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Naturopaths push for licensing in Massachusetts (again)

I have some good news and some bad news about a Massachusetts naturopathy practitioner licensing bill.

First the bad news: the bill passed both the Massachusetts House and Senate in December of last year.

Now, I am certainly no expert in the arcane workings of the Massachusetts legislature, but after doing a bit of research I’ve come to wonder if the way the bill passed was entirely above board. I’ll spare you most of the details, but here’s what I found out. See if you don’t agree with me that the whole thing smells a bit fishy.

What’s that smell?

(Please feel free to skip this part and move on to the good news section if you care only about what happened, but not how it happened.)

According to the Massachusetts Bar Association’s explanation of the legislative process, all legislative business of the 2011-2012 session had to be finished by July 31, 2012. The Senate passed a naturopathy licensing bill before the deadline.  The Senate bill then went to the House for consideration. (In Massachusetts, they call it “registration,” but I am going to call it “licensing” because it is that is what most states would call it.) As of July 31, the House had amended the Senate’s version of the bill and had proceeded in its deliberations to a point two steps shy of passage. Had the House had enough time to complete this process and the bill had passed, the Senate would have to consider the bill again because of the House’s amendment. Thus, as of July 31, the bill, in its final form, had not been passed in either the House or the Senate. By law, neither legislative branch could meet again in formal session and the bill was dead. Or so we all thought. In fact, the Massachusetts Medical Society reported that the bill did not pass on its website.

Although prohibited from meeting in formal session after July 31, the House and Senate can meet in informal session until December 31. According to the Massachusetts Secretary of State, these informal sessions are designed for consideration of “non-controversial” matters only. Under the Senate’s Rules,

In the case of an informal session, only reports of committees and matters not giving rise to formal motion or debate shall be considered.

(Emphasis in original.) The House has a similar rule.

But a very odd thing happened on December 27. The House, in an informal session, went through the next-to-the-last step required to pass its amended version of the bill. On December 31, the House actually enacted the naturopathy licensing legislation, again in informal session. Also on December 31, the Senate took up and concurred in the House’s amendment to the bill and enacted it, both done in informal session.

I don’t know what the Massachusetts legislature’s definition of “non-controversial” is, but apparently it does not include a matter that has been taken up and defeated in 11 previous legislative sessions, thanks in no small part to the efforts of our own Kimball Atwood. M.D., whose fight against licensing is chronicled on SBM. If this is “non-controversial,” I’d like to see what might fit their definition of “controversial.”

By law, debate on the bill was possible at any of these four events taking place at the end of December. Presumably, had debate actually occurred (which, remember, is forbidden in an informal session) those who opposed the bill could have convinced others not to vote in favor of it and it could have been defeated. And I have to wonder whether a quorum was present at any of these sessions, occurring as they did two days after Christmas and on New Year’s Eve.

Like I said, a bit fishy.

And now for the good news

Fortunately, this ploy didn’t work. Gov. Deval Patrick had the good sense to veto the legislation. But the naturopaths will be back. They always are.

It is worth a look at the failed legislation because it demonstrates a typical naturopathic licensing bill in what many people would likely consider its most benign form because it purports to limit their scope of practice in several ways I describe below.  But, as we shall soon see, there is still plenty of room for mischief.

First, by way of background, a little bit about the two types of naturopaths. Traditional naturopaths (those without “N.D.” degrees) usually do not operate under the pretense that they practice medicine or can diagnose or treat disease. Some states allow them to do their thing and some don’t. Whether they should be allowed to practice at all is a subject for another day.

The naturopaths pushing for state licensing are those with “naturopathic doctor” degrees. By falling for the unproven assertion that having a “doctorate” in “naturopathic medicine” affords N.D.s the education and training to operate as real doctors, N.D. licensing bills give N.D.s a broad scope of practice. Some states, such as Oregon, permit N.D.s to practice as primary care physicians. (PCPs) Other states permit them a more limited scope of practice. Practice as PCPs is their goal in all 50 states, but they will take what they can get and later return for more. Requiring an N.D. degree prevents traditional naturopaths from practicing at all, which makes for an interesting turf war between the two groups. A big incentive for licensing in more states is the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits insurer discrimination against any licensed health care provider.

Under the Massachusetts bill, N.D.s can’t refer to themselves as “physicians” or claim to provide “primary care,” although I imagine those distinctions are lost on a majority of the public. It also includes the usual requirements of a degree from an accredited naturopathic school, passing a licensing exam, continuing education, and a board to oversee the practice of naturopathy, all false assurances of public protection. As Edzard Ernst, M.D., says, “the most meticulous regulation of nonsense must still result in nonsense.”

In an apparent attempt to address naturopathic opposition to vaccination, the Massachusetts bill requires:

mandatory tracking and documentation of the immunization status of a patient under 18 . . . and the required referral of such patients to a primary care or collaborative care physician where evidence exists that the individual has not been immunized.

You would think the necessity of this sort of language would raise a big red flag in the minds of legislators. After all, wouldn’t a thinking person wonder why a group wanting to be licensed as “doctors” would oppose one of the most successful public health measures of all time? Wouldn’t opposition to vaccination of children and the avoidance of vaccine-preventable disease imply a certain deficiency in the education and training of a health care provider? And wouldn’t that raise the further thought: “I wonder what else about the prevention and treatment of disease does this person not understand”?

Apparently not.

The bill prohibits naturopaths from prescribing, dispensing or administering drugs, which prevents their using some of their favorite treatments, such as IV vitamins and minerals and chelation therapy. While we’re on this subject let’s take a brief look at the unfortunate results of allowing naturopaths the privilege of giving IV infusions.

IV nutrient bags: a brief digression

In Arizona, licensed naturopathic doctors, who must have a degree from a naturopathic college, can administer intravenous nutrients, vitamins and minerals. (They can also prescribe and administer some drugs.) Last week, the Phoenix CBS affiliate ran a story about a naturopathic doctor, Carol Spooner, who is offering IV “nutrient bags” of vitamins and minerals for flu prevention. Because these nutrients go straight to the bloodstream the benefits are almost immediate, according to the story. Spooner explains that

These vitamins and minerals are the hammers and nails the body understands to put back, put itself back together again. . . For anybody, regardless of whether they’ve had flu shots or not, these IV nutrients work very well.

At a hefty price too. The nutrient bags are $100 to $200 a pop and take up to an hour to administer. Spooner says that one bag carries a healthy person through the flu season while “others may need a few more.”

Remember, folks, these are the people who want to be licensed as primary care physicians in all 50 states, according to the National Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

Back to Massachusetts

Despite attempts to limit naturopathic practice and make them toe the line on vaccinations, this bill nevertheless buys into pseudoscientific concepts and unproven treatments typical of naturopaths. Unfortunately, the bill also gives naturopaths plenty of opportunity to employ them even though the pretense that they are PCPs has been taken away.

The purpose of “naturopathic health care” is, according to the bill,

to support, stimulate or supplement the human body’s own natural self-healing processes.

Having accepted the pleasant-sounding but essentially meaningless concept that the body has a “natural self-healing process” which requires support, stimulation or supplementation, the bill fastens onto the equally nonsensical corollary that there are means available to accomplish this very task and that naturopaths are just the persons to provide them. How? Through “the use of education, nutrition, natural medicines and therapies and other modalities.”

