Talk:Naturopathy/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

Merge: Biopsy and Nature Cure

Biopsy and Nature Cure seems a bit out of place for a stand-alone article. It seems that it reflects a particular view of something that was be better suited here. -AED 05:21, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

Oppose - the content would be better placed in Natural Hygiene as that is the closest to 'Nature cure' (the redirect should also be fixed to point there). --apers0n 05:58, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Oppose - This is not taught in the accredited naturopathic programs. How else would you rule out a ddx? Also, how would a pathologist know the stage and grade the tumor if a biopsy wasn't done? Not advising your patient to get a biopsy would be bad medicine, and might get an ND in serious legal trouble. Solution: Nature cure should have it's own page, and the views on biopsy be one aspect of that article.--Travisthurston 06:26, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Comment: "Nature cure" in Biopsy and Nature Cure redirects here. How about Natural Hygiene? -AED 06:29, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Comment: It has now been changed to redirect to Natural Hygiene --

apers0n 11:57, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

NouraRaslan (talk) 17:45, 17 May 2008 (UTC)NouraRaslan

Delete or merge. 13:09, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Protected page status

I have added protection to the current state of this page and hereby propose that WE ALL work here, within this discussion page, to work out or ideas and disagreements before changes are made. Is anybody not OK with the protection status? Speak here. If enough people here want to change it back, we'll do that.
One thing we shouldn't have to do is keep checking this page on a daily basis to keep people from adding their biased points of view.
Thanks! --Travisthurston 01:40, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

 Declined - This page has not been protected at this time. This edit war is unbelievably lame: it's over a category! Can you guys please not add or remove the category until consensus is reached on this talk page? Or perhaps ask for a third opinion if you really can't make a decision here. But do not add or remove the category until you have consensus or a third opinion! If you keep reverting each others' changes you will be blocked. —Mets501 (talk) 20:30, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
OK - That's what makes this site so great. The organic and fluid nature of wikipedia. Let’s continue to work on voting as a group before controversial changes are made.
Thanks community! --Travisthurston 18:45, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Formatting Help

I added an "alternative medicine box" that links to other NCCAM categories. Can someone help me move the existing CAM box to a better location like under the NCCAM box? I can't get the html to look right. We also need to find some sources on the history section... Thanks! --Travisthurston 01:16, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Not sure if it's because I'm using Explorer, but the formatting is still wacked for me. If someone could fix it again, that would be great. :) --Schwael 19:22, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

Restoring unexplained link deletion

I have restored this link: which was deleted without explanation by Havermayer (Talk - Contribs) as it seemed like a useful link. --apers0n 07:07, 7 September 2006 (UTC)


does anyone know what the theory behind naturopath is or what the belief behind it is?

That would depend on what you mean by "theory behind". The article naturopathic medicine can give you a good starting point in understanding the tenets, scope of practice, etc. A naturopath is not necessarily a medically trained physician, and anyone can live a naturopathic lifestyle. But in order to be a naturopathic physician and truly practice naturopathic medicine with a full scope of practice, you have to graduate from on the the six naturopathic medical schools in North America, pass the board exams, complete a residency or internship and practice in a licensed state. I think the article will be sufficient in helping you understanding beliefs and theories, but for more info, you can go to my schools website ( or continue a discussion by emailing me using the “Email this user” link on my page here. Thanks for asking. --Travisthurston 01:10, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

Medical Practice Acts & Naturopathy

Use of the title "physician" is protected in states where naturopaths are not licensed. Where naturopaths claim to "diagnose" or "treat," they are likely to be in violation of that state's Medical Practice Act and should be reported to the state board of medical examiners. HealthConsumerAdvocate 23:40, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Re: Medical Practice Acts & Naturopathy To be more precise: The use of the title "physician" is protected in each of the United States of America. In states where naturopathic physicians are licensed, the state government has passed legislation which grants naturopathic physicians a certain scope of practice as primary health care providers and thus the protected use of the title "physician". In states where licensure has not yet been granted, naturopathic physicians can neither treat nor diagnose disease. If a consumer is interested in naturopathic health care but resides in an state that does not license naturopathic physicians, the consumer may be able to consult with a naturopathic physician. In doing so, the consumer should be very cautious and confirm that any physician they consult with has graduated from a four-year, acredited, naturopathic college and passed the NPLEX exam. This processes is simplified by consulting the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) at Stephenmeeneghan 09:28, 7 December 2006 (UTC)StephenMeeneghan

naturopathy Okay I made some changes without consulting this page (typical of a doctor?). I have trouble with being excluded from the traditional naturopath category just because I have clinical training. The licensable degree of ND is not differentiated from the mail order degree by belief in medicine, but by degree and scope of training in it. The major distinction as I see it is that we are trained on actual human beings (we must work a certain number of hours with humans to graduate) where they are not. This doesn't mean that they are useless or even untrained with humans (I have met many nurses that have gotten the "other" ND who have as much (although different) clinical training as I do). It simply means that you do not know based on this degree if they have any training or not in diagnosis or practical training in treatment. I also recommend the website- use the find an ND feature to see who is in your area (even if you are in an unlisenced state- these people are at least lisencable). Anna Abele, ND 07:10, 29 January 2007 (UTC)Anna Abele, ND

The healing power of nature

Anyone who believes natural medicine to be gentle has never weathered a hurricaine. Herbs can kill as easily as drugs. They can also heal as powerfully and sometimes more powerfully. (This statement does not mean anything. Please define what you mean by "healing more powerfully.) 14:51, 18 April 2007 (UTC)P.C. 4/18/07 No one thinks that digitalis as an herb is better than the drug (I hope). It is too changeable (strength depends on waterfall and sun exposure and location of the plant) and can build up in the body to create toxic side effects (including death). The therapeutic window (benefit is derived before toxicity is reached) is too narrow and the possibility of serious harm is too great. Digitalis as a drug however (where all of these variables are controlled) is very useful.

Sometimes the herbs indicated for a given condition are more gentle than the available drugs (if there are any). eg. Herbal COX 2 inhibitors do not have the same side effects in the liver and heart as the pharmaceutical ones. (please give a reference for this claim. Which "herbal COX-2 inhibitors"? also provide an actual study which carries out a direct comparison of known COX-2 inhibitors and any herbal variety and specifically addresses the toxicities you refer to) 14:51, 18 April 2007 (UTC)P.C. 4/18/07. Garlic has far fewer side effects than statin drugs when lower cholesterol is your goal. Sometimes this gentleness translates to decreased efficacy, and sometimes not. (Please offer some quantitative analysis relating "gentleness" and efficacy, including indepth and extensive data defining just how "gentle" and efficacious the preperation is.) 14:51, 18 April 2007 (UTC)P.C. 4/18/07

Let us not make the mistakes of modern medicine and throw out all of the information gleaned before we arrived. Much of scientific western medicine is useful, most of it can be used better than it is currently. It is not always about willing the mosquito away, but using something short of a sledge hammer to kill it. Anna Abele, ND 06:48, 29 January 2007 (UTC)Anna Abele, ND

"The information gleaned before we arrived"? Just how much information do we have? Throughout history, people have drawn correlations in their own minds between imagined causes and observed outcomes. Look at Greek mythology and how much of the workings of the world were attributed to to the whims of a petulant crew of imagined deities. Simply because a belief has been held for thousands of years, doesn't make it so. Also, just because some herb or other might serve as good treatment for a headache, doesn't mean it doesn't also cause liver failure. Show me the autopsies of all those taking herbal preparations throughout history and we can begin to discuss whether or not they are safe. At the end of the day, the prescribing of herbs is an unregulated practice which does not demand any proof of efficacy or safety. Anecdotal claims of efficacy and safety founded in the tired old argument of "these have been around for thousands of years" are deceptive, negligent, and, in many cases, fraudulent.

