Respectful Insolence

If there’s one thing that practitioners of pseudoscientific medicine crave more than anything else, it’s respectability. Believing that science-based medicine is corrupt and that their woo is as good or better, they delude themselves into thinking that they can function as well or better than primary care doctors practice and therefore should be given the same privileges that physicians are granted. To them, it makes sense. On any objective basis, however, it does not. The reason is simple. The two most common “disciplines” that seek the same scope of practice as primary care doctors are chiropractors and naturopaths. By any objective or reasonable criteria, it’s utterly ridiculous to imagine that chiropractors, whose specialty is realigning nonexistent subluxations, would have the slightest clue how to take comprehensive care of patients—or even how to do anything other than infuse their variety of physical therapy with delusions of grandeur in which they imagine themselves capable of treating asthma, heart disease, and other serious conditions. Naturopaths, on the other hand, although just as quacky as chiropractors (perhaps even more so) tend to be able to make a case that sounds more convincing, not because their case actually is more convincing but rather because they can sound more convincing. After all, they have a wider cornucopia of quackery that, when combined with the mundane modalities of diet and exercise magically rebranded as being somehow unique to naturopathy and “alternative,” makes them seem like more comprehensive practitioners compared to the popular picture of chiropractors in the public mind of back crackers.

Unfortunately, naturopaths have been making inroads as well. They’ve actually been persuading some state legislatures that they know enough to prescribe medications and/or that their services are sufficiently valuable that it should be mandated by law that health insurance companies pay for them. Frequently, the argument is that they are cheaper than conventional medicine. Of this, there is little doubt. However, cheaper is not necessarily better. If the goal is to reduce costs by having more people die because they don’t receive appropriate science-based care, I suppose that empowering naturopaths to be roughly on par with primary care doctors makes a sort of perverse sense. That is not the sort of sense we should be invoking, though.

A recent development that’s been resonating through the naturopath community is New Hampshire House Bill 351. This is a bill that was recently passed that requires all private health insurance companies to reimburse naturopaths for their services. Yes, you heard it correctly. If you live in New Hampshire, part of your health insurance premiums are going to pay for naturopathy, and the naturopaths couldn’t be more ecstatic, as this misguided article full of false “balance” describes:

The recent passage of New Hampshire House Bill 351, which requires all private health insurers to cover services provided by naturopathic doctors, could be a game changer for alternative medicine in the state, one that could alter attitudes toward human health and well being.

The state Senate narrowly approved HB 351 in a 13-11 vote in early May and Gov. John Lynch signed it into law on June 20.

For Dr. Robyn Conte, ND, director of Starry Brook Natural Medicine in Exeter, such providers face their fair share of challenges and misconceptions, despite being subject to much of the same training and academic rigor as traditional doctors.

“We’re quite often the physician of last resort,” said Conte, who opened Starry Brook in 2010. “A lot of times we’ll have patients who’ve seen every specialist up and down the Seacoast, but who still haven’t gotten to the root causes for whatever ails them.”

Unfortunately, contrary to what Conte claims, naturopathy is nothing more than a hodge-podge of mostly unscientific treatment modalities based on vitalism and other prescientific notions of disease. It’s a hodge-podge, a grab bag of all sorts of unscientific and pseudoscientific medical treatments, most of which fall squarely into the “alternative” camp in every definition, particularly the part of the definition of “alternative” about either not working or not having been demonstrated to work. Naturopathy includes modalities that range from the relatively mundane appropriated from science-based medicine and magically rebranded as “alternative,” such as diet and exercise, to pure quackery, such as homeopathy, to downright dangerous pseudoscience, such as germ theory denialism and antivaccinationism.

As a result, typical naturopaths are more than happy in essence to “pick one from column A and one from column B” when it comes to quackery, mixing and matching treatments including traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, herbalism, Ayurvedic medicine, applied kinesiology, anthroposophical medicine, reflexology, craniosacral therapy, Bowen Technique, and pretty much any other form of unscientific or prescientific medicine that you can imagine. Despite their affinity for non-science-based medical systems, naturopaths crave the imprimatur of science. As a result, they desperately try to represent what they do as being science-based, and they’ve even set up research institutes, much like the departments, divisions, and institutes devoted to “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) that have cropped up on the campuses of legitimate medical schools and academic medical centers like so many weeds poking through the cracks in the edifice of science-based medicine.

Naturopaths also really, really don’t like it when they encounter criticism that their “discipline” is not science-based. Such criticism often comes in response to the common naturopath trope to claim that they have training just as rigorous as that of physicians. This is, of course, utter nonsense, a load of what Douglas Adams would call fetid dingo’s kidneys. Naturopaths might have a four year training program, which is the same length of time that medical school lasts, but that does not mean that naturopath training is in any way equivalent to medical school training. Naturopaths make a great show of trying to portray themselves as being science-based, as having scientific training every bit as rigorous as the scientific training that medical students receive. This is utter nonsense. Sure, naturopaths might take classes with the same names as classes in medical school, such as physiology, anatomy, and the like, but that doesn’t mean they are receiving an equivalent education. As a physician myself, I really hate it when reporters credulously swallow and regurgitate naturopath propaganda about how rigorous their training is and then regurgitate it in puff pieces like this. It’s an insult to physicians everywhere.