I don’t know about you, but “other modalities” seems disconcertingly unlimited to me. This unbridled discretion is reinforced by a definition of “naturopathic health care” that “include[s]” but is not “limited to:”

dispensing, administering, ordering and prescribing natural medicines of mineral, animal or botanical origin, including food products or extracts, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, digestive aids, natural hormones, plant substances, homeopathic preparations, natural antibiotics and topical medicines and nonprescription drugs, therapeutic devices and barrier contraceptives to prevent or treat illnesses, injuries and conditions of the human body [and] the use of manual mechanical manipulation of body structures or tissues [and] the use of naturopathic physical medicine to restore normal physiological functioning the human body.

So, if it comes from a plant, an animal or a mineral and it’s not a prescription drug, with manipulation and physical medicine thrown in for good measure, it’s o.k. Effectiveness and safety be damned.

The bill defines “naturopathic health care” as:

a system of health care practices for the prevention, evaluation and treatment of illnesses, injuries and conditions of the human body . . . .

Thus, while the means N.D.s can use may be curtailed in this bill, the ability to diagnose and treat any condition or disease is not. The danger here is that their education and training is nothing like that of an M.D. primary care physician and does not prepare them for the wide range of undifferentiated symptoms they will encounter in the population of patients they will see. For one thing, M.D. primary care physicians spend at least three years after graduation caring for patients with a variety of illnesses, some of them gravely ill, supervised and in a hospital setting. N.D.s do not. They may very well be prevented from claiming they practice primary care medicine or calling themselves a physician. This does nothing to prevent patients with conditions N.D.s have no business diagnosing and treating from coming to see them.

This illusion of diagnostic ability is furthered by a provision in the bill including in “the practice of naturopathic health care”:

the use of physical examinations and the ordering of clinical, laboratory and radiological diagnostic procedures from licensed clinics or laboratories to evaluate injuries, illnesses and conditions in the human body.

I will leave it to others to evaluate naturopaths’ level of understanding of conventional lab tests and x-rays. But it is worth noting that the Textbook of Natural Medicine (2013), the foundational text of naturopathic education and practice, has an entire section (Section 2) titled “Supplementary Diagnostic Procedures.” I take “supplementary” to mean “not used in convential medicine, at least not in this way.” The twenty-two chapters include several tests for detection of the ubiquitous “toxins” naturopaths believe are causing ill health in us all. Other tests address “functional nutritional analysis,” a standard of “functional medicine,” and “immune function assessment,” because, as we know, naturopathy is all about “boosting the immune system,” another fuzzy and essentially meaningless term they use.  In addition to being unnecessary themselves, the results of these tests can lead to all sorts of unnecessary treatments, such as vitamins, minerals and “detoxification.”

Naturopathic treatments

I’ve already mentioned nutrient bags for flu prevention. While the Massachusetts bill would not allow IV administration of vitamins, minerals and such, there is, as I said, plenty of opportunity for mischief. Let’s look at just a couple of the nonsensical and potentially dangerous treatments currently being used by naturopaths, both of which would have been within their scope of practice had this legislation not been vetoed by Gov. Patrick.

Fresh from the website of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, in honor of Cervical Health Awareness Month, is this advice on “Management of Cervical Dysplasia and Human Papillomavirus.” The article starts innocently enough with standard advice on the subject from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and another medical group. It then goes off the rails with advice on “natural” treatment of HPV and cervical dysplasia. Interestingly, while it discusses prevention, the article wholly fails to mention the HPV vaccine.

Here I’ll focus on just two of the treatments promoted in this article. In addition to recommendations citing evidence for other treatments which no responsible physician would regard as sufficient, “green tea suppositories” are touted as “effective for cervical dysplasia and HPV.” And the evidence? One study. As the article itself admits, this study used two chemical components of green tea, not green tea suppositories, and looked at its effect on cells. Not humans, cells in a laboratory. Nevertheless green tea suppositories are “effective for cervical dysplasia and HPV.”

Another recommended treatment: vaginal depletion packs. These packs are made up of vitamins, minerals and several oils derived from plants. The evidence of their effectiveness for “mild dysplasia and/or high risk HPV,” their intended use? None cited. However, they “have been used since the 1800s,” which is, of course, an excellent reason to continue their use despite not having any evidence of safety or effectiveness. Another reason is that some of the ingredients are “effective against many microbial pathogens.” Not necessarily these microbial pathogens, but “many.”

The article ends with this observation:

Critics of natural medicine say there is no published evidence that these options work or are backed in [sic] science. There are several recent published articles explaining the science and patient outcomes. One can be found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19679625.

One? Where are the others? In any event, if you click on the reference you find a single case study. As all regular SBM readers know, a case study is an anecdote, a single report about a single patient. It is not evidence of anything and it certainly doesn’t support the notion that “these options work or are backed in science.”

“Backed in science”?

As I have mentioned before, I have absolutely no training in science. I took one biology and one general science course in high school. I took geology in college. That’s it. Yet I can figure out that the naturopathic treatment recommendations in this article don’t have sufficient evidence of safety and effectiveness. Why can’t they?

Whether naturopaths are already licensed in your state or it’s just a possibility, your state legislators need to know the facts about naturopathic practice. They won’t unless you take the time to tell them.

Posted in: Legal, Naturopathy, Politics and Regulation

Leave a Comment (73) ↓

73 thoughts on “Naturopaths push for licensing in Massachusetts (again)

  1. daijiyobu says:

    ND Cronin of the AANP has a recent blog entry about this loss

    [see http://physicianswholisten.blogspot.com/2013/01/massachusetts-law-falls-short.html ]

    whereby he musters the wounded troops of Massachusetts naturopathy, the “noble profession”, stating:

    “I send the highest kudos to our ND brothers and sisters in Massachusetts. May you heal your wounds and come out fighting.”

    He also states: “I appreciate those who forward our medicine by serving on specialty societies such as HANP, OncANP, PedANP, AANM, INGM, NAEM, NMSA, NP-GA, AANMC, SpiritMed, and IV Micronutrient Therapy.”

    I’d like to buy a vowel, Pat.

    -r.c.

  2. NYUDDS says:

    The Mass Medical Society has been diligent in its opposition to licensing naturopaths for the past 15 years that I am aware of. This year, those of us not directly involved in the process were stunned to find out that the bill was on the governor’s desk! The least an opponent could do was to call/email Senator Pacheco, which probably was useless (I did it anyway.) Massachusetts has a unique law in its Constitution, Section XIX, written by John Adams, called the ” Right of Free Petition.” That means anyone can submit a bill to the legislature, starting its journey toward becoming Massachusetts law, and it must be heard before committee if the petitioner wishes to testify before committee.
    The last hope was Governor Deval Patrick, a progressive Democrat who has previously been seriously involved in education, research and biotech/life sciences funding, to the tune of billions of dollars. I can only guess that many of us used his “comments” website to get our objections before him prior to his consideration of the bill. Jann notes that the vetoed it. Kudos to our Governor.
    DAIJIYOBU notes the admonition to “…come out fighting” next session. Do not make the mistake of labeling this as grandiose posturing. As Arnold said, ‘they will be back.’ I am sure the Mass Medical Society will exercise due diligence to again defeat this bill, but it is also time for the rest of us to get involved. Maybe it wasn’t the end of the world, but we were close enough to the edge to see it. Most senators and reps have local fund-raisers during the off-election year; it’s a good opportunity to meet, help and get to know them as your neighbors and friends. Jann’s last paragraph is a timely warning.