For any "herbal COX-2 inhibitor" which is truly a COX-2 inhibitor, I can guarantee you that dose dependant toxicities exist and that they can be reasonably expected to mirror those of Vioxx and others. There simply is no-one demanding that detailed clinical trials be carried out on herbal remedies. If you come across two caves and thoroughly inspect one to find that a lion lives there, is it necessarily safe to walk into the other and bed down? Of course not. You have to conduct an equally thorough search to make sure that there isn't a lion, or a bear, or a rabid mongoose living in the second cave. 14:44, 18 April 2007 (UTC)P. Cogan; April 18th, 2007.

Still waiting for anyone to address my above requests for substantiation. If you can't offer any real support for your claims, please remove them, for they are fraudulent. 04:29, 12 May 2007 (UTC)P.Cogan

Cogan, you want an answer to what question? You're looking for substantiation for what "fraudulent" claim? Is it safe to bed down in a cave? Are there cox-2 inhibiting herbs? Should their doses be monitored and should there be more clinical trials conducted? You may not know that the ND community in the states and India are always conducting clinical trials on these herbal remedies that have been used for centuries. If the information you are looking for is not readily available, maybe I can find it. Please clarify your question. I would be happy to try to answer. --Travisthurston 18:37, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

Travis, glad to see someone is watching this. Check out the bold print comments in Anna Abele's above statement. She has made lots of claims as to safety and efficacy, but has not offered any support for these claims. I'm simply looking for any evidence to suggest that what she has claimed can be confirmed. Western medicine and naturopathy are playing by two different sets of rules. Whereas western medicine is required to substantiate any claims on safety and efficacy with literally truck loads of data, the purveyors of herbal remedies are under no such obligation and can claim whatever they want without any substatiation. It is a double standard. Also, keep in mind that the FDA requires ANY untoward symptoms that arise during a clinical trial to be reported as a side effect, even if they don't appear with any more frequency than they would in the general public and may have absolutly nothing to do with the drug being tested. Even if various herbs are undergoing clinical type studies, no one is requiring the same stringency in reporting of potential side effects, hence the common claims that herbs are safer than traditional pharmaceuticals. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of addressing claims of alternative medicine, in particular herbalism; its supporters appear to hold that lack of evidence is proof of safety. 15:07, 14 May 2007 (UTC)P.Cogan

Anyone care to comment? Travis? Have I lost your interest? 21:29, 7 June 2007 (UTC)P.Cogan

POV problems

We really need to cover the Evidence-based medicine side. We can't just ignore it, and all criticism. Adam Cuerden talk 02:12, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes, it needs reworked with WP:RS to explain where science is. Arbustoo 23:32, 18 May 2007 (UTC)
It's dangerous to have it in the article without citeing any sources though. I propose removing the criticism unless you can source it.

This article has only links to criticisms?!

I come from a pro-science background.

I agree with the last comment, to the extent that I understand it. I believe that the primary reason that people look up articles on Wikipedia is to seek information stated on the Wiki page (although some do come for just the external links, and external links+citations are also great).

This article is almost entirely void of any criticism or quality critical editing. An example of this can be seen in the with the ambiguity in the very first sentence: "treat disease chiefly by assisting the body's innate capacity to recover from illness and injury". What is this 'innate capacity'? Is this referring to the immune system, or some non-science backed, possibly spiritual 'innate capacity'? (I do not intend to set up a straw man with innate capacity, but the such ambiguity, I believe that the poor-wordedness justifies my assumption).

As a first step to making the article even resemble one which uses evidence drawn from a critical analysis, I very much advocate a criticism section, because external links alone do not suffice in a Wikipedia article. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 02:21, 1 April 2007 (UTC).

I just looked at this article for the first time, having seen it criticized on another website. I agree with the foregoing comment. The article is a disgrace. Wikipedia's principles mean that the claims of these quacks must be reported fairly, but those claims should not be adopted as fact, and the criticisms made about naturopathy should also be reported fairly. By way of example, the article about Homeopathy states in its second sentence that homeopathy is "widely discredited in scientific circles". JamesMLane t c 11:58, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
The article needs massive work, but that is a problem of a lack of citations. I removed the huge link farm. Links must comply with WP:EL. We don't need a link to every Naturopath organization in the world. Arbustoo 23:31, 18 May 2007 (UTC)
The "claims of these quacks"? I'm glad your working hard to remain unbiased and objective while trying to help improve the wiki. Please refrain from contributing until you are more prepared to aproach the topic without preconceived ideas. Homeopathy is one of the many schools of naturopathy, and much of naturopathy is scientifically sound. Please don't use umbrella statements when refering to individual aspects. 03:53, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
I very much agree with the previous statement. It becomes impossible to discuss the neutrality of an article when uninformed accusations are being tossed around. Saying "the claims of these quacks must be reported fairly" is borderline vulgar; saying it as an argument for neutrality is downright paradoxical, and consequently offensive to people who actually know what they're talking about. As to the neutrality of this article: I believe this article is written in a neutral style, and that it treats the methods and controversy against naturopathy in an encyclopedic fashion. It's through omission, however, that this article becomes biased. The specifics of naturopathy are discussed, but not in relation to the controversy. There's a vibe of reading a news article about the controversy, then hearing the prosecutor's statements, but finding out that the defendant's statements are mysteriously unavailable. Also, people who discuss this page should be pro-correct above all, and leave polarizing, tunnel-vision-based affiliations such as "pro-science" and "pro-nature" for message boards. Naturopathy isn't anti-science, although some specific fields such as homeopathy are based on many ideas that go against aspects of science. The holistic approach of Naturopathy doesn't go against science any more than psychology and therapy do. Almost all modern naturopaths approach spirituality as a function of the physical being, notably tightening the gap between spirituality and psychology. Spirituality in naturopathy, although once appreciated and practiced on a metaphysical level, is no longer done in this fashion. Naturopathy in the past 100 years has sought to absorb the theories and practices of science and apply them, not deny them. Naturopaths aren't money-making quacks; they're licensed, trained doctors who truly believe in what they do, even in the cases where the practices are shown not to work. Modern medicine should absorb many aspects of naturopathy, notably herbal treatments and holistic analysis. Stress is caused by psychological factors, but has been proven to have physical effects. Many naturopaths spend their lives trying to prove similar concepts. The fact that neurologists are such a significant part of modern medicine proves that the link between psychology, "spirituality", and physical medicine is an ever-progressive discipline that is constantly changing the way modern medicine works. I know this was a lot in discussion of neutrality, but I thought, in response to the harsh and ignorant comments submitted earlier, something more balanced was needed in order to demonstrate reasons why the subject should be listed as controversial, and shouldn't be implied, through omission or suggestion, to be a challenged subject that can't stand its own ground in defense. 13:52, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

"Certain modalities"

Someone changed the Criticisms to say that only "certain modalities" of naturopathy are scorned by scientific skeptics. If no one can present instances of notable skeptics accepting the validity of naturopathy, I think this should be changed. Skeptics pretty much view all of naturopathy as a pseudoscience with no empirical basis in its principles. --Soultaco 17:56, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

