Naturopathy is a frequent topic on this blog because it is a veritable cornucopia of quackery, in which not pseudoscience is too out there. Homeopathy, functional medicine, bogus diagnostic tests, traditional Chinese medicine, reflexology, naturopaths embrace it all, and more. More importantly, thanks to “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), known more recently as “integrative medicine,” naturopathy is becoming more and more “respectable.” Indeed, there are naturopaths at far too many academic medical centers. One even participated in the writing of the Society for Integrative Oncology’s breast cancer guidelines. Then there is the push for naturopathic licensure in various states, such as Massachusetts and my home state of Michigan, with supplement manufacturers paying the bill.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a murder in Bowling Green, KY. The tale of this murder that I’m about to relate will consist two parts. First, there will be the tale of the murder itself. Then, there will be the tale of how quacks use the murder to serve their nefarious ends. Let’s begin with the crime. The victim of the murder was a naturopath named Juan Gonzalez, who was shot to death in his Bowling Green office on the evening of March 3, allegedly by a man named Omer Ahmetovic, who was quickly arrested for the crime. But what was Ahmetovic’s motive for murder? His wife, Fikreta Ibrisevic, was a patient of Gonzalez’s who died Feb. 27, after having been diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, an rare form of connective tissue cancer, and chosen Gonzalez over conventional oncologists and surgeons:

Ibrisevic was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft-tissue cancer, in late 2015 to early 2016, according to the lawsuit. The couple were interested in natural therapies while Ibrisevic waited to be scheduled for the beginning of traditional cancer treatments.

On or near Jan. 11, 2016, Gonzalez told the couple that traditional cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy were for “uneducated” people and he could “guarantee” Ibrisevic would be cancer free with his treatments within three months, according to the lawsuit. He is further accused of telling Ibrisevic that “chemotherapy is for losers.”

So basically, Ibrisevic and her husband were a bit woo-prone and wanted to investigate “natural” therapies for her newly diagnosed cancer. It’s an all too common situation, and it’s one that quacks frequently take advantage of. If the claims in Ahmetovic’s lawsuit are accurate, his wife was planning on undergoing conventional therapy for her cancer but changed her mind and decided to pursue naturopathic treatments in response to Gonzalez’s statement that “chemotherapy is for losers” and his other claims, particularly his claim that he could render her cancer-free within three months without the toxicity of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. It’s easy to see how someone, when faced with a life-threatening disease that can only be treated by a combination of potentially disfiguring surgery, toxic chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, which has its own potentially unpleasant side effects, would be tempted by a confident statement by a charlatan like Gonzalez that he could cure her within three months without her having to endure all that. One can imagine the temptation if the patient already had leanings toward wanting “natural therapy,” as Ibrisevic clearly did.

This is what happened next:

Ibrisevic began treatments which included buying herbs from Gonzalez, massages, foot soaks, dietary instructions and other treatments. From January through May 2016, Ibrisevic and Ahmetovic paid Gonzalez and Natural Health Center for Integrative Medicine more than $7,000 for the treatments and herbs, according to the lawsuit.

When Ibrisevic began treatment, she had one tumor. When she discontinued treatment with Gonzalez she had seven tumors, according to the lawsuit.

“The original tumor became so large to the extent that it was visible outside of her body,” according to the lawsuit. “Her eyes began to turn yellow and her legs began to swell. After she discontinued treatment with the defendants, after one round of traditional chemotherapy, the only tumor that remained was the original tumor.”

Basically, Ibrisevic died because she trusted a quack instead of conventional medicine. Yes, she had probably a 50% chance of dying anyway if she had accepted conventional treatment before it was too late, but that’s a 50% chance she didn’t have once she believed Gonzalez’s claims and acted upon them.

A review of the timeline can’t help but sadden; so, to the best of my knowledge based on my reading on the case, I reconstructed it. The story began in late 2015, when Ibrisevic was diagnosed with this cancer. In January 2016, they sought out Gonzalez, who treated them for a period of time that isn’t clear from the news reports. By late 2016 or so, it was clear that Gonzalez’s quackery wasn’t working and that Ibrisevic’s tumor was progressing. During that time, she still consulted with other naturopaths, who reported that Gonzalez had administered so many herbs that Ibrisevic had a toxic reaction. At this point, she apparently returned to conventional care and underwent chemotherapy, but it was too late. Although some of her tumors responded to chemotherapy, she clearly by this time had metastatic disease and was doomed. So on January 27, 2017, she and her husband filed suit, which was answered on February 6. However, sadly, she died a month later, on February 27.