  3. XSkeptic says:

    Terrific news. Once regulated, the overseeing body can address the issues of safety and effectiveness.

  4. Jann Bellamy says:

    @ XSkeptic

    “Terrific news. Once regulated, the overseeing body can address the issues of safety and effectiveness.”

    Your comments seem to contradict each other, so I assume the statement about an “overseeing body” being able to address safety and effectiveness is either sarcastic or terribly misinformed. If you mean that a Board of Naturopathy might address issues of safety and effectiveness in states where naturopaths are licensed, that is simply not ture. Naturopaths are in the majority on such Boards. Since they all believe in the same basic principles and practice the same way there is no reason to believe that a Board would impose any standards of safety and effectiveness on naturopaths. For example, 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 where she soon died. If the naturopath had taken her across the street to an emergency room, Megan most certainly would have survived. Messer is a licensed naturopath in Arizona and Washington; Naturopath boards in both those states cleared Messer of all charges of incompetence, perhaps because she was engaged in common naturopathic practice – practice considered grossly incompetent by medical standards. The parents won a civil suit against the ND. (“Death by NATURAL Causes,” Seattle Weekly, June 8, 2005)

  5. Sialis says:

    @ XSkeptic

    “Terrific news. Once regulated, the overseeing body can address the issues of safety and effectiveness.”

    The naturopaths should be required to evidence the safety and effectiveness of their treatments before going into practice and treating patients. It seems that they are putting the cart before the horse.

  6. XSkeptic says:

    Help me to understand: all posts that I’ve seen here are AGAINST something or somebody. Is there anything that Science-Based Medicine blog is FOR?

  7. DevoutCatalyst says:

    Reality.

  8. XSkeptic says:

    @Devout

    Yeah, reality, eh? You, guys, sound like that old uncle who always shows up at family dinners, but who nobody wants to sit next to, because all he does is bitching and moaning.

  9. Harriet Hall says:

    “Is there anything that Science-Based Medicine blog is FOR?”

    Science, reason, and critical thinking.
    Medicine based on evidence and plausibility.

  10. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Criticism is a valid, indeed vital part of the scientific process. Without criticism, nothing improves. Though a diverse arragement of bloggers, I would guess they are “for” a variety of things:

    - honest discussions with patients
    - practitioner education
    - patient education (it is a blog written at a layperson’s level, naturally)
    - evidence-based informed decision making
    - a greater appreciation for prior probability when making research and treatment decisions
    - greater self-criticism and acknowledgement of flaws within the SCAM community
    – sub to that, some evidence that the SCAM community alters practice in the face of evidence
    - improved regulation of dietary supplements and related unproven pseudodrugs
    - improved transparency in the research and approval of new drugs
    - greater understanding of science in general
    - higher rates of vaccination

    And of course, overall, improved health of individuals.

    I would question your assessment, both in logic and in accuracy. The idea that criticism is a bad thing seems rather naive and utopian, certainly the SCAM industry shows no evidence of self-policing or learning from its mistakes or misapprehensions. Further, have you read many of the posts found on this blog? I can think of a couple that were specifically praising and others that offered concrete solutions. Dr. Hall’s book reviews are generally endorsements of the books (to the point that I have a hard time making my reading list shrink, so many does she recommend). Recently Dr. Novella had a post discussing recent innovations in brain-machine interfaces that discussed a promising technology.

    And of course, if you find the website too challenging to your optimism or simply disagreeable to your preconceptions about SCAMs, medicine and health, you are free to not read it. All you have to do is open any newspaper to the science and health section and you will be bombarded with positive stories about various research findings. Of course, as this website shows they are generally wrong. But if it’s positive tone you are looking for rather than meaningful content, the conventional news sources are a great place to go for unrealistically positive research findings. May I suggest the Huffington Post? Though, be forewarned, they are kinda crap for health news. Perhaps Dr. Oz, with his five-miracles-a-week approach? Though of course, like all miracles, they’re also questionable. If you want happy (rather than accurate) information, you have a multitude of sources, but that doesn’t make reality any less indifferent to your presence or desires.

    For me, I parse the question as “why can’t SBM be nice?” And again for me the answer is “being nice doesn’t cure cancer and sometimes can kill”.

  11. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Yeah, reality, eh? You, guys, sound like that old uncle who always shows up at family dinners, but who nobody wants to sit next to, because all he does is bitching and moaning.

    It seems like you already know the answer then. Unlike your family dinners, nobody is forcing you to spend time here.

  12. DevoutCatalyst says:

    Were that true, wouldn’t that make you his enantiomorph?

  13. The Dave says:

    “you, guys, sound like that old uncle who always shows up at family dinners, but who nobody wants to sit next to, because all he does is bitching and moaning.”

    Then why do you keep coming back and striking up conversation with us?

    You make comments like: “Terrific news. Once regulated, the overseeing body can address the issues of safety and effectiveness.”

    which shows you either didn’t read the post, didn’t understand the post if you did read it, or both read and understood, but are simply trying to incite an argument, for arguments sake. Is that how you treat your crazy uncle at family dinners?

  14. mousethatroared says:

    Well, I suppose that XSkeptic has a point in that a great deal of the focus on this blog is along the realm of “What not to do.” I wouldn’t mind a post on “Here’s something that SBM or EBM accomplished and how it was done.” more often. I think that Mark Chrislip wrote a post awhile back on the process that his hospital went through to lower a particular kind of infection that I found very informative and inspirational.

    On the other hand, I do think that we in The U.S. focus to often on being positive. A process or product can’t get improved, refined or perfected if people are unwilling to look for the flaws in that process or product.

  15. XSkeptic says:

    @Harriet

    That’s nice and dandy, but it assumes that the established (science-based) medical community knows everything and is so flawless in everything it does. Here are a few examples where it didn’t and it doesn’t:

    1) For decades, the medical community had a neutral position on tobacco whereas it was plain obvious that it was bad if used as intended.

    2) Even now, its stance on marijuana is not unambiguous. Well, as any patient who used it can tell you: it’s natural, cheap and effective. Meanwhile the “science-based” community is still trying to figure it out and to come up with “clinical trials” and “studies” and blah-blah-blah.

    I am all for science, reason and critical thinking, but it helps to look outside of the box sometimes. There is plenty of evidence, just need to know where to look and what you are looking for.

    Cheers!

  16. Harriet Hall says:

    “it assumes that the established (science-based) medical community knows everything and is so flawless in everything it does.”

    Straw man. It absolutely does not assume any such thing!

  17. mousethatroared says:

    Just an off-topic aside, with flu season raging away, I can’t believe there hasn’t been a “Remedies that don’t work for the flu” article . I am missing getting to bemoan my illness and read about other commentor’s various sensible comfort measures.

  18. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    Mouse,

    As an aside, Mikey Adams had a piece yesterday on “how to prevent the flu and how to cure the flu naturally,” written by a homeopath. Alongside chicken soup, the piece mentioned dropping some sugar pills (he specified which particular homeoquackic products to use) in water and then breathing in the vapours of the dissolving pill. This takes homeopathic dilutions to new levels–now you can just breathe in the aroma of a sugar pill and it “works.”

