The Massachusetts Special Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medical Practitioners met from October 2000 until January 2002. Its purpose was to study the request of a group of naturopaths to achieve licensure as health care providers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. These naturopaths call themselves “naturopathic physicians” or “doctors” and are represented by their national organization, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP). They have attended one of four on-campus schools in the U.S. (Bastyr University, the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, and the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine) or the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. This training, they maintain, is superior to that of other naturopaths and makes them worthy of recognition by state health regulators. The evidence brought to bear during the deliberations of the Special Commission suggests otherwise.
The Commission comprised twelve members: three physicians, six legislators (of whom three were predisposed to favoring licensure for naturopaths), a naturopath, a representative of a group of acupuncturists, and the chairman of the Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure. Upon its adjournment, six Commissioners favored naturopathic licensure, three opposed, and three abstained.
The following document in slightly different form was included in the materials sent to the state legislature by the Commission upon its adjournment. Also included were the commission’s Report in Opposition to the Licensure of Naturopaths, co-authored by William J. Ryder, Esq., and me; the Naturopathy Monograph by me; and the Commission’s report in favor of the licensure of naturopaths. That pro-licensure report is notable for its lack of discussion of naturopathic practices, confining its content to superficial considerations only. As such, it is an example of how the public must be wary of a government commission that might otherwise be assumed to act with integrity.
More troubling is that the pro-licensure report was written with the help of two presumed experts in “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” from Harvard Medical School: Dr. David Eisenberg and Attorney Michael Cohen. Dr. Eisenberg was the official representative of the Mass. Department of Public Health to the Commission, but he failed to disclose several conflicts of interest, including funding by the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, funding by the Fetzer Institute, and funding by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, whose advisory board included three naturopaths at the time of the Commission’s work.
Revealing Quotations from Leading “Naturopathic Physicians”
Kimball C. Atwood, M.D.
July 3, 2001
Virtually every naturopath-patient interaction involves “fraud, deceit or misrepresentation of facts in connection with diagnosis, evaluation or treatment” of that patient. When a naturopath claims that “toxins” or “food allergies” or dietary sugar or “candidiasis” are the underlying causes of ear infections, learning disorders, fatigue, arthritis or numerous other problems, it is a misrepresentation of facts. When a naturopath uses “applied kinesiology” or “iridology” or “electrodiagnosis” or “hair analysis” or “live cell analysis” to make any “diagnosis,” it is fraudulent. Whenever a naturopath recommends a “cleansing program” to treat specific problems, it is a misrepresentation of facts. When a naturopath performs “cranial osteopathy,” “binasal specific,” “colonic irrigation,” or “electrical current in the form of positive galvanism, applied transrectally,” that constitutes fraud. When a naturopath tells a patient that it’s not necessary to treat strep throat with a genuine antibiotic to prevent rheumatic heart disease, it’s a dangerous misrepresentation of facts. Each time that a naturopath claims that “natural antibiotics” such as goldenseal or garlic are adequate substitutes for real ones, it is an example of fraud. Almost all examples of naturopaths recommending “natural medicines,” which are either known to be ineffective, are unlikely to be effective, or have yet to be studied, are fraudulent. Each time a naturopath sells her own “natural medicines” to a patient by claiming that they are preferable to what can be purchased on the open market, it constitutes deceit. Every instance of a naturopath warning a parent against childhood immunizations is a misrepresentation of facts.
There are numerous other examples, all of which are representative of the consensus of naturopathic practice as shown in the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) Position Papers, the Textbook of Natural Medicine, the Journal of Naturopathic Medicine, the curricula of all four full-time naturopathic schools, and many other sources in the field. These are not merely the exceptional practices of a few mavericks; they are the standards of the field. This is why any proposal for self-regulation is ill-founded and doomed to failure. The regulatory board envisioned by the pro-licensure report couldn’t possibly be expected to discipline its constituents for these frauds, deceits, and misrepresentations of facts. On the contrary, the board would consider such practices to be legitimate. The entire enterprise would go largely unnoticed until a few real tragedies had occurred.
