Colorado is Nearer to Promoting Naturopathic Pseudomedicine—Aided by the Colorado Medical Society

This week we’ll take a break from lambasting the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, as worthy as that task is, in order to confront some of the latest events involving the pseudomedical cult that calls itself “naturopathic medicine.”* Intrepid nurse and anti-healthfraud activist Linda Rosa reports that Colorado is dangerously close to becoming the next state to endorse “NDs” as health care practitioners, and Scott Gavura of Science-Based Pharmacy called my attention to a report that British Columbia is considering enlarging the scope of practice for NDs, who are already licensed there, and that Alberta is on the verge of licensing them. In each case, those whom the public trusts to make wise decisions have betrayed their ignorance of both pseudomedicine and the realities of governmental regulation.

To explain why, it will first be necessary to make a few assertions, which are linked to developed arguments where necessary:

  1. “Naturopathic Medicine” is a hodgepodge of pseudoscientific beliefs and absurd treatments. Its practitioners, including those at the highest levels of the cult, misrepresent what they do.
  2. Effective self-regulation of a group of health practitioners requires at least 3 prerequisites: first, there must be objective, science-based, externally measurable criteria for standards of practice; second, the group must be large enough so that the regulatory board is able to act in a disinterested fashion; third, there must be adequate resources, eg, funding and cooperation with other pertinent governmental entities, for the board to carry out its charge. Regulatory schemes for tiny groups of sectarian practitioners lack the first two criteria and cannot sustain the third without financial aid from other sources.
  3. Putting the onus of such regulation onto a state medical board will not solve the problem, because a) “even the most meticulous regulation of nonsense must still result in nonsense”; b) responsible state medical boards would rather not deal with such nonsense, when the only rational action would be to undermine legislative intent by revoking the licenses of all nonsense-practitioners; c) “A widely accepted rule of medical malpractice states that ‘a physician is entitled to have his treatment of his patient tested by the rules and principles of the school of medicine to which he belongs, and not by those of some other school.’ ” This is especially true if the regulatory language calls for an advisory body that includes practitioners of the implausible claims in question; and d) even without such an advisory board, some perplexed or cowed medical boards will defer to the opinions of quack apologists or be stymied by recent, pro-quackery language promulgated by the Federation of State Medical Boards.
  4. Self-regulation and the “widely accepted rule” quoted above predict that boards charged with regulating practitioners of implausible methods provide a safe haven for those practitioners to a greater extent than they provide protection for unwary citizens. In the case of “naturopathic medicine,” several examples support this prediction.
  5. Even state medical boards, which generally fulfill the criteria in #1 above, do not reliably discipline MDs who promote and use implausible, substandard methods. See here, here, here, here, and here.
  6. NDs claim to be “primary care physicians” or “primary care providers” or “family doctors,” each of which is a dangerous ruse. No amount of legislative crafting at the state level could possibly change these misportrayals, which are ubiquitous on naturopathic websites, including those of the “approved” schools, the national organization, the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and almost every “degreed” Colorado ND who has a website—each of whom, therefore, is in violation of Colorado law (for two conspicuous examples, look here).
  7. The current Director of the Colorado Division of Registrations has refused to prosecute naturopaths who pose as physicians, in spite of language in the Colorado Medical Practice Act requiring her to do so and in spite of most of the legwork having already been done by Linda Rosa and her husband, Larry Sarner.
  8. A conceit of NDs is that their methods are based on science. Their textbook, for example, states that its content is supported by “10,000 citations to peer-reviewed literature providing standards of practice for natural medicine. Based on a solid combination of theory and clinical studies [etc.].” This claim is categorically false.
  9. NDs are neither ethically nor scientifically qualified to prescribe “natural medicines” or to provide counseling about nutrition.
  10. There is no hard evidence that “educated” NDs are less of a threat to public safety than are more numerous “traditional” naturopaths. It is possible that the opposite is the case, because the latter do not claim to be physicians.
  11. Every other argument for regulating NDs has been previously and thoroughly debunked.
  12. The Colorado Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) has previously demonstrated its naivete regarding this issue.
  13. In Colorado, the distinction between “licensure” and “registration” is minor and barely relevant to the public’s perception of a state-endorsed practice.

Now let’s look at the current events. These will be presented by quoting statements of some of those involved. I have added hyperlinks, emphasis, and, when needed, comments. Please keep the list above in mind as you read this material, although there is little to add to Linda Rosa’s arguments.


On 2/8/09, Linda Rosa wrote:

The Colorado Naturopaths are trying for licensure once again — HB1175:

The bill, on scanning, looks much like last year’s, but it additionally (and ridiculously) calls for a 3-year task force to report annually to the legislature “concerning the practice of naturopathic medicine in Colorado” and to sunset in 2014.

The most disturbing change is not in the bill itself: organized medicine—for better or worse, usually the last hope for resisting state endorsements of quackery—has finally caved to the pressure. Ms. Rosa expressed her concerns to Diana Protopapa, the Director of Political Affairs and Education at the Colorado Medical Society (CMS):

Dear Ms. Protopapa and CMS Leadership:

Thank you for speaking with me yesterday about HB1175, the bill that would legitimize naturopathy as a profession in Colorado.

It is very disheartening to learn the Colorado Medical Society supports passage of HB1175, though I understand your House of Delegates is strongly opposed to such legislation.

I would like to help clear up some misconceptions and offer reasons why CMS leadership should work to kill this bill:


1)  You indicate that CMS believes that many Coloradoans are using the services of naturopaths and that is why the state should take steps to protect the public.

But there is no evidence supporting this belief. A large NIH (NCCAM) survey in 2007 indicates a very small percentage of the public uses naturopaths (0.2%). That translates to about 10,000 Coloradoans using Naturopaths. Compare that to some 430,000 who use Chiropractic in our state. (Note: Loveland’s McKee hospital closed its alternative medicine center for lack of interest and financial loss.)


2)  CMS apparently believes that naturopaths offer some valuable services. You mentioned nutrition counseling as an example.