--Sounds like you are having a little difficulty accepting the burden of proof that comes with making a such a wild generalization, Soultaco. To which skeptics do you refer? Modality, by modality, if you please. Naturstud (talk) 06:52, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Thanks SoulTaco for noticing! This skeptic topic always amuses me. No educated, scientifically minded person is going to call all the modalities that we naturopathic physicians employ unscientific or pseudoscientific. For example; analysis of blood labs, gyn exams, the ability to diagnose and treat infectious diseases, psychological counseling, lifestyle counseling and awareness, structural manipulation. Even many of the herbal formulas we use have been successfully supported with scientific analysis.
And anyone who can say that "Skeptics pretty much view all of naturopathy as a pseudoscience with no empirical basis in its principles" has no idea what naturopathic medicine is, what it means to be a "first professional degree" in the eyes of the U.S. Department of Education, and what it means to be a licensed primary care provider along side of MD's, DO's and NP's. In order for people to be truly skeptical of a topic, philosophy or concept, they have a continued duty to fully understand it. Otherwise, they are best left without an opinion at all. I challenge any skeptic to explain that position while having a comprehensive understanding of our medicine. --Travisthurston 19:36, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

But this is missing the point. First off, this Wikipedia entry is not here to advocate or scorn naturopathy; it is here to accurately describe the field, including criticism of it, and it is a simple fact that the skeptical inquiry community is by and large critical of naturopathy and label it a pseudoscience. One representative example. Another. And another, from James Randi. Whether their criticism is ultimately correct or fair is not necessarily the issue; the point is that there exists a prominent group of people who do advance this general view, and the fact that they do is worthy of note in the entry. There is no reason to qualify that and say that they only scorn "certain modalities" of naturopathy, because that distinction does not appear in criticisms. Thus, I see no reason for that particular edit to stay in the entry. --Soultaco 20:29, 31 May 2007 (UTC)
Could you please provide the mailing address for the 'skeptical inquiry community', Soultaco - I'd like to buy a membership so that I can attend the next "By and Large" conference. Do they condemn the individual modalities in break out groups that I have to sign up for ahead of time, or is it all done in a big room at the end? I hear the keynote this year is going to be really cool: "Multivariate, regessional and other analytical trends in the statistical modeling of Scorn". Is James Randi the president this year or is it Steve Barret? I think it is wonderful that I can know the entire consensus of all rational thought everywhere just be reading their newsletters, don't you? They are *so* representative. (talk) 06:56, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Let's not throw out the baby with the bath water here; there are ideas to be found in the field of naturopathic medicine. To be clear, I am very much a skeptic of many of the claims of naturopathic medicine as outlined in the wikipedia article. I am of the opinion that many of the practices employed by the naturopathic community are embraced simply because they work into a touchy-feely tapestry of entirely imagined magical energies. You can ask me how I know these "magical energies" are imagined, but the onus is yours to show any evidence that they actually exist. People want to believe in magic, they want to believe in the spurious arguments that anything "natural" (whatever that means, and the definition is open to debate) is inherently better or safer than anything devised by the mind of man. Science has (arguably) removed the romance and mystery from the world around us, and too many people just can't handle that. The nature of the moon and the stars and the tides all fit into a simple and all encompassing model of the physical world and those who don't understand it simply want more. Now, this is just my opinion, but I digress. The chemical components of various herbs do have biological activity, so the concept of herbalism is not invalid. The problem comes from the boatloads of unverified claims made about their potency and safety. No one knows all of the biological activities of all of the chemical components of commonly injested herbs. Also, there is a double standard in reporting of efficay and safety, as traditional pharmaceutical agents must satisfy strict rules set down by the FDA, while anyone can make any claim they want about herbs. That's just the way the laws are written right now and they allow for a multitude of useless and dangerous snake oils to be unloaded on a grossly undereducated consumer base.

There are other aspects of naturopathic medicine which offer such obvious approaches to maintaining good health that one must ask themself: "can it really be that only the naturopaths take this into consideration?". For instance, the reading I have done on several naturopathic websites has made it clear that diet and aversion are primary lines of defense in naturopathic medicine. This, like herbalism, has its limits of usefulness and legitimacy. Anyone who tells you that lung cancer, broken bones, or type one diabetes can be cured by a certain diet should have their tongue removed. I'm not suggesting that these claims are made by practicing naturopaths, but I simply offer them as obvious limitations to this therapeutic approach. On the other hand, if you are experiencing frequent headaches and heart palpitations, a naturopath would likely ask the right questions (probably before many physicians would) to find out if you happen to drink four liters of Coke every day. Problem solved. Again, an obvious and simple first line approach which shouldn't be relegated to the field of naturopathy, but should be recognized as simple logic and embraced by western medicine.

One common issue I find with the whole idea of naturopathy is the common misunderstanding of its most fundamental principles amoungst the general public. I have several friends who regularly purge with "natural" laxatives such as aloe vera and cascara segrada. They would never dream of taking something like "Ex-Lax", but eagerly consume these herbs which are not necessarily safe (In the case of cascara, there is good reason to believe it is not safe: AMERICAN JOURNAL OF GASTROENTEROLOGY 95 (12): 3634-3637 DEC 2000). What baffles me is this: if you want to take a natural approach to catharsis, why take an herb? Eat less sugar and meat, eat more All-bran, and drink more water. I would hope that this would be the approach of any practicing naturopath, but guess where they got the advice to start taking the cascara? You guessed it, a naturopath.

There is one other major problem that I see in the practice of naturopathic medicine, and it is this. Despite the common sense approach that can be found in the most simple manifestations of naturopathic medicine, the fact that homeopathy is commonly considered as part of the arsenal just screams of a field devoid of critical thought and common sense. 04:10, 11 June 2007 (UTC)P.Cogan

Appropiateness of extrenal links

“Please do not add inappropriate external links to Wikipedia, as you did in Naturopathic medicine. Wikipedia is not a mere directory of links nor should it be used for advertising or promotion. Inappropriate links include (but are not limited to) links to personal web sites, links to web sites with which you are affiliated, and links that exist to attract visitors to a web site or promote a product. See the external links guideline and spam policies for further explanations of links that are considered appropriate.” Levine2112

Good. Good.... Not everyone has nefarious intent by the way.

I do find the back and forth here on the validity of natural medicine modalities “interesting.” Someone is of the opinion that this is a poorly written article (and no… I really don’t have the time to go back and figure out who said it) and that somehow reflects on the validity of natural medicine. I am sure that somewhere on the web I could find a crappy article on quantum mechanics. Would that article have any bearing of the validity of quantum mechanics?

P.Cogan is of the opinion that Anna someone makes a lot of unsubstantated claims at bit further up the “talk page” here. How is one to substantate claims other than to cite articles from peer reviewed medical journals? That is primarily what the page in question does, at least the page I pointed to. How close the text of the page that was originally pointed to does or does not come to personal advoacy is another story.

Other than that… I don’t know what to tell you. It should have been down at the bottom under external links under some sort of subheading “lists of research articles” or some such. Dunno… You want references, or you don’t, or they are too specific, or you just want to hang out and argue that there’s no substantion for natural medicine modalities, or somethine else... I guess I really don’t have the time to hang out and bicker back and forth if that’s what you want to do. 13:58, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

By all means, please post references for any claims as to the safety and efficacy of any herbs mentioned, particularly for the COX-2 inhibitors I originally asked about. Keep in mind, there is a difference between adding a link to a webpage and citing references. Just add a superscript to anything you have a reference for and then list the actual article citation at the bottom. I think they want to minimize all the external links, but I doubt there is anyone pushing to cut back on the number of primary literature references.