Think I exaggerate? Did I mention that homeopathy is an integral part of naturopathic education? If I didn’t, I will now. About a year and a half ago, I wrote one of my characteristic Orac-ian screeds describing how you can’t have naturopathy without homeopathy, how homeopathy is a required part of the educational curriculum for naturopaths. It’s required, and the naturopath board exam tests newly minted naturopaths on homeopathy, among other woo. I realize that my regular readers don’t require an explanation as to why homeopathy is nothing but the purest quackery, but it’s possible that newbies might. Basically, homeopathy is one of the most outrageously quacky forms of quackery that there is. It essentially advocates diluting remedies to the point where not a single molecule of the original substance remains and invokes various pseudoscientific explanations about the “memory of water” to “explain” how such high dilutions can allegedly do anything whatsoever. In fact, the only real problem with homeopathy to some naturopaths is not that it’s a risible load of pseudoscience, but that it isn’t being “taught properly” to budding naturopathy students and that they are afraid of it. After all, you don’t want to screw with someone’s VITAL FORCE, do you?

Why certainly not. At least, I don’t.

Personally, if you want to see what sort of awesome treatments Conte is recommending, I think it behooves us to go back to the tape, so to speak, and see what she says later int he article:

“Our thoroughness and the time we spend with each patient is I believe what sets us apart,” Conte said. “We’ll have patients who come to us because they’re curious about ‘alternative medicine’ and who end up converting all of their medical care to our practice.”

As with any traditional physician, a diagnosis from Conte carries with it a prescriptive solution. But instead of pills and surgeries often deployed in traditional health care — and which can mask rather than cure the underlying ailment — Starry Brook’s products and services are dynamic: Everything from vitamins to essential oils to massage therapy, acupuncture and diet counseling.

Such remedies might indicate a practice still squarely in the medical minority, but Conte said that doesn’t mean they aren’t the right ones.

No, the quackery embraced by naturopathy means they aren’t the right ones.

In fact, I thought it might be interesting to find out what sort of therapies Conte thinks to be science-based. We already know that she offers acupuncture and “essential oils,” but in fact she offers so much more than that, as her practice’s website shows. Here’s her web page:

Dr. Conte currently practices as a primary care physician, prescribing medications, ordering labs and imaging, performing physical exams, as well as offering her patients acupuncture, counseling, clinical nutrition, botanical medicine and homeopathy.

And:

She believes that homeopathy and botanical medicine complement dietary revision, lifestyle changes, and mind-body therapies to help restore balance for her patients.

Her practice offers the same veritable cornucopia of woo that naturopathy is, including nutritional IV therapy, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, and, of course, homeopathy. She claims, against all evidence, that acupuncture is really awesome and can be effective against allergic rhinitis, dysmenorrhea, infertility, premenstrual syndrome, and depression, among other conditions. She also claims this about homeopathy:

Homeopathy does not interfere with other forms of medication, is non-toxic, and has little to no side effects. Homeopathic medicines treat a variety of health concerns, including emotional disturbances such as anxiety and depression. It does this my addressing the source of illness not just the symptoms. Homeopathic medicine treats the vital force (known as Qi in Chinese medicine).

I hate to say it (well, no I don’t), but naturopathy is mostly quackery, and the parts of it that aren’t quackery are nothing more than mundane, science-based treatments like diet and exercise, infused with woo and rebranded as somehow “alternative.” There is nothing of value that naturopaths bring to health care that couldn’t be just as easily brought by reimbursing primary care better, so that primary care physicians don’t feel so pressured to see so many patients in such a short period of time. Forcing insurers to pay for pseudoscience and quackery is not the way to solve this problem. The citizens of New Hampshire—indeed, of all states in which misguided legislation like New Hampshire House Bill 351 becomes law—deserve better. They do not deserve legalized quackery. They deserve science-based medicine.

Comments

  1. #1 nz sceptic
    August 29, 2012

    What a topical post Orac. I was just at that moment lamenting this passage from an email sent to me by a friend this very day. She says:
    “I forgot to tell you in my email yesterday, that I went to have tests done at the naturopath and turns out I shouldn’t be eating gluten, dairy, wheat, yeast, soy or pork. So I’ve been following a diet free of all that stuff for the past two weeks. I’ve been having grapefruit seed extract in apple juice every day and it’s made me feel good. He gave me that because the balance of bacteria in my intestines was way out with so much bad bacteria bordering on giardia.”

    So, she’s now going to be obsessed with following a seriously imbalanced diet, depriving herself of much-needed calcium and various vitamins – on the basis of some idiot’s quack diagnosis. It’s so depressing!