Then, on Friday, March 3, a mere four days after his wife’s death, Ahmetovic allegedly walked into Gonzalez’s office after hours and shot him dead. One can imagine him waiting until after his wife’s funeral, and then doing the deed.

As strong as my instinct not to speak ill of the dead, I can’t help but point out that Gonzalez was, without a doubt, a quack. The website for his clinic looks a lot like a lot of other websites I’ve examined for naturopaths. Its front page advertises a lot of obvious quackery, and his self-description reads thusly:

I am a Naturopathic Doctor, Iridologist, Master Herbalist and currently working towards my phD in integrative medicine. I offer an iridology evaluation prior to recommending a non-invasive method of treatment to establish a health protocol which may include medicinal herbs. The evaluation is a critical component whose aim is to remove the source of the disease and facilitate healing in a non-invasive, non-toxic manner. Evaluating a person’s condition requires in-depth knowledge of biochemistry, chemistry, biology, physiology, anatomy, psychology, and all other systems which comprise the totality of who we are.

Iridology, of course, is the rankest of quackery, akin to phrenology 150 years ago. Basically, like chiropractic, it’s a pseudomedical specialty invented out of whole cloth by a “brave maverick doctor.” It’s a lot like reflexology in that, as reflexology claims that various organs and body parts “map” to specific parts of the soles of the feet and hands, iridology “maps” body parts to parts of the iris. Basically, it’s the homunculus model. Like many alternative medicine practitioners, he claims to have “converted” after “Western medicine” failed him. In this case, Gonzalez was diagnosed with diabetes and “discovered that western medicine as a whole could not heal this condition.” He enlisted in the Army, went to college, received a degree in Business Management, after which he got his MBA. Then he attended the Trinity School of Natural Health.

This is a school we’ve met before, and it’s not even an “accredited” school of naturopathy. Basically, its graduates can’t be licensed in states that license naturopaths, which gives you an idea of how bad this school is. It’s ultimately more of a Bible school than anything else, being highly religious. As Harriet recounted a few years back, the only admission requirement for Trinity’s ND program is a high school diploma or GED, and the curriculum consists of 15 installments of a correspondence course, with a list of classes full of quackery: Bach flower remedies, reflexology, iridology, homeopathy, applied kinesiology, acupressure techniques, aromatherapy, dry blood analysis, assessing health by acid/alkaline balancing, and so on. So Gonzalez is not even what naturopaths would call a “real” naturopath in that he got his degrees through a correspondence course that’s not even recognized by naturopathic quacks as valid.

This brings us to the second part of the story. If there’s one thing that irritates the crap out of me, it’s the self-righteous denials of “real” naturopaths (the ones who have graduated from “accredited” naturopathy schools) that naturopaths are quacks, that they offer the sorts of treatments that “unaccredited” naturopaths like Gonzalez offered. I also find it highly disingenuous how naturopaths are pouncing on the death of Juan Gonzalez to push for—you guessed it!—naturopathic licensure:

Peter Swanz, a naturopathic doctor in Louisville referred to the deaths as a “double tragedy.”

“This double tragedy happened because Kentucky is an unlicensed state for naturopathic medicine, meaning Kentucky does not yet have a naturopathic medical board to license naturopathic physicians that have attended four-year naturopathic medical school and passed the Naturopathic Medical Examination test,” he said. “The first step to passing these exams is going to medical school for four years.”

“Medical school”? How disingenuous. No matter how much naturopaths try to promote this message equating naturopathy school with medical school, naturopathy school is not medical school. In terms of scientific rigor, there is no discernable difference between naturopaths trained at “acceptable,” “accredited” naturopathy schools like the ones that Peter Swanz is trying to represent as “going to medical school for four years.” Naturopathy school is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the equivalent of legitimate medical school. Its clinical training is far inferior, and its “accreditation” is a sham. Worse, it’s expensive, and sucks the unwary into the naturopathy maw with promises of being the equivalent of real doctors.

