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Naturopathy vs. Science: Vaccination Edition

evil-mr-vaccine

We saw it coming. The re-emergence of vaccine-preventable disease should surprise no-one that’s been following the anti-vaccine movement.

Rebutting anti-vaccine rhetoric feels like a Sisyphean struggle. Steven Novella likened it to a game of whack-a-mole, where the moles are the same old tropes that keep popping up, no matter how often they are refuted with facts. Vaccines are a remarkable success of modern medicine: They are health interventions that are both demonstrably effective and remarkably cost-effective. Vaccination has likely prevented more deaths in the past 50 years than any other health intervention. Smallpox was a ruthless killer that took 300 million lives, just in the 20th century alone. Today it’s gone – eliminated forever. And now there are now over two dozen diseases that are vaccine-preventable. They should be an easy sell, and to most people, they are. But the control of vaccine-preventable disease relies in part on herd immunity – sufficient immunization to stop the spread of infection (no vaccine offers 100% protection) and protect those that cannot be immunized. Even a modest number of unvaccinated individuals can lead to reemergence of disease. None of this matters to antivaccinationists, to whom vaccines are bad. Viewing anti-vaccine websites for only five to ten minutes can increase the perception of risk of vaccination, and decrease the perceived risk of omitting vaccines. It also lowers vaccination intentions. By changing perceptions of safety, the willingness to vaccinate decreases. Now imagine that someone you believe to be a health professional openly questioned the efficacy and safety of vaccines – would it reduce your willingness to vaccinate? The evidence says it does. And that’s why the modern practice of naturopathy or “naturopathic medicine” is so concerning. Naturopaths have opposed vaccinations since the invention of naturopathy – starting with smallpox:

To understand how revolting these products are, let us just refer to the vaccine matter which is supposed to be an efficient preventive of smallpox. Who would be fool enough to swallow the putrid pus and corruption scraped from the foulest sores of smallpox that has been implanted in the body of a calf?…The natural system for curing disease is based on a return to nature in regulating the diet, breathing, exercising, bathing and the employment of various forces to eliminate the poisonous products in the system, and so raise the vitality of the patient to a proper standard of health. Official medicine has in all ages simply attacked the symptoms of disease without paying attention to the causes thereof, but natural healing is concerned far more with removing the causes of disease, than merely curing its symptoms.

Benedict Lust, who introduced naturopathy in the United States, made the statement above in 1918, in his Universal Directory of Naturopathy. You’ll hear similar sentiments from naturopaths today. Lust introduced the core tenets of the naturopathic philosophy: natural is better; vaccines are unnatural (and therefore bad); we’re being poisoned from within (i.e., detox); and naturopaths treat “root causes” while physicians don’t. None are science-based ideas – they’re actually derived from the concept of vitalism, a pre-scientific belief that biological organisms are fundamentally different that non-biologic organisms. Today naturopaths call it the “vital force” but the meaning is the same. Naturopathic treatment ideas are grounded in the belief that they are restoring the vital force, rather than being based on objective science. The practice itself has evolved into a mix of disproven or unproven health practices including homeopathy, acupuncture and herbalism. Pretty much anything goes, as long as it aligns with the vitalistic belief system. Naturopaths can give good health advice – much of the basic dietary advice they offer is sound. Yet this isn’t a position arrived to because of the evidence, but rather despite it: The philosophy and the science just happen to align.

Immunization is strongly science-based and there’s an established track record of effectiveness and safety with population-based immunization programs. While individual attitudes can vary, science-based health professionals, working from a common scientific framework, generally accept the science of immunization. In contrast, alternative-to-medicine practitioners like homeopaths, chiropractors, and particularly naturopaths remain hostile to vaccinations, despite the impressive track record of successes. This sentiment, and its effects, have been consistently documented in in the medical literature:

Despite the antagonism naturopaths hold towards vaccination, they also appear to understand that their philosophy is strongly anti-scientific. Given naturopaths repeatedly describe naturopathy as a science-based profession, they tend to be subtle with their objections – often cloaking their personal antagonism with discussions of “personal choice” or fabricating a “both sides” argument, sidestepping the reality that there are no substantive science-based objections to immunization. A perfect example of this are the recent remarks from the president of the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta, Allissa Gaul, who gave a thinly-veiled antivaccine message in a recent CBC interview:

Gaul was asked to explain the antivaccine advertising and statements coming from Alberta naturopaths. The concern is justified, given Alberta is currently dealing with a measles and a whooping cough outbreak. It’s worth a listen, if only to hear Gaul repeatedly refuse to offer a statement of support for vaccination, while also denying that naturopaths are anti-vaccine:

“As a College we don’t have a direct policy… My personal opinion as a doctor is that people should do their due diligence and make the choice that’s best for them … I think it’s a grey issue because it’s an issue about children and about health and about parents’ choices and that in this country, of course, we have the choice to vaccinate or not and so, people interpret that as if they have the choice to vaccinate or not.”

And later in the interview:

“The naturopathic doctors in the province should also be supporting those who are against [vaccinations]… If somebody chooses not to vaccinate, they should also have a support person behind them. That doesn’t mean that that person should be telling them what to do.”

In response to the link between autism and vaccines, and Alberta naturopaths linking the two, Gaul spins this to link vaccines with atopic disease (another relationship that’s been refuted).

Off the radio, Gaul is more direct with her personal opinions on vaccination. She thinks influenza infections are a pretty good idea:

We live in a sea of germs that we co-exist with peacefully for the most part, including influenza viruses. To me, an acute illness often represents either a weakening of a person’s resources, and/or an opportunity for growth and development. In kids, this is way more obvious — following infectious illness, you often see developmental milestones appear! In adults, of course, this is not as obvious. Having the flu could improve your thought process and maturation. Keep open to the possibility for positive change! An adult should have a nice, juicy infection every 3 or 4 years. This is a good indicator of a healthy immune response (I’d be more worried if you DIDN’T get sick).

Yes, you read that correctly – she’s supportive of influenza infections, one of the most astonishing statements I’ve ever seen from a naturopath. Hopefully that “growth and development” virus doesn’t kill you. So what does Gaul (who, remember, is the President of the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta) recommend to treat influenza infections once you’re lucky enough to become infected? Useless nostrums: vitamins, aromatherapy, and unbelievably, even fake vaccines called “homeopathic nosodes”:

The Influenzinum nosode has been working quite well in suspected cases of H1N1, as has Oscillococcinium and some of the other common flu remedies. Take a dose of your selected homeopathic once per day if you feel you are being exposed and once every few hours if you feel the onset of flu-like symptoms. If you don’t have much exposure you can take a immune-boosting dose weekly up to monthly, depending on how great you feel your risk is.

A homeopathic nosode is made from bodily tissues and fluids (such as feces, blood and pus) from a patient suffering an infectious diesease. This material is then sterilized and serially diluted, repeatedly, until (just like other homeopathic products) there is no trace of the original active material. Homeopaths and naturopaths believe that nosodes provide immunity against infectious disease – when they are actually just inert placebos, with zero evidence of efficacy. Gaul also sells homeopathic remedies directly from her website. All of this leaves me asking: If the president of the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta is pro-infectious disease, and endorses fake vaccines for treating influenza infections, what does that say about the standard of care offered by naturopaths in Alberta?

Is the naturopathic standard of care antivaccine?

It would be easy to find more statements from naturopaths who share anti-vaccine philosophies with Gaul. But beyond the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta, what do other naturopathy organization and publications say about vaccination today?

Naturopathic education

Position statements

The British Columbia Naturopathic Association Vaccination Position Paper sows doubt about the safety and efficacy of vaccination while professing that they want to “individualize” treatment:

If there are general concerns regarding vaccinations they can perhaps be summarized as focusing on toxic preservatives (and their side effects), the “unnatural” route of entry and the possible contamination of vaccines. Naturopathic physicians (NDs) feel these are legitimate concerns. Given the contentious nature surrounding the subject of vaccinations, the NDs in this province support informed consent as a useful approach to dealing with vaccination protocols.