  2. #2 DurhamDave
    August 29, 2012

    I only hope that the next serious case of misdiagnosis (or more likely, complete failure to diagnose anywhere close) that is the almost inevitable result of all this:
    a) Doesn’t result in a death
    b) Finally provokes enough public outcry that “How was this allowed to happen!?” means regulations and qualifications are tightened up again.

    I also hope that quacks over here aren’t encouraged by it too. The NHS is burdened enough as it is.

  3. #3 DurhamDave
    August 29, 2012

    Oh,@nz sceptic, have you tried pointing out the problems such as increased risk of osteoporosis (I think) from that lack of calcium?

  4. #4 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    August 29, 2012

    Somehow I’m not surprised she’s in Exeter. They have a good deal of ‘New Age” woomeisters in that area, much to my dismay.

  5. #5 Mu
    August 29, 2012

    I’m most surprised that all that “bringing balance to the (life) force” doesn’t get her sued by Lucas Art for copyright infringement.

  6. #6 naturocrit
    August 29, 2012

    Interesting. I just scribbled something up onto Naturocrit regarding, of all things, naturopathy’s homeopathy in relation to the recent video piece by Cara Santa Maria and Ben Goldacre that was put up at, of all places, HuffPo.

    Oh, and regarding “parts of it that aren’t quackery are nothing more than mundane, science-based treatments like diet and exercise, infused with woo and rebranded as somehow ‘alternative'”, here’s a perfect example:

    ND Deville, in her long-running column “Natural Medicine Tips” in Arizona, wrote “Stress Relief via Time Management”

    Quite mundane (see http://tucsoncitizen.com/natural-medicine-tips/2012/08/24/stress-relief-via-time-management/ ).

    And then you get homeopathy proponentry too from here in the series (see http://tucsoncitizen.com/natural-medicine-tips/2012/05/25/homeopathy-its-not-just-voodoo/ ).

    All “natural.” Not voodoo. After all, she is licensed.

    -r.c.

  7. #7 Eric Lund
    August 29, 2012

    This case shows that alt-med is not just something associated with the political left. New Hampshire elected a heavily tea party legislature in 2010 (the senate is 19R, 5D while Republicans have about a 3-1 majority in the house). At least 8 of the senate votes in favor of this bill (and at least 6 opposed; I haven’t seen the roll call) were from Republicans.

    @Darwy: Exeter is one of the larger towns and is relatively well off economically. It’s also home to a famous private boarding school (a high school whose students mostly live away from home), so there are also kids with money to spend. I don’t see it as significantly more woo-friendly than other parts of the state, just that woomeisters will tend to congregate where they can earn money.

  8. #8 JBC
    midwest
    August 29, 2012

    “…the balance of bacteria in my intestines was way out with so much bad bacteria bordering on giardia.”

    I know someone in her 50’s who died from colon cancer for which she did not see a real doctor until it was Stage IV because she was convinced she had giardia (diagnosed by some altie person)–for which she was doing “probiotics”.

    When will someone start to prosecute these people? When will state legislatures have to consult real experts before they pass laws such as in NH?

  9. #9 Annie Mouse
    August 29, 2012

    I have a question, if a person is solely treated by a naturopath and something goes wrong, either through misdiagnosis or not taking proper medication, does this mean people can sue for malpractice?

    If they have the same benefits under the law as doctors do they also have the same requirements?

  10. #10 BKsea
    August 29, 2012

    nz sceptic: “bad bacteria bordering on giardia”

    You may make some headway with your friend by pointing out that giardia is a eukaryotic parasyte not a bacterium. Thus, it would be impossible for bacteria to “border on ” giardia (whatever that means) unless they were undergoing millions of years of evolution in your friend’s gut.

  11. #11 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    August 29, 2012

    @Annie Mouse

    My understanding is that malpractice uses the “standard of care” of the particular field as the comparator. So if the whole field is crap and the practitioner has not veered from that standard, then no malpractice has occurred…at least according to the law. One would have to argue (and successfully demonstrate) that the naturopath’s standard of practice is an inappropriate measure against which to judge the case, and that the real physicians’ standard is what should be used.

    But then, I’m not a lawyer, so my thoughts may be off. Anyone else, feel free to correct me.

  12. #12 Calli Arcale
    August 29, 2012

    Exactly what struck me about that, BKsea. Obviously, the naturopath in question thinks giardia is a syndrome, not a specific organism. You get giardia by drinking contaminated water, and drinking apple juice with grapefruit seed extract isn’t going to faze it in the least. I hope this naturopath isn’t advising people on safety when traveling into the back country; giardia infestations are most commonly associated with inadequately purified water consumed on camping trips. (Yeah, it’s a lovely cool refreshing mountain stream. Still filter it, boil it, or drop iodine in it, even if that makes it taste bad. Giardia is *nasty*, and if you’re three days hike from civilization, potentially lethal.)

  13. #13 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    August 29, 2012

    @Eric Lund

    I’m well acquainted with Exeter and Exeter Academy – (it’s a very nice campus, btw). It also has more than its share of wooists – the whole of the Seacoast does.