    The piece also included some more common nonsense like spraying collodial silver down your throat and alkalizing because “flu germs can’t live in an alkaline environment.”

    Anyway, here is a list of 200 people who died at the hands of naturopaths. One worked a few blocks from where I am typing this. A local hippie-dippie health food store near me was advertising for an in-store naturopath recently and I sent them this link and told them I’d never spend another cent there if they hired a naturopath. They did anyway.

    http://www.whatstheharm.net/naturopathy.html

  19. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    Sorry, 200 people who were harmed by naturopaths. Some did died, but that was my mistake.

  20. rosemary says:

    Well X speaking for myself I’m for evidence-based medicine, EBM, the kind in which the drugs and therapies employed are supported by a solid body of consistently reproducible evidence indicating that the benefits of their use outweigh the risks.

    I don’t ever remember hearing anyone who supports EBM say that it is flawless. On the contrary, that is exactly what I constantly hear those who support “natural” medicine say about their belief-based system of medicine.

    What really helps is looking inside the box, inside the box of naturopathy, which I’ve done extensively. Here is a little summary:
    http://rosemaryjacobs.com/naturopaths.html

    After extensive effort on my part and that of my friend pictured on the above link, the VT ND regulating board issued a memorandum removing “colloidal silver”, silver, cobalt, nickel and tin from the state sanctioned naturopathic formulary. It took 2 years of intense lobbying on my part to get them to do this even though using silver as a drug is illegal under federal drug law.

    Regarding silver, the NDs are about 50 years behind MDs in realizing that silver is a heavy metal toxin that should never be taken internally and not the “natural” drug they assumed it was.

    http://rosemaryjacobs.com
    http://rosemary-jacobs.blogspot.com

  21. XSkeptic says:

    @Marc

    200??? OMG! Now, let’s compare it with those thousands upon thousands who die annually at the hands of science-based, board-certified, fancy degree and title possessing MDs, shall we? And, no, I am not talking about the illness complications or natural disease development, etc. I am referring to negligence, malpractice and simple mistakes, like washing hands.

    Again, I am all for proven, science-based, etc. However, there are plenty of things out there that science still can’t explain with proven methods and scientific tools, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist or that consenting informed adults shouldn’t try. Just my humble opinion.

  22. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    Did you read what some of those lunatic naturopaths did? They have warped ideas about disease, medicine and germs. You can’t cure cancer with herbs or diet. Period.

  23. XSkeptic says:

    @Marc

    I am sure that some of them are pretty crazy, while others are pretty reasonable. Again, it’s up to an individual to decide what to do, not you, not me, not a nanny state institution.

    In terms of curing cancer with herbs or diet: I personally know several individuals who have been able to control their cancers with just that. Three have/had prostate cancer, one – pancreatic. One with the prostate cancer exhausted the traditional options, the two others never tried anything. The one with PC decided against using the traditional options and has been able to keep it from growing for over two years now.

    I am sure this is not going to convince you and I am not trying to. But my point is that I was a skeptic all my life until I saw something that convinced me that it’s not all black and white all the time.

  24. Chris says:

    Sialis:

    The naturopaths should be required to evidence the safety and effectiveness of their treatments before going into practice and treating patients.

    One way would be to make them pass the same test required of medical doctors: http://www.usmle.org/

    XSkeptic:

    1) For decades, the medical community had a neutral position on tobacco whereas it was plain obvious that it was bad if used as intended.

    Which decades were those? Tobacco causing cancer has been known since the late 19th century (mouth/throat cancers), and definitely as a cause of lung cancer after WWII.

    Were you confusing the real medical profession with the ads put out by the tobacco companies? See The price paid: Manipulation of otolaryngologists by the tobacco industry to obfuscate the emerging truth that smoking causes cancer.

  25. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    That’s nice and dandy, but it assumes that the established (science-based) medical community knows everything and is so flawless in everything it does. Here are a few examples where it didn’t and it doesn’t:

    1) For decades, the medical community had a neutral position on tobacco whereas it was plain obvious that it was bad if used as intended.

    The point is, it did change its mind (like, 40 years ago; perhaps you’d like to update your example). You can’t really compare what we know 40 years ago to today (at that point I’m not sure if they even knew the structure of DNA; no epigenetics; no human genome product; no meta-analyses; no gene therapy). Meanwhile, naturopaths are basing their decisions on mutually contradictory models that are anywhere from hundreds (homeopathy) to thousands (Traditional Chinese medicine) years old, despite no real evidence base proving they work. Pointing out and criticizing the discipline for these facts is rather important.

    2) Even now, its stance on marijuana is not unambiguous. Well, as any patient who used it can tell you: it’s natural, cheap and effective. Meanwhile the “science-based” community is still trying to figure it out and to come up with “clinical trials” and “studies” and blah-blah-blah.

    This ignores the fact that the real opposition to marijauana is political. Yes, we’ve known that compounds in marijuana have medical potential – in fact they have been proven effective for both glaucoma and nausea. Perhaps you’d like to write to your congressional representative to delegalize it (which would have a bonus effect of saving billions in criminal justice costs). If doctors were responsible for decisions like this, chances are better decisions would be made – for instance, no reimbursement for diagnoses that are based on vitalistic principles.

    I am all for science, reason and critical thinking, but it helps to look outside of the box sometimes. There is plenty of evidence, just need to know where to look and what you are looking for.

    It doesn’t sound like you really know what science is, certainly you’ve failed to separate it from the political process. This blog is an example of the failures of science, reason and critical thinking on the parts of SCAM practitioners. Their discipline is fundamentally based on unproven claims. Claimst that, if Big Pharma tried to make, would get them torn apart – but SCAMmers get to make them because they wrap it in “natural” and “ancient wisdom”, which is nonsense. Something that worked effectively 2000 years ago can be tested today. The fact that most do not pass such tests and are still used indicates you are aiming your criticisms in the wrong direction.

    200??? OMG! Now, let’s compare it with those thousands upon thousands who die annually at the hands of science-based, board-certified, fancy degree and title possessing MDs, shall we? And, no, I am not talking about the illness complications or natural disease development, etc. I am referring to negligence, malpractice and simple mistakes, like washing hands.

    Again, I am all for proven, science-based, etc. However, there are plenty of things out there that science still can’t explain with proven methods and scientific tools, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist or that consenting informed adults shouldn’t try. Just my humble opinion.

    …and thus is it revealed that you don’t know what you are talking about. Naturopaths generally deal with the worried well – no serious illnesses, just vague complaints. When they try to undertake treatment for serious diseases they either waste money for no benefit (if used as “complementary” to medicine) or kill their patient through inaction (if used as “alternative” to medicine). Do you have any figures that compare doctors to naturopaths in terms of malpractice, negligence and handwashing on a “per patient” basis? Make sure you stratify by disease, naturopaths generally don’t treat people with cancer. Not that you can accuse a naturopath of negligence since they have no standard of care. If you’re “all for proven, science-based” stuff, I’m surprised you’re critical of this blogs criticisms of naturopathy since nothing in naturopathy is proven (beyond bait-and-switch things like diet and exercise that a real doctor will recommend).

