washington state's Bastyr University in 2011 -- an accredited naturopathic training program -- described the training however, as distinctly and wholly at variance to counterpart training in conventional accredited medical schools. In naturopathic study there is no requirement for students to take medical entrance exams. Naturopaths have no need to complete residency or post-graduate training, and the pre-requisite sciences course are on the introductory level. After she left naturopathy she enrolled herself in a medical school to obtain a degree in biomedical research.

While training as a naturopath, she pointed out, she was taught to treat neurological conditions like Parkinson's with homeopathic remedies and high-dose intravenous vitamins. The paediatrics course she took in naturopathy was replete with "anti-vaccine" propaganda". She recognized the danger in applied naturopathic programs with their therapies of dubious value, citing the turmeric infusion that caused the death of a 30-year--old woman in San Diego who had sought naturopathic treatment for eczema. All of which convinced her to leave the profession.

She takes issue with the naturopathic profession's attempts to inflate its legitimacy and position its services as based in science, even while much of what it practises with its patients has only a glancing resemblance to legitimate, licensed medical doctors' practises. What set off the latest controversy on the legitimacy of the claims of the naturopathic community of health practitioners is their "Medically Trained Naturally Focused" campaign featuring a series of YouTube videos promulgating false information to convince the public of their reliability as medical practitioners.

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