    It is absolutely about the $$ – and the Seacoast is one of the bigger/biggest tourist draws in NH.

  14. #14 palindrom
    August 29, 2012

    I was wondering the same thing as Annie Mouse — now that they can be reimbursed like they were real doctors, can they be sued like real doctors? That would be delicious, and it’s probably too good to be true.

  15. #15 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    August 29, 2012

    Here’s what NH Statute Title 52 Section 508:13 has to say about malpractice evidence:

    In determining whether the person against whom a malpractice claim has been made has met the applicable standard of care, the jury or judge shall not be bound or limited by the standard of care accepted or established with respect to any particular geographical area or locality, but shall consider only whether the person against whom the claim is made has acted with due care having in mind the standards and recommended practices and procedures of his profession, and the training, experience and professed degree of skill of the average practitioner of such profession, and all other relevant circumstances.

  16. #16 Krebiozen
    August 29, 2012

    I’ll second Calli on: “Giardia is *nasty*, and if you’re three days hike from civilization, potentially lethal”. I picked up a bad case on my travels (Egypt) though I didn’t know it at the time. When I got home I quit taking Lomotil and left nature to take its course, which had worked for previous GI bugs I had brought home with me, but it just got worse and worse. A couple of days later I was clinically dehydrated (worst headache I have ever had) and unable to stand up unaided. Oddly it didn’t make me feel unwell as such, and my appetite was unaffected until I was seriously dehydrated, despite constantly drinking fluids. Not fun.

    The lab said it was the worst case they had ever seen which, since they also did the lab work for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, I thought was quite impressive. There is some evidence that chronic untreated giardia can result in a CFS-type picture, and it is often hard to diagnose unless it is a serious case, like mine was, and is sometimes resistant to treatment. I didn’t recover properly for several years after that, with GI problems, fatigue and general poor health, and strongly suspect the giardia was to blame, though it’s possible I had picked up some other bug that was never identified.

    Anyway, it’s best avoided, and if contracted best treated with heavy-duty pharmaceuticals, as I’m sure it would laugh at grapefruit seed extract (or benzethonium chloride, which I seem to recall tests identified its active ingredient as).

  17. #17 Denice Walter
    August 29, 2012

    Unfortunately, there are active legal and lobbying efforts to gain acceptance for NDs and other woo-fomenters: the ANH specialises in this in their three-pronged global effort**.

    Amongst those I survey, signals to followers are sent- whenever their issues are debated by governmental bodies- to barrage elected officials with e-mails and calls: woo-meisters like Mercola and Adams each claim 200K+ followers- adamant groupies can produce a great deal of noise.

    Lesser entities like Null, AoA, TMR, the Canaries, NVIC, Generation Rescue and other anti-vaxxers have much smaller numbers ( in the single digit thousands to slightly above 10 000) BUT I suspect that many of the followers don’t do much else and consider supporting their leaders a calling of sorts.

    ** Europe, North America, Everywhere else. The 3 corners of the world.

  18. #18 lilady
    August 29, 2012

    IANAL but I perused a copy of the enacted law:

    http://www.nhliberty.org/bills/view/2012/HB351

    “AMENDED ANALYSIS

    “This bill requires health insurance reimbursement for health care services provided by a doctor of naturopathic medicine licensed under RSA 328-E under individual insurance policies and allows for such coverage under group insurance policies.”

    Am I interpreting this amendment correctly to mean that only if you have individual coverage, say, as a sole proprietor of a a small business, will your private insurer foist this coverage on you. Another scenario, would be, is if you are on Medicare and want coverage beyond Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (physician coverage), you will have to pay for naturopathy coverage once you purchase Medicare “gap’ coverage.

    Then, there is this provision under the new law:
    278:2 New Section; Coverage for Naturopathy Providers; Group. Amend RSA 415 by inserting after section 18-v the following new section:

    415:18-w Naturopathy Providers; Payment for Equivalent Types of Services; Group. Each insurer that issues or renews any policy of group or blanket accident or health insurance providing benefits for medical or hospital expenses may provide to each group, or to the portion of each group comprised of certificate holders of such insurance who are residents of this state, coverage for expenses arising from a health service performed by a doctor of naturopathic medicine licensed under RSA 328-E if that particular type of service is within the scope of practice of such doctor and if the insurer would reimburse for that type of service when performed by any other type of health care provider.”

    I believe I am interpreting this section correctly that it isn’t a *slam dunk* for the naturopaths or the customers (marks), to even get this coverage if you are employed and covered under a group plan.

    How about this for reimbursable services?

    “….if that particular type of service is within the scope of practice of such doctor and if the insurer would reimburse for that type of service when performed by any other type of health care provider.”

    Look at the services Dr. Conte provides, that include IV Nutritional Vitamin C therapy and the supplements she sells. It would be difficult to prove that IV therapies and supplements for (non-existent) medical conditions and (non-existent) deficiencies are billable or reimbursable.