Nutrition is actually a big problem area. Naturopaths do not use science-based practices, and that includes the area of nutrition. Naturopath nutrition counseling includes dangerous detoxing regimens and expensive, worthless supplements. Naturopaths of all sorts are infamous for recommending highly restrictive, low calorie diets for cancer patients, which can be lethal for this population.  A leading “degreed” naturopath (Bastyr University) recommends the infamous Gerson Therapy/Diet for cancer patients: it consists of several coffee enemas each day with a diet of juiced vegetables, fruits and raw calf liver. Last year, the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Physicians legislative activities were sponsored by 13 “Big Supplement” companies.


3)  HB1175 would require registered naturopaths to follow public health policy for some children. But naturopaths are “vitalists” who reject germ theory. They are educated to oppose public health policy, such as immunization, fluoridation, and pasteurization. How does that make them qualified to carry out these policies effectively or reliably?


4) Please read (below) what a cancer patient who is under the care of a licensed naturopath wrote. All the testing and treatments recommended to this woman are worthless, expensive — and some would likely shorten her life. Note the “treatment” program was determined before the bogus labs were done. The restrictions in HB1175 would do little to prevent such exploitation.


5) Members of the task force required by HB1175 will be picked by a DORA employee with an obvious bias for naturopathy. This same DORA employee, a lawyer, would make all final decisions regarding appropriate care. Requiring evidence-based practices can be gotten around, because alternative medicine practitioners have their own “journals” and their own low standards for “evidence.”
(It is notable that NIH-funded research, which began in 1991, has not validated a single CAM practice.)


6)  CMS may not have been fully aware of all the nonsense in naturopathy when it helped craft this bill. Attached is a disturbing list of *all the practices* the ‘degreed’ naturopaths in Colorado have offered on their websites.


7)  With HB1175, registered naturopaths would be exempt from the Medical Practice Act.


8)  “Degreed” naturopaths also kill, but they don’t go to prison like [Colorado] naturopath Brian O’Connel did for killing Sean Flanagan:

When 16-year-old Megan Wilson of Kenmore, WA, had a severe asthma attack, her mother took her to her “primary care physician,” Lucinda Messer, a licensed, degreed naturopath.  Megan got some acupuncture, a shot of vitamin B-12, an herbal preparation, and was sent home.  She died.  If Messer had taken her to an emergency room across the street from her office, Megan most certainly would have survived.
While the parents won a wrongful death case against Messer, who is a licensed naturopath in Arizona and Washington, the naturopath boards in both those states cleared her of all charges of incompetence.
(see “Death by NATURAL Causes” - Seattle Weekly, June 8, 2005)


9)  This bill, if it passes, will not be the end of naturopath bills. Naturopaths consider themselves the equivalent of primary care physicians and are now seeking in other states more and more privileges (full prescription, OB/GYN services, minor surgery, etc.)


10) Some legislators look to naturopaths to serve poor and rural populations. This would set up an two-tiered healthcare system. CMS would clearly not want to encourage that.


I implore CMS leadership to reconsider its support of HB1175. First do no harm.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Linda Rosa, RN
Executive Director
Advocates for Children in Therapy
Board of Scientific & Technical Advisors
Colorado Director &
National Board Member
National Council Against Health Fraud


Now, this Doctor scared me even more than the first one I went too. Her
nurse asked me, “Are you going to commence the blood test?” I said,
“Sure!” When she shows me how much I must come in with by the next day,
3,253.75 dollars.. I was stunt. I said, “What blood test is that?” She
was adding all the testing with out the treatment program.

Here is all the testing

Complete digestive analysis test  $550.00 (A higher cost than the other
Doctor I saw)

Comprehensive liver Detox         $260.00
RBC Minerals                            $270.00

Essential Fatty Acids                 $320.00

Amino acids                              $480.00
Spectracell 3000                        $420.00
Heavy metal challenge                $385.00
Estronex                                   $180.00

24 hour hormone/ HGH               $550.00

I would get a 15% discount if paid all at once.

Treatment program  Which they want to do
MHA $351.00

Colonic Therapy 10x               $540.00   (can we do this at home?)
Reflorestation 10x                   $225.00

Allergy Elimination 30x           $950.00

Vitamin C IV 10x                    $850.00

Nutritional Consultation 4x      $435.00

Physician APPTS 5x              $500.00

Peroxide 8x                            $760.00

Now I wonder, How much of this do I really need and how much is just
excess and adding to my bill?”

Ms. Protopapa replied to Ms. Rosa:


I am happy to visit with you anytime regarding your concerns on CMS’ support of HB 1175. According to your assertions below, it appears that you misunderstood many of the issues we discussed yesterday and I feel it’s important that we all understand Colorado’s long history with naturopathic regulation legislation and the varied reasons why CMS is supporting  HB 1175. But before I do that, it’s very important that I make the distinction for you that CMS policy opposes licensure of naturopaths. HB 1175 registers naturopaths. This is the lowest form of regulation. Registration does not allow for a rule making board (like physicians, nurses, chiropractors, etc., have) but ensures that the subjects to be registered meet certain qualifications in order to be registered and gives consumers recourse in the event that they are harmed.CMS’ goal with this legislation is to tightly restrict the scope of practice of naturopathy while creating a process to ensure that consumers have timely recourse to regulatory relief when they have been harmed by naturopaths – something the current system does not provide.

Legislation regulating the practice of naturopathy has been introduced in Colorado for the past 14 years. It initially bore little credibility and was predictably defeated. As the years progressed the naturopaths’ assertions that regulation was necessary in order to protect the public began to gain ground with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) and in 2005, after several deaths occurred at the hands of an unqualified naturopath, DORA recommended licensure. Three years later the division once again gave the nod for regulation. DORA argued that regulation would:

* Protect the public from the dangers of unskilled naturopaths and unsound treatment or advice, and;
* Protect the public from reliance on unskilled naturopaths, as well as directing them to proper medical care.