It also makes erroneous comments about thimerosal, a vaccine preservative, again raising doubt about the safety profile:

Many Vaccinations Contain Potentially Toxic Preservatives such as Thimerosal
Most children in BC receive combination vaccines so their total exposure to preservatives is relatively low. However, in cases where infants receive individual vaccines preserved in thimerosal their total exposure to methyl mercury (thimerosal) can exceed safe limits. Also, animal studies have demonstrated that thimerosal can induce hypersensitivity reactions and may augment many vaccine side effects.

The paper concludes with a commitment to “informed consent” which could be more accurately called “misinformed consent” given the misleading statements provided:

The decision a parent takes to proceed with or withdraw their children from the vaccination schedule is a personal one, which can be characterized as informed consent.

The Oregon Association of Naturopathic Physicans’ White Paper gives similar messaging:

Naturopathic doctors are educated according to the public health laws of the state, and understand the role that vaccinations play in preventing communicable disease. But because naturopathic care is by definition patient centered, many NDs will customize the vaccination schedule to address the patient’s risk factors, environment, and personal beliefs.

The evidence is very clear on what naturopaths mean when they say “customize” – they mean fewer vaccinations and consequently, more preventable disease.

Sussanna Czeranko, an Ontario and Oregon naturopath, in her multi-part article “The Persistent Question of Vaccination” published in The Naturopathic Doctor News and Review notes:

When vaccination came onto the medical sphere, to say that the earth opened and swallowed up common sense and human dignity is an understatement. The core principles that differentiated the distinct schools of medicine at the time were tested in ways that we still see remnants of today. The ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ medical camps became contentious factions which aligned firmly and decisively on either side of the debate when vaccinations became part of the medical toolkit. The doctors who supported vaccination had much to gain from its clinical employment and the doctors who opposed its use had to endure hard lessons that persist in today’s medical landscape.

and in Part 3 she argues for continued opposition to all vaccination:

Medical doctors and naturopathic doctors banded together and took a stand against vaccinations. Vaccinations became an issue that galvanized each faction. The vaccinationists became politicized, rich and kept their patients in ignorance. The anti-vaccinationists educated their communities and practiced with nature’s laws. The naturopathic profession has yet to clarify or even unify its position on the issue in the closing days of the first decade of the new century. We may well as a profession find ourselves nodding in agreement with Hodge, who stated in 1911, “the amazing fact that it has been possible to force the vaccination atrocity upon the unconsenting world for more than a century is almost incomprehensible.”

Conclusion

Vaccine opposition is intrinsic to the naturopathic philosophy, is embedded within naturopathic education, and now appears to be a standard of practice for the profession, based on recent comments from the Alberta College of Naturopathic Medicine. Naturopaths claim to be primary care providers, and repeatedly tout their supposed “integrated” and “patient-centered” approach to care. Yet the facts illustrate that what naturopaths seem to be integrating are vaccine-hostile attitudes and unscientific (and possibly dangerous) ideas about the prevention and treatment of preventable disease. As regulators seem content to grant legitimacy to naturopathy as a health profession, we should continue to expect ongoing challenges to the control and eradication of vaccine-preventable disease.

Posted in: Naturopathy, Vaccines

Leave a Comment (81) ↓

81 thoughts on “Naturopathy vs. Science: Vaccination Edition

  1. David Gorski says:

    Hopefully that “growth and development” virus doesn’t kill you.

    That which does not kill you makes you stronger, apparently. Unless, of course, it kills you.

    1. Renate says:

      Or it leaves you with serious side-effects, like blindness, deafness, or braindamage. Now that is growth and development people are waiting for.

      1. Iefske says:

        As long as it’s nice and ‘juicy’

  2. Lawrence says:

    I guess I am confused – isn’t vaccination getting to the “root cause” of disease, because it prevents the disease in the first place?

    1. Bruce says:

      Don’t be silly. it only addresses the symptoms, in order to address the root cause you need to dilute it until there is no trace of it left and then take it as a sugar pill.

      Oh, and shake it 10 times and hit it with a bible… or something.

      1. Sean Duggan says:

        Leather saddle actually, at least last I heard.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Nope, it started off with them being shaken in his saddlebags while he rode out to visit his patients, then it became something hard, yet elastic – and I believe he settled on a Bible. Leather-bound, if memory serves.

  3. goodnightirene says:

    It would be easy to be a shruggie and write these people off if not for herd immunity. The ignorance displayed in the quotes is dismaying. If people are hellbent on “questioning authority”, then they need to be able to think.

  4. Windriven says:

    “Viewing anti-vaccine websites for only five to ten minutes can increase the perception of risk of vaccination”…

    …and knock 20 or 25 points off your IQ.

    1. josh says:

      100% percent increase in head injury, as I bang my head on the desk.

  5. Reese Vaughn says:

    To the quack who writes the column in our local newspaper, the one who suggested influenza could have been avoided by placing sliced onions under the bed, and to the young people who don’t know their history, I like to send this link to one Texas county’s death reports in Texas in pre-vaccine days:
    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txhopkin/gen/resources/census/mortality.html

    Notice the sad case of the Brewers, who lost 4 children to measles in the month of March, Josephine 12, Thomas 9, Ellen 6, and baby William, not yet a year old.

    1. Windriven says:

      Pretty chilling. But don’t expect it to phase the idjuts. They are steeped in belief rather than reality. In their minds all Hopkins County needed was a good homeopath.

  6. JJ says:

    Meanwhile, the National Joke Post’s sister paper (the Financial Post) recently had Lawrence Solomon (who has a history of low quality science commentary related to climate change and vaccination) publish an alternative history on measles. Published April 16, titled “The untold story of measles.”

    Every paragraph had at least one major issue, be it another antivax trope, a half truth, a misinterpreted study, etc.

    It leads with the “measles mortality reduced before the vaccine came out” trope and only gets worse from there.

    The low mark is probably where he makes the statement that, since vaccination doesn’t give lifetime protection (a bare assertion to say the least) that pregnant women are especially at risk. One of the papers quoted to support this point was of 12 pregnant women from Houston. And according to a commenter who read the paper, the majority of them weren’t vaccinated to begin with. But of course, the paper itself isn’t linked to in the opinion piece, and even if it was the average reader (myself included) can’t get at it if it’s behind a paywall (and apparently it was).

    And it’s not like a media outlet publishing an interview with a crank, this is a regular commentator with a readership, who’s going to believe this person has done their research and their words are backed by research papers. That’s much worse, IMO.

    1. TBruce says:

      In the on-line comments to this article, Solomon touts a paper in Vaccine from 2012 as claiming that the measles vaccine is a “failure”. I located the paper after some difficulty and, guess what, it says nothing of the sort. It confirms that the vaccine is very effective and has dramatically reduced the number of cases world-wide. It raises concerns about the recent resurgence of cases, and proposes two reasons for this, the small proportion of recipeants who do not respond to the vaccine AND public figures who raise doubts about the effectiveness of vaccination.
      You know, like Lawrence Solomon. I guess he feels his work is done.

  7. Sastra says:

    To me, an acute illness often represents either a weakening of a person’s resources, and/or an opportunity for growth and development… Having the flu could improve your thought process and maturation. Keep open to the possibility for positive change!

    This is of course another variation of the spiritual faith that “Everything Happens for a Reason.” They turn resilience and coping strategies into a justification for thinking the problem was intentionally inflicted for exactly this effect.

    It’s also another version of CYA. There are no negative results in naturopathy just as God never lets you down or gives you reason to doubt its existence. It’s always up to YOU to figure out what the positive life lesson is. Only the patient can fail.

    Once, when I brought up the possibility that people might actually die when forgoing modern medical care for Nature’s Natural Cures, a friend who was studying some variation of naturopathy reminded me that, because I am an atheist, “we see death in different ways.”

