“Doctors” of Naturopathy?

11 June 2008

How unfortunate, the state of Minnesotta is actually giving recognition to what are now “doctors” of naturopathy.

For those of you who don’t know what exactly naturopathy is, here’s a basic rundown:

– Naturopathy is a “complimentary and alternative medicine” system that emphasizes the bodies

power to heal and maintain itself.

– Practitioners of naturopathy believe that this power is innate.

-Here comes the woo: Said practitioners use debunked methods such as homeopathy, not to mention the whole claim that the body has an “innate” power to heal itself without synthetic drugs.

– From the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians ( I feel that physician there should have an asterisk next to it): “This dependable orderliness is believed to be guided by a kind of inner wisdom that everyone has. This inner wisdom can be assisted to return a person to their best balance by naturopathic treatments”. Hmm, “inner wisdom”. So maybe we should just tell people coming to the hospital or to their doctors that their “inner wisdom” is just off? I don’t think so.

So now these people are going to be able to call themselves “doctor”. But treatments like homeopathy have no place in the same category as the medicine practiced by real physicians. As Orac at Respectful Insolence writes:

Of course, naturopaths crave the recognition and patina of scientific validity that licensure brings. After all, the state wouldn’t license quackery, would it? Well, yes it would, because the licensing of professionals is a political and public policy issue, not a scientific issue. As far as science- and evidence-based medicine go, there’s no good reason to elevate naturopathy to the same level as scientific medicine. Worse, when patients hear the word “doctor,” they usually don’t know enough to distinguish between “naturopathic doctor” or “medical doctor.” Of course, the blurring of the line is the whole point.

This highlights the dishonesty, whether knowing or not, of these newly-licensed “doctors”. They claim that they have the same abilities as a medical doctor who has spent years of training in medicine that is based on science, not some mystical idea of “inner wisdom”.

Still, one of the biggest problems seems to be that the Minnesotta Medical Association withdrew its opposition to the bill that allows this after provisions”allowing naturopaths to prescribe drugs and perform minor surgery” were removed. I can’t imagine why they would do this, except for possible PR/political reasons. This unscientific pursuit is attempting to be scientifically-respectable when the fact is that they are not. Naturopathy, like other “alternative medicine” is not scientifically-based and in many cases has been debunked. Allowing them to call themselves doctors is another step towards allowing pseudoscience and non-science to be given the same amount of respect as scientific medicine. Hopefully we can keep the two distinct, and make sure that the public understands the unscientific basis of naturopathy. Of course, if the prevalent opinions regarding science in this country (ie. the Intelligent Design/Creationism movement) is any indicator, that is much harder than it sounds.


One comment

  1. I am consistently astounded that the FDA cracks down on peddlers of vitamin supplements for making unsubstantiated claims, while the entire “practice” of homeopathy and naturopathy are tolerated, and even substantiated by the same establishment when – in reality – the validation and substantiation of the value quotient is precisely the same.

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