The mouthpiece of organized naturopathy, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANPs) released a predictable statement:

“This tragic scenario underscores the need for vigorous public awareness on the education, training and scope of practice of licensed naturopathic doctors as well as the essential need for state regulation of licensed naturopathic doctors,” the association said in its statement. “It is important the public understand the vast distinction in the education and training of a licensed naturopathic doctor and Juan Gonzalez, a self-proclaimed practitioner.

“We support the practice and science of naturopathic medicine administered by a licensed ND. Each AANP member has graduated from a four-year, postgraduate education program at naturopathic medical schools accredited by agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The AANP strongly advocates for greater patient access to licensed NDs in all 50 states and U.S. territories.”

This is the line of propaganda that naturopaths relate each and every time its specialty is criticized. Indeed, that last paragraph is tacked on to just about every statement made by the AANP, seemingly no matter what it is about, as a Google search of a chunk of text from the paragraph will show and has been seen in posts on familiar blogs. Indeed, the full statement itself is downright nauseating. It goes on about how it’s going on about how the AANP advocates for greater patient access to licensed naturopaths in all 50 states, implying that the tragic death of Fikreta Ibrisevic and murder of Juan Gonzalez were a direct result of the lack of licensure of naturopaths in Kentucky allowing quacks like Gonzalez to practice unfettered.

Then we have other apologists for quacks, pulling the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. Oh, no, they say, we’d never, ever do what Gonzalez does. Can’t we all just get along? Can’t we just “integrate” the quackery of naturopathy into conventional medicine and work together? Here, we have Rafael F. Cruz, a medical doctor at Kentuckiana Integrative Medicine in Jeffersonville, IN providing this line:

“The bottom line is that both sides of medicine can be helpful to the patient,” said Cruz, who is familiar with naturopaths educated in four-year graduate schools and online schools.

Graduates of the four-year schools learn many of the same things as traditional medical school students, Cruz said, “and you can’t get that kind of clinical exposure from correspondence courses,” Cruz said. Four-year graduates are generally better prepared.

“Having said that, I know naturopaths who have gone the correspondence route and are well prepared and have successful practices. What happened, which I know second hand from Dr. Swanz, is a tragedy.

And:

“There’s tension between the conventional world and the natural medicine world, but the reality is they both complement each other and can work effectively together, and the patient can benefit from that. I think a lot of patients want the support of natural or integrative medicine. More and more patients are seeking out the support available to them from integrative medicine and natural medicine. The big mistake from my standpoint is to exclude one from the other,” he said.

No, the tension is not between “the natural medicine world” and the “conventional medicine world.” The tension is between science and pseudoscience, quackery and science- and evidence-based medicine. Naturopathy falls on the quackery side, and the reason the AANP is so defensive is that the case of Juan Gonzalez demonstrates that in no uncertain terms. “Licensed” naturopaths, at their heart, believe the same pseudoscience and practice the same sort of quackery. They’re just better at hiding its craziness and making it seem “respectable” and don’t like being reminded by cases like this that it is not.

Comments

  1. #1 herr doktor bimler
    March 22, 2017

    According to Erin Elizabeth, the vile little dirtball was actually a highly-successful Holistic Healer! He was “Board-certified” and completely legit!
    http://www.healthnutnews.com/holistic-dr-found-dead-natural-health-clinic-police-calling-victims-death-suspicious/

    Also he was murdered by Big Pharma, determined to wipe out the competition! Perhaps Ahmetovic could use this in his defense.

    If the would-be main-stream naturopaths want to take out the trash, they really have to start with Erin Elizabeth and Mercola and the rest of the on-line scammers, but I suspect that this is not going to happen.

    • #2 Orac
      March 22, 2017

      Yes, I’m aware of Erin Elizabeth’s thinking about adding Sanchez to her list of “holistic doctors” targeted by pharma assassins. I suspect that she backed off when she found out the circumstances of the murder. Basically, it doesn’t fit her narrative for the prime suspect to have been a grieving widower of a patient of Sanchez’s who died because he promised her he could cure her.