    Uh oh.

    1. Diatryma says:

      What I would find interesting is whether or not “spiritual” or religious people who “see death differently” would accept modern medical care instead of naturopath-woo when push comes to shove. It’s all well and good to say this – as long as it’s not yourself who is in mortal danger.

  8. Paul de Boer says:

    Shall we revisit http://www.stopnosodes.org/ ?

    In recent contact with Adam Gibson, Director General, NHPD Health Products Food Branch, he thinks that the problem was solved with adding labels to the nosodes.

    He completely ignored that they are endorsing the efficacy without any plausibility or evidence to the treatment.

  9. MedsVsTherapy says:

    The anti-vacc fad is creating problems.
    The point about catching the flu does have validity, however – older adults were found to have pre-existing immunity to H1N1 – from a WashPo story covering this issue:
    “When blood samples taken after the same people had received seasonal flu vaccine were tested, the percentage with active antibodies against the swine flu strain increased in the two older groups. Specifically, for the 18-to-64-year-olds, it increased from 9 to 25 percent; and for the older-than-60 group, from 33 to 43 percent.”

    Most flus will not kill you. So, it is worth considering catching any non-life-threatening flu in the hopes that you will have cross-immunity to some killer flu decades from now.

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      Most flus will not kill you. So, it is worth considering catching any non-life-threatening flu in the hopes that you will have cross-immunity to some killer flu decades from now.

      Except that if this were the case, then getting vaccinated would still be a better option. Because it will protect you from the current flu that might kill you (you can’t know ahead of time if it will or won’t) and the future ones that you may get protection from via actually getting the flu.

      So no, it is never “worth considering catching” a “non-life-threatening flu” to “hope” it will give you cross immunity from a killer flu. The vaccine will accomplish the same thing, minimize immediate and long term risk, and save you the misery of the flu, even if it is “non-life-threatening”

      Nevermind the fact that all flus increase the risk of mortality and morbidity across the population and there are no magical flu’s that are somehow completely “non-life-threatening.” it just doesn’t work that way.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Not to mention – you never know when the next killer ‘flu will hit.

        And doubly-not-to-mention, the vaccine presents virtually no risks, just friggin’ get it.

  10. Dan says:

    I don’t understand the issue with why people won’t get vaccinated. Unless you are concerned about GBS, of course, from influenza vaccination, which is incredibly rare (perhaps 1 in 1,000,000). I once heard an academic GBS clinician-scientist state that she would have no qualms about getting vaccinated for influenza with those kinds of statistics. After all, you have a higher chance of getting killed in a car accident every time you use your car.

    With vaccine-induced serious harms so incredibly rare, and the more common harms really just nuisances, I just don’t understand why people won’t apply logic and get vaccinated and get their kids vaccinated.

    I’ve even had repeated vaccinations for the same disease because I lost all my documentation when I moved jobs. I had no qualms about getting MMR etc multiple times. I wish varicella vaccination was available when I was a child – may have saved me from my severe infection at age 28 (which lasted 10 days and included meningismus and photophobia, not to mention all the other symptoms).

    “Vaccines are a remarkable success of modern medicine: They are health interventions that are both demonstrably effective and remarkably cost-effective. Vaccination has likely prevented more deaths in the past 50 years than any other health intervention. Smallpox was a ruthless killer that took 300 million lives, just in the 20th century alone. Today it’s gone – eliminated forever. And now there are now over two dozen diseases that are vaccine-preventable.”

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      And that rate is pretty close to the background rate anyway, plus, catching influenza itself is a risk factor for GBS.

  11. CrankyEpi says:

    Isn’t vaccination a nice example of working with nature to protect the body against disease? That is, the vaccine teaches the body’s immune system to recognize the specific antigen associated with that germ, so that if a live germ of that type comes along the body can defend itself? And this would be better than not vaccinating and then getting really sick and needing all of those evil “western medicine” drugs? Or did I miss something?

    1. Kathy says:

      Sure, we should have T-shirts proclaiming, “Me and my kids have well-educated immune systems. What about yours?”

      1. mouse says:

        Maybe if the flu vaccine was grown in eggs from free range vegetarian fed chickens (and labeled as such) they could have popular vaccine clinics at Whole Foods.

        1. Iefske says:

          that may actually work

  12. Jann Bellamy says:

    I have a copy of The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (2012 version) which is sort of an abridged version of the seminal text on naturopathy, the Textbook of Natural Medicine, but is written for public consumption, and is by the same authors, 2 NDs. Here’s some of the general advice to the public in the preface to the Encyclopedia:

    “This book contains information based on firm scientific inquiry and represents an evidence-based approach to wellness.”

    “Do not self-diagnose. If you have concerns about any subject discussed in this book, please consult a physician, preferably . . . “ then they go on to list, in this order, an ND, nutritionally oriented MD, DO or DC “or other natural health care specialist.”

    And this from the 1st chapter:

    “The modern naturopathic physician provides all phases or primary health care… That is, naturopathic physicians are trained to be the doctor first seen by the patient for general (nonemergency health care. Clinical assessment generally follows the conventional medical model . . .”

    So, what is said about vaccines in this book is guaranteed to be “evidence-based” primary care, following the “conventional” medical model, and if you have questions, you should see an ND. However, as you can see from the following, there is almost no discussion of vaccination in the book and, other than possibly vaccination for hepatitis, no recommendations in favor of vaccinations. When there is mention of vaccination, negative factors are emphasized in most cases. Yet, NDs are being licensed as primary care providers in several states.

    Under the term “vaccination” in the index, there are only 5 subentries for vaccination. Here is what the text referenced by those five entries says:

    Hepatitis: While it would take someone adequately trained in medicine to decide whether what they say on hepatitis is accurate, it doesn’t seem to me they are actively discouraging hepatitis vaccines.

    Immune system: Not relevant to safety and efficacy of vaccine or recommendations for vaccination.

    Influenza: Reference is to chapter on Asthma. Citing Bergen R., et al, Safety of cold-adapted live attenuate influenza vaccine in a large cohort of children and adolescents. The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 2004; 23: 138-144: “Although this relatively new vaccination was deemed safe for children and adolescents, there was a four times greater risk in children 18-35 months old of asthma and associated restrictive airway disease.” This is the only mention of the influenza vaccine that I could find in the entire book.

    Pertussis: Also in the chapter on Asthma, they mention the supposed connection between asthma and pertussis vaccine, citing Odent MR, et al, Pertussis vaccination and asthma, Is there a link? JAMA 1994; 742: 592-593. That is the only study cited in support and the supposed link is the only information given in the entire book on pertussis vaccine.

    Pneumococcal and viral: In the chapter on “Ear Infection (Otitis Media)” there is this:
    “ . . . pneumococcal and viral vaccines have been designed but have also shown little benefit [for ear infections] probably owing to the multifactorial nature of this condition. Given the inherent risks and complications, vaccinations do not appear to be warranted at this time.” Cite: Rovers MM, et al, Otitis media. The Lance 2004; 363:465-473. This is the only mention of pneumococcal vaccine in the entire book.

    In addition, under the index entry “Children, childhood” there is no mention of vaccination. Mumps, measles, chicken pox, rubella, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and meningitis are not indexed at all. In the chapter on cervical dysplasia, the HPV vaccine is not mentioned. There is no reference in the book to the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedule.

  13. Bogeymama says:

    You could re-write this post and substitute “chiropractor” for “naturopath” and find an equal amount of anti-vax commentary in Alberta. And the province actually covers chiropractic services for seniors! So during the winter the AB Health website screams “Get your Flu shot” at seniors, then allows them to see the chiro for free where they’re told “No, don’t get your flu shot.” One of my patients calls her chiro her “neuropathy specialist”, and he has been trying to d/c all of her meds. She went into AFib, landed in hospital and yet she STILL trusts everything he says. Of course, the “free” services covered by the government don’t extend to the thousands of dollars of supplements he’s managed to convince her she needs. So. Frustrating.