The fact that the article is poorly written does not reflect on the validity of the claims made in support of naturopathic medicine. However, the fact that the claims about naturopthy draw reasonable criticism demands a well written article in response. If this article is the best the proponents can come up with, I'd say all the criticism is very much merited.

By the way, quantum physics, as a field, has stood up over time to those who have said "show me". Naturopathic medicine has not. That's all the critics want. If you make any claim, particularly one which contradicts the established laws of chemistry and physics, people are reasonably going to ask you to prove it. When it comes down to it, most proponents of alternative medicine can't prove their claims. 04:31, 11 June 2007 (UTC)P.Cogan

Evidence and Naturopathic medicine

Modern scientific enquiry is rapidly outgrowing the concept of 'proof', P. Cogan! A quick look at medical education and medical literature reveals that the new watchword is 'evidence' not 'proof'. Furthermore, we are told that such evidence is best aproached qualitatively: "Is the evidence for efficacy weak or strong?" "Is the evidence of risk weak or strong?". Well-trained doctors (yes, even the naturopathic ones) will look at *individual* interventions from this point of view.

->A great point. I should not have asked for proof, but rather evidence. Semantics aside, there is a great void of objectively obtained evidence supporting many claims of naturopathic medicine. What is more disturbing, however, is the comparison of a field which is legally obliged to acknowledge, and adhere to, the reality defined by properly obtained emperical evidence with another field which is defined at the unchecked whim of those who directly benefit from its presentation as truth. 07:00, 12 June 2007 (UTC)P.Cogan

-->There are two interesting results here: Since evidence based medicine is a process that does not belong to a particular modality or medico-political faction, all types of practitioners are free to use it. The only thing sadder than an ND who can't describe the evidence supporting the cardioprotective effects of fish oil supplementation is the MD who claims it is useless without having looked at the evidence either. So one interesting thing about evidence-based medicine is that just about anyone can be trained to use it. Naturopathic medicine is not innately incompatible with EBM. -LMontgomery

->Agreed. Saying that this, that, or the other is useless, without evidence for these claims, is an abuse of authority. However, if there is no compelling evidence that a given treatment is authentic or safe, then there is no reason to accept its application. As an example, Anna Abel made several claims about "herbal COX-2" inhibitors above. I'd love to see any evidence to support these claims. 07:00, 12 June 2007 (UTC)P.Cogan

-->The second interesting requirement of EBM is that all interventions be aproached individually. There is no meaningful way to describe evidence for 'supplementation' or 'accupuncture' as modalities for example. So more and more we are seing evidence being gathered for *specific* interventions. For sure there are some alternative claims out there that have very little evidence to support them. But there are also many others that have extensive evidence. The statement 'there is no proof that accupunture works' isn't just hyperbole, it is meaningless hyperbole. -Lmontgomery

->That's one way of looking at it. Another way, is to say that the claim "accupuncture 'works'" is meaningless hyperbole. What do you mean by "it works". [Never said this - LM] Define your parameters, and then offer some evidence to support your claim. 07:00, 12 June 2007 (UTC)P.Cogan

-->My point is that *all* such claims (for and against) are too general to be meaningful and should be kept out of the article. Could you perhaps benefit from your own advice by defining specific parameters and offering specific evidence to support your (distressingly general) claims?

The article should mention that some natural interventions have strong evidence, some others have weaker evidence and some others still have not been studied in a meaningful way at all! The article should also note the trend towards increasing interest from the EBM research community in natural therapeutics. Any wholesale statements about natural medicine or its modalities 'lacking proof' are spectacular dead-ends, and should be avoided. - L. Montgomery

->OK, how's this for a statement: many naturopathic modalities lack sufficient evidence to suggest that they are in the least bit usefull (as is the case with homeopathy and many herbs). In addition, there is no evidence to suggest that naturopathic medicinal treatments are inherently more safe than the standard alternatives (i.e. claims that the prescription of herbs is a necessaerily safe practice are spurious). Herbs aren't useless, there simply isn't enough evidence to claim that they are inherently safe. Homeopathy, on the other hand, is useless. 07:00, 12 June 2007 (UTC)P.Cogan

--> A good article avoids discussing evidence that does not exist and focuses on the evidence that does exist. By the way, I mean 'evidence' to include evidence that supports an intervention as well as evidence that fails to support an intervention. Statements like 'no evidence exists' are meaningless and usually false.

Although it is true that there is 'no evidence' to suggest that naturopathic medicine *as a whole* is safe and effective, there is also no evidence that cardiology *as a whole* is safe and effective. This is because evidence is gathered for specific interventions, not medical disciplines or specialties. There is some good evidence supporting natural interventions as there is some good evidence that demonstrates lack of effectivness. The point should be that more research is needed. Naturopathy is inferior to other disciplines only in as much as it has not recieved the same level of research funding. Blanket statements about naturopathy are unfounded until that research has been performed. It is not reasonable to claim that something has been proven useless while also claiming that no research has been done: this would only serve to give the article a prejudicial tone.

We should also avoid language like 'not the least bit useful' or 'useless' for similar reasons - these are too vague to be helpful. If you want to argue that Vitamin D is 'useless' to lower cancer rates, by all means go to the Vit D page. (Good luck with that by the way! Vit D cancer prophylaxis is another example of good research finally confirming what your ND has been telling you all along.) The truth is that there is a tremendous amount of work going into evaluating natural remedies - just do a pub med search on any supplement in your health food store. I think it would be unfair and misleading to suggest that this research does not exist. - L Montgomery

Several good points. I suspect we see more eye to eye on this than comes out in a call and response type exchange such as this. We're also getting away from the primary concerns of critics such as myself. As I have stated somewhere above (different section), all of naturopathic medicine should not be dismissed. That would be absurd There are a lot of common sense approaches to diagnosis and treatment which are pursued more vigorously in the naturopathic field than in traditional western medicine. Simple dietary changes to address things like constipation, for example. Too many MDs will run all sorts of tests and prescribe all sorts of medicine while an ND (based on my reading) will be more likely to take the approach of "eat less beef jerky and more spinach". Western medicine suffers from all sorts of foibles, but that is not what we are here to discuss. My major concern with naturopathic medicine is as follows:

Many of the modalities employed, herbalism for instance, are practiced without any regulatory body demanding evidence of efficacy, safety, establishment of a therapeutic window, or normalization of dosing. Traditional pharmaceuticals are tightly regulated along these lines and most of the claims as to the supperiority or safety of herbal preparations are founded in the fact that these two approaches (traditional pharmacetical vs herbal) are playing by two different sets of rules. Claims made in the pharmaceutical field are legally restricted to those things for which there is ample evidence, whereas *anyone* can make any claim they wish about herbs and are not legally bound to support it. For instance, several claims have been made on this talk page about the efficacy and safety of herbal COX-2 inhibitors. I have asked repeatedly for supporting citations for these claims and none have been offered. Of course, this doesn't mean the evidence doesn't exist, but I have also done some extensive searches on Scifinder and the ISI Web of Science (citation index), both of which are more extensive databases than pubmed, and I have found no evidence to support the claims that have been made. In fact, I have yet to find mention of ANY herbal COX-2 specific inhibitors (still looking). This problem is beyond the scope of the NDs in the field, since there isn't enough money floating around to do the appropriate research, and there isn't much incentive to do the research anyhow. The FDA needs to get involved and start regulating this stuff.