  2. #3 Panacea
    March 22, 2017

    The quack probably would have settled the lawsuit rather than risk a trial. Looks like he was making a good income from his quackery; his “office” is a nice building, and the equipment he “uses” ain’t cheap. He was even going to add hyperbaric chamber.

  3. #4 Anonymous Pseudonym
    In Your Head
    March 22, 2017

    So what do you call one dead Naturopath?
    A start.

    If more people responded to being conned in this manner, it may make being a scamming quack a bit less enticing. If you are enough of a sociopath that knowingly using ineffective treatments and causing your patients deaths doesn’t cause you to make a career change, death is the only solution. I’m a firm believer that stupid should hurt, but it being a death sentence is a bit far for me.

    Naturopathy, the medical equivalent of thoughts and prayers. A good excuse to do nothing, and feel superior about it.

  4. #5 Eric Lund
    March 22, 2017

    Blaming this murder on Kentucky’s not licensing naturopaths makes even less sense than calling it the Bowling Green massacre. Somebody was murdered, after all, and the perpetrator has an obviously foreign–plausibly Bosnian–name. And it actually happened in Bowling Green.

    OK, I’m half joking about the Bowling Green massacre. But only half joking.

  5. #6 Dangerous Bacon
    March 22, 2017

    “Graduates of the four-year schools learn many of the same things as traditional medical school students, Cruz said”

    …and then go on to ignore most of what they’ve been taught.

    This is also the case for chiropractors, who boast of their “rigorous” scientific training.

  6. #7 Eric Lund
    March 22, 2017

    Graduates of the four-year schools learn many of the same things as traditional medical school students, Cruz said

    They are expected to have high school diplomas and, presumably, undergraduate degrees before enrolling. So technically, yes, they do learn many of the same things. In the course of a four-year ND program compared to a four-year MD program, not so much.

    Basic high school level chemistry seems not to be among the things that ND students learn (or alternatively, as DB suggests, they promptly forget it). Because that’s all you need to know to understand why homeopathy is bunk, and as Orac repeatedly stresses, homeopathy is a major component of naturopathy.

  7. #8 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    March 22, 2017

    Orac writes,

    The tension is between science and pseudoscience, quackery and science- and evidence-based medicine.

    MJD says,

    It appears that Juan Gonzalez followed the law but was killed based on efficacy of the non-integrative medicine provided.

    Integrative medicine by definition is a supplemental treatment to science-based medicine.

    Orac’s post is brilliant, although, the murder of a law-abiding medical practitioner should not be used as a measuring stick to determine the validity of integrative medicine.

    How many times has science-based medicine (i.e., chemotherapy) killed a cancer patient?

    @ Orac’s minions,

    Could the use of integrative medicine during chemotherapy improve the outcome?

  8. #9 Anonymous Pseudonym
    In Your Head
    March 22, 2017

    @8 MJD
    The integrative medicine is only good for one thing, separating the sucker from his money. As Orac is fond of saying, CAM that is tested and found to be effective is called medicine. The rest is just plain crap.

  9. #10 Argus
    USA
    March 22, 2017

    “How many times has science-based medicine (i.e., chemotherapy) killed a cancer patient?”

    By that, I suppose you really mean “How often is chemotherapy not able to prevent death from the disease” And as Orac points out, for this type of a tumor, the chance of avoiding death with conventional medical treatment was 50%.
    Contrast that with the naturopathic quack treatment, which had a 0% -zero- chance of saving her.
    Convincing someone to forgo a treatment with a proven chance of saving her, by claiming that a wholly ineffective treatment would make her “cancer-free in three months” IS the same as killing her.
    And the answer to your last question is – EVIDENCE REQUIRED.

  10. #11 Dangerous Bacon
    March 22, 2017
  11. #12 Eric Lund
    March 22, 2017

    Integrative medicine by definition is a supplemental treatment to science-based medicine.

    In other words, it is not necessary for treating a medical condition. That’s useful to know.

  12. #13 Guy Chapman
    United Kingdom
    March 22, 2017

    @Michael J. Dochniak (#8):

    Integrative medicine, by definition, is the attempt to crowbar scientifically indefensible practices into the legitimate practice of medicine.