  14. Kiiri says:

    That is just sad that the whole book they are giving out to people to educate them and which is supposedly science based has very few and very misleading vaccine claims. I’ll take and MD and the CDC vaccination over a naturopath any day. Great article.

  15. mho says:

    Just a reminder–naturopathic “doctors” are lobbying in D.C. on Monday.
    Please write, fax, call, or email your Senators and Rep’s soon. They need to understand that naturopaths are not only not qualified to be primary care, they are unqualified.

  16. I have been following naturopathic quackery and anti-vax practitioners for two decades. Last Fall, a recent graduate of CCNM in came to practice in Waterloo. On the side she ran a clinic in a huge fitness club. Posters were placed there promoting homeopathic vaccines. When challenged, she just basically shrugged her shoulders. Now, this ND had a basic life science degree from a major Canadian university. She is not the only one in Waterloo who promotes quackery. The soon to be College of Naturopathic Medicine regulatory body has no official opinion about any of this. They basically refuse to pursue any actions against any of these practitioner because they are not fully in charge of the flock. The old regulatory body is still BDDT-N, and they have done nothing either. Some NDs are using iridology, Vegatest machines, and applied kinesiology to drag their patients off the streets. Nothing has changed, nothing is really regulated, and this will go on forever.

    If you want to see some of my comments over the years:
    Naturopathy on Canadian Quackerywatch.com

    1. Chris Hickie says:

      Sadly, state medical boards (MD/DO) and groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the AMA, the AAFP refuse to do anything about anti-vaccine physicians who are direct threats to public health (Tenpenny, Eisenstein, Sears, Gordon, etc).

      I do think most people will still take the word of an MD or DO over naturopaths and chiros any day. But when the public does not see any major medical groups opposing any of these insane anti-vax physicians, I do think it makes people wonder why the opposition isn’t there. The silence of those groups is stunning.

  17. Here is an interesting quote from a medical journal. Guess what year it’s from:

    “The vast majority of the profession are agreed that if anything in medicine has been demonstrated beyond dispute it is the great value of vaccination…but the objectors to vaccination calmly put aside expert evidence by the uncomplimentary assertion that medical men have a monetary interest in compulsory vaccination…it is obvious that frequent and widespread epidemics…would prove infinitely more remunerative than the small fees derived from vaccination.”

  18. Stephen H says:

    Surely vaccination is so close to homoeopathy that the profession should grasp at it as representing “their” greatest success. Like cures like, a small dose protects you from a large dose…

    I figure that the people live in communities, and as much as we have rights as members of those communities we also have responsibilities. We don’t go around killing one another, we don’t just put down the “weakest” members of the community. Those principles do not apply only to our direct actions; if we neglect someone in our care and they die, we also have liability.

    This principle needs to be carried further. If you want to be part of a community, with all the rights pertaining thereto, you must vaccinate you and yours. To do otherwise puts members of the community, in particular the most defenceless, at unacceptable risk. Choosing not to vaccinate should be viewed in such light, and the person making such a choice should be required to remove themselves and their family from human contact. Otherwise, you are deliberately choosing to expose people you don’t even know to the possibility of illness and death. Such a choice must be linked to the consequences.

    This is on my “to do” list for when I come to power.

    1. Wilfrid L says:

      As an agricultural economist with a strong interest in evidence-based policy in the areas of agriculture, nutrition and health I find the SBM website a great resource. Steven H hits on a concept that has long been in the economics canon, namely externalities. If sufficient people are vaccinated to prevent the spread of a disease then they are not only benefitting themselves but also conferring benefits on society. Conversely, not vaccinating sufficient people leads to a negative externality on society (the costs of more disease than would otherwise be the case). It is thus fallacious to invoke the argument of excercising individual “freedom of choice” as do the anti-vaccinationists, given those negative spillover effects for which the non-vaccinated are unaccountable – and the importance of public policy to ensure adequate vaccination.

  19. MedsVsTherapy says:

    I said: “Most flus will not kill you. So, it is worth considering catching any non-life-threatening flu in the hopes that you will have cross-immunity to some killer flu decades from now.”

    Pavlov said:
    “Except that if this were the case, then getting vaccinated would still be a better option. Because it will protect you from the current flu that might kill you (you can’t know ahead of time if it will or won’t) and the future ones that you may get protection from via actually getting the flu.”

    –So, is there evidence that the immunity gained from a flu vaccination provides as much protection to subsequent similar flus – the same cross-immunization – as from catching the flu?

    By “evidence,” I would mean a decent review paper on the topic, citing original investigations. If I wanted an opinion-based answer, I could read any of a million alt-med webpages.

    Wikipedia has a very brief note in their “Influenza Vaccine” entry, toward the end, in the section titled, “Duration of Protection.”

    By my reading, it seems to support my view: if I think I can afford to risk having the actual flu, I may set myself up for immunity far in the future.

    Yes, a small portion of people die anytime the flu comes around. Will that be me? No.

    Should I get the flu vaccine in order to not communicate the flu to vulnerable people around me? Maybe – but that is a different issue.

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      So, is there evidence that the immunity gained from a flu vaccination provides as much protection to subsequent similar flus – the same cross-immunization – as from catching the flu?

      That is irrelevant because you should be getting the vaccine yearly. In which case, yes, there will continued protection.

      if I think I can afford to risk having the actual flu, I may set myself up for immunity far in the future.

      Except that this is a pretty dumb way to look at it. You have no idea if you can afford to risk having the flu or if the flu you are “affording to risk” will actually matter for a future flu that may be that “killer flu.” There are only a handful (at best) of examples that comport with what you are trying to achieve. And those were just blind luck and an extremely small fraction of cases. Plus, as in the case of the 1918 pandemic, you are much more likely to die from it, so your strategy is to expose yourself to higher risk now in the tiny hopes that it will protect you from a similarly higher risk later. When you could just be getting a $15 dollar shot every year and saving yourself current misery, current risk, and adding additional layers of benefit on a 3-5 year overlap.

      Essentially you are trying to argue that a side benefit that happens once or twice every 50-100 years or so is somehow preferable to simply getting your yearly vaccine, all while risking that year being the year that your cocky insistence that you will be fine is wrong. All in the background of having no relative downside to simply vaccinating yearly.

      Yes, a small portion of people die anytime the flu comes around. Will that be me? No.

      Really? And you know this… how exactly? Because you are young and healthy? There is evidence to show that it is, in fact, the young and healthy that can be at more risk from a serious flu because it is the immune response to it that kills rather than the virus itself or the sequelae thereof. Do you know how many young, healthy people who would have said the exact same thing ended up on ventilators from the H1N1 flu? I had a patient in the ICU in her late 20′s, otherwise perfectly healthy, who we had to put on ECMO. She survived, luckily. But you are being inane enough to think that the risk of being on ECMO is outweighed by the benefit of having lasting immunity to a strain that has at best an equally small chance of providing cross protection against some random future “killer” strain.

      All in the background of a simple flu vaccine that, taken yearly, offers the same average level of protection all whilst sparing you the misery of having the flu. It is not a logically supportable idea.

      Should I get the flu vaccine in order to not communicate the flu to vulnerable people around me? Maybe – but that is a different issue.

      Sure, I agree it is a different issue. But it is not a “maybe” it is a “definitely.”

      And you can feel free to call me Andrey. Or put my title in front of my last name if your prefer formalities.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Yes, a small portion of people die anytime the flu comes around. Will that be me? No.

      You might want to check your premise. The highest rates of death for Spanish Influenza were healthy adult males because their healthy, robust immune system destroyed their lungs as part of its efforts to fight off infection. The next version of the ‘flu could kill just about anyone. Unpredictably. Don’t assume general good health will protect you, because it just might kill you.

      1. Andrey Pavlov says:

        I started to write a second comment because I felt I forgot something in my first one but then got distracted. But this was exactly it. One could also just as easily get flu after flu after flu that offers zero (or not enough) cross protection from the one random strain that does you in.