Here are several quotations from mainstream naturopathic sources and critics, covering various health problems, each of which illustrates fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation of facts (all Web sites accessed between December 2000 and July 2001):
[An Alternative to Ritalin: Homeopathy as a Highly Effective Treatment for ADD. Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman N.D., M.S.W., DHANP]
Comment: Homeopathy has no specific effects on any disease, because the preparations contain no active ingredients. Any apparent effect is due to well-understood phenomena that are common to all patient-practitioner interactions and are the basis for most “alternative” claims. See p. 45 of the Naturopathy Monograph for further discussion. Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman is a “former instructor and currently occasional lecturer at Bastyr University, the National College of Naturopathic Medicine (Portland), and the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (Phoenix).”
“The greatest promise of St. John’s wort, however, may be in the treatment of AIDS.” [Pizzorno JE and Murray MT (eds.). Textbook of Natural Medicine, Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1999. p. 803]
Comment: St. John’s wort is dangerous for HIV+ patients taking protease inhibitors and has no known value in fighting the HIV itself.
“Electrochemical Ag+ solutions exhibit antimicrobial effectiveness.” justification for recommending colloidal silver as a treatment for opportunistic infections in patients with AIDS [Textbook of Natural Medicine, p. 1292]
Comment: Colloidal silver is a poisonous heavy metal. The FDA has declared it unsafe for any medicinal use.
“It is important to remember that the overload of the foreign substances ‘attacking’ our body and the increased permeability of the mucous membranes create the vicious cycle where they both feed each other. If this situation continues for a long period of time, the person is very likely to become allergic to almost everything, as he/she is no longer capable to prevent foreign substances from entering his/her system.” [Bubis, E. Allergies from the Naturopathic Angle. Available at the Naturopathic Medicine Network]
Comment: This is completely false. The author has an office in the Boston area.
“Hair tests should be performed upon diagnosis to determine if the patient is lacking any vital minerals or vitamins.” [Treatise on Alzheimer’s disease from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine]
Comment: Hair tests are useless for the diagnosis of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and are a well-known form of quackery (see: Hair Analysis: A Cardinal Sign of Quackery). The Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine provides funds for the Harvard Complementary and Integrative Medicine Course, whose director is David Eisenberg, M.D., the representative of the DPH to the Special Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medical Practitioners.
“Daily bowel movements are essential for the elimination of waste products, which aggravate the inflamed joints.
Acupuncture has proven very effective in treating arthritis. You may want to look for a licensed acupuncturist in your area.
From the following homeopathic medicines, choose the one that best matches your symptoms.” [Ruth Bar-Shalom, N.D. and David Soileau, N.D. Osteoarthritis]
Comment: The first claim is just silly. Daily bowel movements have nothing to do with osteoarthritis, and “waste products” in the bowel do not affect joints in any way. Acupuncture has been disappointing in the treatment of arthritis (see, for example: Ernst E. Acupuncture as a symptomatic treatment of osteoarthritis. A systematic review.Scand J Rheumatol 1997;26(6):444-7). Homeopathy has no effect on arthritis or any other disease. The authors of the quotations above are frequent contributors to the treatises on the AANP website.
“Some doctors recommend taking baths with a cup or so of 3% hydrogen peroxide in the water to bring extra oxygen to the entire surface of the skin, thus making the lungs somewhat less oxygen hungry. This method can be performed preventively. Another technique for an acute attack is to drink some hot water with the juice of one clove of garlic.”
“Often the upper thoracic vertebrae will be out of alignment after an asthma attack, which will ultimately put pressure on the lungs and possibly precipitate another attack.” [Kane, E. Asthma]
Comment: This article is filled with dangerous nonsense that is in conflict with the facts of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and clinical medicine. Its author, Emily Kane, is listed as a senior editor of the Journal of Naturopathic Medicine, the “official publication of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.”
“Even the mainstream advice for preventing cancer is largely nutritional, and naturopaths have treated cancer successfully before it becomes too acute” [Naturopathy: An age-old medicine for the “New Age,” by Susan M. Fitzgerald, Communications Coordinator, National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland, Oregon
Comment: There is no evidence for either of these claims.