I agree 100% that it is shortsghted and foolish to dismiss all of naturopathic medicine on account of a lack of data. However, if all of the claims made in the field of naturopathic medicine which lack supporting data are stripped away, what is left behind? It's very simple, and this works both ways: offer some evidence to support the claims made pertaining to naturopathic medicine, or stop making the claims. And let's be clear: if a claim is made as to efficacy and safety of a treatment, the onus is not on me to give evidence it is bogus (unless I explicitly say it is bogus), the onus is on the claimant to give evidence to suggest it is valid. I can tell you all I want that I can fly and walk on water, but you'd be a fool to believe me unless I offer some supporting evidence

Yes, there is a good deal of research being pursued in this field, and yes, there is a shortage of funding for the appropriate research. However, the data coming in does not support the broad claims of the inherent safety which are commonly made by proponents of the field.

For the following, L. Montgomery's statements are led with "-->" where mine are led with "**". 16:58, 16 June 2007 (UTC)P.Cogan

    • I should start out by saying that I am not an MD, nor do I work for or have any vested interest in the pharmaceutical industry. Western medicine has all sorts of problems and big pharma certainly partakes in less than scrupulous practices in order to maintain their grip on health care. The point of this long rant is to bring to light the problems inherent in making assumptions about the safety of treatments employed by the naturopathic field. Unfortunately, only L.Montgomery and myself are likely to ever read this.

--> Can you be more specific? Which 'broad claims of inherent safety'? Which 'proponents'? How commonly are these statements made? I need to point out that your statement about others making broad claims is itself a broad claim (not to be a jerk, but to flush out what gets put into this article, which right now is running on fumes). A good start would be to find some ND association/practitioner websites or publications that make these broad claims and reference them in the article.

    • My claim here is only as broad as it need be, I see nothing superfluous about it. *ANY* claim that herbs are inherently more safe than traditional pharmaceutical agents is just specious. Feel free to make specific comparisons, but be prepared to offer evidence in support of your claims. As for your question of "which broad claims?". Well let's see.
    • 1. This from the wikipedia article we are discussing:
    • "*It is asserted, yet strongly refuted by critics, that* plants can gently move the body into health without side effects posed by *some* synthetic chemicals in modern pharmaceuticals." Keep in mind that the only reason there is a caveat from the critics (notice the words in asterisks) here is because I personally had to put it in there!
    • 2. Looking at various ND websites around the net:

"Use safe and non-invasive therapies which cause little or no side effects."

"Unlike regular doctors however, we are particularly interested in using therapies that stimulate a person's natural healing processes, *using non-toxic therapies*; and, to identify and remove causes of a disease."

"Nature cures through the body’s inherent healing mechanisms. When supported it can maintain and restore phenomenal health. Naturopathic physicians seek to support and enhance these natural healing systems by using medicines and techniques that work in harmony with body and are free of harmful side-effects."

    • This last statement is a quote of the "vis medicatrix naturae", and is simply a paraphrasing of the same principle I quoted from the wiki article above. We'll come back to this.
    • It is quite clear that these people are claiming that their methods are "safe", "non-toxic", and "free of side effects". The clear inference being that the herbs they use, being one of their methods, are safe. For the sake of argument, and even though these websites were simply the first hits which appeared in a google search, let's assume these guys are renegades who are making broad claims about safety which a reasonable ND would not. Let's look at the authorities on the matter then. Wikipedia lists six accredited schools of naturopathic medicine. Let's see what they have to say.
    • First off, note that five of the six (didn't see it or look too long at Bridgeport) of these schools, somewhere on their website, cite the "vis medicatrix naturae", which is very often phrased as it is as quoted above, directly claiming that all the methods employed are inherently safe.

Under the description of botanical medicine: "When properly utilized, most botanical medicines can be applied effectively with minimal likelihood of side effects."

"The human body possesses the inherent ability to restore health. The physician's role is to facilitate this process with the aid of natural, nontoxic therapies."

    • Claims of inherent safety seem to be a common thread here. It should be noted that most of these websites also stress that naturopathic modalities are not always the best option and that traditional pharmaceuticals or surgery are advocated when appropriate. I say kudos to the NDs. It's obvious that there is a push from within (the existence of accredited schools is testament to this) to establish regulation of the field and to be responsible health care providers. However, we still have the problem of these claims of safety and efficacy in herbalism.

--> hope we can agree on this: broad statements should be avoided. An even-handed article should describe the idea that 'natural interventions are generally more effective and safer' as an *opinion* of some naturopaths. To be fair, the opposite opinion 'natural alternatives are generally not as effective or as safe as pharmaceutical based interventions' should also be be presented as a belief.

    • I didn't say this. I said that the claims of safety and efficacy are largly unsupported by properly designed studies, and this is a fact, not an opinion. There is not enough evidence to claim that all herbs are less usefull than pharmaceutical agents. Some herbs which have been explored, yes, but not all. There is a difference between the critics claiming that herbs are useless and inherently dangerous, which are very weak claims, and critics who simply say "show me evidence that herbs are safe and efficacious".

-->The context for these statements should be that there is an absence of evidence, either way. Let's also be careful when atributing the first statement to all NDs: I happen to know that the training to become an ND requires extensive knowledge of botanical toxicity and herb-drug interactions, with great emphasis placed on when to refer serious conditions to other practitioners for more effective treatments. NDs are not being taught that their modalities are 'always better, always safer'.

    • That's great. So why these claims of "safe", "non-toxic", and "no side effects" on the vast majority of the web pages I have cited above?

-->As for the natural cox-2 inhibitors, there are many in nature (where do you think Pfizer and Merck got their cox-2 inhibitors from? It wasn't *de novo* synthesis from first principles, my friend!)

    • I'm sure there are many COX-2 inhibitors in nature, I'd simply like to see references for any which have actually been identified.
    • As a matter of fact, Vioxx (as well as several other clinically employed COX-2 inhibitors) was developed based on accidental findings at UpJohn, a pharmaceutical company which was involved in a search for anti-estrogenic compounds. The structural elements which give these inhibitors their binding affinity for COX-2 all came about through purely synthetic ventures, and were not directed by any comparison to or origin in natural products (other than the fact that they were trying to mimic estrogen). The actual clinical candidate rofecoxib (Vioxx) came from rational synthetic modifications to some of the lead compounds which came out of Upjohn's original accidental findings. Lednicer, D., Curr. Med. Chem., 2002, (9), 1457.
    • By the way, many drugs are currently on the market or in the pipelines which have been, believe it or not, completely developed by rational design, without any reliance on "natural" products, other than the endogenous ligands or substrates they attempt to mimic. You don't need to start from a plant or bacterial metabolite in order to design a drug. The HIV protease inhibitors are a great example of this.

-->I am floored that curcumin, for example, to this date has no clinical human trials. It is used as an anti-inflammatory left, right and centre (and in the GRAS form of tumeric, for centuries). A great example of a natural product that has a great safety record, has a known mechanism of action (although more recent research is now suggesting it is hitting NF-kappaB as well as cox-2) and is being used extensively.

    • For clarity sake, curcumin is a suppresor of protein expression, it is not a COX-2 inhibitor, these are two entirely different modes of action. Once again, there have been no controlled studies (that I have found) which verify the safety of curcumin. Just because no one has looked for toxicity in a clinical study doesn't mean there is none. We'll get back to this further down the page.