    Any genuinely legitimate part of “integrative” medicine would be available to medicine without the “integrative” bullshit. “Integrative” is only required if you believe that scientific evidence is not a valid way of selecting treatments. And if you *do* believe that then you are a charlatan.

  13. #14 prn
    March 22, 2017

    It would interesting to hear more of the dead naturopath’s story and treatment. This wasn’t some starry eyed 20 something.

    Sarcomas can be nasty beasts. One of my doctor friends had a born rich aunt who married a Hopkins MD.who became a research faculty at a high end med school. Dead in four months, still rich.

    “Chemo is for losers”
    Again would be interested to hear his story, and bias. I know plenty whose conventional chemo failed them and one whose mom died on the very first chemo treatment, the proverbial “chemo still in her veins”. Too much, too fast.

    I happen to think careful choice of chemo AND alternatives AND better, closer monitoring would be generally superior.

  14. #15 prn
    March 22, 2017

    typo, p&n didn’t register. #14 in moderation is by me, prn

  15. #16 Christine Rose
    March 22, 2017

    People do die from chemotherapy. It sucks, but the chance of dying from the untreated disease exceeds the chance of dying from the chemo.

  16. #17 Alain
    March 22, 2017

    Could the use of integrative medicine during chemotherapy improve the outcome?

    That would be akin to leave a triple extra creamy turd on the back seat of a Bentley…

    Alain

  17. #18 Panacea
    March 22, 2017

    @MJD: in no universe is lying to a patient about being able to cure them when you can’t “following the law.”

    The problem with the victims of quacks is they almost never sue the quack. This is because they are either dead, too ashamed of being conned, or their families are unwilling to admit what happened in open court. It’s a wonderful way to make a living if you can stomach it, which too many quacks clearly can do.

    In this case, the patient and husband were so angry they decided to sue. But when the patient died, the husband decided murder was the appropriate resolution to the situation. I suspect his culture is behind that.

    I almost wish the case had gone to court. A nice fat lawsuit is just was these quacks deserve. I wish Gonzalez had been soaked for everything he had, but I think he was smart enough to drag it out for a while then settle quietly.

  18. #19 herr doktor bimler
    March 22, 2017

    The problem with the victims of quacks is they almost never sue the quack

    If Erin Elizabeth can be trusted — a big “if”, I know — Gonzalez was facing multiple lawsuits.

    Patients have emailed (and even posted in the comments below) that Dr Gonzalez was treating cancer patients- successfully. In fact, he had (allegedly) asked a few to testify as he had some upcoming court dates, apparently for treating said cancer patients. As we all know, the government doesn’t like holistic doctors treating cancer patients.

    Though she hints that the Gubblement is behind these court cases, no doubt they put Ahmetovic up to it, they may even have persuaded his wife to die.

    As Orac notes in #2, Elizabeth is fully aware of the circumstances behind Gonzalez’ conversion to plant-food, but she still implies (in the proper evasive, mendacious style) that he belongs in her list of Holistic Healers Assassinated by Pharma:

    If you click here you can access the full list of 60+ doctors and their stories, who have been found dead in the last year and a half.

    Her commentators hear the whistle and excitedly explain that Hilary and Obama were to blame. Some people should not be allowed outside when it rains, for fear that they will stare upwards with their mouths open and drown.

  19. #20 Wzrd1
    United States
    March 22, 2017

    @AP #4, I concur with your assessment and opinion.
    I also sincerely hope that the fatal shot wasn’t immediately fatal, so that he could enjoy the fruits of his efforts for a time.

  20. #21 Wzrd1
    March 22, 2017

    I’ll add, that as one who refuses to attempt to duck jury duty, I’ve sat on a number of juries over the years.
    If I were on a jury for the husband, I’d swiftly convince the other jurors to find the defendant innocent on all charges. All, while never uttering the words jury nullification.

  21. #22 prn
    March 22, 2017

    Wiz, have you thought, just maybe, there is an MD out there who should be thanking his lucky stars, that Fikreta Ibrisevic wasn’t his patient.

  22. #23 herr doktor bimler
    March 22, 2017

    It would interesting to hear more of the dead naturopath’s story and treatment. This wasn’t some starry eyed 20 something.