“So, what can I do to lower my risk of getting breast cancer? Keep your breasts happy and healthy. Love them and yourself. We often develop illnesses because of our own unresolved feelings and lack of love for ourselves.” [Preventing breast cancer. Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman N.D., M.S.W., DHAN]
Comment: There is no evidence that breast cancer or any other form of cancer is caused by “unresolved feelings.” This is an irresponsible claim that can only add insult to injury for a patient with a life-threatening illness. The author of this article is a “former instructor and currently occasional lecturer at Bastyr University, the National College of Naturopathic Medicine (Portland), and the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (Phoenix).”
“Gerson Therapy is a very powerful healing approach to dealing with cancer, multiple sclerosis and other chronic degenerative diseases and embodies the principles of nature cure [sic].” [Announcement of a lecture to be given at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine: “Upcoming Events Schedule, Fall 2000]
Comment: Gerson Therapy is an absurd, long-since discredited cancer treatment that includes “detoxification” with coffee enemas, ozone enemas, massive quantities of juices made from fruits, vegetables, and raw calves’ livers, and other arduous regimens. The treatment bears no relation to anything that is known about cancer or any other disease, and is itself toxic. The lecturer was Anna MacIntosh, NCNM Dean of Research, who is also a member of the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
“It is now relatively well accepted that vitamin C protects humans from stomach cancer.” [Steve Austin, N.D. Linus Pauling and Vitamin C therapy for breast cancer]
Comment: This claim is false. The author, who makes numerous other unsubstantiated claims about cancer and “dietary supplements,” is a “former professor of nutrition at National College of Naturopathic Medicine, [and] currently on the faculties of Southwest and Canadian Colleges of Naturopathic Medicine.”
“In November 1998, then 67-year-old Dolores Lawrence of Kissimmee, Fla., was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to her liver. Her grandson recommended a call to [a naturopath in Lexington, MA], who requested copies of her lab results. By December 1998, she was on a regimen of chemotherapy, vitamins, and herbs, a combination she credits with her cancer’s remission since the fall of 1999.
”Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re going to die,” said Lawrence. ”Whatever you have to do, whatever it costs, your life is absolutely worth it.”
“According to [the naturopath], office visits cost about the same as those charged by conventional physicians. Beyond that, naturopathic treatments can run anywhere from no charge, if just dietary changes are necessary, to $500 per month for some cancer patients. Lawrence, who has never met [the naturopath], pays for her telephone consultations and prescribed supplements with the help of her two daughters.
”A lot of patients, especially those with cancer, come in after they’ve been told there’s nothing else conventional medicine can do for them. I could help so much more if they’d come to me sooner,” he said. ”It’s frustrating to hear they didn’t know there was another option.” [Beyond the Conventional: Naturopaths say they treat whole person rather than suppress symptoms, by Cynthia Cantrell, Boston Globe.]
Comment: This article is a series of testimonials, which have long been understood by rational physicians to be unhelpful in determining the efficacy of treatments. The excerpt shows how a desperate cancer patient can fall prey, both financially and emotionally, to the untested claims of “alternative” practitioners. The naturopath, who practices in the Boston area, is reported to be treating the patient over the phone without ever having met her. This is a fundamental breach of medical ethics, and would subject the practitioner to disciplinary measures if he were a medical doctor.
“A good case of smallpox may rid the system of more scrofulous, tubercular, syphilitic and other poisons than could otherwise be eliminated in a lifetime. Therefore, smallpox is certainly to be preferred to vaccination. The one means elimination of chronic disease, the other the making of it.” [Harry Riley Spitler, Basic Naturopathy: a textbook (n.p.: American Naturopathic Association, Inc., 1948), p. 214. This book was submitted to The U. S. Public Health Service in 1968 as a part of the report from the National Association of Naturopathic Physicians (later to become the AANP). Quoted in the HEW report on naturopathy, available on Quackwatch.
In 1981 a study of naturopaths in Washington found that “many were opposed to routine immunization because they felt the procedure was unnatural, unnecessary and elitist.” [Ernst E. The Attitude Against Immunisation within Some Branches of Complementary Medicine. European Journal of Pediatrics (1997) 156:513-516]
“Some naturopaths espouse an ‘immunization kit’ containing homeopathic solutions and pills that supposedly protect against polio, measles, pertussis, tetanus, and other lethal diseasesThe Academic Dean of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Jared Zeff, N.D., said, in reference to such products, that some naturopaths give conventional vaccines and some give homeopathic pills that ‘stimulate the immune system.'” [Butler K. A Consumer’s Guide to Alternative Medicine. Buffalo, NY. Prometheus Books, 1992. p. 139]
“The fifth [issue], which attacks immunization, contains papers suggesting that vaccines may be a factor in causing cancer and that homeopathic prophylaxis using nosodes would be effective and safer than standard vaccines. (Nosodes are homeopathic products made from pathological organs or tissues: causative agents such as bacteria, fungi, ova, parasites, virus particles and yeast; disease products; or excretions.)” [Review by Stephen Barrett, M.D., of the 1994 issue of the Journal of Naturopathic Medicine (the “official publication of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians”).