    3. Andrey Pavlov says:

      @MedsVsTherapy:

      Here is an article you may find interesting from PNAS. It provides evidence that previous exposure to an H3 variant influenza virus is what actually increased the lethality of the 1918 pandemic virus.

      So it may be possible to get longer immunity from a more lethal future strain of the virus or to get longer immunity to a virus that will enhance the lethality of a future virus.

      No matter how you slice it, getting the vaccine just makes sense.

  20. TBruce says:

    Yes, a small portion of people die anytime the flu comes around. Will that be me? No.

    Hey there, Superman! Great to meet you!

  21. Jessica S says:

    “To me, an acute illness often represents either a weakening of a person’s resources, and/or an opportunity for growth and development. In kids, this is way more obvious — following infectious illness, you often see developmental milestones appear!”

    Wow! My three year old has yet to figure out how to jump with both feet – maybe if I infect him with influenza first? I’ll be kind and wait until the body aches subside before encouraging him to start hopping.

    But seriously, he’s fully vaccinated and for the most part obligingly so, ever since his last round when I told him the shots help him not “gag” (his word for throwing up). May not actually be all that truthful, since typical stomach viruses are not the actual flu, but I’ll bet he’d take a 24-hr stomach bug over a VPD – including influenza – any day. I know I would.

    1. Chris says:

      “May not actually be all that truthful, since typical stomach viruses are not the actual flu,”

      Trust me, you do not want the actual “stomach virus” (or more accurately intestinal virus) there is a vaccine for: rotavirus. That is no a day of vomit, but a week of rivers of diarrhea.

      Been there, done that. And I have the memories of the seizure, the 911 call with a busy signal, very large firefighters in our teeny tiny house, holding a small unconscious toddler in the ambulance, and then the IV being given to him in the emergency department.

      Then that was followed by a trip to the neurologist, and later to a speech pathologist because he could not speak… and then to another neurologist as he entered a special ed. preschool. Then lots of special ed. and speech therapy, and things have never been the same. He may never live on his own.

      All because he became dehydrated from a simple virus, that totally screwed with his brain chemistry. Does anyone wonder why the anti-vaccine folks annoy me? Especially when they will not tell which vaccine causes more seizures than the disease.

      1. Iefske says:

        That’s terrible. So sorry for your son. Are vaccines against rotaviruses available?

        1. Chris says:

          Yes. They came out about around 2006, and have been very effective:
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21183842

  22. Moralizing says:

    I feel like this stance is unfairly divisive. I, for one, understand and appreciate the science involved in vaccination. I don’t think it’s fair to lump all naturopaths into this extreme viewpoint of anti vaccs. This idea is far from ‘intrinsic’ to their philosophy. There’s nothing wrong with questioning our current process and trying to stay close to nature. In fact, that’s the most scientific way. And naturopathy is based on science. Especially with respect to diet and herbal medicine. I think that there a lot of people out there misusing the term ‘naturopathic’ on both sides.

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      Do you deny that patients of NDs are less likely to be vaccinated than patients of MDs? The evidence says so.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I don’t think it’s fair to lump all naturopaths into this extreme viewpoint of anti vaccs. This idea is far from ‘intrinsic’ to their philosophy.

      Actually, the whole problem is their philosophy – that the vital force exists and can be manipulated (with mutually-contradictory modalities). It is extremely fair to lump all naturopaths together, unless they explicitly abandon this principle (and de facto become a non-naturopath).

      Since their actual interventions, when not purely parasitic mis-applied regular medicine they keep advocating for access to, are often unsuccessful, they instead revert to marketing – criticizing real medicine in the hopes that this persuades customers to open their wallets. And in this case, they are often explicitly antivaccination, or implicitly so as with Ms. Gaul and her skewed, deceptive and ignorant claim of “informed consent” (which really comes down to lying to their patients about the risks and misrepresenting their ability to understand and explain vaccines).

      There’s nothing wrong with questioning our current process and trying to stay close to nature. In fact, that’s the most scientific way. And naturopathy is based on science. Especially with respect to diet and herbal medicine. I think that there a lot of people out there misusing the term ‘naturopathic’ on both sides.

      No, no, no and no. No to every single statement. Naturopathy is not based on science, science has long since discarded the idea of vitalism – the central premise of naturopathy. Science supports the use of vaccines as safe and effective. Questioning current processes is only appropriate when the questions are designed to uncover unexplored areas of research, they should not be questioned merely to drum up business. Trying to stay close to nature is stupid – the computer you are using? Not natural. Homeopathic remedies? Not natural. The house you live in, centrally heated with electricity? Not natural. Nearly all children reaching adulthood? Not natural. Natural is smallpox, early death, congenital malformation, starvation, stunted growth and mothers and infants dying during childbirth. Nature doesn’t care if you live or die, it doesn’t care if the species lives or dies. There is not a natural cure for every disease just waiting to be found, and herbs are, at best, dirty drugs of uncertain potency, pharmacokinetics and dosing (when they’re even the right herbs, since in many cases you aren’t getting the right herb or it’s been adulterated with an actual drug, or it’s contaminated with heavy metals).

      No, the problem is that we are quite familiar with naturopathy, and realize it’s little more than a grab bag of literally every single unproven or disproven medical intervention ever created. The problem is with naturopathy.

  23. Dr. Krumbeck says:

    Not all naturopathic physicians are anti-vaccine. I would estimate that the majority of pediatric-focused naturopathic physicians DO carry vaccines and vaccinate the children in their practice. I vaccinate in my practice, but truthfully I rarely vaccinate on the CDC schedule. This is more due to selection bias than anything – parents come to me because they aren’t comfortable with the full CDC schedule and would rather have individual vaccines. Most of the parents in my practice have been denied service at a conventional pediatrician because of their choice, which limits their access to vaccines at all. Thus, many of the parents I see end up with more vaccines than they would have otherwise, because I am willing to do alternate vaccine schedules.

    It is the sad truth that parents will believe a Mommyblogger or celebrity before they believe their physician about vaccines. It often takes quite a bit of convincing that vaccines are safe and that their child is not at risk. The advantage of being a naturopathic physician is that parents are more willing to trust me when I say that vaccines are safe.

    I will say, I have also seen a number of children who have had remarkable changes in behavior or general health around the time of vaccination. Thankfully none that I have personally vaccinated, but it also makes me suspect that vaccine adverse events are highly underreported, which is extremely concerning. Even the latest Cochrane review, I believe, stated that safety data is lacking for many vaccines. This, in my opinion, is not a reason to not vaccinate (particularly given the increase incidence of measles and pertussis recently), but it should raise a healthy discussion of how we can continue to ensure that vaccines are safe and develop new vaccines if necessary.

    You may also want to read this article by a ND in Seattle: “Yes, Vaccines are Naturopathic”
    http://seattlemamadoc.seattlechildrens.org/yes-vaccines-are-naturopathic/

    Currently the American Assoc. of Naturopathic Physicians are reviewing their position on vaccines, I expect there may be some changes in the future.

    1. David Gorski says:

      One notes that Erika Krumbeck’s arguments trying to refute the clear fact that antivaccine views are indeed intrinsic to much of naturopathic “science” tend to rest on straw man arguments and fallacious appeals to moderation. Meanwhile, she herself promotes antivaccine arguments in her own Vaccines Demystified video, such as fear mongering about aluminum (she even cites an execrable paper by the latest antivaccine darlings Lucija Tomljenovic and Christopher Shaw), calling for a “vaxed versus unvaxed” study, etc.:

      http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/10/09/naturopaths-and-vaccines

      As for naturopaths changing their positions on vaccines, I don’t see it happening any time soon, at least not in a substantive fashion. No doubt there will be changes that are more window dressing than anything, designed to hide or downplay the more extreme antivaccine views common among naturopaths. If Krumbeck is an example of a “pro-vaccine naturopath” (or, at least, a naturopath who isn’t antivaccine), color me unimpressed.