    Look at each of the laboratories that she uses to *diagnose* patients to see the types of bogus blood, urine and saliva tests she orders from them for *diagnostic* purposes. I don’t think they qualify for reimbursement either.

  19. #19 palindrom
    August 29, 2012

    Todd W. — Given what you say, I suppose the trick would be to persuade a judge and jury that the “profession” in question is “the whole medical profession, including real doctors”.

    All you need is someone like that poor person who died because some quack misdiagnosed a cancer and treated it with useless stuff until it was too late — and almost any jury would let the quack have it with both barrels.

  20. #20 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    August 29, 2012

    @lilady

    Thanks for posting those excerpts. It sounds like large employers that have group plans won’t be required to cover this nonsense, but can if they wish.

    That said, the reimbursement of services bit could be either a slam dunk for naturopaths or a hindrance. Seems like the bill could be interpreted to either limit what they can bill for (that “and if the insurer would reimburse for that type of service when performed by any other type of health care provider” part) or, through some major legal wrangling, to allow reimbursement for bogus tests and snake oil treatments. Hopefully, that “and…” clause will give insurance companies the leeway they need to deny coverage of most of the quackery. I could still see naturopaths using “legitimate” things in illegitimate ways, though.

  21. #21 lilady
    August 29, 2012

    @ Krebiozen: Giardiasis, a.k.a “Beaver Fever”, can be a nasty parasitic infection.

    http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/giardiasis/fact_sheet.htm

    The CDC also has a Fact Sheet which states the effects of the disease, such as you describe, may linger for an extended period of time.

    I’m *impressed* that the highly-respected London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine laboratory staff described your case as the “worst case ever seen”. :-)

  22. #22 lilady
    August 29, 2012

    @ Todd W. Wouldn’t it be proper for the *doctor* to tell the patient (mark), if a panel of blood tests are not billable and not reimbursable?

    I know the one OTC drug that my doctor prescribed for me, Calcium/Vitamin D is NOT covered by any insurance plan that I am aware of.

    There is another scenario I would propose. Will many policyholders keep their medical doctors for real chronic and acute conditions treatments…while adding another “primary care doctor” (a naturopath) for acupuncture, reiki, nutritional advice, etc.?

  23. #23 Eric Lund
    August 29, 2012

    lilady@1205: IANAL also, but I live in NH. My reading of RSA 415:18-w is that standard office visits would be reimbursable, and that prescription homeopathic remedies would be available under the same copayment rules as other prescriptions. So if you are in a group insurance plan which allows you free choice of physicians, your plan covers this sort of stuff. (But not OTC remedies, because they are not reimbursable even when regular doctors recommend them.)

    However, if you are part of an HMO-type plan (as I am) and the insurance provider is on the ball, you may luck out. In an HMO-type plan, you have a primary care physician (PCP) who is on a list of approved providers, and I don’t see anything in that bill that requires an HMO to allow naturopaths to be on their list of approved PCPs. Specialist treatment (outside of an emergency room scenario) must be from a referral by your PCP. It’s highly unlikely, though not impossible, that a regular PCP would send you to a naturopath for specialist treatment. Of course this assumes that the insurance provider actually does keep naturopaths off the approved PCP list. I fear that once one insurance provider allows naturopath PCPs, market forces will push the rest of the insurance providers in this state to allow naturopath PCPs.

  24. #24 Peebs
    Reliving tales of derring do upon the Main and my small part in them.
    August 29, 2012

    I’ve never heard the term ‘Beaver Fever’ before and my mucky little mind would have thought of lots of ailments would also qualify for that title.

    I am intrigued by the quote that homeopathy has no or few side effect

    What would be the ‘Few’ side effects?

  25. #25 Eric Lund
    August 29, 2012

    What would be the ‘Few’ side effects?

    Walletectomy. Shaking the magic water through 30 or 60 hundredfold dilutions is a labor-intensive process, so those homeopathic remedies aren’t cheap.

  26. #26 Beamup
    August 29, 2012

    What would be the ‘Few’ side effects?

    Ones associated either with contamination, or those remedies which homeopathic principles claim are weakest (because they aren’t diluted much).

  27. #27 Heliantus
    August 29, 2012

    @ Cali

    Obviously, the naturopath in question thinks giardia is a syndrome, not a specific organism.

    That is summing up the essence of most of alt-med: everything which ails is just a deregulation of your humors, because of something you don’t do right.
    Plus, medical technobabble.
    Or cargo cult.

  28. #28 lilady
    August 29, 2012

    @ Eric Lund: I have an extraordinarily very complete health plan…which has turned into a Medicare *gap plan*…I am an age-eligible (sigh) Medicare recipient.

    My plan and most other medical plans that I know of, have lists of “Preferred Providers” where the co-pay currently is $ 20/per visit and $ 20 co-pay for certain tests (such as EKGs) performed by my “Preferred Provider doctor). I am fortunate to have a great plan…NYSHIP…and most of the GPs and specialists in my County are “Preferred Providers”. If you chose a doctor who isn’t a “Preferred Provider”…then the co-pays increase dramatically.