“Whereas it is well documented that some of the current childhood vaccinations have been associated with significant morbidity and are of variable efficacy and necessity” [Current AANP Position Paper on Childhood Vaccinaitons]
“In view of the valid questions about the efficacy of modern vaccines and growing concerns about harmful side effects, which appear to be greatly underestimated…”
“When arbitrary decisions in the mandating of vaccines are made by government bureaucracies, which frequently work hand-in-glove with the pharmaceutical industry, with no recourse open to parents, we have all the potential ingredients for a tragedy of historic proportions.” [Harold Buttram, MD, author of the chapter on vaccinations in the 1993 edition of the Textbook of Natural Medicine, which appeared on the AANP website in 2001]
Comment: The side effects of vaccines are not greatly underestimated. Serious ones are well recognized but very rare, much rarer than the incidence of serious infectious diseases in the absence of vaccines. The naturopathic representative to the Commission denied that present-day naturopaths are opposed to childhood vaccinations. The quotations above, which show a consistent historical pattern, prove otherwise.
“Depression and fatigue have been linked to food allergies for over 65 years.” [Textbook of Natural Medicine, p.1046]
“Vitamin C: 3-5 g/day in divided doses.” [Recommendation for treatment of bipolar depression in Textbook of Natural Medicine, p.1054]
Comment: These claims are false.
“There is increasing evidence that diabetes is both induced and curable by clinical nutrition.”
Naturopathy: An age-old medicine for the “New Age” by Susan M. Fitzgerald, Communications Coordinator, National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland, Oregon
Comment: The statement is a gross distortion, i.e., misrepresentation, of the facts.
“However, there are lots of other ways to control DM (Diabetes Mellitus), including Botanical Medicine with its array of insulin-like plants, Homeopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and psychological approaches.” [Emily Kane, N.D. Adult Onset Diabetes.]
Comment: These claims are false. Only “botanical medicine” has even a theoretical possibility of “controlling diabetes mellitus,” but if so it has yet to be discovered. The author of this treatise is listed as a senior editor of the Journal of Naturopathic Medicine, the “official publication of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.”
“EAV Screening Device for Sale. Almost new. Increase your revenue while better serving your clients. Test for parasites, food and environmental sensitivities, candida, nutritional deficiencies and much more.
Biopath Listen System using electrodermal screening. A great way to test for allergies of all kinds. Excellent practice builder
Vega Machine For Sale. VegaTest II complete with carrying case, extra hand electrode, instruction manual (Short Manual of VegaTest), test kits and 114 food vials. Remember, Vega units are no longer available in the United States. Save yourself the expense and hassle of importing a Vega unit (and avoid the possibility of having the unit confiscated at the border).”
Comment: These ads, culled from many more like them, are from the AANP website “Equipment 4 sale” page. Vega units “may be confiscated at the border” because the FDA has ruled that they are worthless and cannot be legally marketed or imported into the U.S. for diagnostic or treatment purposes. The devices merely measure the skin’s resistance to a tiny electric current. Their use is quackery.
“of foremost importance in achieving collagen integrity are optimal tissue concentrations of ascorbic acid” (vitamin C). [Recommendation for the treatment of glaucoma in Textbook of Natural Medicine. p.1250]
Comment: This claim is misleading unless the patient is suffering from scurvy (due to frank vitamin C deficiency), and it has nothing to do with the pathogenesis of glaucoma. To illustrate this point, consider that water is also “of foremost importance in achieving collagen integrity,” but more of it than usual will neither prevent nor treat glaucoma.
“If there is significant blockage of the coronary artery, intravenous chelation therapy may be appropriate.”
