Britt Marie Hermes
Britt Marie Hermes
Britt Marie Deegan
1983 or 1984 (age 34–35)
|Education||Oak Park High School, 2002|
Kiel University, 2017 (M.Sc.)
|Years active||2011–2014 (naturopathic doctor); 2015–present (blogger)|
|Known for||Naturopathy, scientific skepticism, blogger|
Britt Marie Hermes (née Deegan) is an American former naturopathic doctor who became a critic of naturopathy and alternative medicine. She is the author of a blog, Naturopathic Diaries, where she writes about being trained and having practiced as a licensed naturopath and about the problems with naturopaths as medical practitioners.
Hermes' writings deal with the education and practices of licensed naturopaths in North America, and she is a noted opponent of alternative medicine. Hermes has been dubbed a whistleblower on the naturopathic profession and a "naturopathic apostate".
Early life, education and career
Hermes was born and grew up in California, and in 2002 graduated from Oak Park High School in Ventura County, California. Hermes has said that she became interested in natural medicine while in high school to treat her psoriasis, and that "A bad experience with a doctor as a teen pushed her to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine". In 2006, she graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor's degree in psychology (magna cum laude) and earned membership in the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.
Hermes received her N.D. in 2011 from Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington. She was first licensed as a Naturopathic Physician in Washington state, where she then completed a one-year residency at a naturopathic clinic in Seattle focused on pediatrics and family medicine. Prior to graduating from the N.D. program, Hermes travelled to Ghana and Nicaragua with other students from Bastyr to provide naturopathic care to rural communities.
Hermes moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she practiced until 2014 using the title “naturopathic medical doctor.” There she worked in an outpatient naturopathic clinic. She had a Federal DEA number that allowed her to prescribe controlled substances. And in her practice, she prescribed drugs and ordered tests like X-rays, MRIs, and blood work. After witnessing illegal and unethical treatments of cancer patients and discerning that such practices were common in her field, due to poor education and low professional standards, she decided to leave the practice of naturopathy.
She reported her boss, Michael Uzick, to the Arizona authorities for importing and administering a non-FDA approved substance called Ukrain to terminally ill cancer patients. Uzick was given a letter of reprimand by the Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Board of Examiners. Hermes characterized this disciplinary action as a "token punishment" and a "slap on the wrist." She reported that a former president of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians recommended that she not report Uzick to the authorities, which cemented her departure from the naturopathic profession.
In 2016 Hermes studied for an MSc in biomedicine at the University of Kiel in Germany specialising in the mammalian microbiome. As of June 2017[update], Hermes is a doctoral candidate at Kiel in evolutionary genomics, studying the signatures of co-adoptation between microbes that are living on us and our own genome.
In 2015, Hermes started a blog, Naturopathic Diaries, that is "aimed at contextualizing the false information proliferated by the naturopathic profession." Hermes is concerned with a lack of informed consent when naturopaths practice and the failure of naturopaths to employ science-based medicine. Her blog provides an insider's perspective on how naturopaths practice and are trained. Naturopathic Diaries was given the 2016 Ockham Award for Best Blog by The Skeptic magazine.
Hermes has documented that naturopathic organizations make misleading claims about naturopathic education in comparison to the training of medical doctors. She contends that accredited naturopathic programs do not adequately prepare students to become competent medical practitioners. Hermes argues that naturopaths are not able to recognize serious health conditions and treat according to the standard of care due to inadequate medical training.
Hermes has described her experiences observing licensed naturopaths frequently misdiagnosing patients and providing inappropriate medical advice, such as advising against vaccinations and treating cancer with alternative methods. She has characterized naturopathic methods, especially ones using vitamins and supplements, as lacking adequate scientific evidence and based on exaggerated health claims. Hermes' views are consistent with and elaborate upon previous criticisms of naturopathic education and practice.
Hermes believes that naturopathic doctors are misrepresenting their medical competency to the public and lawmakers. She maintains the following policy positions on the regulation of naturopathic doctors:
- Naturopaths should not be permitted to use the title "doctor" or "physician" because this misleads patients into thinking naturopaths have medical training commensurate with that of physicians practicing evidence-based medicine.
- Naturopaths should be prohibited from treating children. She highlights the case of the Canadian toddler who died and whose parents faced criminal charges for not providing him with prudent medical care for his fatal bacterial meningitis, which included seeking treatment by a licensed naturopath in Alberta who prescribed him a tincture of echinacea.
- Naturopaths should not be granted medical licenses and where they are already licensed, their scope of practice should be reduced.
Hermes started a Change.org petition, "Naturopaths are not doctors", to raise awareness of the shortcomings of naturopathic medicine and the naturopathic profession's political agenda of gaining licensure in 50 U.S. states by 2025 and participation in Medicare. Naturopaths, including the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, have accused her of defamation against the naturopathic profession.
When she was asked in an interview about the harm that could come from believing naturopathy, she responded,
1. Cost "these treatments could be very expensive sometimes costing thousands of dollars.
2. Believing in magic "patients would forego conventional treatments, and this... Can delay treatment or preventing them getting the treatment that could potentially save their life."
Speaking at CSIcon Las Vegas 2017, Hermes described herself as delusional regarding her naturopathic education, describing the teaching at naturopathic schools as pseudoscience.