    Just because science can’t explain something doesn’t mean that an alternative proposed explanation is automatically right (see “false dilemma”). It certainly doesn’t mean homeopathy works. As always, Dara O’Briain’s commentary is instructive.

  26. XSkeptic says:

    @Chris

    I was referring to the official position of the American Medical Association.

  27. weing says:

    “Now, let’s compare it with those thousands upon thousands who die annually at the hands of science-based, board-certified, fancy degree and title possessing MDs, shall we? And, no, I am not talking about the illness complications or natural disease development, etc. I am referring to negligence, malpractice and simple mistakes, like washing hands.”
    Are you saying science-based MDs are against washing hands and diligence? Unfortunately, we are not immune from making mistakes but we are doing out best to minimize them. I also don’t consider washing hands a mistake. I think you meant not washing hands. That would be negligence. You do have the numbers that died because of errors? Did you divide them by the numbers saved?

    “Again, I am all for proven, science-based, etc. However, there are plenty of things out there that science still can’t explain with proven methods and scientific tools, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist or that consenting informed adults shouldn’t try. ”

    Care to give some examples? Anyway, I don’t think science-based means what you think it does.

  28. Chris says:

    XSkeptic:

    I was referring to the official position of the American Medical Association.

    Citation needed.

  29. XSkeptic says:

    @All

    Missing the point. I am NOT trying to use science to disprove your critique or prove mine. What I disagree with is that unless it is science-approved (with a blessing from a related political institution) it is not worth trying. Plenty of people try all kinds of stuff that is illegal, dubious or frowned upon. I believe that unless they hurt someone who is not capable of making decisions for themselves, it it their own right and business.

  30. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    I was referring to the official position of the American Medical Association.

    …40 years ago. Can you find any current statements by the AMA that says “smoking is good for you, fire ‘em up!” because if so, I would suggest you have a pretty good class action lawsuit on your hands.

    Meanwhile, naturopathy still trains and employs people on homeopathy (discredited with the discovery of Avagadro’s number, not to mention having no real reason for it to be expected in the first place) and TCM including acupuncture (prescientific, with no reason to expect it to be effective in the first place).

    Although they have, for the most part, abandonned bloodletting which is a form of progress I suppose. Though I bet you a shiny dollar it’ll come back when someone points out TCM practitioners still use it. Hooray. Should we praise nautropathy for endorsing diet and exercise, or is it more meaningful to note that these interventions are not “complementary” or “alternative”, they’re solidly mainstream. Please, point out something positive that naturopaths should be praised for that real medicine didn’t come up with first.

  31. mousethatroared says:

    @Marc – Yesterday, I was dissolving sugar in water as a cough comfort measure…I also included a large quantity of chopped ginger and simmered for a couple of hours. Then I took the ginger syrup and added it to some lime, crushed mint and Tanqueray. Okay, so maybe it didn’t help the cough a tremendous amount, but it was soothing and I didn’t mind having a cough as much. :)

    @XSceptic – I’m sorry to be abrasive – but you are coming across as kinda unhinged. I do fully support someone’s right to make their own health choices (within reason), based on their own priorities and beliefs, but expecting people to pretend that we all don’t know what a poor health decision it is to attempt to treat progressive, fatal and treatable forms of cancer with unproven and unlikely methods such as “herb”* and diet, well that’s just not going to happen.

    Go ahead and be the Emperor, but it’s not reasonable to expect folks to not mention your questionable wardrobe choice.

    *well “herbs” is kinda hard to define, aren’t some chemotherapies based on rainforest “herbs”? so I’ll leave that.

  32. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Missing the point. I am NOT trying to use science to disprove your critique or prove mine. What I disagree with is that unless it is science-approved (with a blessing from a related political institution) it is not worth trying. Plenty of people try all kinds of stuff that is illegal, dubious or frowned upon. I believe that unless they hurt someone who is not capable of making decisions for themselves, it it their own right and business.

    Ah, health freedom. Sure, that’d be great if it weren’t for the way SCAMs are packaged in antirational, antimedicine, antiscientific rhetoric that is corrosive to critical thinking and predicated mostly on criticizing mainstream medicine – making your opening comment rather ironic. Your comment ignores the fact that these approaches may have consequences (that can for the most part be predicted, knowing what we do of chemical structures and the human body), may delay treatment, or waste significant resources. Even if one of the SCAM approaches were effective, by failing to test it in a meaningful way you are keeping that treatment out of the hands of millions, possibly billions of people.

    Not to mention people have died, both adults and children, from CAM. To start with, Gloria Sam and Abubakar Tariq Nadama from neglecting to treat a condition and actively trying to treat another condition respectively. Trying things without testing does hurt people, SCAM patients are lucky the treatments are mostly inert because if they had active components it could cause serious harm. No monitoring, no safety testing and often theories about the body that bear no relation to its actual functioning. And the act of not treating can hurt other people, perhaps you’ve heard of the pertussis outbreaks caused in part by parents failing to vaccinate their children? The consequences, including deaths, most frequently impact children and in some cases children that can’t be vaccinated due to age or immunological status. Then there’s the outbreak of (measles?) in Montreal that was linked to Jewish traditional learning schools where vaccinated children caught (measles?) because they were sitting so close to unvaccinated, actively sick partners who were breathing on their faces all day. Can’t remember the details or find the link on that one.

    Health is a collective problem, and people who cry “health freedom” are not just putting their health at stake, they affect others as well. Real experts, actual doctors, are not morons and collectively do an excellent job of helping each generation live a little longer than the last. Naturopaths do nothing to help with this laudable goal, they are parasitic on it and pointing this out by venturing justified criticism is a valuable public service that this blog provides.

  33. weing says:

    “2) Even now, its stance on marijuana is not unambiguous. Well, as any patient who used it can tell you: it’s natural, cheap and effective. ”

    Isn’t that what they said about cigarettes? Effective for what? Improving appetite, lowering risk of heart attacks, impotence, warts, anxiety, pneumonia? How the hell are you supposed to know without doing efficacy and safety studies?

  34. XSkeptic says:

    @mouse

    Whatever you think, again, I am not trying to convince you of anything. I don’t mind abrasive or unhinged for that matter. To return the favor: the crowd here comes across as narrow-minded and so full of themselves :-) I don’t try to be anything and anybody, it looks like there are plenty of science-based and fairy-tale loving folks here. And your last sentence: isn’t it a somewhat proof of my point? The joke is on you, dude, if some “herbs” used by some unscientific barbarians who used it for centuries, does indeed work.

    Cheers! Have another one of those self-brewed cough meds on me.

  35. XSkeptic says:

    @weing

    I don’t know and I don’t care. With or without studies, it helps with pain, appetite and nausea. You work on your studies, publish your paper, but please hurry up, cause there are many patients who can benefit from it.

  36. Calli Arcale says:

    Critics of natural medicine say there is no published evidence that these options work or are backed in [sic] science. There are several recent published articles explaining the science and patient outcomes. One can be found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19679625.

    I took a peek at that one. It’s pretty ridiculous to use it as a suggestion that naturopathy is good for treating cervical dysplasia. Basically, she used an escharotic substance of some kind to burn away the precancerous cells. That *would* work, assuming the questionable cells were all at the surface, but I fail to see how it’s in any way preferable to a) conventional medical methods of doing the same thing quicker and more accurately and b) not getting the problem in the first place (i.e. HPV vaccination kinda trumps it).