-->Absence of evidence? Perhaps - but at some point we are going to have to decide if hundreds (even thousands) of years of safe and effectve use should be admisable as a form of evidence. Ayruvedic tradition may not be as valuable to you or me as an RCT, but then again, no one has ever died eating tumeric. Sadly, we can not say the same for Vioxx. So you tell me, which was 'better studied', at least in terms of safety? Is 1000 years of uncontrolled anecdotal evidence really inferior to 10 years of highly controlled phase three trials?

    • As far as efficacy goes for these thousand years of experience, we can just look at echinacea. Claims of its ability to mitigate the common cold have been shown in well designed clinical protocols, to be unfounded. Archives of Internal Medicine, 164 (11), 1237. Is it possible that, just because people believe in something for thousands of years, it is not necessarily so? Or is the world still flat?
    • Ah, there it is, Vioxx. You are about to make my point for me, and I do appreciate it. First of all, show me the autopsies of all those people taking these herbs over the last thousand years and we can then begin to talk about what we "know" about safety. Just because an herb ostensibly helped with someone's headache, doesn't mean it also didn't cause liver failure six months down the road. Of, course, there is also no evidence to suggest that something like curcumin had ever caused liver failure, or heart failure for that matter, but here's the rub. The only reason that Vioxx was pulled from the shelves is because Merk was adhering to FDA regulations and were actually *looking for toxicity*. If you put any herbal agent into a clinical trial under FDA guidelines, you are going to find the same general profile of side effects as are found in any synthetic drug. The FDA demands that *anything* perceived as a negative symptom (constipation, change in sex drive, headaches, sour stomach, diarrhea) be recorded as a side effect of the drug being tested, even if these common issues don't occur with any more regularity than they do in the general public. You take 5000 random people over the course of 6 months and one of them is going to be constipated during that stretch. If that person ended up being in a drug trial by chance, their constipation goes down as a side effect. This is good. Caution is very important in these maters. The big problem is that no one is holding the herbs to the same standards. If synthetic drugs were not held to this FDA standard, you'd find that the vast majority would be considered to have no side effects at all, simply because there would be no onus to look for or report side effects. This is the problem with herbalism. Even in the cases where clinical trials are being conducted, they do not have to conform to FDA standards and can therefore ignore all of the events which would be reported as drug side effects if they did indeed follow the FDA regulations.
    • Now for Vioxx. Vioxx was voluntarily pulled from the market by Merk a few years back. I think we'll both agree that this was a move to try to save face and minimize legal action, once they found that they would ultimately be forced to pull the drug anyway. That situation not withstanding, let's look at exactly why Vioxx was pulled. The popular press would have you believe that people were dropping dead left, right, and center from heart attacks attributed to Vioxx. But this is not the case at all. The study which led to the recognition of carditoxicity is described in detail here: Lancet, 364, 2004, p. 2021. Over the course of all clinical trials on Vioxx, up until the time of the withdrawal of the drug, 21,432 patients were studied. Of this entire population, there were 64 myocardial infarctions. That's sixty-four. After correcting for the fact that there were more test subjects in the Vioxx treated groups than in the control groups, we find that there were 2.24 times as many infarctions in the Vioxx group. So for the roughly 14,000 patients treated with Vioxx, 52 infarctions were observed. Based on the control group data, we saw a rate of 23 infarctions per 14,000 patients. That's a difference of 29 events in a population of 28,000 people. The interesting part is that when you compare Vioxx to placebo, the relative risk is 1.05, meaning that there was no difference in the number of infarctions when Vioxx was compared to a sugar pill. Only when Vioxx was compared to naproxen (Aleve) do you see a statistically significant difference. The funny thing is, there is evidence that naproxen may be cardioprotective, meaning that the extra infarctions observed in the Vioxx group were not caused by Vioxx, but were the normal rate to be expected in the general populace, and that Naproxen was simply protecting against infarctions. It should be mentioned that the cardioprotective capacity of naproxen is questionable, as some studies support it (Archives of Internal Medicine, 162 (10), 2002, 1099) and others refute it (Lancet, 359 (9301), 2002, 118).
    • Anyhow, more recent trials and meta-analyses on large populations of COX-2 specific inhibitor treated individuals have found no link between these drugs and myocardial infarctions (American Journal of Cardiology, 89 (4), 2002, 425.; New England Journal of Medicine, 343 (21), 2000, 1520.; Lancet, 364, 2004, 675.; American Journal of Cardiology, 89, 2002, 204.)
    • What does this have to do with the safety of herbs? Well, not much. But my point is still the same and still remains unaddressed. Vioxx, a drug for which there is no conclusive evidence of toxicity (in particular cardiotoxicity), has been vilified in the press and courts, and commonly presented as an example of the toxicities found in synthetic drugs. In particular, on this forum it has been compared to (as of yet unidentified) herbal COX-2 inhibitors in efforts to make claims of the safety of herbal drugs. But here is the problem. No one would have ever in, oh… say a thousand years, picked up on the toxicities attributed to Vioxx if it was never investigated. In other words, you don't notice 29 heart attacks in a population of 28,000 people unless you set up a very regimented experiment and examine the data with some strict statistical analysis. It is only because Merk went looking for the toxicities that they have been identified, and keep in mind that further investigations have brought into question whether these toxicities even exist. No one is doing this sort of detailed analysis on herbs. If they were, the broad claims of the inherent safety of herbs would fall apart (check the quotes above if you've forgotten who is making these broad claims).
    • Naturopathic medicine has a lot to offer, but the field also makes deceptive, and in many cases patently false, claims as to the safety of its methods. I have no doubt that most NDs are not being intentionally deceptive or fraudulent, but that they actually believe these claims themselves. This doesn't surprise me, given the central dogmas of naturopathic medicine. I mean, we haven't even touched on the ideas of "life-forces", "vital energies", "treating the cause", or "treating the whole person", all of which are spurious. There are no parameters to define what "treating the cause" or "treating the whole person" mean. Likewise there is no solid definition of what a "life-force" or "vital energy" are and there is certainly no evidence to suggest that these things, were they even defined, actually exist. The biggest problem is that these claims are directed at a general public which is grossly undereducated in these matters

→I don't need a crossover study comparing tumeric to prednisone for rheumatoid arthritis because we both know that prednisone is going to 'win' in the suppression of inflammation and temporary relief of pain categories. But what about the serious concerns of long term steroid use? Is a food that you can safely eat for the rest of your life really inferior to a drug that will start to depress your immune system as early as the third month? As a single agent anti-inflammatory, curcumin isn't as strong as the drugs (well, at least not until Pfizer comes along and sticks a fluorine on it, which they almost certainly will if they haven't already).

    • Again, show me some evidence to support these claims about curcumin efficacy and safety.

→Then again, naturopathic medicine was never meant to be about 'single-agent interventions'. The article could be improved by stressing this - legitimate NDs are trained not to prescribe a single 'magic pill', but complex protocols that include common sense changes to diet and lifestyle as well as botanicals, accupuncture etc. In isolation, any one of these changes may fail to register as being significant in an RCT. I am *not* claiming that natural medicine deserves to be exempt from rational evidence-based evaluation, just pointing out that by definition, gathering evidence for single variable interventions (drug monotherapy) is going to be a different process from gathering evidence for multiple variable interventions (diet change, a botanical, an exercise plan, meditation etc). There is such a thing as synergy.