Over the years, the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Physicians’ (CANP) desire for regulation increased. Their case was strengthened by the support of many respected legislators on both sides of the aisle who agreed with DORA that regulating naturopathy is a consumer protection issue particularly in light of the fact that the Board of Medical Examiners doesn’t have the resources to police this discipline.

CMS understands that naturopathy and patient safety may sound like fundamentally incompatible concepts to many physicians. After all, naturopathy is not founded in western science and many of its treatments have not been subjected to rigorous clinical tests to determine their effectiveness. CMS also recognizes that a growing number of consumers turn to naturopathy for the treatment of various ailments. And, equally significant, because the practice of naturopathy isn’t regulated, neither the state nor patients have sufficient recourse in the case of harm.

This year, naturopathic regulation legislation resurfaced and CMS got the green light from the Council on Legislation (COL) and its Scope of Practice Subcommittee (SOP) to seek common ground in the name of patient safety. After several months of discussion between organized medicine and CANP and many iterations of draft legislation we crafted a bill that features a very limited scope of practice for naturopathic doctors – one that the physicians of CMS, the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians and the Colorado Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians feel is appropriate and will adequately protect those members of the public who choose to seek naturopathic care.

HB 1175  will create a regulatory scheme that protects consumers, gives them the ability to report substandard care and file grievances against those who are not qualified to practice naturopathic medicine. It also creates a very narrow scope of services that naturopathic doctors can perform.

Among the many patient protection provisions, HB 1175 will:

* Register only those individuals who graduate from a post-graduate, four-year residential academic program recognized by the U.S. Department of Education;

* Provide “truth in advertising” protections by prohibiting naturopathic doctors from using the terms MD, DO, medical doctor or physician;

* Required naturopathic doctors to provide a host of disclosures aimed at educating consumers on the qualifications of a naturopathic doctor, the differences between a naturopathic doctor and a physician (M.D./D.O.) and those practices that naturopathic doctors are prohibited from performing;

Additionally, HB 1175 creates a narrow scope of practice in which naturopathic doctors may practice naturopathy. Indeed there are more prohibitions than allowances. Naturopathic doctors are prohibited from practicing or treating the following:
* Prescribing, dispensing or administering prescription drugs other than vitamin B-12 injectables;
* Performing surgical procedures or the use of laser devices;
* Use of anesthesia other than topical anesthetics;
* Administering ionizing radiation or radioactive substances;
* Practicing obstetrics;
* Recommending the discontinuation of care recommended by any other licensed health care provider;
* Treating cancer;
* Providing chelation therapy;
* Performing colonic irrigations;
* Treating a host of conditions that don’t improve with documented evidence within 25 days without advising the patient to consult a licensed physician; and
* Treating children less than two years of age. When treating children between the ages of two and eight, the naturopathic doctor is statutorily required to follow all public health laws.

Finally, you note below that 1175 will make naturopaths exempt from our MPA. Currently, the CO Board of Medical Examiners is not pursuing any complaints filed against naturopaths for practicing medicine because they do not have the resources to do so. HB 1175 will create a funded regulatory structure that will police naturopaths and will sanction those who are practicing medicine without having a medical degree. Without HB 1175, the BME will continue to be unable to pursue such complaints and patients will remain “in the dark” and vulnerable.

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Diana Protopapa

Of all the misconceptions in Ms. Protopapa’s note, two are particularly disturbing. First, it is misleading to write that “the Board of Medical Examiners doesn’t have the resources to police this discipline.” The reality is that the Director of the Division of Registrations has, for dubious reasons, refused to allow the BME to aid in the prosecution of naturopath physician-impersonators, even though the language of the Colorado Medical Practice Act requires the board to do exactly that. If money is the issue, then money should be the remedy—not creating a more expensive bureaucracy that will dupe unwary citizens into believing that NDs and their claims have been validated by government.

The Director of the Division of Registrations, by the way, is the “DORA employee with an obvious bias for naturopathy” mentioned in Ms. Rosa’s first note to Ms. Protopapa, and was also responsible for the misguided DORA Sunrise Review linked from #12 of my list at the beginning of this post. Who do you suppose will be responsible for disciplining NDs under the proposed legislation? The Director of the Division of Registrations!

Second, the “very narrow scope of services” is inaccurate, because there is no formal scope of practice in the bill. Even the “prohibitions” are subject to change. According to whose advice? According to the advice of the Naturopathic Doctors Task Force, which will


What else will the Task Force be asked to consider?










A recent amendment, according to Ms. Rosa, which is not yet in the online version of the bill, is this:



According to Ms. Rosa, the Colorado Medical Society believes that this amendment “will limit NDs to safe and effective practices.” The CMS is apparently naive to points 4 and 8 in my list at the beginning of this post.

The fix, it would seem, is in. Linda Rosa responded to Ms. Protopapa by observing that key NDs are unconcerned about the “prohibitions,” because it would be ridiculously easy to get around them. Regarding treatment of cancer, for example, the bill states:


Ms. Rosa added, wryly:

The “degreed” naturopaths also admitted to long defying our Medical Practice Act. It seems the more they defy the law, the more support they find.

Meanwhile, rumor has it CMS leadership is giving Colorado nurses a hard time at the capitol about their scope of practice…

Ms. Protopapa replied:


The bill strictly prohibits naturopaths from treating cancer other than the symptoms and side effects. Any naturopath treating cancer outside of this narrowly defined criteria is violating the law. Fortunately, should this bill pass, consumers will now have an avenue for recourse if they are the victims of a naturopath treating cancer.

I respect your concern with CMS, the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians [!–KA] and the Colorado Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians [!!–KA] supporting HB 1175 but as I stated earlier, these organizations worked diligently [!!!–KA] to craft legislation that creates a very narrow scope of practice in which naturopaths may practice and strong consumer protections. This is far more protection than what we currently have in place, which is nothing at all. Should you have any further concerns, you can reach me at the numbers below.