    Weing,
    Yeah, that also struck me about what XSkeptic said. He rightly complains about people, including many doctors, being too unquestioning of the risks of tobacco. Then he complains about doctors *not* being unquestioning of the risks of marijuana. One might wonder why he wants them to be suspicious of tobacco but not marijuana, and if there isn’t any personal preference involved. After all, you are absolutely correct, weing, that cigarettes *were* touted as good for a lot of things. Not for improving appetite, though; in fact they were touted for the opposite. Cigarette smoking as a weight-loss plan. Scary. And yes, they did claim they would improve your breathing and energy levels. The latter is sort of true; nicotine is a stimulant, after all. The former is pretty blatantly BS, though maybe those making the claim were themselves smoking so heavily they didn’t notice.

  37. weing says:

    “I don’t know and I don’t care.”
    I don’t know either, but I do care. Anecdotally, it helps for those symptoms. But use of it, for now, is not scientific. What about long term effects, effects on cognition. I don’t think the tars and carbon monoxide from smoking it are that healthy. Is there a safer way of ingesting it?

  38. Narad says:

    1) For decades, the medical community had a neutral position on tobacco whereas it was plain obvious that it was bad if used as intended.

    Just like clockwork.

    2) Even now, its stance on marijuana is not unambiguous.

    Cry me a river. Your favored intoxicant doesn’t get carte blanche.

    Well, as any patient who used it can tell you: it’s natural,

    Unless you grow it yourself, you do not know what was employed as fertilizer or pest control.

    cheap

    A 90-day supply of either of the prescription medications I take runs me less at retail than a quarter-ounce of Mexican grass would, which in turn is cheaper than an eighth-ounce of the high-test stuff. No, weed isn’t really “cheap.”

    and effective.

    I note that you fail to qualify this in any way. For what? Everything? It’s magic?

  39. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    the crowd here comes across as narrow-minded and so full of themselves

    That’s because in many cases we have spent a lot of time becoming informed about the topics, learning from them, and changing our minds. Meanwhile, people who criticize the “narrow-minded” are usually just repeating talking points they heard from other people without investigating them. Or in your case, a combination of not doing the research (your statements are demonstrably false) or not thinking about things critically. For instance:

    The joke is on you, dude, if some “herbs” used by some unscientific barbarians who used it for centuries, does indeed work.

    Merely being used for centuries doesn’t mean something works. Bloodletting is the classic example of something used for millenia, that manifestly doesn’t work unless you have hemochromatosis. If an intervention, be it a herb or acupuncture, is genuinely effective, then surely testing this assertion will reveal it. However, most herbs, when tested, fail. There are exceptions, but they are rare and when recognized are integrated as treatment options (St. John’s Wort, willow bark and foxglove are three examples). You’re not defending your point, but you are showing that while you have drunk deep on the arguments of quacks and SCAMsters, you have not taken the time to look into the skeptical literature. Otherwise you wouldn’t repeat these spurious and easily-refuted arguments. I urge you to read through the archives on this blog, you’ll find most of them handily dealt with.

    I don’t know and I don’t care. With or without studies, it helps with pain, appetite and nausea. You work on your studies, publish your paper, but please hurry up, cause there are many patients who can benefit from it.

    Yet you again miss the point – marijuana is primarily restricted for political reasons. If you want to see it used more, lobby your congressional representative. Legalizing marijuana will result in greater availability and certainly more research, not to mention greater tax revenues and fewer incarcerations. Doctors are not the limiting here, politicians are. I’m not sure why you are bitching about how dun rong marijuana is on a blog about medicine when the real issue is legality. Legality is not a problem medicine can address easily.

  40. XSkeptic says:

    @weing and @narad

    These pearls of “wisdom” are an example of why I come here. It’s not worth responding, but it is sure entertaining to read things that those.

  41. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    Calli,

    …she used an escharotic substance…

    That would most probably be black salve. A hideous substance, but naturopaths and alties love it. It’s even worse than MMS. On the “What’s The Harm” site I posted above, there are cases involving black salve. No happy endings.

  42. Harriet Hall says:

    Don’t feed the troll.

  43. XSkeptic says:

    @William

    Before you accuse someone of “not reading” or “not understanding”, you may want to do that yourself. The following two paragraphs were in response to certain point the posters made and you just picked it out of context and went into a wrong direction.

    And just FYI, I am patient, so trust me, I spent a lot of time researching the subjects and not only that, but tried many of the “non-scientifically proven” remedies and lived to share the experience.

  44. XSkeptic says:

    @Harriet

    I will stop feeding you and yours.

    Adios.

  45. michaelSkiCoach says:

    Actually this site is does discuss positive medical advances: the discovery of insulin and vaccination for example. The reason for most of the somewhat negative sounding articles is that effective advances in medical practice can’t be made without separating out the creditable lines of research from the credulous.

    Its bad enough that scientists and doctors within the medical community are sometimes guilty of misrepresenting results without the distraction of incredible claims based on no known science in the alt-med world.

    I suspect that few would be lining up to buy a car that uses chicken blood as its source of fuel – at least without some very convincing proof! In fact in most other areas of our life we are more skeptical of any claim that seems to defy the normal laws of physics.

    I for one would love to see some more articles on positive advancements in medical science – it would be a welcome change from reading about more claims about bleach curing autism, fraudulent cancer treatments, bogus diets, …

  46. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    I spent a lot of time researching the subjects…

    What qualifies you to be be able to evaluate the quality of the “research” you are doing?

    YouTube and Google are not research.

    (There’s a great video from TAM this year on “Dr. Google” and how to evaluate data found online. Scary that when Dr. Gorski put up a slide of five people I recognized all five of them immediately. Hulda Clark, Simoncini, Gerson, Burzysnki and Robert O. Young. A year ago I would have had no idea what this rogue’s gallery was all about.)

  47. Narad says:

    These pearls of “wisdom” are an example of why I come here. It’s not worth responding, but it is sure entertaining to read things that those [sic].

    In other words, you merely want an unqualified medical imprimatur for cannabis because you say so, snap, snap! How’s that long-term effect on impulse control, anyway? Why can’t you address the “cheap” part? You make a blanket assertion about pain, yet pain is subjective. How does one predict whose pain might be helped and whose might be escalated to a truly exquisite focus? How reliable are the effects on appetite in comparison with, say, mirtazapine? (Anecdata: much less.) On what basis do you assume that there are no quantifiable harms, it’s just The Gift of Gaia, From Whom We All Sprang?

  48. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    Anyone old enough to remember paraquat? Saturday Night Live even offered to test viewers’ weed (probably called it “grass” back then) for paraquat if they sent it in…!

    So no, not all weed is safe, harmless and natural.

  49. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    And just FYI, I am patient, so trust me, I spent a lot of time researching the subjects and not only that, but tried many of the “non-scientifically proven” remedies and lived to share the experience.

