White Coat Underground

Naturopaths getting it wrong in Canada

Over at Skeptic North there has been an ongoing discussion about naturopathy. Since it looks like naturopaths are going to get prescribing privileges in Ontario, it’s reasonable to subject their practice to some pretty intense scrutiny. One naturopath left some interesting comments about treatment of heart disease, citing relevant literature, but failed to show an actual understanding of the clinical realities of treating heart disease. This is not surprising given that naturopaths aren’t required to do residencies like real doctors are.

Another comment referenced the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) information statement on swine flu (the original was apparently pulled down by CAND. Here is a copy). Its idiocy was downright surreal. It read like a fifth grader’s poorly done book report. It is not only incorrect, but internally inconsistent. For example:

There is no research that can predict who is at risk and who is not.

Followed by:

The following groups are considered to be more at risk from the current H1N1 virus…

They also list “naturopathic” prevention strategies which include hygiene such as hand washing and avoiding sick people. What’s “naturopathic” about that?

And it wouldn’t really be crappy medical advice without recommending “boosting the immune system”, in this case with stretching, “dry skin brushing”, and other nonsense. Without a shred of irony, they mention that mortality due to this flu may be tied to an “over-reaction” of the immune system.

For a comparison, take a look at some actual medical sites.

The only mention of vaccination in the CAND document is in a negative context. The other documents recognize that the H1N1 flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent infection. This is an inexcusable failure on the part of CAND.

And just for laughs, if you’re interested in virology, their introductory paragraph on the putative origins of the current pandemic is completely wrong.

This patient information document betrays a complete lack of understanding of science and medicine and adds to the already considerable evidence that naturopaths shouldn’t be allowed to lay their hands (clinically) on anyone—ever.


  1. #1 Dan
    December 14, 2009

    Though I don’t live in Ontario, I do live in Canada, so I e-mailed Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty as well as the premiers of the opposition Conservative and New Democratic parties to register my disappointment and distress about this bill. Seems like the least I could do.

  2. #2 James Sweet
    December 14, 2009

    This sentence was rich just because of the botched punctuation:

    The H1N1 influenza virus has not mutated between the first and second wave indicating that it will, in all likelihood remain a mild to moderate disease.

    Ugh. They would have been best without any comma. If they are going to put a comma there, they need one after likelihood. Which is fine, people have trouble with commas, but because of the phrasing here, I initially parsed it like this: “The H1N1 influenza virus has not mutated between the first and second wave, indicating that it will [mutate].” heh…

    And of course, the co-opting of legitimate preventative strategies and then calling them “naturopathic” is really annoying.

  3. #3 DrWonderful
    December 14, 2009

    Hmm, only 2 comments? I guess no one cares.

  4. #4 MitoScientist
    December 14, 2009

    Dr. Wonderful? More like “Dr” troll…

  5. #5 Daniel J. Andrews
    December 14, 2009

    ugh. It feels like we’re hitting a science low-point with our PM actually wanting to to lower emission standards, and our premier wanting to lower health and medical standards. Makes you wonder if they’re holding a grudge against their grade school science teachers.

  6. #6 daijiyobu
    December 14, 2009

    Per: “[naturopaths’] complete lack of understanding of science and medicine […] naturopaths shouldn’t be allowed to lay their hands (clinically) on anyone — ever.”

    My internal history with naturopathy is completely consistent.


  7. #7 Dianne
    December 14, 2009

    It feels like we’re hitting a science low-point

    It’s probably due to all the US-American immigrants you got during the Bush administration lowering science standards. Beware of immigrants from the south…

  8. #8 avicenna
    December 15, 2009

    just because you don’t care about Canadian legislation giving charlatans prescribing rights and it’s dangerous repercussions on health care doesn’t mean nobody does.

    Besides, 2 articles on the subject in a national newspaper and published online resulted in 120+ comments in a 24h comment period limit, averaging 1 comment every 5-15mins. How d’you figure that one?;)

    For those wanting to read those posts:

    from Scott Garuva (RPh), arguing against ND prescribing:

    From two NDs, arguing for:

    This last post got owned from the many comments…quite an entertaining read…

    Dianne: STFU. Seriously.

  9. #9 Anonymous
    December 16, 2009

    Dominionists? In my medical science? It’s more likely than you think!

    But not just dominionists. You will find a coalition of Moonies, Scientologists, and dominionists all working together to inject supernaturalism into systems of social authority around the globe.

    Poor Discovery Institute. High school biology teachers proved a tough nut to crack. However on the healthcare front, Bravewell and the toxin busters have made great strides.

    Wait, you say. Moonies, Scientologists, and Dominionists have profound theological differences. No way they can work together.

    Well have a look at OT VIIs John Coale and Greta Van Susteren. They’ve become quite palsy with everyone’s favorite dominionist, Sarah Palin.

    But Scientologists don’t believe in Jesus, so how does that work?

    LOL. A true believer must survive many trials and tests of faith before ascending to the innermost circle where the greatest secrets are revealed. Holy revelation will destroy any initiate not properly prepared to receive it.

    But I will share a little secret with you, dear PalMD readers:

    Travel a spiritual path to the holiest of holies at the center of any cult and you will encounter the exact same amazing revelation. The same. I kid you not. And once enlightened, you’ll find that working with Masters outside your faith is no problemo.

    Every member of the Council for National Policy has faced the holy of holies and learned the great secret.

    Now, can you guess it for yourself?

  10. #10 Anonymouse
    December 16, 2009

    Did you read the Wikipedia?

    I’m curious to read Stephen Harper’s “controversial” address to the group in 1997, if anyone can find a link.

    If you were wondering why Mitt Romney’s favorite book is some drek by L Ron Hubbard, well, know you know.

    This group has alligned with the right but would switch sides faster than you can say, “Joe Leiberman” if that would further its utopian ambition.

  11. #11 antipodean
    December 16, 2009

    Dr Wonderful

    Not wonderful, not a doctor.

  12. #12 Avicenna
    December 16, 2009

    just because you don’t seem to care much about Canadian legislation on the dangerous repercussions of ND prescribing on our health care doesn’t mean no one does.

    The National Post published 2 articles on the subject and were later posted online in their blog. The blog posts resulted in 120+ comments in a 24-hr period limit, averaging 1 comment every 5-15min. How’s that for public interest? 😉

    For those curious about those posts, here they are:
    1)arguing against ND prescribing, Scott Garuva (RPh)

    2)arguing for, two NDs

    This last post has great arguments against ND prescribing…good read for CAM skeptics.

  13. #13 red rabbit
    December 16, 2009

    Entertainingly, the CAND have pulled down that particular handout. Your link gets a 404 and if you search through the site, the same handout nets a blank document.


    Also entertainingly, they now have a link to the public health agency’s website on flu.

    I don’t know if the negative attention was the kick they needed, but if so, let’s keep on kicking.

  14. #14 PalMD
    December 16, 2009

    well how bout that

  15. #15 PalMD
    December 17, 2009

    Here’s the original document saved by a reader.

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