→Having said all that, naturopathic medicine has atracted an alarming number of "un-D's" and other well-intentioned folk who, in looking for panaceas have a tendancy to edify specific supplements as magical cure-alls. Unscrupulous suplement companies are selling out and cashing in. This is why it is important that the article distinguish the NABNE registered naturopathic doctors who attended a CNME certified college from the so called 'traditional naturopaths'. The former are more likely to use EBM within a well balanced naturopathic context and less likely to jump on the alternative fad-of-the-day. 14:54, 13 June 2007 (UTC) L. Montgomery

    • This is all great and commendable, but even the certified and accredited schools are making claims which are not supported by evidence (see the citations above).


The article should probably have a proper 'criticism' section. It was liberally peppered with examples of pseudoskepticism, which I have edited out. There should be a place for the skeptical voice in any article (expressing doubt, noting lack of evidence demonstrating safety/efficacy) but pseudoskepticism (expressing denial, making unsubstantiated general claims of lack of efficacy or danger) is just another POV. This is a key difference - it is one thing to note that there is lack of proof for a claim, but quite another thing to claim that the lack of proof in itself proves that the claim is false. (Science does not work this way! I may fail to prove that the earth is round, but my failure does not proove that it is flat!) The article should hold proponents and critics of naturopathic medicine to the same standard: the 'burden of proof' must be applied equally to those who make claims and those who deny them, especially when the claims are vague ('Most naturopathic interventions are/are not safe and effective').—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 14:53, 18 July 2007

Ah pseudoskepticism... the final defence of true believers the world over. What you are doing, is removing factual information to push your own POV. Criticism, should be interspersed thoughout the article in appropriate places, not isolated in their own section. Ornis (t) 15:01, 18 July 2007 (UTC)
Your insult ('true believer') notwithstanding, could you be more specific? Which 'facts' have been removed? Which POV have I inserted? I'm not married to the idea of a criticism section, just suggesting it. It seems that there is enough valid skepticism to justify such a section. 15:44, 18 July 2007 (UTC)
How about removing a sourced statement that natropathy is not only largely untested, but not subject to anywhere near the same sort of testing evidence-based medicine is, and inserting. "Naturopathy appears to be a generally safe health care approach." That and the general weasely attempts to soften language, or contrast "alternative" and "conventional" medicine. ornis (t) 16:02, 18 July 2007 (UTC)
The statement "Naturopathy appears to be a generally safe health care approach." is a direct quote from the source in question! Your inference that naturopathic treatments are somehow "endagering the health of the public" is a misrepresentation of the same source. ( You were asking for facts, there they are. BTW, I prefer this discussion to the endless edit war, but the insults ('true believer', 'weasely') need to stop. 16:38, 18 July 2007 (UTC)
The statement that "Naturopathy appears to be a generally safe health care approach" is quite meaningless and misleading. Appears to whom? [... to NCCAM, the source of the statement 16:09, 31 July 2007 (UTC)] There is nothing inherently "safe" about naturopathic practices. If you want this point expounded upon, take a look at the long diatribe immediately above this discussion on pseudoskepticism. The only factual statement which can be made about the safety of naturopathy, and which might make a good lead-in here would be along the lines of "Naturopathic modalities have been used extensively with relatively few reports of cliniclly significant adverse effects. However, there is considerable debate about the inherent safety and efficacy of naturopathic practices, as little research has been carried out to identify the acute clinical, subclinical, or long term cummulative toxicities of naturopathic practices". This implies no predjudice, but simply states a fact. 14:15, 20 July 2007 (UTC)P.Cogan
A late comment here, but naturopathy has such a wide spread of methods and ideas that are used and taught - from the totally harmless (in and of itself) homeopathy to very dangerous anti-vaccination sentiments - that any general statement about safety is nonsensical and misleading. Each method and idea should be judged on its own merits. Since all the methods and ideas likely have their own articles here, that can be done there, where the judgments about safety will be quite different and more specific, as should be the case. -- Fyslee/talk 16:50, 22 July 2007 (UTC)
The term isn't even being correctly applied here. I'm reverting the edit until this IP gets some consensus. He/she has yet to identify even a single actual example in of so-called pseudoskepticism. This has got to stop. Silly rabbit 15:09, 18 July 2007 (UTC)
I just filed a 3RR notice. This isn't even fun. Orangemarlin 18:38, 18 July 2007 (UTC)
He's up to 12RR anyway. •Jim62sch• 21:59, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

Naturopathic medicine 'endagering public health'

Did anyone really think that this unreferenced POV was going to fly? I invite others to explore the citation provided for this statement, the context for which is 'Naturopathy appears to be a generally safe health care approach'. I am sure that there are skeptics who have made this assertion - if so, an authentic reference should be found. Even with a halfway decent reference, there is no way that this statement is going to make it in the article head. 21:46, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

Listen, anon, you place a {{fact}} tag if you dispute something, you don't fucking edit war. Seeing you blocked will be a joy. •Jim62sch• 21:57, 18 July 2007 (UTC)
I have no patience with these vandals. Orangemarlin 22:39, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

Principles of naturopathic medicine

These should be put back into the article - they are taken from the naturopathic doctors' oath. These are the principles that all NDs are required to uphold in their practice. As such they describe what makes naturopathic medicine different from conventional medicine. Without them, the article is pretty useless, no? I suppose any description of a principle has, by definition, an element of POV, but let's not get too carried away - the primary goal of the article is to describe what Naturopaths believe and do, isn't it? Why should the central tenets of their system of medicine be excluded? You wouldn't remove all references to 'Jesus as the son of God' in an article about christianity would you? 15:41, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

A summary, sure. But several pages of comment and analysis? No. Adam Cuerden talk 20:20, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

The NCCAM position

I also see that NCCAM's assesment of naturopathic medicine is being stripped out of the article. There seems to be two sides warring here: one group who would like the article to emphasize risk of danger/lack of efficacy and another group wishing to emphasize the relative safety and efficacy of nat-med. The article needs to be balanced. NCCAM's assesment provides one half of the story with statements like: "Naturopathy appears to be a generally safe health care approach", "Rigorous research on this whole medical system is taking place but is at an early stage." Note to those concerned with representing the other half of the story: rather than deleting these NCCAM refs, a better aproach would be to find notable, verifiable sources that present your concerns and include these alongside the NCCAM position. Please stop deleting well referenced information from noteworthy sources in the name of 'removing POV'. Find a comparable source for your concerns or move on, already. 16:51, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Scientific studies of naturopathic treatments

Hi everyone, what a great talk page, it's so lively! I placed a "citation needed" tag on the following statement:

With only a few exceptions, most naturopathic treatments have not been tested for safety and efficacy utilizing scientific studies or clinical trials

As a very research oriented student at one of the accredited ND schools, I've seen research published in peer-reviewed journals evaluating therapies in each and every one of the modalities mentioned earlier in the article (manual therapy, hydrotherapy, herbalism, acupuncture, counseling, environmental medicine, aromatherapy, nutritional counseling, homeopathy). Unless a citation for the above statement is found, I propose to replace the it, perhaps with something like "Many naturopathic therapies have yet to be evaluated through research, and many have been shown to be efficacious in the scientific literature." I would be happy to use pubmed references to cite a statement like that, but first I look forward to hearing from critics of naturopathy, and I'd also like to wait until my biochem and pathology finals are over. Lamaybe (talk) 07:27, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, everybody, for posting before I read the entirety of the preceding talk page. P. Cogan has made some really great points above, and in light of those, it would seem brash to replace what exists with a statement as simple as I had suggested.