      As for that blog post from Mary Alison Higi, that is quite literally the first unabashedly pro-vaccine post I’ve ever seen by a naturopath, and I’ve read many, many posts by naturopaths about vaccines and looked diligently for a pro-vaccine naturopath. That I haven’t found one in over a decade of looking before seeing Higi’s post tells me a lot: Pro-vaccine naturopaths are almost certainly incredibly rare, an observation entirely consistent with Scott’s blog post. Indeed, even in her defense of naturopaths, she can’t resist slipping in a couple of fallacies about vaccines, along with some confirmation bias-laden personal clinical observations.

      1. David Grant says:

        As usual, David, you have a good reply to the anti-vaccine people. Like yourself, I am very skeptical about all of this complementary medicine and I am sick and tired of people so quickly wanting to accept this stuff. I am tired of these people encouraging people to not vaccinate their kids and expose them to various diseases which affect us all. I think it is high time that we stop accepting this rubbish and start speaking out about it.

    2. Windriven says:

      “The advantage of being a naturopathic physician is that parents are more willing to trust me when I say that vaccines are safe.”

      I’m not sure which troubles me more; that you believe that or that it might be true.

    3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I would estimate that the majority of pediatric-focused naturopathic physicians DO carry vaccines and vaccinate the children in their practice.

      Wow, how terrifying. I mean, your entire discipline is based on a profound fallacy, that a vital force exists to be manipulated, that you can “boost” it, or the immune system, and that this is a good thing. Yet despite this, you are injecting children with vaccines which, rarely, could have a serious reaction that you are woefully ill-equipped to deal with, both in terms of equipment, and in terms of your starting premise and knowledge base. What naturopathic treatment are you going to offer for a child experiencing convulsions?

      I vaccinate in my practice, but truthfully I rarely vaccinate on the CDC schedule.

      Again, terrifying, but now I ask why? I mean, the CDC schedule was put together by recognized experts in pediatric immunology, disease epidemiology, public health, vaccination and other relevant disciplines. They got a bunch of genuine, actively-researching experts together and pooled their knowledge to come up with this schedule based on the risks of the diseases, the status of the infant immune system and the knowledge we have about the vaccines themselves, and you somehow think you’re going to do a better job than them? How arrogant!

      This is more due to selection bias than anything – parents come to me because they aren’t comfortable with the full CDC schedule and would rather have individual vaccines.

      Yeah, maybe rather than accommodating their irrationalities, you might consider conveying this information to them.

      I will say, I have also seen a number of children who have had remarkable changes in behavior or general health around the time of vaccination.

      Yeah, but most vaccine doses are given at birth, two months, four months, six months, a year, two years, four years and six years. Don’t you think that perhaps the vaccines might have nothing to do with it? That the changes seen in a baby during the first six months of their life might be due to the perfectly normal and massive changes experienced by a baby during the fastest period of growth for brain and body they’ll ever see?

      Currently the American Assoc. of Naturopathic Physicians are reviewing their position on vaccines, I expect there may be some changes in the future.

      I doubt it – naturopaths must define and market themselves by fundamentally not being doctors, and generally this is through ignorant criticisms or irrelevant tangents. Criticizing real medicine is as much a part of naturopathy as illogical and unfounded beliefs. Were it otherwise – you’d be doctors. But you’re not.

    4. Windriven says:

      Cute picture, playing dress-up just like a real doctor.

    5. Iefske says:

      Are naturopathic physicians board-certified doctors? Or is it more like a Rand Paul sort of certification?

    6. Jann Bellamy says:

      “Currently the American Assoc. of Naturopathic Physicians are reviewing their position on vaccines, I expect there may be some changes in the future.”

      What is the position now? In reviewing the AANP’s website, I couldn’t find any position statement.

      Aligning the AANP’s views on vaccination with that of evidence-based medicine would indeed be a step in the right direction, if that is what you mean by “some changes.” However, the AANP is a voluntary organization and has no real authority over naturopaths. To effectively rid naturopathy of its anti-vaccination stance, the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education would have to require removal of anti-vaccination teaching from naturopathic schools, to be replaced by evidence-based education about vaccination. It would also require amendment to state regulations governing naturopathic practice to make it clear that misinforming patients about vaccination is considered substandard practice. And it would require intensive continuing education among naturopathic practitioners to counteract years of poor education and propaganda that has permitted anti-vaccination views to permeate naturopathic practice.

  24. As with my patients, I am not commenting here to change your minds. I would like to point out however that if you go to Amazon.com and search for all the books that contain data for, against and indifferent about vaccine safety, you will note that they are all written and researched by MDs. NDs are not “against vaccines”. We are in favor of all patients making educated decisions of their own and not basing all the health decisions on the far too powerful pharmaceutical industry who make billions every year on vaccines. And also by the way, drive most decisions made by the CDC and the medical powers that be. But that’s your choice to make. NDs simply want you to be aware that you, not big pharma should be in charge of and make educated health decisions for your family. In order to do this, you will have to research BOTH sides of the vaccine debate to see that vaccine safety does have 2 sides and you should know both of them before you become experts in how NDs practice. Have all of you been to NDs and MDs in order to base your comments here?
    One last note: Measles out breaks effect vaccinate and unvaccinated: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1646939/
    this should make you wonder.

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      @Ann Aresco,

      “One last note: Measles out breaks effect vaccinate and unvaccinated: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1646939/
      this should make you wonder”

      It only makes me wonder why you don’t understand the facts. The attack rate among the unvaccinated is much higher than among the vaccinated, but since the great majority of people are vaccinated and the vaccine doesn’t guarantee 100% protection, most of the individuals in an outbreak will have been vaccinated.

      1. David Gorski says:

        Exactly. Pretty much every epidemiological study I’ve seen of measles outbreaks shows that the risk of contracting measles among the unvaccinated is many times higher than the risk among the vaccinated. However, because vaccination rates are usually around 80% or 90%, that often translates to more vaccinated developing the measles in terms of raw numbers.

    2. Scott Gavura says:

      It’s telling that the naturopath comments on this post actually reinforce the points I made in the post.

    3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      As with my patients, I am not commenting here to change your minds

      That’s OK, we’re not aiming to convince you either. Since you’re a naturopath, you’re already working from a set of imaginary premises and no amount of rational argument will sway you from them. I generally argue to argue, but also to convince any lurkers.

      I would like to point out however that if you go to Amazon.com and search for all the books that contain data for, against and indifferent about vaccine safety, you will note that they are all written and researched by MDs.

      Really? Are you sure? Because I’ve read at least Bailetti’s book, and she’s a naturopath.

      NDs are not “against vaccines”. We are in favor of all patients making educated decisions of their own and not basing all the health decisions on the far too powerful pharmaceutical industry who make billions every year on vaccines.

      See, that’s what you say, “we’re for informed choices”, but the information you provide is so soundly skewed that it’s not really “informed consent”, it’s more propaganda. Are you informing patients when you talk about the association be vaccination and autism despite the association being debunked? When you substitute an actual analysis of the scientific literature for a facile throwaway bit of pharmanoia about Big Pharma as you do above? And did you notice that the most frequent site we refer people to for vaccine information is the CDC, not Pfizer?

      Not being “against vaccines” is a little bit of propaganda used by naturopaths to cover up the fact that they are very much against vaccines – not on the basis of a genuine assessment of the evidence, but rather because of marketing. It’s how you distinguish yourself. “We’re for patient choice, not like those nasty doctors who are bribed by pharmaceutical manufacturers who are just out for a profit. Now please buy my supplements that I sell for a profit” you hypocrite.

      So when Big Pharma makes a profit it’s bad, but when you do it, that’s good? You suck.

      And also by the way, drive most decisions made by the CDC and the medical powers that be.

      And your proof is? The CDC has changed and updated its vaccination schedule to discount vaccines in the past. Not to mention, Pfizer would make a lot more money selling treatments for vaccine-preventable diseases than they would selling actual vaccines.