“EDTA chelation therapy is an alternative to coronary artery bypass surgery and angioplasty which may prove to be more effective and is definitely safer and less expensive.”
– Textbook of Natural Medicine, p.1078, 1082
Comment: Chelation therapy has long been recognized as an implausible, dangerous treatment based on a simplistic misunderstanding of atherosclerosis. A recent review of the entire literature of its use for coronary artery disease, performed by a well-known enthusiast for “alternative medicine,” concluded: “The most striking finding is the almost total lack of convincing evidence for efficacy. Given the potential of chelation therapy to cause severe adverse effects, this treatment should now be considered obsolete.” (Ernst E. Chelation therapy for coronary heart disease: An overview of all clinical investigations. Am Heart J. 2000 Jul; 140(1): 4-5)
“Most drugs prescribed by M.D.’s are intended to impose an external order on the body. In contrast, an N.D.’s goal is not to impose an outside order but to correct the underlying problem. In the case of a weakened heart, an N.D. would accomplish this by using herbs that nourish and strengthen the heart, such as hawthorne berry, or herbs that disperse congestion or toxins in the body, such as dandelion root. When strengthening and detoxification occur, a patient’s vitality becomes stronger, the root cause of the illness is addressed, and a permanent recovery becomes possible.” [Mary & Michael Morton. “Naturopathic Medicine,” from Healthworld Online]
Comment: This quotation is an illustration of the magical thinking that forms the basis of naturopathy.
“If there is any problem with herbal medicines it is that unless one knows how to prescribe them, they may not be effective. Herbal medications should be prescribed based on the symptoms that the person presents rather than for the name of the disease. Herbal medications are much more effective at relieving the patients symptoms when prescribed in this manner. When prescribed the medicines act with the body’s own innate healing mechanism to restore balance and ultimately allows healing to occur. What’s nice about plant or herbal medicines is that because they are derived from the whole plant they are considerably less toxic to the body. The plant medicine has evolved to work in harmony with the normal body processes rather than taking over its function as many drug therapies do. Because of this herbal medicines may be taken for longer periods of time without the side effects so often experienced with drugs.” [Thomas Kruzel, N.D. Multiple Sclerosis and Alternative Medicine]
Comment: The entire paragraph is nonsense. The author is listed as “an Associate Professor of Medicine at National College of Naturopathic Medicine where he teaches Clinical Urology, Geriatric Medicine and Clinical Pathology.”
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
“Gems that have been reported to be helpful in hypertension are: Sapphire; Coral; Pearl; Pearl, Sapphire, Emerald, Diamond combination; Emerald, Sapphire, Cat’s Eye combination
Hypertensive patients are like overreactive sounding boards and often display increased anxiety, inappropriate coping behaviors in socially distressing situations or exaggerated dependency needs.” [Emily Kane, N.D. Hypertension]
Comment: These claims are absurd, as are all the rest in this long article. The author is listed as a senior editor of the Journal of Naturopathic Medicine, the “official publication of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.”
“Vitamin C supplementation can be very effective in treating male infertility.”
– Textbook of Natural Medicine p. 1383
“Vitamin C improves sperm motility.” [Amy Rothenberg, N.D., in a presentation to the Commission]
Comment: There is no evidence for these claims.
“Acute hepatitis is one of the easiest diseases for vitamin C to cure.” [Textbook of Natural Medicine p.1269]
“Eclipta alba given 800 mg TID, has been shown to reverse hepatic cirrhosis.” [Clinical Roundtable, J Naturopathic Medicine vol.1, no.1. available at:
Comment: These claims are entirely false.
“Diets low in fats cause the illness to go into remission and the symptoms to diminish. In my opinion, homeopathy is also a cornerstone of treatment for multiple sclerosis along with diet.
Hydrotherapy works because it does several things needed by the MS patient. First, it increases oxygenation in the blood. Because of the higher fat content of the blood in these patients, less oxygen is delivered to the tissues. the process of using hot and cold applications promotes repair of tissue damaged by the disease, thus helping to reverse the damage to the delicate tissues.” [Thomas Kruzel, N.D. Multiple Sclerosis and Alternative Medicine]
Comment: These claims are false and demonstrate the naïve, naturopathic view of human pathophysiology. The author is listed as “an Associate Professor of Medicine at National College of Naturopathic Medicine where he teaches Clinical Urology, Geriatric Medicine and Clinical Pathology.”
