Legislative alchemy (briefly) revisited: Naturopathy in Vermont and colloidal silver

A couple of weeks ago, Jann Bellamy wrote about “legislative alchemy” in the new year, in which CAM mischief works its way into state legislatures. Specifically, she mentioned the case of legislators in Vermont trying to declare in law that naturopaths are primary care physicians, who can serve as a patient’s medical home without supervision by real doctors.

Rosemary Jacobs, whose life was altered irrevocably when she developed agyria due to colloidal silver noticed another aspect of this new proposed law:

I recently learned that Vermont licenses naturopaths, NDs, as physicians and that they have a state sanctioned formulary, a list of drugs they can prescribe and administer to patients. To my horror, the 2009 formulary includes “colloidal silver preparations” to treat eye infections and “silver” which they can administer intravenously. Physician Formulary 20091211.pdf [pdf download]

I was horrified because of the danger this poses to patients, the incredible ignorance it shows on the part of naturopaths, and because NDs had, without my knowledge, been licensed in Vermont to administer prescription drugs and other strange substances like silver and tin, do physical exams and order the same diagnostic tests that MDs order.

How had this happened without my knowledge? I have been following alternative medicine for 15 years and warning people about the danger of ingesting silver, an alternative “remedy”, because I don’t want anyone else disfigured by it like I was over 50 years ago.

Silver drugs were used by medical doctors before the advent of antibiotics. Although they didn’t work, they permanently turned many people blue and gray. The condition is called argyria. It was formerly common, and is well documented and understood by scientists.

If NDs had known as much about medicine as I, an educated consumer, do, they would have searched the medical literature before including anything in their formulary. If they had done that, they would have seen that: there are no studies showing that ingesting silver in any form or amount offers benefits; colloidal silver does not treat eye infections; taking silver internally or putting it in your eye can result in permanent discoloration.

Colloidal silver is nonsense. There’s no evidence that it is good for anything. Rosemary also revealed to me something I didn’t know before, namely that there’s another woo-friendly Senator that I didn’t really know about: Bernie Sanders, who, according to her, helped naturopaths become players in the medical marketplace.

Posted in: Legal, Naturopathy

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13 thoughts on “Legislative alchemy (briefly) revisited: Naturopathy in Vermont and colloidal silver

  1. DrRobert says:

    It’s pretty absurd they are allowed to prescribe anything. Their education is a complete joke and their philosophy is completely opposed to the medicine they would be prescribing. The most absurd thing about all of these CAM practitioners is how they demonize legitimate medicine as just “prescribing things to treat symptoms” but they all fight and fight to be able to …. prescribe things that treat symptoms! But, the things they prescribe are all placebo and/or dangerous junk.

    I hate to plug my own junk, but I have a decent writeup of colloidal silver here if anyone doesn’t know the background:

  2. daijiyobu says:

    I haven’t seen much written about this here in the US, but I have in Germany and the UK:

    UK naturopathy education has been stripped of public funding support, as has almost all sCAM programs recently instituted in the past ten years within their public higher educational system.

    Next, I anticipate, is Australia. Their bachelors of science in naturopathy is of course…


    But, what will Canada do? They are much more integrated [dare I pun] into the US ‘science based natural medicine’ ruse run by the CAND in Canada and the AANP in the US.

    British Columbia particularly.

    I’m much more impressed with UK science standards in general. Meanwhile, in the US, the majority of the population couldn’t draw an accurate basic diagram of the solar system [excluding all bodies besides the Earth, moon, and Sun even].


  3. Epinephrine says:

    But, what will Canada do? They are much more integrated [dare I pun] into the US ‘science based natural medicine’ ruse run by the CAND in Canada and the AANP in the US.

    Unfortunately, we seem to be infected with CAM, the NHPD is proof of this. We had a provincial minister of health explain (regarding homeopathy and licensing) that he can’t stand in the way of what the people want. And unfortunately, people want CAM, so politicians are giving it to them.

    I think all Canadians who oppose the policies on natural products need to be vocal. We need to see lawsuits prosecuting CAM practitioners for fraud, we need the government to start looking at the approvals they grant for NHPs and thinking “what risk are we taking when we label something as effective based on traditional use?” I suspect that only a perception of liability would cause government to reconsider the position they have adopted on these issues.

  4. NYUDDS says:

    I read Jann Bellamy’s article and immediately marked the “state legislature” site. A few years ago, I was made aware of pending legislation re: naturopath licensure, by my rep and state senator, both good friends, both recipients of my time during the year and donation during re-election. The Medical Society knew about the bill, the Board of Regisgtration in Medicine knew about the bill and as a result, the general membership was aware of the attempt to do what Jann notes in her article: sneak a bill through that would provide licensure and open the door to legitimacy and the financial and social rewards that come with it.