Thank you for your comments,

To which Ms. Rosa replied:

Ms. Protopapa,

I am amazed CMS leadership considers HB1175 to have “strong consumer protections.” Under HB1175, the “degreed” Naturopaths:

* Will have no requirement for malpractice insurance

* Will have no defined scope of practice

* Can conduct “naturopathic diagnoses,” whatever those are…

* Can perform “naturopathic treatments,” whatever those are…

* Must adhere to a *mythical* set of “generally accepted standards of naturopathic practice”

* Are allowed to provide substandard, worthless, unvalidated or dangerous treatments to a child with the parent’s consent

Regarding (ND) Rena Bloom’s statement about the bill’s restrictions: Naturopaths understand cancer in unconventional terms. They can characterize their treatment of cancer (e,g, “boosting the immune system” and “detoxifying”) as “concomitant” or “adjunctive” treatment, and hence allowed by HB1175.

Amendment L005 to HB1175 exempts some 900 “traditional” naturopaths from the bill. There would be no restrictions that affect their practice. They could even continue to call themselves “naturopaths” or “NDs.” The degreed naturopaths are so hungry for state recognition that they have even forgone their pretense that this is a “consumer protection” bill.

Consumers would be better protected by complaining to the Medical Board, as they do today, instead of to a lawyer who has the power to rule on all matters, including about what is appropriate and inappropriate practice.

The only good thing about this bill is that another amendment has done away with the provision exempting registered/degreed NDs from the Medical Practice Act.

Again, I urge CMS and the other two organizations to reconsider support of HB1175.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Linda Rosa, RN

Pay special attention to the amendment regarding “traditional” naturopaths, the obvious purpose of which is to remove a major source of opposition to a naturopathic practice act. “Educated” naturopaths always portray their petitions for regulation as a “public safety” issue (“don’t be fooled by fake psychics!”), and this group was no different—at first. The CMS fell for that gambit, as evidenced by each of Ms. Protopapa’s notes. Yet now it isn’t even part of the bill. As Linda Rosa observed, such cynicism was not lost on “traditional” naturopaths:

One traditional ND summed up the situation. He told me that the degreed NDs are so desperate for legal recognition that they’ll give up anything to get it. I would add …but without the intention of giving up anything in practice.

Will the CMS finally realize that the NDs real intent is to make themselves appear to be legitimate “health care providers,” with all the rewards of that designation, e.g., protection to practice their brand of quackery, greater patient volume, insurance coverage, etc.?


It seems unlikely. The naivete of the three medical organizations appears boundless. According to Linda Rosa, physician representatives of all three misused the term “allopathy” in their testimonies to the legislature. The bill itself repeats the usual falsehoods about science, medicine, and naturopathy, quoted verbatim from naturopathic litany, that exist in almost every naturopathic practice act. That not one of these physicians seemed to recognize this, or at least to give a damn, is mind-numbing.

The only good news from Ms. Rosa is that the bill is not yet law:

The bill has only passed the House Health and Human Services Committee. It next goes to Appropriations. If Appropriations finds the bill will be more expensive than the bill anticipates, the bill will go back to the HHS Committee. (That’s how we killed it two years ago — i.e. showing it would cost the State of Colorado millions, based on a study done in Hawaii.) So the bill hasn’t faced a full House vote yet. No senate vote yet either.

Since 1992, this is the 6th try for an ND bill in Colorado.

British Columbia and Alberta

According to an editorial in Wednesday’s Calgary Herald, British Columbia is considering allowing “naturopathic doctors” to prescribe pharmaceuticals and order x-rays:

B. C. Minister of Health George Abbott says the regulations are about choice. Naturopaths would be limited to prescribing Schedule I and Schedule II drugs, including antibiotics, painkillers and anti-depressants. The naturopaths would also have authority to order lab X-rays, instead of having to refer their patients to a medical doctor to do paper work.

There is an argument to be made for giving naturopathic doctors the power to prescribe certain drugs, such as those which replace natural hormones.

Bruce Lofting, a naturopathic doctor and vice-president with the Alberta Association of Naturopathic Practitioners, says there’s really only a “handful” of medications that are useful to naturopaths, mainly hormones. Antibiotics are also important, in that a patient might have an infection, in which case naturopathic doctors have no choice but to send them to a medical doctor for treatment. That’s inconvenient, costly, and unnecessary.

The same article calls for “regulation” of naturopaths in Alberta (hmmm, I thought naturopathy was already a “regulated profession” in Alberta), making the same, erroneous assumptions that are being made in Colorado:

The bigger dilemma in Alberta is that this profession still needs to be regulated. Albertans deserve the choice of going to a naturopathic doctor and being assured certain standards, training and disciplinary measures are in place. A college has already been established, and rules written, but the province must first give final reading to the legislation.

Lofting says the Health Ministry has indicated proclamation is expected during the current Parliamentary session. Considering the speed with which this profession is expanding next door, those regulations can’t come soon enough.

I am out of time and out of gas, so I won’t discuss these misconceptions further. At this point it probably isn’t necessary.


*The Naturopathy Series:

  1. “CAL”: a Medico-Legal Parable
  2. Another State Promotes the Pseudoscientific Cult that is “Naturopathic Medicine.” Part 1
  3. Another State Promotes the Pseudoscientific Cult that is “Naturopathic Medicine.” Part 2
  4. Another State Promotes the Pseudoscientific Cult that is “Naturopathic Medicine.” Part 3
  5. Another State Promotes the Pseudoscientific Cult that is “Naturopathic Medicine.” Part 4
  6. Colorado is Nearer to Promoting Naturopathic Pseudomedicine—Aided by the Colorado Medical Society
  7. Naturopathy and Liberal Politics: Strange Bedfellows
  8. Open Letter to Dr. Josephine Briggs
  9. Smallpox and Pseudomedicine

Posted in: Health Fraud, Herbs & Supplements, Medical Ethics, Nutrition, Politics and Regulation, Public Health, Science and Medicine

Leave a Comment (41) ↓

41 thoughts on “Colorado is Nearer to Promoting Naturopathic Pseudomedicine—Aided by the Colorado Medical Society

  1. Harriet Hall says:

    Maybe this is a silly question, but if they are not licensed, can’t they be prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license and would not this better protect the public?

