Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Leave it to the naturopaths…

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on November 27, 2009

…to give you an insight of what delusion sounds like . I probably should apologize for the prolonged absence from the blogosphere, but what the hell this is my blog and I’m not going to. It’s not like there was any void of skeptical goodies to peruse during my absence, so suck it up and stop whining. As I am still not back 100%, I don’t intend to make this a long entry, but somehow I think I’ll fail at that.  I mean what can you expect given that I’m looking at something titled “Counterpoint: No ‘magic’ involved in naturopathic medicine”? Oh boy here we go!

Progress often faces resistance. Even with the substantial challenges facing health care in Ontario, the province’s recent decision to award prescribing authority to naturopathic doctors has its critics, as evidenced by Scott Gavura’s op-ed piece in Nov. 24th’s National Post.

Well, I’m going to adopt a famous Sagan saying and say that while progress does often face resistance, not everything that faces resistance is progress. A progressive idea must be established on its own merits, not the amount of resistance it encounters; therefore give up the genius-being-laughed-at complex and act like an adult! So let’s read through, I’m sure the “merits” of naturopathic “medicine” will be clearly and unambiguously revealed.

Ontario’s decision is a step forward in improving patient care by allowing naturopathic doctors to use their training to help address the substantial health challenges facing Ontario.

Their training? Training? Let’s see, according to Wikipedia the training, for the licensed ND that actually do go to some sort of school, “includes the use of basic medical diagnostic tests and procedures such as medical imaging, minor surgery, and blood tests. The CNME also provides for the inclusion of optional modalities including minor surgery, natural childbirth and intravenous therapy, though they are not generally licensed to perform these functions; these modalities require additional training and may not be within the scope of practice in all jurisdictions.”  Wow, I’m sure this sort of training must be making many nurses jealous….not (if you imagine Borat making this not-joke it might be funny!)

While it would be easy to dismiss Mr. Gavura’s opinions as alarmist, there’s something to be learned from it: Many Canadians aren’t aware of how safe, scientific and effective naturopathic medicine is.

And this is where I start cringing, because you see in reality most naturopathic treatments are neither safe, effective nor scientific (are you sh@%ing me?). Best case scenario they convince desperate people to avoid real medical treatments that do work; waste their time and money, and some times make them waste their last days in this universe chasing empty dreams and promises, thus robbing them and their families of much needed time together.Worst case scenario, you have 9 month old babies dying of infections that can easily be treated by real medicine. Yes I am looking at you homeopathy, don’t you dare to act all innocent, I-have-no-side-effects in front of me. As far as effectiveness is concerned, I will yet again make the claim that there are no rigorous scientific studies that will withstand scrutiny that show naturopathic medicines to work. You think I’m wrong? Pick your favorite alternative medicine modality and show me 3 proper, scientific studies that show a positive effect above and over the placebo effect. Set and ….go! I know you won’t be coming back with anything. Scientific? Hahaha, thanks for the good laugh. But seriously read a few sentences back. The same challenge applies. I have ample room in my comments section for many, many links. Get to linkin’!

Naturopathic medicine is based on the scientific assertion that the body, when given the appropriate support, has the potential to heal itself. This isn’t a “magical and transcendent anomaly of physics.” It’s how the body works — and we’ve known it for centuries. Each time you heal from a cut, a cold or a broken bone, you’re seeing vis mediatrix naturae, or “the healing power of nature” at work. It’s not magic, just good science.

Sneaky! Nice try. Yes, the body can heal itself, but that is limited. Medicine kinda implies human intervention for the sort of things the body cannot handle on its own. I guess by this logic vaccines are also naturopathic because they give the immune system “appropriate support” by teaching it how to fight invading agents so that in the future it can handle such agents without us intervening. Hey who knew, vaccines are naturopathic. Nice!

As well, many patients have not had success with conventional options to address chronic or unresolved conditions

Oh really? I need some clarification here: are the patients themselves assuming that they can find success with the naturopathic modalities, or are the naturopaths claiming that they have solutions to things real medicine cannot yet handle? If the latter is the case, I’d like to see a bit of evidence, just a tiny bit really. It would be great if some of these things included cancer or HIV or something like that.

This complementary system is vital when we are living in a society that is increasingly focused on symptom management.

And there it goes, the symptom-only-management fallacy. Forgive me for being a bit, what is the word…skeptical but when was the last time that doctors treated a shooting victim for the pain he was experiencing while ignoring the bullets lodged in his body? I’m sorry I can’t hear you…a bit louder please….oh you got nothing to say?

Most importantly, what patients want is to not be sick in the first place. The American Institute for Cancer Research determined that one-third of all cancers could be prevented through exercise, diet and weight management. Naturopathic doctors have the clinical skills and training to help patients integrate these preventative strategies.

Ha, and so do most all dietitians, no need to bring in the holistic nonsense. Exercise, diet and weight management have been around for a long time and have solid scientific support to have positive effect, this was not discovered by naturopaths by any stretch of the imagination.  They’re just latching onto it simply because it fits in with their whole anti-drug stance. Prevention is important but is not the end-all be-all in medicine. By their own citation, a full 2/3 of cancers can’t be prevented so show me what you can do about those dear naturopaths? Can you show that your methods increase life expectancy in a 5-year span? I didn’t think so.