    NYS retirees drug plans, whether you choose the “Preferred Provider” option or the HMO option, do not cover any herbs, supplements or the other garbage that the CAM “practitioners” pushers sell or prescribe. I receive a formulary list each year from NYSHIP (NYS Health Insurance Plan), and the formulary list is updated on the internet. Certain prescribed drugs such HGH (Human Growth Hormone) require prior approval to make certain quacks and their patients aren’t using HGH for “rejuvenation”. Cancer chemotherapeutic drugs are processed through the “Cancer Center of Excellence Division, within NYSHIP.

    The NYS insurance plan also has an HMO “option” where you don’t pay co-pays, but you are limited to the doctors who are part of the HMO.

  29. #29 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 29, 2012

    If God is in the gaps, what does that say about the Medicare gap plans? Just curious.

  30. #30 Shay
    August 29, 2012

    @Peebs: I’ve never heard the term ‘Beaver Fever’ before and my mucky little mind would have thought of lots of ailments would also qualify for that title.

    Great minds think alike.

  31. #31 lilady
    August 29, 2012

    @ Peebs and Shay: Okay guys, give me credit for feeding you some of your great posts.

    Beaver Fever refers to the belief that beaver poop in rivers and streams was responsible for the transmission of the Giardia lamblia parasite.

    I am truly shocked and appalled, for the connotations you have have made, heh, heh. :-)

  32. #32 Militant Agnostic
    August 29, 2012

    Starry Brook’s products and services are dynamic

    Bolding mine – what does this even mean? – nothing as far as I can tell. Perhaps DW, Mrs Woo or one of the former alties could enlighten endarken me.

  33. #33 Denice Walter
    August 29, 2012

    Well, I never thought anything even slightly unseemly : when Peebs spoke about reliving his derring do etc, I thought that it was going to be all about seamanship.

  34. #34 lilady
    August 29, 2012

    Denice Walter: Please don’t *encourage* Peebs and Shay.

    ” when Peebs spoke about reliving his derring do etc, I thought that it was going to be all about seamanship.”

    Denice, did you use Spell Checker before you posted?

  35. #35 Denice Walter
    August 29, 2012

    @ lilady:

    Of course not, I spell exceedingly well: Peebs was the only medical fellow on a boat with 1700 other seamen.
    OH.

  36. #36 lilady
    August 29, 2012

    OH, indeed Denice.

    I hope there are no young impressionable lurkers or posters here.

  37. #37 Denice Walter
    August 29, 2012

    @ Militant Agnostic:

    I think that “dynamic” is used as a synonym for ‘infused with energy” as opposed to static, reductionist SBM.
    I’m surprised that they didn’t just say ‘quantum’.

    You see, they are dealing with subtle, living *energies*, not materialistic body parts and chemical compounds. These energies resonate with the deepest harmonies of the multiverse: yes, the universe is rife with vibrational harmonies.

  38. #38 Shay
    August 29, 2012

    It’s that Navy/Marines thing, Lilady. You can dress us up,but you can’t take us anywhere.

  39. #39 Spectator
    August 29, 2012

    Has anyone studied the various traditional oils for medicinal or sub-medicinal uses such as treating aches, pains and moods?

    They are a bunch of complex botanical compounds, which is the same sources as many medicines. They’ve been known for thousands of years, so there has been much observation of their effects (though not with the best of methods).

    It could be an advantage that the oils are less concentrated and contain multiple substances; it’s easier to avoid side effects when dealing with a diluted, weakened drug.

    I’m not speaking of using them for cancer or other acute, deadly conditions but for cases where one has time and has to consider the harms from treatment vs the harms from disease, and where the former are less understood than the latter.

  40. #40 Spectator
    August 29, 2012

    ^^ “same source as”

    Not the best wording in my post, I hope the meaning is clear enough.

  41. #41 herr doktor bimler
    August 29, 2012

    Starry Brook’s products and services are dynamic:
    Like the name ‘Starry Brook’ itself, that advertising slogan really belongs in the porn industry.

  42. #42 LurkeyLoo
    August 29, 2012

    Mayhaps they got giardia from the “memory” of the parasite in the water their magical homeopathic elixir was created in.

  43. #43 Quokka
    August 29, 2012

    GP de-registration shows double standard for health practitioners:

    “http://theconversation.edu.au/gp-de-registration-shows-double-standard-for-health-practitioners-9141″ />

    The above article by the President of Friends of Science in Medicine here in Australia demonstrates we struggle with the same issues here.

  44. #44 lilady
    August 30, 2012

    @ Quokka:

    http://theconversation.edu.au/gp-de-registration-shows-double-standard-for-health-practitioners-9141

    Wasn’t the problem with the physician is that he claimed spinal manipulation is a treatment (or a cure) for a variety of physical symptoms (flu-like, abdominal pain and diarrhea, amongst others)? The medical tribunal found that he did not do a physical examination or question patients about their symptoms or onset of symptoms and was quite insistent that he could manipulate patients’ spines for treatment or cures.