    Living to share an experience isn’t the same thing as being cured by something. Your easily-refuted arguments suggest that a) you didn’t read it, b) you didn’t understand it or c) you’re trolling. There is also an option d), you may have read about specific topics, but never managed to read up on the scientific process. Otherwise you would know why anecdotal evidence is not real evidence. A starting point would be R. Barker Bausell’s Snake Oil Science, Carol Tavris’ Mistakes were Made and Ernst & Singh’s Trick or Treatment. If you want a good discussion of a naturopathic treatment that “works” perhaps the same way your own remedies “work”, I would recommend Jay Shelton’s Homeopathy: How it really works.

  50. mousethatroared says:

    Harriet Hall – I’m sorry I don’t want to encourage a non-productive discussion, but….

    There is a link between Schizophrenia and cannabis. For the average person I’m not sure what the actual risk is, but for someone like me, with a family history of bi-polar and schizophrenia, it’s worth considering, I think.

    searching Med Pub – Schizophrenia cannabis will yield results.

    I’m not passing judgement on any other attributes of Pot or whether it should be legal or not. In my mind it’s just like being aware of a family history of alcoholism when deciding whether to drink or not.

  51. Quill says:

    “Unless you grow it yourself, you do not know what was employed as fertilizer or pest control.”

    Certainly true in many places but there are exceptions and they are only increasing. For instance, medical marijuana in California is carefully selected, tested and quality-checked by most dispensaries. Most growers adhere to strict standards and there are third-party certifications. And the tests aren’t the ones that involve a sample and someone saying “dude, that’s awesome!” but rather chemical and microscopic testing that would make big pharma proud.

  52. Narad says:

    For instance, medical marijuana in California is carefully selected, tested and quality-checked by most dispensaries.

    So, this is optional? I’m looking at the site of Steep Hill Lab. They claim to use ELISA to flag pesticides and follow up with HPLC. They don’t state what they’re trying to flag.

  53. Sialis says:

    And just FYI, I am patient, so trust me, I spent a lot of time researching the subjects and not only that, but tried many of the “non-scientifically proven” remedies and barely lived to share the experience.

  54. Calli Arcale says:

    Marc Stephens Is Insane:

    That would most probably be black salve. A hideous substance, but naturopaths and alties love it. It’s even worse than MMS. On the “What’s The Harm” site I posted above, there are cases involving black salve. No happy endings.

    Most likely. At least in the case of dysplasia, the treatment is removal of cells at the surface, so there is some plausibility it would work. I would hope she had it administered by a doctor during colposcopy so it was only applied to the actual dysplastic cells. Shoving it up one’s hoo-hah would seem to invite an awful lot of collateral damage to get rid of those cells, after all.

  55. Sialis says:

    That would most probably be black salve. A hideous substance, but naturopaths and alties love it. It’s even worse than MMS. On the “What’s The Harm” site I posted above, there are cases involving black salve. No happy endings.

    Black salve is used by followers of the Edgar Cayce readings. Their international headquarters is in Virginia Beach, Virginia with chapters in other towns across the state and throughout the world. They operate under the name of Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_for_Research_and_Enlightenment

  56. XSkeptic says:

    @MichaelSkiCoach

    Thank you, this is exactly my point. I discovered this blog looking for the latest and greatest in the medical research, instead almost exclusively posters here fight anything that doesn’t agree with their views and established norms. I wish there were more about the science and discoveries and I believe there is plenty of worthwhile goes on.

    @Marc Stephens

    A loaded question, isn’t it? Let me guess: after my response you expect to tear me apart about how superior you are compared to my humble simpleton self and how I don’t understand anything. Well, I understand enough so that doctors that treat me take it seriously enough. And unlike MDs who post here, my doctors are top-notch at what they do and they are affiliated with the top Med Centers in this country.

    @Narad

    At this day and age, your statements about the cannabis are simply silly. There is plenty of decent research on the subject, do yourself a favor and educate yourself on the subject. In regards to the cost: it’s either your “supply guy” rips you off or your insurance is incredible.

    @William

    I don’t promote any evidence of anything. But there are times when it doesn’t matter that much whether there is a hard science behind something as long as it works. Unfortunately, I had to experience those times and I found something that works for me and worked for others.

    BTW, what is a scientific definition of “cured”?

    @mouse

    A very valid point and a good comparison. Just like with everything, different things work for different people and it’s up to an individual to decide. But that said, has anyone considered an epidemic of prescribed pain-killer abuse in this country? Or a prescribed steroid abuse? Or antibiotics? Those are all science-based and tested meds, aren’t they?

    @Sialis

    Was this meant as a joke? If so, you are a pretty sick puppy.

    @Y’all

    Didn’t mean to offend. Cheer up, would you?

  57. Sialis says:

    XSkeptic: And just FYI, I am patient, so trust me, I spent a lot of time researching the subjects and not only that, but tried many of the “non-scientifically proven” remedies and lived to share the experience.

    Sialis: And just FYI, I am patient, so trust me, I spent a lot of time researching the subjects and not only that, but tried many of the “non-scientifically proven” remedies and barely lived to share the experience.

    @Sialis

    Was this meant as a joke? If so, you are a pretty sick puppy.

    My experiences are just as valid as your anecdotes, and mine are consistent with the current evidence. Hindsight’s 20/20 for a reason.

  58. XSkeptic says:

    @Sialis

    So were you referring to your experience? Sure, yours is just as valid.

  59. Narad says:

    Flounce not stuck, I see.

    At this day and age, your statements about the cannabis are simply silly.

    No, I think my questions about “the cannabis” are quite straightforward, as is your evasion of them.

    There is plenty of decent research on the subject, do yourself a favor and educate yourself on the subject.

    It is not my job to defend your assertions for you. Sorry to harsh your buzz.

    In regards to the cost: it’s either your “supply guy” rips you off or your insurance is incredible.

    This doesn’t even add up to a coherent response. I know what the price of cannabis is. I even know what the overhead for indoor cultivation is like, having engaged in it (n.b.: statute of limitations long past). The fact remains that this can quickly add up to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars a year depending on the amount that a person needs. Blowing three spliffs a day? That’s about an ounce a week, or around $400 from a dispensary. I am not arguing against medical marijuana, I am pointing out that saying foolish things does not a case make.

  60. mousethatroared says:

    XSkeptic – maybe you could browse around the blog and get a sense of who the commentors you are speaking to are – their backgrounds, what they are really advocating, before making assumptions that are way off-base.

  61. weing says:

    “But that said, has anyone considered an epidemic of prescribed pain-killer abuse in this country? Or a prescribed steroid abuse? Or antibiotics? Those are all science-based and tested meds, aren’t they?”

    What is your point? Science-based meds are not supposed to be able to be abused? Where the hell did you come up with that?

    “I discovered this blog looking for the latest and greatest in the medical research, instead almost exclusively posters here fight anything that doesn’t agree with their views and established norms.”

    So, you are looking for the sexy and not the mundane that you find here. I wouldn’t say I fight anything that doesn’t agree with my view. I prefer to critically examine it before accepting or rejecting it, in part or in whole. Science marches on, but slowly. New discoveries frequently give rise to more questions than they answered. That is as it should be. The more I learn, the less, I find, I know. Finally, it may be worthwhile for the bloggers to do post, on a more regular basis, evaluating a recent medical advance.

  62. rosemary says:

    @X If you’ve looked into the box as I suggested above, http://rosemaryjacobs.com/naturopaths.html, and commented on what it contains, I’ve missed it. To me it shows that NDs don’t know zilch about evidence-based medicine and that they are at least 50 years behind MDs in that regard. If you have facts that show I am wrong, please present them.