    He was an opportunistic low-life jizzgibbon who bought a ‘degree’ on-line so he could scam sick people, after discovering that his Business Management grift was not sufficiently lucrative. How much of his story do you need?

  23. #24 sadmar
    March 22, 2017

    Imo, the real issue here is the failure of the authorities to prosecute people practicing medicine w/o a qualifying license. Ahmetovic should not have had to sue Gonzalez in civil court: cancer treatment by anyone other than an MD should land people in jail, even if the patients survive, and when they die like Ibrisevic, the quacks should be charged with homicide.

    Given the failings of the legal system in cases like this, I would be open to debate on whether some hypothetical form of licensure for naturopaths might mitigate against the likelihood of future similar abuses, as I doubt there can be any form of regulation w/o licensing. However, this would have to be a far more stringent regime than anything the NDs have now or have proposed – with tight limits on scope of practice, and state regulation with teeth – not pathetic “self-regulation”. Of course, as I do not wish to be a hypocrite, I’ll observe that MDs aren’t exempt from either dangerous quackery or toothless “self-regulation” that fails to rein it in, state medical boards being largely a joke… We need real laws and real regulation covering the whole field of medicine and healthcare, not that we’ll get them before the next Great Extinction, anymore than we’ll get reasonable policy on guns.

  24. #25 Narad
    March 22, 2017

    Wiz, have you thought, just maybe, there is an MD out there who should be thanking his lucky stars, that Fikreta Ibrisevic wasn’t his patient.

    Thank goodness you don’t wander around offering advice clumsily disguised as expertise.

  25. #26 Anonymous Pseudonym
    In Your Head
    March 22, 2017

    @22 prn
    You met many doctors who give false hope? How about doctors that lie to their patients? I’m sure there are some out there, but most seem to be brutally honest when it comes to bad news. Real treatments may fail, but at least they are based on reality, and not just some assholes greed induced fantasy.

    Since it was a real MD who initially broke the news to him and also tried, and failed, to save his wife, I’m guessing that there is a MD out there who had her as a patient, and attended her death due to the Naturopath’s negligence. But I know. reading all of Orac’s posts are hard.

  26. #27 anonymous
    Bowling Green, KY
    March 22, 2017

    The whole and true story was not printed in the news media. Other people who were in the naturopath’s office when the couple went there say that Ahometovic was insistent that the
    doctor do more than he was doing for his wife. The doctor went with them to another Naturalistic doctor in Texas to observe what that doctor diagnosed. It turns out that both doctors learned at that time that the couple was being treated by 3 other doctors at the same time. Gonzalez refused to do any more treatments because he was not aware of the multiple doctors treating her. He did not treat her after that.
    Omer was impatient and pacing around Gonzalez’s office at that time according to an eye witness. This was not brought out in the news. Knowing Gonzalez for over 15 years, I don’t believe he told anyone he could cure the cancer. Also he was a believer in college education since he encouraged all of his children to obtain college degrees. He held a Master’s Degree in business. He has been unfairly viewed as “the villain” in this case. He too had a family, children and grandchildren. He also was an immigrant but became an American citizen and served his country. He worked full time while putting himself through college after retiring from the military. His attorney had a lawsuit to negate the charges made in Ahmetovic’s filed suit. According to witness, the charges in Ahmetovic’s lawsuit did not happen. So, maybe before Juan Gonzalez is demonized by people who do not know him and his character, you should obtain the “truth” before printing such vile comments.

    • #28 Orac
      March 23, 2017

      Perusing Gonzalez’s website was more than enough to convince me that he was a quack. He might have been a hell of a nice guy and served his country well, but as of early 2017 he was a quack who got a degree through a correspondence school. He had no business treating a patient like Fikreta Ibrisevic—or any patients whatsoever.

  27. #29 Alain
    March 22, 2017

    Wiz, have you thought, just maybe, there is an MD out there who should be thanking his lucky stars, that Fikreta Ibrisevic wasn’t his patient.

    prn,

    Fikreta Ibrisevic turned back to conventional medicine after having been failed by the naturoquack and yet, those medical doctor never got shot at.