There is more and more evidence in support of the approaches to health that NDs employ. Diet, lifestyle, stress and environmental factors have been a focus of naturopathic care long before evidence fully showed the importance of these approaches.

Isn’t this one of those can-never-be-verified claims? I guess the implication is that they were championing diet and exercise before the medical community was. Huh! Even if true, what does that have to say about acupuncture or homeopathy? Can you say diddly squat?

Meanwhile, the limits of randomized control trials favoured by the pharmaceutical industry are being increasingly recognized. Randomized control trials tend to test a single treatment approach to the eradication of a symptom. This approach works against individualized care, and tends to be biased toward over-treatment rather than prevention. Clinical studies are critical to advancing knowledge, but in themselves they are not the solutions to health problems.

And there goes the Special Pleading. Don’t tell me you weren’t expecting this now, what kind of skeptic are you? Obviously naturopathic medicine is scientific, as they said in the beginning, but here they go pleading for us not to look at randomized, controlled studies, which is what scientific tends to mean, for proof. Trying to have your cake and eat it too huh dear naturopath? But you can’t have it both ways. You see if you claim your modality is scientific then it is bound by the rules of ….guess what? Science! I know I shouldn’t load your cute little brain with this sort of heavy logic but you can handle it. Really, you can.

HPRAC also recommended that Ontario’s NDs, similar to NDs in almost every other regulated jurisdiction, have the capability to take on a larger role in primary care with access to basic primary care pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics.

Now wait just a minute! These guys want to be able to prescribe the same pharmaceuticals, an over-reliance on which according to this same article “may be making us sicker”? Isn’t that ironic? Drugs are bad as they don’t treat the root problem; I want to give you an all natural alternative to drugs; but let me have the ability to prescribe drugs nonetheless? What? Do they not really see the lack of logic in this line of thinking? Do they really think people are that stupid? Well, strike that last sentence!

As naturopathic doctors transition under new regulation in Ontario, there is an opportunity for us to work collaboratively with every member of an individual’s health-care team, forming a new model that acknowledges the choice that patients are making for the more natural approach that Naturopathic Doctors employ.

I must say for being a pile of crap, this is marketing genius. Honestly I must take my hat off to these folks for coming up with some pretty darn sweet sounding selling points. Just look at these two phrases. Who doesn’t like to collaborate? Or have a health care team all of his own? Or having a choice? Or going all natural? It all sounds so good! God if I didn’t know none of it has ever been shown to work,scientifically,I’d be definitely sold.

My verdict? Well if it isn’t clear by now I can recap it: I think naturopathic “medicine” is crap that makes people feel good but ultimately cannot objectively help with anything that can be measured. I think no alternative modality has ever been shown to work under rigorous scientific testing protocols, and when that happened it became part of real medicine thus loosing it’s alternative medicine status. I think that all of the alternative medicine modalities of today work no better than placebo, and that is the reason why their practitioners rely on testimonies and use a Special Pleading argument to be excused from the rigorous requirements of science, while at the same time proclaiming their modalities to be scientific, a bit misguided if not outright hypocritical in my eyes. So generally, I think naturopathic, alternative, integrative, non-conventional, call it whatever you want, I call it wishful thinking “medicine” is baloney; and there are few people who would be happier than me to if it turned out to be in fact useful to any degree. Until then, it is nothing but magical thinking.

5 Responses

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  1. red rabbit said, on November 27, 2009 at 9:18 PM

    Christ, antibiotics is what they want to use as an example?

    I think most doctors should get refresher courses on antibiotics every 2-3 years. The bugs change, the drugs change, and there’s a real knack to knowing when to avoid them vs when to use them. My background is microbiology and immunology prior to medicine, and I am VERY STINGY with antibiotics because the potential for resistance cannot be overstated.

    The people who do not understand the difference between antibiotics and vaccines (because they are not taught it, no fault of their own) and are worrying about vaccines no longer working because they are overused should not be prescribing either.

  2. drmabus2006 said, on November 30, 2009 at 5:44 AM

    Kicking in the heads of atheists one at a time…

    PZ, I thought the Morris Police Department was going to save you from the wrath of God…

    • redrabbitslife said, on November 30, 2009 at 9:27 PM

      Um, hey skepdude, you may want to do a whois on this mabus guy as “kicking in the heads of atheists one at a time” sounds an awful lot like a threat.

  3. lisa said, on February 11, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    you negate your argument with poor use of english language and a tinge of anger in place of sound reason. if naturopathic medicine is such a load of bull, why are nd’s highly sought after and currently being recruited for public policy planning in dc? you need to re-evaluate the rigorous training for a doctorate of naturopathic medicine. you’re right, it doesn’t not address emergency/invasive care. but neither do allopathic or osteopathic doctors who specialize in family care.

    • Skepdude said, on February 12, 2010 at 12:39 PM

      Lisa, you don’t understand logic. Bad English and even emotions do not negate any arguments. Bad reason does. Get that straight in your head.

      Furthermore, if you knew logic you’d know that and Argument from Popularity is a Logical Fallacy and thus bad logic.

      I will reevaluate the “training” you speak off, when I see proof that it is in fact rigorous. Until then the burden of proof is on you.

      Was my English clear enough this time, Lisa?

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