    According to the failed Supreme Court appeal…he is really quite delusional and has some severe mental impairments:

    http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/cases/nsw/NSWCA/2012/251.html

    The physician who wrote the article, used this case to point out that the Medical Board “polices” their own…while the Chiropractic Board does not, in his opinion.

    Reading through the appeal, it wasn’t just a small deviation from standard practice, but a case of removing this physician because his mental disorder presents a danger to patients he cares for.

  45. #45 lilady
    August 30, 2012

    @ :Lurkey Loo: There is a female “TV chef” whose grandfather was a famous Italian movie director. Her given name is Giada; I refer to her as Giardia.

  46. #46 Quokka
    August 30, 2012

    Hi Lilady, you are right – the issue was far more than just his practice of spinal manipulation, but it did include consideration of that view as part of the decision.

    ” the HCCC particularised a series of rigid and firmly held views held by the appellant. During the hearing the appellant agreed that he did indeed hold the following views (which had been particularised at pars (a) – (l) of the Second Notice of Complaint):(a) There is an ubiquitous illness affecting all of mankind which can be treated by the very simple and safe treatment of spinal manipulation…

    I have downloaded the entire report and will go over it in more detail tonight. I am wondering if the beliefs of the practitioner were viewed as unsupportable in this case whether that finding can not be generalised outside of this case. Because we have different Codes of Practice here for “Complementary Health Care” I doubt it but it is an interesting question.

  47. #47 dingo199
    August 30, 2012

    Thanks Lilady for the laugh.
    I see that the doctor appealing against his deregistration made a number of bizarre claims, including references to Hitler and this little gem:

    “That the failure of medical scientists, notably those of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Opthalmologists, to address (meaning cogitate and ponder confirm or negate) the sciences of the recovery of vision as a result of spinal manipulation therapy has harmed more people worldwide than any other catastrophe in the history of humanity.”

    Seriously?
    A few ophthalmologists in my backyard, by ignoring the benefit of chiroquackery, have harmed more people than the bubonic plague, Hiroshima/Nagasaki, HIV, smallpox, malaria, Hitler/Stalin/Polpot, pandemic influenza or Noah’s flood?

  48. #48 lilady
    August 30, 2012

    @ dingo199: And, how about his claim that he has *superior* knowledge, based on some *special insight* and his claim that he is protected by being a “whistle blower”?

    I think his *problems* go far beyond typical mental illness; he’s really clinically insane.

  49. #49 Interrobang
    Goldbrick, Inc.
    August 30, 2012

    @ nz skeptic: You don’t need to eat dairy products for calcium; I’ve been dairy-free for over half my life now (thanks to being lactose intolerant and allergic to milk protein), and no problems with bone density. By the numbers, most people in the world are not lactase-persistent, and not all of us get osteoporosis.

    The thing is, like any other specialised diet, you have to do it right, particularly in places where the dominant culture derives from northwestern Europe (ie. places where lactase persistence is endemic) — learn what other foods are good sources of calcium, and eat them.

    You need stuff like leafy green vegetables (kale is the best), stock made with bones, salmon with the bones, sesame seeds, almonds, fortified soy milk, and blackstrap molasses.

    That is an exceedingly extreme diet, and the naturoquack is completely wrong about, well, everything, but going dairy-free is probably not the main concern there.

  50. #50 Art
    August 30, 2012

    Hmmmm … If they work in a hospital, and get paid by insurance companies … do we get to sue them and drag them into court to explain in the light of science why they misdiagnosed and mistreated a patient?

    If the coroner uses science based studies to find out why a patient dies, and the surrounding medical doctors are science based and unwilling to support a woo based medical diagnosis and treatment it kind of sounds like naturopaths might be setting themselves up for something of a Waterloo.

  51. #51 lilady
    August 30, 2012

    @ Quokka: Here is the link to a similar case about a doctor whose licensed was at first suspended…then revoked by the NYS Office of Professional Medical Conduct:

    http://w3.health.state.ny.us/opmc/factions.nsf/58220a7f9eeaafab85256b180058c032/777c474f253ed8d085256d5f0053955e?OpenDocument

    Some background. I got *lucky* when I worked as a public health nurse. Somehow, she got my direct telephone line and used it frequently to go on and on and on…about vaccines being “weapons of mass destruction”. I knew then that she was deranged and delusional.

    Since then, she *practices* as a naturopath with a website on the internet…go visit it…to see just how loony she is.

    She claims that her son was taken away from her, because she refused to vaccinate him…the reality is that she neglected his overall health and failed to have his rotting teeth seen by a dentist.

    She also claims that her medical license was removed, because she revealed *the truth about the inherent dangers of immunizations*.

  52. #52 Quokka
    August 30, 2012

    Hi Lilady, thank you again for more interesting references. I am starting to develop an interest in these kinds of cases and what underlying psychopathology there may be – I will have to have a couple of glasses of wine before I visit the website though.