    The point is obvious: this does not happen under cover of darkness and SOMEONE should know enough to get the scientific, economic and legislative players involved. This is not a fair fight. There is a virtual blizzard(something we have happily avoided so far this year!) of e-mails, patient testimonials, letters, telephone calls, visits, surrogate action, anecdotes, group “meetings” etc. to legislators. Did I mention money? We need to get involved… early. Legislators need help, educational and financial. Medical societies and presumably their very well-paid lobbyist and others, are part of an important awareness chain, but they are not as important as the practitioner-legislator connection. This is where it starts. Please do your part to leave the noble scientific professions better than you found them.

    I have been involved in politics for most of my life. I am presumptuous enough to say that Tip O’Neill was wrong on this point: All politics is not local. It is personal. Get involved.

  5. rosemary says:

    Thank you, David, for helping to educate the public.

    For more information about licensed naturopaths please look at my blog.

    For more information about silver supplements and argyria, look at my website.

  6. CarolM says:

    There seems to be an unholy alliance between gullible progressives and “why not?” libertarians in state legislatures, when it comes to CAM.
    The latter look askance at any attempts to rein in the woodoo, and moreover see the FDA as a big govt bully keeping them from the drugs they want.

  7. rosemary says:

    Vermont is an unusual state. It was a magnet for hippies in the 60s & 70s and is now home to many of their physical and spiritual descendants. Bernie Sanders is an old hippie who, with the help of the others, went mainstream and became respectable and wealthy. Now he is trying to return the favor. For a look at what goes on here:

    NDs have launched a very successful campaign across the US to become licensed as “primary care physicians” with the same privileges MDs have. They claim that they have the same education but better since they also specialize in “natural medicine” leaving the uninitiated into assuming that their “natural medicine” actually is a real branch of scientific medicine.

  8. Linda Rosa says:

    I was looking through the websites of NH’s licensed naturopaths, and besides all the nonsense they offer the public, I was struck by something else.

    These NDs have hours that bankers would envy. It looks like a lot of them work only four days a week. I would like to think that’s because they don’t have a lot of clients, but the relaxed pace and short hours of ND practice (vs. medicine) is probably a selling point that ND schools exploit to the max.

  9. TsuDhoNimh says:

    Silver nitrate HAD it’s place in treating newborns for possible gonorrhea of the eye – which can blind them. Better treatments are ow used.

    It’s still useful as a cauterizing agent in some circumstances – ENT doc treated a nasty nosebleed problem with silver nitrate on a cotton swab. Low tech, itched like FURY during the healing, but effective.

  10. rosemary says:

    Silver is a disinfectant. It is not an antibiotic. Neither is it safe to ingest. There are approved topical silver drugs. In the US there are no approved silver drugs meant to be taken internally, certainly not IV. Silver is legally sold as a “dietary supplement” in the US, but supplements have to be taken by mouth, not IV and not in the eyes, and no one can legally make drug claims for supplements.

    Anyone can make a supplement although they are supposed to follow GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices). As far as I know, only licensed drug manufacturers and licensed pharmacists can make drugs and when they do they have to follow strict guidelines which include only using substances approved by the FDA for such use.

    However, I fear that NDs may be using things far more dangerous than silver although without investigating all the things they use or speaking with a knowledgeable scientist who has reviewed their state sanctioned formularies, I don’t know that for a fact.

    What I do know for a fact is that NDs do not see any reason to objectively test the products they use to see if they are safe and do what they hope. My favorite example is tin which according to the VT Health Commissioner they use IV to treat baldness. See # 12 here:

    WOULD SOMEONE TELL ANDREW WEIL! NDs have found the cure for baldness!

  11. micwat says:

    For a post about how anybody can now (apparently) call themselves a doctor in Australia due to recent legislation see here:

  12. vermontmedicineshow says:

    just letting you know that Naturopathic Doctors are already considered “primary care physicians” in VT. S209 is part of the “blueprint for health” which is a revamping of the State health insurance system. 209 is only to restate the NDs place in the new system. If a patient chooses the ND as his pmcp then private and public health insurance are currently required by VT law to pay. here’s some copy paste on my crumby blog about the legislative process that got them this status:

    here’s a link, the same as above, where you can see Naturopaths actively advertising their status as PCPs.

    I hope that 209 can be stopped though. I also hope that Rosemary’s protest will get someone with actual medical knowledge to break open the magical crock of shit that is the VT Naturopathic Physicians

    If any of you SBM folks want to crack it open and take a look we’d love to represent your analysis to the powers that be here in VT. thanks for good work guys.

  13. more legislation about the PMC status for naturopaths

    this is pretty much the same language as S209

    “A health insurance plan shall provide coverage for medically necessary health care services covered by the plan when provided by a naturopathic physician licensed in this state for treatment within the scope of practice described in chapter 81 of Title 26. Health care services provided by naturopathic physicians may be subject to reasonable deductibles, co-payment and co-insurance amounts, fee or benefit limits, practice parameters, cost-effectiveness and clinical efficacy standards, and utilization review consistent with any applicable regulations published by the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration. Any amounts, limits, standards, and review shall not function to direct treatment in a manner unfairly discriminative against naturopathic care, and collectively shall be no more restrictive than those applicable under the same policy to care or services provided by other primary care physicians, but may allow for the management of the benefit”

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