Tuesday, May 7, 2013

McGill University's Office For Science & Society Critique of Naturopathy

here, since it is Naturopathy Week 2013 in Canada, I cite from and comment upon a 2012 blog post up at McGill University's Office For Science and Society [OSS] regarding naturopathy in Quebec [see 001., below];


001. McGill Blogs' OSS (these fellas) writes in "Naturopathic Debate Follow-Up: Some Answers to Your Questions" [my comments are in unquoted bold]:


"[these are] answers to questions raised after a debate on whether doctors of naturopathic medicine should be recognized as primary care physicians in Quebec [...]";


it's nice to see something happen in public.  This usually doesn't happen in the U.S. with naturopathy.  So, there are many States and Provinces wherein PCP naturopathy is currently permitted.  This is not because naturopathy is scientifically legitimate essentially.  It is a political victory usually accomplished through false labeling and false posturing.  Is / will such happen in Quebec?  I'll bet, it's naturopathy's MO!  Because if you knew what it was really about, you'd pass on the nonsense.  Unless you like nonsense thought for your medicine.

"[the author tells us] I have nothing to gain from being pro or con towards naturopathic or conventional medicine.  I am not a physician so I have no financial stakes here [...] my interest [is] in promoting evidence-based science [...] at the OSS, our only allegiance is to the scientific method [...] proper scientific methodology rather than anecdote, hearsay or magical thinking [...]";

ah, a statement of interests!  How nice to hear detachment, and an ethos for "evidence-based science." Well, as I've often said, my interest in naturopathy -- I'm not a physician either -- is that I studied it for four years in Connecticut and feel that it was fraud -- big-time life rupturing fraud whose entire contents they labeled as belonging within a "Division of Health Sciences" including homeopathy.  And it's still going on there 11 years after I stopped that degree in disgust, and I'm filled with more disgust than ever ["as he got older, he got worse"].  This McGill post feels good to me, because its reasoning is something I'm very much in agreement with.  I do know what 'non-evidence based science' is: things like naturopathy!  For instance, if we are talking about Quebec naturopathy, then there's the claim at the Provincial association that naturopathy is scientific yet it contains the science ejected.  Wait, that's not as mild as 'nonevidence based science', that is fraud!  And regarding science as a method, naturopathy seems to think that science occurs by fiat.

"I am not on any sort of witch hunt against naturopathic practitioners, except when they practice quackery [...]";

naturopathy, at its heart, is a kind of knowledge quackery, wherein science is posed as indiscriminate.

"I fully recognize that there is a role for naturopathic physicians in health care [...] they can provide valuable advice about lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and stress relief [...] dealing with lifestyle factors is not solely in the domain of naturopathic doctors [...]";

I doubt though it would be argued that there's a role for alchemists in chemistry, or astrologers in astrology.  So, I disagree completely.  There already are ethical health professionals who do what is listed without the mind-numbing cost of science subset nonsense junk thought, so what role is left except for charlatan?

"I do not think their training is adequate for recognition as primary care physicians [...]";

agreed.

"problems arise when some naturopathic doctors counsel against evidence-based conventional treatments.  Suggesting that homeopathy is a viable alternative to antibiotics can have serious consequences [...] naturopathy is an eclectic practice that encompasses treatment modalities ranging from the sensible to the nonsensical and in its present format cannot be relied upon for primary care [...]";

agreed.

"doctors of naturopathy undergo training at a college of naturopathy [...] I am [...] not impressed by some facets of the curriculum at these Colleges.  After having closely scrutinized some lectures and student notes on chemistry, physiology and anatomy as taught in these institutions, my view is that the courses are not up to the rigor we teach in university [...]";

well, let me be explicit: mixing legitimate medical science with science-ejected nonsense and falsely labeling the whole thing science is at the heart of naturopathy and is not, I hope these days, 'university-rigorous'.

"much more worrisome is that homeopathy is taught as a 'science,' and that students in some schools are told that there are connections between the iris and the liver [iridology!  Which NDs love].  Teachings about traditional Chinese medicine, reflexology, acupuncture and herbal medicine are one sided and ignore massive amounts of peer-reviewed research that does not support the naturopathic philosophy [...]";

hear, hear.  I'll add this too: one takes an OATH to presenting naturopathy as a science and that includes homeopathy.  So, what profession has one ever heard of that makes one take an oath to the falsehood 'science subset abject nonscience'?  And I prefer to call the 'one-sided' nature of naturopathy 'sectarian'.
  
"I do not find evidence of consistent diagnostic or therapeutic methods in naturopathic medicine.  One practitioner may offer totally different counsel from another and guidance can range from common sense advice about diet and exercise to an array of totally implausible treatments such as wearing socks soaked in ice water [wet socks!...]";

agreed.  Without objective knowledge aka science, anything goes and there isn't a standard of care besides adhering to their core vitalism, supernaturalism, and therapies aimed at altering those figmentations. 

"the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors describes homeopathic remedies as such: 'when carefully matched to the patient they are able to affect the body’s ‘vital force’ and to stimulate the body’s innate healing forces on both the physical and emotional levels, with few side effects.'  This is nothing but fantastic conjecture. The belief in some sort of supernatural 'life force' that does not subscribe to the laws of chemistry, physics or biology and yet governs health [...] science long ago confined 'vitalism' to the dustbin, in naturopathic philosophy it lives on, unabated [truly!!!].  That’s because 'life force' is not a matter of science, but a matter of faith [...] arguments on behalf of homeopathy for example, have not changed in two hundred years.  The justification offered by some naturopathic doctors is that 'homeopathy was true then, is true now and will always be true.'  Not exactly scientific thinking [...] double blind randomized trials [...] demonstrate that homeopathy works through the placebo effect [...] implausible speculations about water having 'memory,'  or about anatomically non-existent meridians or 'blocked energy channels'  amount to no more than magical thinking and have no place in evidence-based science [...]";

naturopathy as metaphysicianship!  As in 'the metaphysical'.  Yet, they promised us years ago that 'naturopathy is not a belief system, is it science-based'.   Boy was I lied to: boy to I need an international lawyer.

"naturopaths commonly reference Hippocrates’ doctrine of  'vis medicatrix naturae' (as if ancient 'wisdom' equaled 'evidence') to justify the healing powers of nature.  This is actually a misinterpretation of Hippocrates’ view.  What the 'father of medicine' had in mind was a purging of Greek medicine of its belief that gods were responsible for health and illness.  Natural phenomena, not gods, were to be accountable, he maintained [...]";

ah, their spin on 'the big H' with the argument from antiquity thrown in.

"many doctors of naturopathy [...] sell a variety of items to their clients.  I consider this to be an unethical practice given the obvious motivation to recommend products from which the practitioner profits [...]";

I've heard often that NDs in the US make half their income from their dispensary.

"naturopathic doctors may provide a sympathetic ear but that does not guarantee a discerning brain [...]";

no, it doesn't.  Many years ago Dr. Barrett nailed this, calling naturopaths "muddle-heads."
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