    Your experience with a person that becomes obsessesed with an idea or belief to that degree mirrors my experiences with a couple of parents I have come into contact with in relation to Human Rights claims here in Aus. Having their own anger justified by strangers in a court of law becomes more important than their child.

  53. #53 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    August 30, 2012

    Interrobang:

    You need stuff like leafy green vegetables (kale is the best), stock made with bones, salmon with the bones, sesame seeds, almonds, fortified soy milk, and blackstrap molasses.

    My sister is very grateful that there is now tofu “cream cheese” and ice cream. She has been lactose intolerant since birth (born two months too soon back in the days when they rarely survived).

  54. #54 Narad
    August 30, 2012

    You need stuff like leafy green vegetables (kale is the best), stock made with bones, salmon with the bones, sesame seeds, almonds, fortified soy milk, and blackstrap molasses.

    Why, no, I can’t help myself.

    And I would have just needed an empty cookie-setting gesture anyhow.

  55. #55 lilady
    August 31, 2012

    @ Quokka: See, you Aussies don’t have “a lock” on loony doctors.

  56. #56 herr doktor bimler
    August 31, 2012

    Ooh good catch Narad. Blackstrap molasses features in “Fads & Fallacies”, being Wonderfood of choice back in 1952.

    Blackstrap molasses is the dark, sticky dregs that remain after the process of sugar refining is completed. According to Hauser, it has enormous medicinal properties. In his book he states that it will help cure insomnia, nervousness, menopause troubles, baldness, and low bjood pressure. In addition, Hauser claims, it will help restore gray hair to its former color, aid the digestion, prevent many changes due to old age, help the functioning of glands, and strengthen the heart.

    At the time it at least had a high iron content, on account of contamination from the rollers used for crushing the sugar-cane before extraction of the sugar and concentration of the contaminants. Now it seems that molasses is made specifically to be sold to the healthfood market rather than as an industrial waste product to be disposed of cheap, so it is possibly darkened & flavoured on purpose.

  57. #57 flip
    Three blocks away from a naturopath
    August 31, 2012

    Every time I walk into my local pharmacy I am forced to see the “naturopath available” signage and pamphlets. I grit my teeth and buy what I need, not having the guts to say anything about it. Here is a place that offers 40% SBM, 40% sCAM and 20% cosmetics, and I sincerely wish that all pharmacies would be required to only provide evidence-based medicine and not just cater to whatever will make money.

    @NZ Sceptic

    I totally understand how you feel: I suspect some in my family have gone to naturopaths too as they are now following all sorts of avoidance-based diets and downing various “herbal” items (including chlorophyll!).

  58. #58 Scottynuke
    August 31, 2012

    *hanging head* My beloved home state, and Exeter no less!

    “Live Free (of proper medicine) Or(/AND) Die”

    *SIGHH*

  59. #59 Shay
    who had a Southern mamma
    August 31, 2012

    If adequate molasses intake can be achieved by ingesting copious amounts of pecan pie and/or gingerbread, I’m all for it.

  60. #60 AlisonM
    September 1, 2012

    I’ve just realized that a number of symptoms that I had not noticed or had attributed to other causes are actually related to an intraosseous meningioma that has reached a rather impressive size. If I were not so concerned with getting actual medical treatment for it, I might shop myself and my symptoms around to a few naturopaths, and see how many recommend that I go for an MRI with and without contrast. . .

  61. #61 Narad
    September 1, 2012

    Ooh good catch Narad.

    I’m very fond of Jimmy Durante’s song stylings, so that was practically autonomic.

  62. #62 Dr. Robert Dunn MD
    chicago Illinois
    September 15, 2012

    Having spent my entire career in Medicine now retired. I must say Doctors are basically Legal drug pushers. The Drug companies make money if people continue to buy the drugs – if people are cured then they don’t make any money : (
    kind of like the life span of a fender or motor- by calculating the life span the other industry can continue to make money by making repair parts….

    I did see a study once that showed Allopathic medicine and the Pharm industry Maintain Disease and cover up Pain with numbing Rx in over 97% of all cases….

    So I would like to see the Cost to Relief Ratios for the Naturopathic Profession. I cant imagine the relief ratio can be much better but the ratio is will be far better since they cost less…

  63. #63 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    September 15, 2012

    Certainly, Dr. Dunn. All you have to do is provide us the proven naturopathic cures for Type 1 Diabetes, seizure disorders, familial pulmonary arterial hypertension, bacterial infections and tachycardia issues with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

    Be sure to provide the title, journal and dates of the PubMed indexed papers of how naturapaths can better serve those mostly genetic conditions.

  64. #64 lilady
    September 15, 2012

    What was you specialty Dr. Dunn? A lot of the posters here are doctors as is Orac, the blogger. Still more of the posters have other science-based education and professional licenses. They are *very familiar* with all aspects/all specialties of medicine.

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