  2. Harriet,

    Yes. That is the whole point here, as originally argued in our op-ed piece for the Rocky Mountain News:


  3. Skip says:

    Colorado? Hey that’s me! I’m even a member of CMS, I guess a phone call or three is due…

  4. Larry Sarner says:

    Probably anyone reading all the way through this would, like Kim, be “out of time and out of gas”. Though if anyone does have the energy left to read on, I would like to add three things:

    First, when Linda wrote CMS it was before the Committee hearing; so, when she pointed out that the bill exempts the degreed NDs from the Medical Practice Act, she was accurate at the time. This was one of the things taken out by the committee as part of the last-minute back-room agreements made between CMS and CANP. As the bill’s sponsor explained, “The language is no longer necessary.” Yep; the bill, which permits them to diagnose and treat naturopathically (undefined in the bill), is a license to practice medicine.

    That brings me to the second addition, and that’s a caveat on the “registration” scheme in the bill, and “licensure”. The only two differences between the bill’s regulatory scheme and licensure is (1) the absence of a governing board with public representation, and (2) the use of the word “license”. Indeed, that’s how CMS and CANP got the language for this. I’m speaking literally now: this was hammered out in negotiations on last year’s bill between CMS’s leadership, CANP, and legislative sponsors. They started with the bill’s language for licensure and: (1) took out the creation of the governing board, (2) in the remaining language, gave all that board’s powers to the Director of the Division of Registrations, creating what I call a Naturopath Czar, and (3) wherever the word “license” appeared, change it to “registration”. I compared the before-and-after texts, and that is literally what they did. Thus, this is exactly what I testified to its being: it is licensure by another name, with all the consumer (public) representation stripped out.

    Third, it should be stated clearly what this is really all about on the other side. One legislator asked in the lobby why the NDs were so comfortable with a bill with so many practice restrictions. After hearing the explanation that they would agree to anything that gives them state recognition, he asked why that was the case. I explained that, apparent from the people who testified in favor of the bill, the money and political pressure behind this was all coming from Bastyr University, who is simply creating a market for its graduates. Another lobbyist followed with an interesting point: Bastyr may soon lose student-loan approval if more of its graduates don’t find work with their degrees.

    I will add a fourth item while I’m at it. This is all the CMS leadership’s fault. This would not have even passed the Committee if CMS was not backing this “compromise”. But the CMS rank-and-file are strongly opposed to ND licensure. But the leadership are “wheeler-dealer” players at the legislature; they are eager to “compromise” on this issue to gain advantages on “more important” issues. So they have played politics internally, sandbagged the rank-and-file, and hidden their agenda. They told no one about their dealings with CANP until the bill was introduced, and even then didn’t tell the doc who testified on their behalf last year. And they still don’t list the bill on their website as one they are following (much less support).

  5. Dr Benway says:

    * * First Draft * *


    The bill strictly prohibits naturopathic magicians from treating cancer other than the symptoms and side effects. Admittedly I don’t know what cancer side effects are, but that’s not my job. Look, any naturopathic magician treating cancer outside of this narrowly defined criteria is violating the law. Like I just violated your sense of grammar. M’kay?

    Fortunately for cancer patients, if a naturo-magician working on a side effect gets a bit high and mighty and starts straying a little too close to teh actual cancer, they can say, “Hands off, buster!” Won’t that be comforting?

    I respect your concern with Big Important Organizations A, B, and C supporting HB 1175 but as I stated earlier, these organizations worked diligently to craft legislation that creates a very narrow scope of practice in which naturo-magicians may practice narrowly and strong consumer protections –loads and loads of them, more than even this run-on sentence might accommodate. Really, if you saw how narrow the narrowness is, you’d relax and I could stop dreading my in-box (jk!)…

    This bill offers far more protection than what we currently have in place against evil magicians doing bad magic, which is nothing at all.

    Should you have any further concerns, you can bite me.


  6. David Gorski says:

    This week we’ll take a break from lambasting the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, as worthy as that task is…

    Indeed it is a worthy task.

    One other state that needs a spanking is Arizona. Look what homeopaths are allowed to do.

    Truly, Arizona is a quackery paradise.

  7. Larry,

    Thanks for clarifying those points. I’m not surprised by the “licensure” vs. “registration” sleight of hand; I’d suspected as much.

    Regarding the CMS, its website now cops to supporting the bill (perhaps in response to being embarrassed by you and Linda?).

    Hmmm. The CMS “was founded in 1871 to promote the art and science of medicine and to improve the public health.” That kind of language is typical of state medical societies. The frequency with which it is shown to be hypocritical, as in this case, is why many people, including physicians, are cynical about organized medicine.

    Aside to Skip and any other concerned CMS members who may be reading this: your state society promotes more quackery than just the naturopathic sort. If you look on the “For Patients” page of the website, you’ll find that “Autism Resources” links to the Autism Research Institute, another name for “DAN,” the most infamous immunization-bashing, Jenny McCarthy doting, “biomedical treatment” shilling (eg, chelation, etc.), autism PPO out there. The “Alternative Medicine” link is to the site at the U of Pittsburgh, a model of misleading language, question begging, and baiting-and-switching. Time to kick some shruggie ass.

    Regarding Bastyr and money for licensure schemes: we had suspected this years ago (see p. 11, paragraph 3 of this document). Speaking of that, SBM readers will be interested in yet another reason to be outraged by the NCCAM: according to the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education, the NCCAM administers a Loan Repayment Program for students and grads of “accredited” naturopathic schools (see question 12 here ).

  8. Yo Dave,

    We’ve spanked Arizona right here on SBM, more than once! But another spanking is always a good idea.