      In order to do this, you will have to research BOTH sides of the vaccine debate to see that vaccine safety does have 2 sides and you should know both of them before you become experts in how NDs practice. Have all of you been to NDs and MDs in order to base your comments here?

      That assumes there are two sides, but really there pretty much isn’t. Real doctors who went through med school are 99% in agreement that vaccination is a powerful force for good, the remaining 1% are nutters and loons who, like naturopaths, basically believe in magic and boutique services they can’t charge Meidcare or Medicaid for. Exactly what have naturopaths contributed to the literature on vaccines that wasn’t fearmongering? How many randomized, controlled trials or basic immunology research have naturopaths conducted on vaccines? How much of the primary literature have you read? What exactly do you know about vaccines that didn’t come predigested by someone else?

      For instance, I’ll note that the article you cite is from nearly 20 years ago, you interpret it wrongly, and you don’t note that the epidemic you cite resulted in a second dose being recommended. So yeah, if there are two sides, you’re not on either. You’re on an imaginary side dictated by fantasy and marketing rather than evidence.

  25. David Gorski says:

    One can’t help but note that you’re citing a 27 year old article. For example:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24530930
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23823129

    There are lots more where that came from; I’m just too busy to take a lot of time looking for them.

  26. MedsVsTherapy says:

    OK, back to my “evidence” idea: this discussion about flu vaccine, and rotavirus vaccine, are helpful.

    Can anyone suggest readings regarding “who dies from the flu?” Apparently, from comments here. the healthy are at greatest risk, and the infirm are relatively safe. Kind of the opposite of what I would guess. Thanks in advance.

    I also had no responses regarding evidence for cross-immunity from flu vaccine. If that kind of benefit seems to outweigh the benefit of having a real flu and from that being immune to some killer flu decades later, that would change the decision matrix.

    1. Chris says:

      Can anyone suggest readings regarding “who dies from the flu?”

      A pair of oldies that are informative:

      Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 by Gina Kolata

      The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry

      Then, if you wish to dig deeper try this:
      http://www.virology.ws/influenza-101/

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Seconding The Great Influenza, it covers the history of the pandemic and goes into how the virus infects, how it spreads and why individual viral strains go extinct year-to-year. Great book.

        1. Chris says:

          It also gives a summary of how medical science progressed between the 19th and 20th centuries.

          I picked up a later edition recently, and has added a review of recent influenza outbreaks.

    2. Chris says:

      I just checked a news feed and found this:
      http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/276060.php

  27. kevin says:

    I am a licensed naturopath. I vaccinate my children. Please stop with the straw man argument against naturopaths. I don’t wear a pony tail. I don’t try to cure patients with crystals. Please stop taking the only the strangest parts to paint a picture of our profession. We are not all of one mind. I practice a combination of standard and alternative medicine. Why does this group draw such a distinctive line between scientific medicine and quackery? I can take parts of “conventional medicine” history and paint a pretty ugly picture of allopathic medicine also. Seems that this forum is about politics more than science most of the time. Has nobody here read the history of medicine? Philosophy of science? If the agenda was really to “first do no harm” then the content would have a much different tone.

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      It is a fact that patients of naturopaths are less likely to be vaccinated than patients of medical doctors. That is not a straw man argument.
      Why do you NOT draw a distinctive line between scientific medicine and quackery?
      As for the history of medicine, it has shown over and over that treatments people believed were effective were actually ineffective or even harmful.
      “First do no harm” does not mean “never use any treatment that might have side effects.” It means we should weigh the benefits against the risks and make sure our treatments are more likely to help than harm.

      1. Wow, I really do not want to jump in debating a foolish person because someone on the outside will think I am the fool.

        No one needs a MD to do a lot of what is done in a primary care office.
        Gee in a pyramid hierarchy of care w one FP covering a few dozen great NPs, PAs, MAs, Naruathaths etc. It would lead to better coverage of all and at a very reasonable cost saving. The vending machine model of medicine does not need a person, it can function effectively mechanically automatically!!!

        I really think you guy her in the science base medicine should get

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          We already think you are a fool Steve, and we have for months. It’s because you make foolish arguments like “my experience is more relevant and a better guide for empirical truths than the scientific literature”.

          How does one define a “great” naturopath (I’m assuming that’s what you mean by “Naruathaths”), when their entire profession is based on the idea of manipulating an energy that doesn’t seem to exist?

          1. Windriven says:

            “(I’m assuming that’s what you mean by “Naruathaths”)”

            Perhaps he stuck himself with a needle and can’t type.

            1. n brownlee says:

              Still trying to figure out what his native language might be. Possibly Urantian.

        2. Windriven says:

          “No one needs a MD to do a lot of what is done in a primary care office.”

          Many primary care practices now work as teams of MDs or DOs, NPs and PAs. No need for naturopaths, homeopaths, or psychopaths.

          “I really think you guy her in the science base medicine should get”

          And many of us here at SBM think that you should get.

    2. Andrey Pavlov says:

      I can take parts of “conventional medicine” history and paint a pretty ugly picture of allopathic medicine also

      True enough. The problem is that the foundations of naturopathy are currently that same ugly picture from the pre-scientific days of medicine. Homeopathy is a core required course, taught on the “boards” for naturopathy. This lament that “I am not such a quack, as compared to my colleagues” does nothing to exculpate your “profession.” It is a hodge podge of any all all quackery with a smattering of actual science based treatments and modalities thrown in for good measure, something that is well documented here on this site.

      I don’t try to cure patients with crystals. Please stop taking the only the strangest parts to paint a picture of our profession. We are not all of one mind.

      You don’t, but the majority of your colleagues do. And the fact that you are not all of one mind on such matters is precisely the problem. If one of my colleagues was of such a different mind, I would not be defending them but lambasting them for the quackery.

      Why does this group draw such a distinctive line between scientific medicine and quackery?

      What? Why would we bother to try and separate actual medicine from quackery? Is that a serious question? I mean isn’t the answer absurdly obvious? Because we shouldn’t be and don’t want to be practicing quackery!

      Has nobody here read the history of medicine?

      Yes, we have. And the fact that what is acceptable in medicine has changed is precisely its strength. The fact that naturopathy still embraces, teaches, and requires knowledge of outright quackery, pseudo- and anti-scientific practices, and outright buffoonery is precisely the problem with your field. If ND’s can’t figure out in over 100 years that homeopathy is nonsense on par with magical crystals then it is indeed perfectly reasonable to point out that the field, as a whole, is nothing more than pure quackery. The fact that some, like yourself, are a little less duck-like is entirely irrelevant.

    3. Chris says:

      “I can take parts of “conventional medicine” history and paint a pretty ugly picture of allopathic medicine also. ”

      The fact there are issues with real medicine does not automatically make naturopathy valid. If you want to prove naturopathy is better, then you have to provide evidence that it treats certain non-self-limitiing conditions better.

      “Has nobody here read the history of medicine?”

      At least in the history of real medicine errors are discovered and then corrected them. When has naturopathy changed to fit the science? Real medical doctors no longer resort automatically to bloodletting like they did two hundred years ago, yet naturopathic schools still have homeopathy on their curriculum even though it is literally nothing.

      If you want us to take naturopathic doctors seriously, then you must do these two things:

      1. Drop all treatments that have shown to be ineffective like homeopathy, reiki, etc.

      2. Qualify and pass the US Medical Licensing Exam.

      Until then “ND” will stand for “Not a Doctor.” If the osteopaths can do it, then show that naturopathy has the will to be dragged into the 21st century.

    4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I don’t try to cure patients with crystals.

      What do you cure your patients with?

      1) If you use conventional medicine – what distinguishes you from a real doctor, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner aside from your inferior education and tremendous lack of clinical experience?

      2) If you use food – are you really curing anything? And what distinguishes you from a registered dietician?

