Comments on the AANP Position Paper on Homeopathy

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
October 2, 2018

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians position statement on homeopathy—shown below— is one of the most damning indictments of naturopathy I have found. Homeopathy is a pseudoscience based on delusions that (a) a substance that produces symptoms in a healthy person can cure ill people with similar symptoms; and (b) the more dilute the remedy, the greater the effect. These concepts clash with what is known about chemistry, physiology, and medical therapeutics. In addition, as the Australian Government’s National Health and Research Council noted in 2015, there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective [1].

Despite this, all of the full-time naturopathic schools in the United States teach that homeopathy is effective. The Southwest College of Natural Medicine requires students to take homeopathy courses totaling 176 hours. The University of Bridgeport requires 108 hours. Bastyr University requires 88 hours. The National University of Natural Medicine includes homeopathy in a few brief required courses on therapeutics, but offers up to 168 hours of homeopathy courses as electives. In addition, all of the schools encourage homeopathic prescriging in their clinics [2].


Overview of Naturopathic Medicine and Homeopathy

Homeopathy has been an integral part of naturopathic medicine since its inception and is a recognized specialty for which the naturopathic profession has created a distinct specialty organization, the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians. Homeopathy has been recognized, through rigorous testing and experimentation, as having significant scientific evidence supporting its efficacy and safety. Single medicines are given on the basis of an individual’s manifestation of a disease state in comparison to combination remedies which are given on the basis of a particular diagnostic category.

Homeopathic products are being subjected to intensified federal regulations and restrictions. Products are being promoted and marketed as “homeopathic” for a variety of uses ranging from weight-loss aids to immunizations. Many of these preparations are not homeopathic and many have not been satisfactorily proven to be efficacious. Homeopathy is practiced in a variety of traditional and non-traditional forms.

Position of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians:

  • Homeopathy is taught in the naturopathic colleges and its practice should be included in the naturopathic licensing laws. Naturopathic physicians recognize other licensed practitioners of the healing arts who are properly trained in homeopathy.
  • The naturopathic profession initiates more clinical trials and provings to further evaluate the effectiveness of homeopathy.
  • Naturopathic physicians shall be authorized to prescribe and dispense all products included in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS).
  • Homeopathic products shall be subject to strict labeling requirements. Preparations which are not prepared in accord with the manufacturing principles in the HPUS should not use the term “homeopathic.” If parents choose homeopathic preparations for their children or their wards for the prophylaxis of infectious disease as an alternative to conventional immunizations, the physician should clearly state that they are unproven and that they are not legal substitutes for the state-mandated requirements.
  • Homeopathic prescriptions should be made with careful evaluation of their effect on the entire organism.
  • Electro-diagnostic testing is an investigational tool. Electro-diagnostic testing should be used according to accepted protocol and it is recommended that it not be relied on as the sole determinant in homeopathic prescribing.

Submitted by Michael Traub. ND; Lauri Aesop.h ND; Peggy Rollo. ND; Bruce Dickson. ND;
Brent Mathieu. ND; Judith Reichenberg-Ullman. ND; Stephen King. ND;
Julian Winston; Louise Edwards.ND; and Prudence Broadwell. ND

The AANP Web site alao contains a “homeopathic primer” that includes this paragraph:

Homeopathy is a complete system of medicine, and as such is helpful with the entire spectrum of human illness. This includes both physical and emotional disease. Examples include: anxiety, depression, back pain, fatigue, insomnia, allergies, arthritis, skin conditions, menopausal/hormonal conditions, auto-immune disease, ADHD, neurologic conditions, and many more [3].

The original version of AANP’s homeopathy paper was adopted by the AANP in August 1993.The current version, which was adopted in 2011, modified the original format and added the item about electrodiagnostic teating.

Electrodiagnostic Testing

The electrodiagnostic procedure to which AANP referred—most commonly called electrodermal screening or electroacupuncture of Voll (EAV)—is based on the notion that health problems throughout the body can be diagnosed by detecting “imbalances” in the flow of “electromagnetic energy” through “acupuncture meridians.” The treatment selected by the naturopath may include acupuncture, dietary change, and/or vitamin supplements, as well as homeopathic products.

The devices are fancy galvanometers that measure electrical resistance of the patient’s skin when touched by a probe. Each device contains a low-voltage source. In most cases, a wire from the device goes to a brass cylinder covered by moist gauze, which the patient holds in one hand. A second wire is connected to a probe, which the operator touches to “acupuncture points” on the patient’s foot or other hand. This completes a circuit, and the device registers the flow of current. The information is then relayed to a gauge or computer screen that provides a numerical readout. The size of the number depends on how hard the probe is pressed against the patient’s skin. The devices may also be used to test or prepare remedies, which is commonly done by placing test substances in a glass vial on a metal test plate where they are allegedly exposed to the low-voltage electric current. This, too, is nonsensical because glass is an insulator that blocks any current from reaching the substance in the vial [4].

These devices cannot be legally marketed as diagnostic or treatment devices. To get around the law, some manufacturers label them as biofeedback devices or claim they are experimental, even though the way they are used has nothing to do with either biofeedback or experimentation. Regulatory agencies have warned a few manufactures to stop making unapproved claims and have seized a few devices, but they have not made a systematic effort to drive them from the marketplace. It should be obvious that electrodiagnostic test results have nothing to do with the patient’s state of health

In 1992, the AANP adopted a position statement on electrodiagnostic testing that remained on its Web site until 2007 [5]. Since then, I have not been able to locate it on the site, which makes me think that it was withdrawn and replaced by the last item in the 2011 homeopathy statement. However, I am not sure about this.

The Bottom Line

Do you think you should trust s profession that includes so much nonsense in its teachings and practices?

  1. Eondence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating health conditions. NHMRC Information paper, March 2015.
  2. Barrett S. Homeopathy’s Black Book. Homeowatch, Sept 24, 2018.
  3. Johnson C. Homeopathic primer: Discover what homeopathy is and what it can do for you. AANP Web sit, accessed Oct 2, 2018.
  4. Barrett S. Quack “electrodiagnostic” devices. Quackwatch, Feb 14, 2018.
  5. Electrodiagnosis in naturopsthic practice. AANP position statement, 1992.

This article was revised on October 2, 2018.