  9. daijiyobu says:

    If you are looking for an archived repository of ‘naturopathy PAC language’ [lies!!!], I suggest the Alliance Legislative Workbook that was written for legislatures by AANP, Bastyr, NCNM and SCNM, at .

    Trust nothing AANP naturopathy says.

    For instance, here’s a scan I’ve put up on scribd of what I printed from AANP-Alliance in 1997, which induced me into studying at UB in fall 1998 :

    it says “naturopathic physicians are the modern day science based primary care doctor […] it is not a belief system.”

    So, I went to ND school, based upon these claims and found out that naturopathy is

    a) belief-galore [current web examples]: [vitalism] [vitalism] [supernaturalism, coded vitalism]

    b) claimed as science [current web examples]'s_Nat.htm

    [the apostrophe is a problem in that last address!]

    c) but, beliefs which truly are science-ejected or science-unsupported claimed as science are a type of extreme nonsense and academic fraud.

    E.g.: I had a UB instructor who would diagnose patients with a pendulum!!!

    Regarding Bastyr, mentioned in this comment by me and in this article by KA, their central mission statement is nonsense itself

    “Bastyr’s international faculty teaches the natural health sciences with an emphasis on integrating mind, body, spirit and nature” [the college guides are basically billboards for any kind of junk thought – science is now containing the supernatural and their ‘nature’ vitalism].

    Warning: naturopathy’s knowledge-framework mislabeling, so to speak, is what I have termed “an epistemic conflation claiming an epistemic delineation”:

    blending science and nonscience and claiming the whole thing is science.

    If you want some super duper naturopathy pseudoscience, visit this profile of one of Bastyr’s founders, Mitchell

    who tells us “our science is pure and true.”

    I will gladly testify against naturopathy anywhere, anytime.


  10. David Gorski says:

    Yikes. I thought you had before.

    However, I didn’t recall your ever mentioning the law that allows “homeopathic doctors” to do minor surgery. Of course, significant liposuction (as in the case above) is not “minor” surgery, but the principle stands…

  11. Newcoaster says:

    I haven’t managed to read through all the postings and links yet, but I thought readers might like an update on the situation in British Columbia.

    The College of Physicians and Surgeons has written a strong letter of objection to the Minister of Health, George Abbott, which I have linked below. Mr Abbott has an unfortunate tendency to make decisions without consulting scientific or medical experts. Last year he approved legislation covering acupuncture for low income people.

    I thought it was a pretty good letter, though I object to the use of the term “allopath” to describe modern, science and evidence based medical practice. I think this term for us tends to be used pejoratively by the sCAM community, and we shouldn’t be using it to describe ourselves. The College claims the term allopath is appropriate as it is in Stedman’s medical dictionary, but I pointed out that dictionary definitions, and common usage of terms are different things.

    I have written to the Minister of Health myself on several occasions, but have yet to get anything more than the standard form letter reply from underlings.

    Fight the good fight.

  12. @Dr Benway,

    LOL :-) You gotta gift, you.


    Let’s get hammit sometime, r.c.


    Right you are about “allopath.” Whatever Stedman’s may say (I don’t know), the term does not apply to modern physicians or even to the “regular” physicians of Hahnemann’s time. See here under “Homeopathy vs. ‘Allopathy'” for the entire relevant discussion.

  13. daijiyobu says:

    KA said: “let’s get hammit sometime, r.c.”

    I have no shame in admitting that I’ve no idea what that means.

    And a google search in a variety of ways didn’t help.


  14. daijiyobu says:

    And regarding “allopathy” as a label for medicine [after all, I went to ND school, and they take Hahnemann verbatim, the originator of that label]:

    I regard the labeling of modern scientific medicine as allopathy as akin to the Creation Scientists calling evolution “the religion of Darwinism” [false].

    In other words, I regard the labeling of medicine “allopathy” as ‘the false reverse sectarian accusation’.

    It is crap thought.

    It falsely poisons the findings of modern medicine as ‘merely one choice amongst equal philosophical-epistemic choices’ — a fallacy, because:

    a) modern medicine at least seeks reality through scientific methodology, not ‘a priori crappola’ / woo;

    b) ‘allopathy’, though the medicine of George Washington’s time [and likely what killed him; please don’t hold against me the fact that apparently GW’s attending physician was Elisha CULLEN Dick] — it is not the medicine of today!

    At the time of allopathy, science hadn’t become the epistemic obligation of medicine per .

    Also, look at BCNA for this false dichotomy of naturopathic vs. allopathic, and NDs’ false science claim per


  15. R.C.,

    “Let’s get hammit” means “let’s get hammered,” only in a Boston accent. You know what that means, I trust?

    The usual story is that Benjamin Rush killed GW by bleeding him to death; I haven’t got time to submit that to a test of veracity, but I’m certain that B. Rush was convinced of the efficacy of bleeding as a therapy for whatever ailed people, having once read a treatise by him. I hadn’t known that GW’s personal physician was a Dick.


  16. Dr Benway says:

    If I practiced in Colorado, I might write a letter like this to the CMS:

    Dear Colleagues,

    Diagnosis before treatment. Understand the problem before acting. Sadly, the Colorado Medical Society betrays its superficial grasp the problem addressed by HB 1175 in its decision to support registration and scope of practice rules for naturopaths.

    Supporters of HB 1175 assert that the bill will protect patients. But from what? From naturopaths who might treat cancer rather than cancer symptoms, whatever that means? No, protecting patients from ill-conceived therapies requires more than mere particulars like this. A laundry list of allowed and disallowed practices won’t endure any test of time if the method used for granting merit to a given practice is divorced from basic rules of evidence.

    Naturopathic vitalism is a pseudoscience. A pseudoscience looks like science but it cheats the rules. It misrepresents conjecture as accepted fact. It weasles around the burden of controlled research and publication, which would expose its lack of merit. It bypasses broad-based, genuine peer review and sells its claims directly to Joe the plumber.