    Alain

  28. #30 Old Rockin' Dave
    March 22, 2017

    It’s only herbs and minerals and natural products. What could possibly be harmful?
    Lead and mercury contaminants. Aristolochia. Pennyroyal. Ephedra. Aconite. Sassafras. Undeclared pharmaceuticals – sildenafil, corticosteroids, sulfonylureas. Variable levels of active components. Fraudulent formulations containing inert substances.
    Besides the toll on the people who take these things, there is the toll of the natural remedy market on the planet – tigers, bears, rhinos, pangolins, and other endangered species. If you ever saw how bear bile is “farmed” you might not sleep for weeks. (“But that’s not herbal”, you say. No, it isn’t, but it’s all part and parcel of the same body of superstition and stupidity.)
    A long trail of death, disability, disfigurement, you name it.
    Yes, those herbal remedies and supplements are sure complementary – a fine complement to the undertaker’s art.

  29. #31 mho
    March 22, 2017

    #24 sadder … I would be open to debate on whether some hypothetical form of licensure for naturopaths might mitigate against the likelihood of future similar abuses, as I doubt there can be any form of regulation w/o licensing.
    Why license quacks? There is a form of regulation called “practicing medicine without a license.”

  30. […] was only just yesterday that I recounted the story of a naturopathic quack in Bowling Green, KY who told a cancer patient that “chemo is for losers,” promising […]

  31. #33 Psalmanazaar
    Massachusetts
    March 23, 2017

    Pennyroyal tea can help you in a bad mood. The song, that is. I wouldn’t drink that stuff.

  32. #34 Old Rockin' Dave
    March 23, 2017

    Psalmanazaar, I don’t know about pennyroyal as a mood elevator, but I do know it as a dangerous abortifacient and as a destroyer of livers and kidneys.
    There is one form of pennyroyal that could induce me to drink, and it’s this: https://www.pennyroyalbar.com/
    (Note: In #30 I left out dolomite, which not only can be a source of serious amounts of lead, but also can lead to theft of your pimp cane.

  33. #35 Kathy
    United States
    March 23, 2017

    This is interesting. Gonzalez was “board certified” by the american naturopathic medical certification board.” This seems to be home to the quackiest of the quackery programs.

    http://www.anmcb.org/anmcb-ceu-programs.html

    The other group is called the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education and they are the lesser (slightly) quacky ND group.

    http://www.cnme.org/

    Apparently, anyone can be board certified these days! Just start your own board! Didn’t Rand Paul try to do this?

  34. #36 Kathy
    March 23, 2017

    And then there is this! Pastoral Medicine. Gonzales was also a member of this group.

    https://pmai.us/chronic-health-conditions/

    What the hell?

  35. #37 Panacea
    March 23, 2017

    @anonymous #27: Good Lord. Are you seriously blaming the victim for her own death here?

    If a victim of quackery is being treated by multiple quacks, it does not mean the quackery of any single one of them is any better than the others. If Gonzalez (I will not call him “doctor”, that title is reserved for people who’ve actually earned it) told Ms. Ibrisevic he could cure her cancer or that chemotherapy is for losers as alleged, then he contributed to her death, full stop.

    Unless you were there for each and every consultation, you can’t testify with any credibility as to what was or was not said. And your character review doesn’t support Gonzalez either. He wasn’t offering any real treatment for any medical condition or disease, yet he was holding himself out as if he was. Only the tragically poor laws in this country on this issue, combined with the lack of access to real medicine in states like Kentucky, allow scammers like Gonzalez to thrive.

    This so called witness would have had to have been present at every meeting between Gonzalez and the couple. That would come out in a deposition.

  36. #38 Panacea
    March 23, 2017

    @Kathy #36

    Wow. This Pastoral Medicine site actually purports to license “PMA practitioners.”

    Wow. A scam that feeds on the scammers.

  37. #39 herr doktor bimler
    March 23, 2017

    Wow. This Pastoral Medicine site actually purports to license “PMA practitioners.”
    The same people also run “zfactor.us”, where they sell Approved Dietary Supplements — ‘lugol’s iodine’, and “fulvic + humic acid’ (which is to say ashes and dirt, inna bottle).

    Wow. A scam that feeds on the scammers.
    Both parties gain from the symbiosis. It is a rich and vibrant ecology, such as exists in decomposition.