  63. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Thank you, this is exactly my point. I discovered this blog looking for the latest and greatest in the medical research, instead almost exclusively posters here fight anything that doesn’t agree with their views and established norms. I wish there were more about the science and discoveries and I believe there is plenty of worthwhile goes on.

    You missed the point of the blog, which is not to point to the latest and greatest research. Such blogs exist, Scienceblogs has several, but given the sub-sub-sub-specialization of research these days, you’re most likely to find extremely niche-interest topics.

    This blog is about, in part, bringing prior probability into the assessment of medicine. The kinds of blogs you are looking for, genuine scientific advances, would have prior probability built into them, since they are genuinely science-based. SCAM therapies have very little prior probability, which is why they are discussed here so often – they are exemplars, often epitomes of therapies that lack prior probability. Don’t complain out this blog because it doesn’t meet your expectations. Feel free to start your own. Or stick around and honestly try to learn from your fallacies, since you are falling prey to several used commonly in SCAM circles – ad hominen, bait and switch, irrelevant tangents, false dilemma, and more if I took the time to look for more specifics.

    And unlike MDs who post here, my doctors are top-notch at what they do and they are affiliated with the top Med Centers in this country.

    You should comment on their blogs then.

    At this day and age, your statements about the cannabis are simply silly. There is plenty of decent research on the subject, do yourself a favor and educate yourself on the subject. In regards to the cost: it’s either your “supply guy” rips you off or your insurance is incredible.

    …none of which addresses the fact that the limitations on cannabis as treatment and research subject is legal and political, not medical.

    I don’t promote any evidence of anything. But there are times when it doesn’t matter that much whether there is a hard science behind something as long as it works. Unfortunately, I had to experience those times and I found something that works for me and worked for others.
    BTW, what is a scientific definition of “cured”?

    What’s your definition of “works” though? If “works” means “I feel better”, there are lots of things that will do that. There are even more cognitive tricks the human mind uses to fool itself into attributing causality. If “works” or “cured” means “cleared up my fungal infection”, “eliminated my bronchitis in less than two days”, “made my urinary tract infection go away in less than 24 hours” or “cut out that cancerous tumor that prevented me from pooping”, stick with medicine. If “works” or “cured” means “made my vague symptoms attached to no objectively proven condition go away”, then nearly anything will “work”.

    The scientific definition for “cured” would be very specific, because science deals in specifics. SCAMS deals with vagueries, unprovable claims and nonexistent syndromes, which is why they are criticized so consistently on this blog. If by “cured” you mean “expensively provided some emotional coping for my nonspecific problems”, SCAMS are a great way to go.

    Naturally the specifics of your case would be different, and I don’t care about them.

    But that said, has anyone considered an epidemic of prescribed pain-killer abuse in this country? Or a prescribed steroid abuse? Or antibiotics? Those are all science-based and tested meds, aren’t they?

    Citations needed, and it depends. Antibiotics are excellent at treating specific strains of non-resistant bacteria, the are terrible at treating sarcoidosis as per the Marshall protocol.

    Didn’t mean to offend. Cheer up, would you?

    Can’t, you keep posting non sequitur, and failing to acknowledge them. This annoys me. And, like Narad, I find your evasions tedious and irksome.

  64. mousethatroared says:

    also off-topic, I don’t usually mix my FB life with my SBM life, but it’s Friday night…wait, no, It should be Friday night. Here’s a product shared by George Takei that some folks here might like.

    “Stand Back I’m going to Try Science”

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006FCNW48/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=geek03b-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B006FCNW48

  65. Harriet Hall says:

    When I suggested we stop feeding the troll, XSkeptic said “I will stop feeding you and yours.
    Adios.”

    Alas, he didn’t keep that promise.

  66. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    It’s funny, for some reason I got the vibe it’s a “she.” Some posters seem more “masculine” and others more “feminine.” Am I imagining this or do others notice too?

  67. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    I attributed a masculine voice, I will note that s/he incorrectly attributed a masculine voice to MTR.

  68. mousethatroared says:

    HH – you know the best way to overcome a compulsion is NOT to resist the compulsion, but to refocus your attention on a task or pastime that is enjoyable and productive.

    Scientifically proven, that, neuroplasticity, don’t you know.

    Look it up. I’m sure I’m right.

  69. Linda Rosa says:

    Jann’s essay reminded me of two “degreed” naturopaths currently operating in Colorado (where NDs are not licensed at all). They offer the public:

    “…intravenous (IV) or intramuscular (IM) nutritional support…for many different symptoms and disease processes…These could include, but are not limited to Lyme’s disease, Epstein-Barr infection, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis (or any other auto-immune disease), and cancer.”

    They continue:

    “A basic IV with electrolytes can be perfect for an individual suffering from temporary dehydration during the flu or food poisoning. A hydrating IV with amino acids can also be a great addition to a sports nutrition program for endurance athletes that want to take their results to the highest possible level. If caught at first sign of symptoms, a nutritional IV can be a perfect way to ward off cold and flu, or as a preventative boost for the immune system.”
    “A nutritional IV takes about an hour to infuse, however for a super quick boost for the immune system, a Wellness injection is the perfect solution! These are a big hit during the fall/winter months and use a combination of B12 and specific immune boosting homeopathics that can be given as a quick IM shot in the arm in less than 5 minutes!”

    http://namastehealthcenter.com/services/ivtherapy.html

    Colorado has around a hundred “degreed” naturopaths who practice openly, without fear that the Board of Medical Examiners will enforce the state’s Medical Practice Act. What sort of professional ethics is this…on both their parts?

  70. daijiyobu says:

    Holy 70 comments, Batman.

    Now, comparatively, the AANP blog does not allow any comments besides the kind of circle-jerk that keeps that mode of thinking isolated from actual thought.

    I’m proud of the discussion here even in its’ dissention, because it speaks for democracy, and a collective commons.

    Naturopathy, on the other hand, along the lines of what is traditional and time-worn, does not allow for dissent.

    No, it doesn’t cut off hands for that.

    Yet, it simply doesn’t allow comment on its US blog space.

    -r.c.

  71. Wallace Sampson says:

    Can’t believe many will ever see this after 70 + comments, but —. First, the backdoor methods of bill passingg in the Mass. Legislature eerily resemble those of the Unaffordable care Act congressional maneuvering. Possibly excepting the threats to congressmenn and senators of various exposures (my pretty-good assumptions) resulting in several leaving politics for good, droppin their dropping their “aye” votes on the way out.
    The 2003 California experience was much more disastrous. A Calif. medical Assoc. president elected out of Hawaii’s New Age miasma actually favored naturopath licensure, and the CMA saw the bill as a sure pass. The bill was authored by another CAM/New Age senate president. And for 6-12 months beforehand, delegations from Seattle’s n’pathic university had visited, lobbied, (and paid off?) all members of appropriate committees, financed by Stephen Bing, the Hollywood producer – all before I had even heard of the bill.

  72. Wallace Sampson says:

    Sorry – the comment was sent befored corrections and completion. Bing’s financing amounted to $1 Mil. CMA was outspent and outbullied, and simply played small political game on it

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