    Patients need to know what is true, what is based upon evidence. Only then can they act rationally in their own interests. When the state blurs the distinction between science and pseudoscience, patients are stripped of their best protecton against fraudulent, unnecessary, or dangerous practices: informed consent.

    Medical science is an evolving effort. Many diseases and conditions lack effective treatments. Consequently, disappointed patients will seek out unproven interventions.

    As a human being, I know what it’s like to be sick and afraid. I don’t oppose a patient’s wish to seek non-medical or “alternative” answers. But let’s not kid ourselves either as patients or physicians. If we decide to leave the realm of evidence-based practice, let’s do that explicitly and with our eyes wide open. The world of unproven therapies collects dishonest and self-deluded hacks ready to take advantage of the vulnerable.

    Registration and scope of practice rules are appropriate for a science-based health care profession. But these signifiers of legitimacy will mislead patients if granted to pseudoscience practitioners. Informed consent requires clarity regarding the evidential basis of treatment. Patients are best served when political authorities support this distinction.

    Please stand up for genuine informed consent for our patients by opposing HB 1175.


  17. daijiyobu says:

    KA wrote: “let’s get hammered […] you know what that means, I trust? […] I hadn’t known that GW’s personal physician was a Dick.”

    Yup, as the saying goes: never trust a man who doesn’t drink!

    Perhaps there’s some skeptical drinking in the future, up in Boston, for me and yourself and any other like-minded quasidipsomaniacs.

    Regarding Dick [trivia], a friend of mine sent me a picture of a plaque outside Dick’s District of Columbia home, which states:

    “Elisha Cullen Dick […] was consulting physician in Washington’s last illness. At the moment of Washington’s death, he stopped the bedroom clock […and he] conducted the Masonic funeral service at his grave […per] Alexandria Chamber of Commerce.”

    Dr. B. wrote: “naturopathic vitalism is a pseudoscience […] please stand up for genuine informed consent for our patients by opposing HB 1175.”

    I heartily agree. It’s not just naturopathic vitalism, though.

    There are piles and piles of things they claim as scientific fact which simply are not.

    My comprehensive diagnosis of naturopathy:

    they have expanded the footprint of what is supposedly science to such an absurd extent that even the PROFOUNDLY science-ejected is labeled by them “scientific.”


  18. Harriet Hall says:


    There is skeptical drinking in Boston on a regular basis. A schedule for Skeptics in the Pub can be found at

    I wish I lived close enough to attend. If you go, say hi to Skepchick founder Rebecca Watson for me.

  19. medstudt says:

    I just suffered through a presentation by a naturopath invited to speak at my “allopathic” medical school.

    My impression is that naturopathy is basically “common sense” (eat well, sleep enough, exercise more, chill out) taken to unjustified extremes (i.e., cause of all disease), with an undercurrent of spiritualism and general gullibility.

  20. Joe says:

    medstudt on 23 Feb 2009 at 5:28 pm wrote “My impression is that naturopathy is basically “common sense” (eat well, sleep enough, exercise more, chill out) taken to unjustified extremes …” It is much more than that.

    Their “eat well” dietary advice is an indiscriminate mix of good and irrational notions. They offer useless supplements (which they sell, by the way) and “detoxifications” as well as dangerously-low calorie recommendations for people with cancer. It is not just “common sense taken to an extreme,” it is common sense taken to a dangerous extreme.

    They advocate homeopathy, acupuncture, their own version of chiropracty. They use bogus diagnostic procedures such as “applied” kinesiology and iridology.

    Did you read and understand the post? The balance of naturopathy is totally irrational. You sound like a shruggie ( You should also see

  21. medstudt says:

    Don’t worry Joe, I’m no shruggie. I intended the words “suffered”, “unjustified extremes”, “spiritual”, and “gullibility”, as well as the scare quotes around “allopathic” and “common sense”, to convey my distaste. I was dismayed that some faculty members (MDs) were in the audience and not outraged by the speaker’s absurd claims. I’d go into detail, but I’m planning to write a blog post about it soon when I have a bit more time. Check me out:

  22. LindaRosaRN says:

    Bless you all for the informative comments (and delicious dark humor). Using this site, I’ll try to persuade the Denver press that this is a worthy issue.

  23. daijiyobu says:

    medstudt’s comment links to a Bastyr ND’s CV, which states:

    “Dr. Peter Bongiorno graduated from Bastyr University, the leading accredited university for science-based natural medicine” [I’m trying not to vomit].

    and, the NYANP, of which he is VP, states / stated

    (see ):

    “homeopathic medicines, when properly [!!!] prescribed, affect the body’s ‘vital force’ and strengthen its innate ability to heal […and we’re told about the] naturopathic medical profession’s […] commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research.”

    and Bongiorno states in “Naturopathic Medicine: A New York Natural State of Mind”

    (see ):

    “the term ‘naturopathic’ refers to the healing power of nature that allows the patient to cure one’s own illness by stimulating the body’s vital force. Naturopathic doctors treat the whole person (body, mind and spirit) […by] access nature’s vital healing energy […our] rigorous coursework includes basic and clinical sciences.”

    and medstudt said “my impression is that naturopathy is basically ‘common sense’ […] with an undercurrent of spiritualism.”

    Well, I take exception:

    a) when something [nonscientific figmentation] is labeled something it profoundly is not [scientific fact], I do not call that ‘sense’ of any kind;

    b) naturopathic supernaturalism [the figmentations of spiritism, vitalism etc.] is not an undercurrent, when you peer through their dissembling, it is their central sectarian belief set — falsely labeled scientific, and very-often disguised in naturalistic language.

    Deep Throat was famous in the Watergate scandal for ‘follow the money'; I say, regarding naturopathy, ‘understand the epistemic conflation’.

    BTW medstudt, I’ve looked over your blog, and I like where you are going with it.


  24. Joe says:

    @medstudt, I see you’ve got the right idea.