“Naturopathic physicians believe counseling is an important component of their jobs as facilitators for childbirth care. Dr. Zeff says that he requires the mother and partner to invite him and his assistant to dinner.”
“N.D.’s use many different treatments during the various stages of gestation and birth, including some that most conventional doctors are unfamiliar with. For instance, some N.D.’s use homeopathy before labor begins to help a breach [sic] baby turn to the correct “head-down” position. In some cases, the homeopathic remedy Pulsatilla is used when the baby is not yet in the right position for delivery. Naturopathic physicians have seen that within twelve hours of giving a dose of Pulsatilla to the mother, the baby turns by itself.”
“Also, given that naturopaths are trained in natural childbirth, with their noninvasive and natural treatments, N.D.’s are able to avoid many of the complications associated with childbirth.” [Mary & Michael Morton. “Naturopathic Medicine,” from Healthworld Online
Comment: There are no published data to support these claims. There never will be, because homeopathy is at odds with facts. What would the Board of Registration in Medicine think of a medical doctor who required his patient to invite him to dinner? “Dr. Zeff” is Jared Zeff, the former Academic Dean of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon.
Otitis Media (Ear Infection)
“Yes, bacteria feed on sugar, and if you remove it from a microbiological media, bacteria simply won’t be able grow. By the same logic: reduce the sugar load on the human body, and bacteria will have harder time infecting it.”
“Another important factor allowing pathological bacteria to overgrow in our bodies is a weak immune system. Long-term overuse of antibiotics suppresses the immune system.”
“From the naturopathic prospective, the single most important thing to understand is that an ear infection itself is a consequence, not a cause. It is a consequence of nutritional imbalances and a weak immune system.”
“The above outlined naturopathic approach to otitis media has proven to be very effective and fundamentally curative.” [Bubis, E. Why do our children get chronic ear infections? The naturopathic perspective. Available at the Naturopathic Medicine Network]
Comment: Every statement is false. The final one implies that studies of naturopathic treatments for otitis media have been done. They have not. The author is a Boston-area naturopath.
“‘I think the best position for N.D.’s is in the family practice [sic],’ Dr. Kail says. ‘Naturopaths are the only physicians who have primary skills in health/risk analysis and disease prevention.’ Kail says some of the benefits of using a naturopathic doctor are safer medicine, quicker recovery time, and, especially, prevention of future illness.” [Mary & Michael Morton. “Naturopathic Medicine,” from Healthworld Online
Comment: There is no evidence that naturopaths have esoteric knowledge about disease prevention that is unknown to health care professionals in general. On the other hand, it makes no sense for naturopaths to be opposed to childhood vaccinations, the most effective form of preventive medicine ever devised. Naturopaths have no real skills in disease prevention, but they whimsically believe that “toxins,” “food allergies,” “chronic candidiasis,” dietary sugar, fat and gluten, and a few other entities cause all diseases.
Theclaim that no other health care professionals have “primary skills in health risks” is ridiculous and fraudulent. One of the most important studies in the field has been the Framingham Heart Study, performed in Massachusetts. There are no naturopaths involved. All modern MD’s are trained in disease prevention to the extent that there is real knowledge pertaining to it. Why else would doctors and public health experts be concerned with cholesterol levels, smoking, immunizations, exercise, weight control, pap smears, mammograms, colon cancer screening, rubella screening and prenatal care for expectant mothers, genetic counseling, occupational exposures, environmental lead exposure, water fluoridation, sewage treatment, clean water, and a host of other preventive measures? Naturopaths have had no role whatsoever in developing this knowledge. Nor could they have, because they have never performed scientific studies in public health or any other aspect of medicine, and they have historically rejected immunizations, the germ theory and other rational bases for diseases.
Naturopaths don’t offer “safer medicine,” except in the sense that most of their “medicines” have no effect at all. Naturopaths pretending to be “family practitioners” are a clear danger to public health. “Dr. Kail” is a member of the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
“The hypothesis that gluten is a causative factor in the development of schizophrenia is substantiated by epidemiological, clinical, and experimental studies.” [Pizzorno JE and Murray MT. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Quoted in Burns K. Causes and Perceptions of Schizophrenia]
Comment: There is no evidence for this claim. Health consumers should be skeptical of authors, such as Pizzorno and Murray, who claim expertise in such disparate matters as schizophrenia, heart disease, gynecology, glaucoma, and “cellulite.” This is only possible because of the few simplistic “theories” that naturopaths use to explain all diseases.