In a separate interview in 2018 she commented on one of the distinctions between naturopathic medicine and science-based medicine stating that "When you’re going through naturopathic school, we’re told that what we’re being taught is evidence-based or science-based. These are different things. Evidence-based doesn’t mean the same thing as science-based. Homeopathy is a really good example to try to differentiate these terms. You can find evidence, even randomized controlled trials, that make it look like homeopathy might work. You pull from that body of research. You cherry-pick those studies. Now you have an evidence-based therapy. Science-based means that it’s actually plausible. Homeopathy is not science-based. It’s nonsense. It breaks the laws of physics. It’s not plausible. The argument is that we should make sure something is science-based before we even move on to studying it. It should pass the science test first".
An anonymous blog was set up that has attempted to pick apart Hermes's claims by citing low-quality studies by naturopaths in defense of naturopathic practices.
US-based naturopath Colleen Huber has filed a defamation lawsuit against Hermes in Germany over her opinions about natural cancer treatments and research. This was filed against her blog post about Huber. The lawsuit was filed in Kiel, Germany on September 17, 2017.
Australian Skeptics is managing a fundraising campaign to assist Hermes in her current legal action. The campaign met its initial goal of A$80,000 within the first 9 days. In an interview on the European Skeptics Podcast, President of the Australian Skeptics, Eran Segev spoke positively about the fundraising campaign saying that "the skeptical community does rally behind people, we have seen this with Ken Harvey, we are seeing it again now".
- Thielking, Megan (20 October 2016). "'Essentially witchcraft:' A former naturopath takes on the field". STAT. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
- "Bravo!: October 8, 2011". Ventura County Star. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- "East County Bravos". Ventura County Star. 3 June 2006. Archived from the original on 2006-06-13. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- Belluz, Julia (2 September 2015). "Why one naturopath quit after watching her peers treat cancer patients". Vox.
- Spitzer, Gabriel. "This Ex-Naturopath Turned Back To Science-Based Medicine, And Paid A Price For It". Sound Effect. KPLU.
- Haglage, Abby; Mak, Tim (25 May 2016). "Inside Donald Trump's vitamin 'scam'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
- Robins, Rebecca (17 May 2016). "Funded by vitamin makers, naturopaths push to expand in US". STAT. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
- Senapathy, Kavin (31 May 2016). "Why is Big Naturopathy afraid of this lone whistleblower?". Forbes. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- Novella, Steven (10 March 2015). "Naturopathic Delusions". NeuroLogica. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
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- Gerbic, Susan. "The Bloody Work of "Naturopathic Doctors" with Britt Hermes". Skeptical Inquirer. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- Jim Brown (10 April 2016). "Former naturopathic doctor calls for an end to naturopathic pediatrics". The 180. CBC.
- "'We're grateful for the chance to do this'". Bothell Reporter. 23 February 2009. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
- Kirkey, Sharon (4 April 2016). "Should naturopaths be restricted from treating children after tragic death of Alberta toddler?". National Post. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
- "Dr. Michael Uzick disciplinary actions". Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
- Hermes, Britt Marie (21 June 2016). "How A Former Naturopath Can Help Unravel The Trickery of Alternative Medicine". Science 2.0. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
- Hermes, Britt Marie (29 January 2016). "The shocking confessions of a naturopathic doctor". KevinMD.com. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
- Rogers, Kaleigh (21 June 2017). "A Former Naturopath Told Us How She Sold a Detox Scam". Motherboard. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
- Jarry, Jonathan. "An interview with Britt Hermes at CSICon - CSI". www.csicop.org. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
- "Maddox Prize 2018 – Sense about Science". senseaboutscience.org. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
- "The Ockham Awards 2016". The Skeptic Magazine. 26 (2). 2016.
- Bellamy, Jann (4 May 2015). "Naturopathic Diaries: Confessions of a Former Naturopath". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
- Lowe, Derek (25 October 2016). "Regrets of a Naturopath". In the Pipeline. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
- Iranpour, Neda (23 March 2016). "Should Naturopathic Doctors Have More Rights?". CW6 San Diego. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
- Mills, David (2 June 2016). "Exactly How Bogus Were Those 'Trump Vitamins'". Healthline. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
- Cliche, Jean-François (2 May 2016). "Interdire la naturopathie aux moins de 18 ans?" [Prohibit naturopathy to those under 18 years?]. La Presse (in French). Retrieved 4 May 2016.
- Ernst, Edzard (14 June 2016). "Naturopaths: rubbish at healthcare, excellent at character-assassination". Edzard Ernst. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
- Novella, Steven (24 May 2016). "Naturopaths are not doctors". NeuroLogica. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- Frazier, Kendrick. "CSIcon Las Vegas 2017 Conference Report". www.csicop.org. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
- Damania, Zubin. "Naturopathy Is 99.9% Bull$hit, But Here's What That 0.1% Can Teach Us". Medium. Archived from the original on 17 April 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
- Britt Hermes. "Author archive". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
- Britt Marie Hermes, ND. "Author archive". KevinMD.com. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
- "Britt Marie Hermes". Science 2.0. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
- Hermes, Britt Marie. "Britt Marie Hermes". Forbes. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- "Is dubious cancer "doctor" Colleen Huber cybersquatting my name?". Naturopathic Diaries. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
- Hermes, Britt (13 January 2018). "I need your help: naturopath Colleen Huber is suing me". Naturopathic Diaries. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
- "Fundraising campaign for Britt Hermes". Australian Skeptics Inc. 13 January 2018.
- "Jelena Levin and Pontus Böckman" (17 January 2018). "Britt Hermes and Eran Segev" (Podcast). theESP. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
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