      3) If you use herbs – how do you know they work? If you say “the scientific literature”, please see 1)

      We are not all of one mind. I practice a combination of standard and alternative medicine.

      Why do you use alternative medicine at all? What does it add that conventional medicine does not already have?

      Why does this group draw such a distinctive line between scientific medicine and quackery?

      One has proof and regulations to back its claims, the other is protected from ever having to provide proof that it actually works (homeopathy is grandfathered in to the relevant FDA legislation, DSHEA essentially protects any and all supplements from ever requiring proof of efficacy).

      I can take parts of “conventional medicine” history and paint a pretty ugly picture of allopathic medicine also. [snip] Has nobody here read the history of medicine?

      Isn’t this a bit like looking at the history of Germany from, say, 1940-1945, and from there assuming the country’s residents are Jew-hating psychotics? Or to take European Jews from say, 100 AD to 1945 AD and assume that all Jews are persecuted and powerless?

      See, if you take the worst part of any history, ignore the rest and in particular ignore the present, you can make nearly anyone or anything look bad.

      Seems that this forum is about politics more than science most of the time.

      Proponents of CAM, including naturopathy, are strongly inclined to legislate their practices into the public arena.

      You never need legislation to sell a safe, reliable cure for cancer like gleevec. Why do naturopaths need laws to demand the ability to prescribe proven medications? Why do you need DSHEA to be able to continue sellilng herbs without prosecution?

      Philosophy of science?

      Here are some questions about philosophy of science for you. Philosophy of science has rather proscriptive rules for demonstrating proof and causality. Why do CAM interventions lack any proof? Why do CAM practitioners refuse to abandon treaments like laetrile that show it not only fails to cure cancer, but is actually toxic? Why do CAM practitioners insist randomized, controlled trials are inadequate to test their interventions?

      If the agenda was really to “first do no harm” then the content would have a much different tone.

      See, your application of “first, do no harm” would preclude any sort of surgery – because that first cut would be considered a “harm”. One must risk adverse effects to try to achieve main effects.

      Do you consider death from untreated cancer to be a harm? Do you consider promoting unproven cancer treatments to be a risk for a patient? How does that risk line up with the risk of, say, herceptin? Or mercaptopurine?

      See, what really steams me up is the fact that you’re asking for, and have agitated for (as a profession) a double-standard. Pfizer, for all their assholism, has to run through hoops and spend millions of dollars to demonstrate that a drug doesn’t kill people, and actually does something. CAM interventions are either totally parasitic on this, or simply bypass it. Then you get offended when people point out that your claims have no proof. Well suck it up – prove your profession extends lifespan in a unique way and I’ll respect it. Right now you don’t.

      Put another way – what do you call alternative medicine that has been proven to work? You call it medicine.

  28. SuzanneMarsay says:

    Unfortunately we live in a time where just trusting the experts wholeheartedly is, at times, just not enough anymore. Many of us have had experiences where we are told one course of action from one doctor, and then a completely different course of action from another doctor when presented with the same symptoms. In today’s world we don’t make decisions based on one source of information anymore – we like to get a second or third opinion, read up on it ourselves and then make an “educated” decision.

    Sadly this happens in the arena of vaccines as well. Yes, many of us have heard stories of some vaccines causing disabilities or adverse symptoms, but can we really say that we as the average, educated citizen know better to an extent where we can decide against a vaccine?

    Through the years, vaccines that have statistically saved so many lives, have had only a minority of unexpected outcomes.

    Perhaps you as parent decide against your child’s vaccination based on the likelihood that they may or may not contract the disease, or how risky the disease is in itself. After all, there is a difference between a chance of having chicken pox and a chance of contracting polio.

    The question is then: What is the relative risk of effects between the vaccine and the disease being vaccinated against? Can we afford to vaccinate selectively?

    It is true that certain children should not receive certain vaccines, an example being children with genetic predispositions, such as immune disorders. , Since specific vaccines, by design, stimulate the body’s immune response, this could unintentionally trigger a disease that a child may have been predisposed to inherit. In the end it is parents’ responsibility to be vigilant, and this is certainly not a decision to be taken lightly.

    By skipping or delaying vaccinations, parents place their own children – as well as the community members and anyone that comes into contact with their children – at risk of serious illness. If parents decide not to vaccinate my child, the parents make that child a potential carrier. That child may be able to fight off measles, mumps, rubella, and other illnesses – but what if that child spreads the disease to someone whose body cannot fight that disease? Are you as parent willing to accept that risk over the risk of your child potentially being in the small percentage that have adverse effects?

    The success of vaccinations over the years means that the effects of these diseases are often far from people’s minds (not every person today can relate to having lost loved ones to polio or measles). As these diseases become rare, people start thinking less about the diseases and more about the vaccines. Experts say that hesitance and refusal to vaccinate are already helping to drive the resurgence of certain vaccine preventable diseases like measles, mumps and chicken pox.

    Should public health officials mandate certain childhood vaccinations for the better of the community? Perhaps. Whichever way, it is certain that childhood immunisation is one of our greatest health care achievements in history. On the whole, it saves lives and prevents many disabilities. Parents, I urge you to reconsider the risks of your decision to not vaccinate. Be prepared to face the consequences of your decision. You have a responsibility to make the BEST decision in your child’s interest.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Many of us have had experiences where we are told one course of action from one doctor, and then a completely different course of action from another doctor when presented with the same symptoms

      What should be pointed out is that this situation suggests the patient is either being misdiagnosed by one, or there are two possible treatments, neither of which is clearly superior in all circumstances. Which is not the case with vaccines – doctors recommend vaccination over the illness, and at worst will debate which variant of the vaccine to be used!

      Unless they’re nutters of course!

      Perhaps you as parent decide against your child’s vaccination based on the likelihood that they may or may not contract the disease, or how risky the disease is in itself. After all, there is a difference between a chance of having chicken pox and a chance of contracting polio.

      And emphasis needs to be placed on how ill-equipped parents are to make this decision though; they’ve almost certainly never experienced the life-threatening consequences of a vaccine-preventable disease (or a vaccine itself for that matter, which is an order of magnitude lower) so they can’t appreciate the risks involved. Chicken pox can be deadly, meanwhile the vaccine is not, and one can never predict whether a child will be exposed or whether they are going to suffer a mild or deadly case. What should be emphasized is that the genuine experts do this review as part of determining the vaccine schedule. The panel includes pediatric immunologists, epidemiologists and clinicians who explicitly weigh the risks of the disease versus the risks of the vaccine, for every single vaccine.

      The question is then: What is the relative risk of effects between the vaccine and the disease being vaccinated against? Can we afford to vaccinate selectively?

      Again emphasis needs to be placed on the fact that this already occurs – children are not given every possible vaccine we have available. Anyone seen a child with a smallpox vaccine scar lately? My parents both have one, I do not. Yellow fever? West Nile? Anthrax? The experts review the diseases of childhood, as determined by the locations, weigh the risks and the benefits of vaccinate/do not vaccinate and version 1/version 2, and come up with the schedule. The question that vaccine-questioning parents are asking has been answered, and by a group of people many, many times better equipped than nearly any parent in existence. We do vaccinate selectively!

      It is true that certain children should not receive certain vaccines, an example being children with genetic predispositions, such as immune disorders. , Since specific vaccines, by design, stimulate the body’s immune response, this could unintentionally trigger a disease that a child may have been predisposed to inherit. In the end it is parents’ responsibility to be vigilant, and this is certainly not a decision to be taken lightly.

      In this case I would point out that the CDC discussion of vaccines includes explicit discussions of who should not vaccinate. Further, parents should understand what the risks are to such a child if they experience the wild virus or bacteria. Do they understand that a vaccine with 14 antigens is far, far less dangerous in this situation than the billions of viral particles pumped out over the course of a full-blown infection? Vaccines contain the same diseases that they vaccinate against.

      I’m very happy that most parents simply trust their doctors and vaccinate.

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