Streptococcal Pharyngitis (Strep Throat) and Rheumatic Heart Disease
“Naturopathic physicians are well trained in the standard clinical and laboratory diagnosis of Strep pharyngitis, and have been successfully treating Strep pharyngitis with very low incidence of poststreptococcal sequelae, using various natural antibiotics, and natural immune enhancing therapies, for close to one hundred years” [AANP Position Paper on Treatment of Strep Pharyngitis (1992)]
Comment: Naturopaths have never published a study documenting the incidence of post-streptococcal rheumatic fever in patients treated by their methods. If the treatment advocated by this Position Paper were to become more common, it would lead to a certain rise in the incidence of rheumatic heart disease. The “one hundred year” claim is impossible: it was not until about 1930 that rheumatic fever was understood to be a sequel of streptococcal infections.
“Goldenseal is one of the most effective of the herbal antimicrobial agents” [and] “may be ideal in the treatment of ‘strep throat'” [Pizzorno JE and Murray MT (eds.) Textbook of Natural Medicine (TNM), Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1999. p. 1187]
Comment: Goldenseal has no antimicrobial activity when given orally to a patient.
“Another hydrotherapy technique with a similar rationale is to soak the feet in a hot foot bath, as soon as possible after the stroke has occurred, while applying a cold compress to the neck, face and scalp. If this technique can be applied as a stroke is happening, it may even abort the stroke. Make sure the ice-cold compress touches the skin over the carotid arteries under the jaw bone. Mustard paste or powder may be added to the foot bath to increase the heating effect. Make sure to continue this treatment for at least 20 minutes.” [Kane E. Stroke. AANP Web site]
Comment: It is now possible, in many cases, to abort strokes by emergent medical intervention. Following the fanciful advice above would guarantee that there is no chance for such timely intervention.
“It is conservatively estimated that up to 25% of the US population suffer to some extent from heavy metal poisoning. Hair mineral analysis is a good screening test for heavy metal toxicity.” [Textbook of Natural Medicine p. 438]
Comment: The first statement is alarmist and false. The second is fraudulent.
“Bernard Lust, considered the founder of naturopathic medicine, was cured of tuberculosis through hydrotherapy.” [Mary & Michael Morton. “Naturopathic Medicine,” from Healthworld Online]
Comment: Simply stating it doesn’t make it so. Nevertheless, it serves as the only evidence for most naturopathic claims.
More Untested Claims
“Every day, all over America, we are helping people heal diseases that are supposed to be incurable,’ said Dr. James Sensenig.” (Founding Dean of the Bridgeport Univ. College of Naturopathic Medicine, owned by the “Moonies”). [Quoted in Naturopathy: An age-old medicine for the “New Age,” by Susan M. Fitzgerald, Communications Coordinator, National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland, Oregon]
“Dr. Stephen Speidel, an N.D. practicing in Poulsbo, Washington, says, ‘A good example of how we in naturopathic medicine use the healing force in the body is what we do or don’t do when a child has a fever. Often times a fever is a way that the body rids itself of a bacteria [sic] that only grows in certain temperatures. “Most parents say, ‘My God, my child has a fever. We have to stop that fever. Give him aspirin or Tylenol.’ I tell them, ‘Imagine that your child has a helper, which is the immune system.’ If you take the aspirin, it’s like taking a sledge hammer to your child’s immune system and saying, ‘Be quiet and sit down!’ And it will.” [Mary & Michael Morton. “Naturopathic Medicine,” from Healthworld Online]
Comment: In fact, fever is a potent immunosuppressant, and there is no evidence that it helps to rid the body of bacteria. Furthermore, high fevers in infants and toddlers are dangerous in other ways, including the triggering of febrile seizures.
Anyone with medical knowledge can peruse various naturopathic treatises and find similar frauds, deceits, or misrepresentations of facts on almost every page.
This article was revised on August 29, 2002.