  38. #40 doug
    March 23, 2017

    In other naturopath news, the one with a role in the story of the death of Ezekiel Stephan (pronounced steh-FAN, if anyone cares) was “cleared of wrongdoing” by other naturopaths, as reported by the CBC.

    We are awaiting the ruling on the appeal of the convictions of the Stephans. Prior to the appeal hearing I thought it very likely the appeal would be dismissed. I now think there is some chance a new trial will be ordered – Justice O’Ferrall stated very bluntly during a rather length back & forth with the Crown prosecutor that the judge in the original trial had made an error in law. The other two judges on the appeal panel were silent on the matter, so I don’t know how it will pan out. Earlier in the proceedings, Justice O’Ferrall had give the defense lawyer a pretty hard time. (The process of the appeal is speeches from the lawyers for both sides to a panel of three judges, who ask probing squirm-making questions as they see fit. I was left with the impression that neither the defense or prosecution lawyers were much good at thinking on their feet.)

  39. #41 Panacea
    March 23, 2017

    Well, if that isn’t a reason to ban naturopathy, I don’t know what is.

  40. #42 AJ
    United States
    April 5, 2017

    I just wanted to say: thank you, thank you, thank you, for continuing to speak out about the dangers of naturopathy.

    I am not a scientist or a doctor. I am a patient with a couple of difficult to treat conditions of the sort that naturopaths love to target. It is chilling. These people are evangelical, and if given an inch they will take a mile.

    Keep up the good work.

  41. […] It’s just that in March there were two stories that really caught my eye. The first was the story of a naturopath in Bowling Green named Juan Sanchez, who was gunned down in his office one Friday evening, allegedly by the […]

  42. #44 Todd Reilly
    PA
    April 29, 2017

    When you label someone as a quack in order to insult them and strengthen your opinion in the mind of your readers, is that based on their failure to heal, or failure to obtain and use conventional education from modern institutions of higher learning so they can use their methods of treating for the purpose of healing?

  43. #45 Panacea
    April 30, 2017

    Todd: it’s based on the quack’s failure to use modalities that actually work.

    A health care provider trained in a science and evidenced based program (ie “conventional medicine”) who uses modalities that are not proven to work, that can never work, that are harmful to the patient, or worse, actively encourages patients to ignore proven treatments in favor of unproven ones . . . is still a quack.

    What’s insulting is that these quacks want to be treated as respectable by EBM providers. Someone who convinces a patient to drink uber diluted water, sticks needles into a patient, or waves his hands over a patient with magical thinking is not and never will be the equivalent of someone who completed four years of pre-med training in college, four years of medical education and 3-7 years of medical residency.

    Hell, such a person wasn’t even the equivalent of me when I completed my 12 months of LPN training, and most certainly is not my equal now as an RN.

  44. #46 Naturopathic Medicine
    Seattle, WA
    May 25, 2017

    Every article has its own view like this one. I just have a question. What do you think of big pharma introducing medicine that are still on going for study?

  45. #47 madder
    May 25, 2017

    @Naturopathic Medicine:

    I know it’s shocking to you that we’d bother studying medical treatments at all, but yes- it’s generally considered wise to continue postmarketing surveillance of treatments that have made it all the way through the approval process.

    Now my question: what do you think of naturopaths continuing to sell phony treatments for nonexistent maladies?

  46. #48 Narad
    May 25, 2017

    What do you think of big pharma introducing medicine that are still on going for study?

    Could you come up with a specific example? I for one am having trouble parsing the question.

  47. #49 Narad
    May 25, 2017

    ^ More blockquote fail.

  48. #50 Dangerous Bacon
    May 25, 2017

    So, does Naturopathic Medicine think naturopaths should get a pass on engaging in quackery because Big Pharma?

    I have trouble parsing that one myself.

  49. #51 Lawrence
    May 25, 2017

    Perhaps he is talking about “off-label” use?

    Because no drug is allowed to be utilized for anything, until it is approved by the FDA via clinical trials and the approval process.

  50. #52 Chris
    May 25, 2017

    Perhaps the grammar is indicative of the quality of instruction at Bastyr. Even the prose is homeopathic.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.