  25. Dr Benway says:

    “…Bastyr University, the leading accredited university for science-based natural medicine”

    LOL. The cargo-cultists think “science-based” means taking a lot of science classes.

    But the “science-based” are recognized by their fidelity to the sacred commands:

    1. Thou shalt not assert any claim that cannot be corroborated or falsified.

    2. Thou shalt limit thy language to terms with reliable, verifiable definitions.

    Go to Bastyr to learn how to talk like an idiot. Get your PhD in PhailD.

  26. medstudt says:

    In response to a question he claimed that naturopaths can prescribe [real] drugs and administer vaccines in states where they are licensed. Is that true?

  27. Joe says:


    It varies by location (states in USA, provinces in Canada). An early comment, above, notes they seek to get limited prescribing in one Province. I believe they can prescribe some things in Washington State.

  28. scottg416 says:

    The Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council (HPRAC) in Ontario recently recommended to the Ontario Minister of Health that naturopaths be given the authorization to prescribe, dispense, compound and sell the following:

    – “bioidentical” hormones (estrogens, progesterone, pregnenolone, DHEA, testosterone)
    – dessicated thyroid
    – calcitonin
    – melatonin
    – antilipemic agents
    – amino acids
    – animal “glandular extracts” (pituatary, thyroid, adrenal, spleen, liver)
    – vitamins and minerals (Rx doses)
    – 13 antibiotics (including aminoglycosides like gentamicin)
    – 11 antifungals (including fluconazole, metronidazole)
    – acyclovir
    – some NSAIDs
    – a number of topical agents

    The full report may be accessed here:

    The section on naturopathy starts on page 249.

    Please provide any comments to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, the Honourable David Caplan at:

    The Honourable David Caplan
    Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
    Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
    56 Wellesley Street West, 12th Floor
    Toronto ON M5S 2S3


    ***Feedback on this proposal will be accepted until Saturday, February 28, 2009***

    Please consider providing the Minister with your perspective on naturopathy and naturopath prescribing privileges.

  29. Fifi says:

    I find the whole idea of MORE people prescribing antibiotics preposterous – particularly ones who aren’t doctors, who believe in make-believe biology and who don’t have a good track history of being able to say “no” to insistent patients (and who sell what they “prescribe”). Canada’s already got enough problems with staff infections and superbugs in hospitals! This seems like a way to try to pretend there isn’t a doctor shortage to me (though there’s undoubtedly other political pressures at work too).

    Seriously, they should just sell all these things over the counter if they’re going to go that route rather than creating pretend doctors.

  30. @medstudt,

    The scariest example of naturopaths being allowed to prescribe or administer drugs is found in Oregon, where the naturopathic formulary includes numerous, dangerous drugs. Lithium??? Enalapril??? Steroids??? Colchicine??? Epinephrine??? Fentanyl??? Insulin??? Oral hypoglycemics??? Virtually every antibiotic??? Na2EDTA??? Etc. Whatever happened to “natural”?

    Giving naturopaths access to such drugs, as I’ve previously written, is like giving small children matches and newspapers to play with, except that it isn’t themselves who are at risk. Naturopaths have killed 4 patients in Oregon and Washington in the past few years with such drugs (that I’m aware of), as described in Cases I and VI-VIII here.

    Of course licensed NDs also practice the “drugless cure” in those states, as exemplified by Case II in that post. That must be what is meant by “integrative.”


  31. LindaRosaRN says:

    This bill can be killed — I mean “sure thing killed” — if we can show that the bill will cost the state anything. Even the naturopaths believe this.

    The fiscal note for this bill just came out, and it acknowledges that insurance for state employees would cover naturopathic “care” if the bill passes.

    But the fiscal note also claims that this does not translate as increased healthcare costs for the state. It assumes, wrongly, that people go either entirely with naturopathy or entirely with medicine — i.e. never both for the same problem.

    We can try to discredit the fiscal note with evidence, such as the 2004 NCCAM study that reports “55 percent of adults said they were most likely to use CAM because they believed that it would help them *when combined* with conventional medical treatments…”

    I am also trying to find the Hawaii study that showed covering naturopathy for state employees cost a bomb.

    Am I missing something?

    By the way, that NCCAM loan repayment program is an outrage!

  32. Joe says:

    David Gorski on 21 Feb 2009 at 9:47 am “This week we’ll take a break from lambasting the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, as worthy as that task is…

    Indeed it is a worthy task.

    One other state that needs a spanking is Arizona. Look what homeopaths are allowed to do.

    Truly, Arizona is a quackery paradise.”

    I’ll see your Arizona, and raise you Nevada see item 3.

  33. Ex-drone says:

    Minor linking problem. In the article, the link embedded for Science-Based Pharmacy is:

    and should just be:

  34. Fifi says:

    I find it very, very odd that Oregon has allowed NDs to prescribe a drug as powerful as lithium. Exactly when did people who believe in imaginary biology become qualified to discern whether someone else was engaged in reality based thinking or having a manic episode?!? And why lithium but not prozac if Oregon considers NDs to be mental health experts qualified to diagnose and treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia? Since they tend to be anti-anti-psychotic drugs due to naturopathy’s links to Scientology via Big Supp, it seems doubly weird that they’d want to have access to such powerful drugs. How does this happen?

  35. Dr Benway says:

    They use tinier doses of lithium than real docs.

  36. Fifi says:

    Dr Benway – No doubt! Fairy doses measured on pin heads perhaps? That does nothing to change the fact that the lunatics have taken over the asylum! ;-) Or are attempting to take it over… Seriously, it’s like saying a priest who does exorcisms is qualified to make psychiatric diagnoses and prescribe medication to cure something he doesn’t believe in (meaning since he believes schizophrenic delusions/psychosis are really diabolic possession – not delusions at all but reality – then clearly prescribing anti-psychotic medication would be contradictory…just like a ND prescribing lithium is weird since they buy into many common schizophrenic delusions about “energy” and biology as being reality…not a personal subjective reality but objective material reality that exists even when we’re not perceiving it).

Comments are closed.