Britt Marie Hermes, author of The Naturopathic Diaries, started a Change.org petition with the title “Naturopaths are not doctors, stop legitimizing pseudoscience”. In this post we’re going to get to the truth and will be fact checking the claims she makes.
Taking it from the top:
Pretty bold claim, especially coming from someone that was an unsuccessful Naturopathic Doctor. There is a problem though. She lists her location as being the United States. She currently lives in Germany as she has stated in her blog multiple times. Before even leaving the headline, we have a lie. It’s not clear why she wanted to lie here, but it may be because she is petitioning the U.S. government for legislation that just effects U.S. citizens while residing in a foreign country. Seems pretty shady. Of course there may be merit still to her claims, but starting off with a lie before anything has even been written is not a good way to start.
Let’s see what we have next:
Taking a look at the course description from Bastyr, we get an objective view of the curriculum. Every naturopathic medical student has a number of science based prerequisites they have to take (chemistry, physics, psychology, and biology). Once accepted they have training that is heavily science based. They have gross anatomy (cadaver dissection lab) for a whole year, physiology (the mechanics of how the body works), and with the integrative curriculum histology, biochemistry, anatomy, are all integrated by body systems.
The author of this article doesn’t have the time to do a complete comparison of each profession in this post, but ND’s have more training then NP’s (nurse practitioners) or PA’s (physicians assistants) and equal training (hours wise) to medical doctors. Both MD’s and ND’s have science based educations. MD’s are required to have 3 years of residency, ND’s are not required to have a residency although residencies are sought out by many students. Residencies for Naturopathic Doctors will be addressed in a future post. A more through comparison can be found here.
It’s worth asking – If the training of Naturopathic Doctors is so poor, why are they being accepted by their conventional peers? If they weren’t well trained then their medical doctor colleges should be able to see right through their lack of competency. The opposite is true. The California medical society was originally opposed to the licensing of naturopathic doctors, but after visiting Bastyr and seeing how the students were being educated, they dropped their opposition and ND’s became licensed in California. I would trust a society of medical doctors and students happy with their education over one unsuccessful naturopathic doctor with a clear axe to grind.
There are many successful practitioners that have come from Bastyr, helping tens of thousands of patients every day, while working adjunctively with conventional providers. Cancer Treatment Centers of America employs Naturopathic Doctors, because of their ability to provide quality adjunctive care. If naturopathic doctors were not trained similarly to conventional providers they would not be able to work in adjunctive care environments like that at Cancer Treatment Centers of America and many integrative clinics across Canada and The United States.
Moving on – Paragraph #3
Homeopathy is going to be a controversial topic until either a mechanism is proven to show how it works, humanity ends with an asteroid hitting the earth, or what looks increasing likely when Donald Trump is elected president (apologies to Donald Trump supporters, but having his temperamental finger on the nuclear button scares the shit out of this author). Overall, the data on homeopathy isn’t clear. One meta-analysis will show that it is more beneficial then placebo, the next shows it’s no more then placebo. What is clear is that many people, both medical doctors, and naturopaths use homeopathy because it has been shown to be effective clinically. To turn a discussion of naturopathic medicine into a discussion on homeopathy is false. Students take 3 classes on homeopathy and aren’t required to use it, let it alone “master it”, once they are in the clinic. Mrs. Hermes knows this having attended Bastyr, and her saying “Naturopathic students are required to master..” falls somewhere between intentionally misleading and an outright lie.
Herbs are natural sources of chemicals that have a physiological effect on the body. Herbs typically have many active chemicals. Pharmaceuticals are a single chemicals (or sometimes 2 or 3) that have a physiological effect on the body. Herbs = chemicals that have a physiological effect on the body. Pharmaceuticals = chemicals that have a physiological effect on the body. It’s ridiculous to use herbalism as a pejorative. And to stay that herbs haven’t been studied is just bullshit. Type your favorite herb into pubmed and see what comes up.
Chiropractic-like manipulations are taught. Big deal. The author of this article isn’t clear on the data behind manipulations, but performed correctly while screening out patients with contraindications (which are taught in the physical manipulation classes) makes this a moot point.
Therapies involving heat and water…. wooo. She’s drawing at straws here. Germans and many Europeans have integrated balneotherapy (water therapy) into their lives. In fact there are over 12,000 journal articles supporting its use. I bet since being in Germany Mrs. Hermes has used water therapy. If she hasn’t, she should get on it. Not all things that effect human health and wellness are pharmaceuticals.
She also leaves out the fact that naturopaths are trained in pharmaceuticals, diet and nutrition, and counseling. That’s convenient isn’t it? If all sides were presented that makes her argument invalid. Like most of the things she’s written, she hasn’t wanted to present facts, so she has omitted important information that would refute her arguments.
This post will be continued in Part 2.
The author of this post expects attempts to change parts of the petition after this is posted. Screenshots have been taken of the way the petition originally appeared on 06/02/16 at 12:30PM PST and will be linked to the end of part 2.