Naturopathic doctors, like medical doctors, believe that their treatments can make people healthier. Medical doctors almost exclusively use treatments that have been shown to be efficacious in randomized, placebo controlled trials (RCTs.) Naturopaths also use treatments shown to be efficacious through RCTs, (including pharmaceutical and botanical medicines, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, nutritional counciling, etc.) and they also draw on other traditions other than the RTC to inform their choices. In fact, there are particular treatments in every modality that naturopaths use that have RCTs to support them, and there are other treatments in every modality that have not been tested and that they still use, because they are being informed by another tradition, be it the folk tradition of botanical medicine, or the body of knowledge accumulated by homeopathy, or giving nutritional or hydrotheraputic advice from the naturopathic tradition.

If an RCT shows a treatment not to be effective, what does an ND do? The same thing an MD would—read the study and interpret it for him/herself. For example, the scientific literature used to support the idea that vitamin E is cardioprotective. More recent, and larger studies show no cardioprotective effect. What does a doctor do? Try her/himself to make the best decision. And there are definitely MDs and NDs who would prescribe vitamin E for heart health, and there are those who would not.

Hopefully, NDs and their patients understand that pharmaceutical medicines’ side effects tend to be much more well documented than the side effects of botanical or other kinds of medicines, and they acknowledge that risk. Medicine has been practiced for a long time, however, and RCTs are a relatively recent invention. Some people choose the potential advantages of untested medicines along with the potential risks. And for a lot of people, long folk traditions are all the evidence they need that a medicine is safe and efficacious, and until each one of those remedies has been subjected to the wonderful evaluatory rigours of an RCT, they want the right to seek the council of someone trained in the venerable folk tradition of those medicines. They would then seek out an herbalist, a homeopath, a nutritionist, a massage therapist, an acupunturist, or a naturopath. And if they want someone who has also studied pharmacology, biochemistry, and drug interactions at a graduate level, alongside those other modalities, they would consult an ND who is a graduate of one of the accredited 4 year institutions.

P. Cogan: lung cancer, broken bones, or type one diabetes can’t be cured by diet, but it’s certainly possible that diet could help your chances of living longer and with fewer symptoms after you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer or type 1 diabetes. What’s more, I challenge your statement that belief in homeopathy “screams of a field devoid of critical thought and common sense” The meta-analyses of homeopathy have been highly controversial, and I like to think of myself as a pretty sensible critical thinker, who’s read a lot of the research, and remains open to the idea that homeopathy is good medicine. If you have a couple of hours, you should check out the responses to Ben Goldacre's article about homeopathy in the Lancet (particularly response #26, which is mine):), at

Just seeing this now. Yes, diet can help maintain health, but how doe that extrapolate to validate all the :other practices of naturopathy?
As for your referenced articles in Ben Goldacre's bit, I was only able to access two of them: the Pediatrics :article and the journal of ACM article, both by the same lead authors and dealing with pediatric diarrhea.  :Hardly compelling. These are preceisly the types of articles which are ignored in proper meta analyses. I'm :rather curious as to why the Pediatrics article was even published. The authors themselves claim that a :sample size of 100 patients was needed to determine any statistical relevance of the findings. However, :after all the various reasons for patients dropping out of the study, only seventy or so were available for :final analysis. Not to mention that they are only reporting a "statistically significant" difference between the :treated and placebo group for a single variable on a single day of the study (unless I read that wrong).
The CAM journal article suffers from the same problem of small sample size. The authors even state that :the treatment and placebo group sizes were skewed beyond the expected sampling error and basically say :that "this sometimes happens" . Well sure it does, particularly in small sample sizes, which makes the :assessment that "it sometimes happens" the most reasonable explanation for why they saw any difference :in the treatment and control groups; their sample size was too small.
Both articles suffer from another serious flaw. They are not testing one variable. The investigators were :giving several different homeopathic treatments to the kids in the study, some with a sample size of one :patient! You can't study all of those variables in a single study, particularly one of this size, and then draw :the conclusion that homeopathy works.
Let's not forget that these studies were carried out in the third world. The local drinking water was likely :not too pure. Think about it. The authors used several agents in their preparations, so the only real claim :they can be trying to make is that diluting out ANY solute and then drinking the resulting water improves :prognosis of childhood diarrhea. Over the five days of the study (again, hardly long enough to establish :anything) all of these kids must have drank some water from home. This water had all sorts of low :concentrations of solutes. How can the authors possibly suggest that there was any real difference or :control over everything the treatment and control groups were exposed to over the course of the study?
One last comment. It's probably best not to cite the JACM to make a case for anything. The journal has such :an obvious bias to what it it is willing to publish that it's contents are entirely suspect. I say this based on :several of the articles I have skimmed in the journal, most particularly Lionel Milgrom's dreams on quantum :mechanical effects on homeopathy. The man tries to justify why homeopathy only works when no one is :looking(?) by drawing parallels to quantum mechanics. He himself states that these postulates are not :based on any evidence but just grand delusions of "what if"? It has as much scientific merit as suggesting :"what if Hobbits can't ride unicorns because entropy increases when gas expands?" Hardly the sort of topic :a reputable journal would put to press205.217.248.175 (talk) 13:51, 15 April 2008 (UTC)P.Cogan

However, this entry should be as objective as possible, and unless anyone has a source to cite about what percentage of naturopaths' treatments have been tested using RCTs, we probably shouldn't use words like "most." I propose a statement like :

"Naturopaths draw on both scientific literature and folk traditions for their therapies. Those remedies which have not been evaluated using the scientific method (and which haven't had side-effects reported with the same strictness that the FDA requires for pharmaceuticals) may have negative side-effects of which the physician is not aware, which is a major criticism leveled by critics. Patients are drawn to these remedies because they may provide benefits that pharmaceuticals cannot."

Please, anyone, help me with my wording, or let me know if there's anything in the preceding statement that you take issue with. Thanks! Lamaybe (talk) 23:58, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

"With only a few exceptions, most naturopathic treatments have not been tested for safety and efficacy utilizing scientific studies or clinical trials" I think this statement will have to be made either more or specific if it is to be referenced. The problem is that, as the article states "Naturopathic practice may include a broad array of different modalities" Now you can find a scientific reference for the lack of efficacy of homeopathy or the questionable efficacy of acupuncture as that is what is directly tested. There are even several references that state that most alternative medicine treatments are untested and thus may or may not be effective but it is going to be very hard to find a source about naturopathy in particular. I'm not even sure everyone classifies naturopathy the same way. Don't different differentions of naturopathy include different treatments. For these reasons I believe I could find a sources for the statement but it would not be directly about naturopathy. It would be about the subdiscipleines that comprise naturopathy. Do people consider this acceptable? Should we make the statement more specific to compensate?

Also RE: Lancet trial criticisms refere to the homeopathy talk page. I would avoid including any such criticism here until they are included on the homeopathy page (and there is strong opposition). JamesStewart7 (talk) 10:32, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

"Naturopaths draw on both scientific literature and folk traditions for their therapies. Those remedies which have not been evaluated using the scientific method (and which haven't had side-effects reported with the same strictness that the FDA requires for pharmaceuticals) may have negative side-effects of which the physician is not aware, which is a major criticism leveled by critics. Patients are drawn to these remedies because they may provide benefits that pharmaceuticals cannot." I am not comfortable with this statement "Naturopaths draw on both scientific literature and folk traditions for their therapies" Do we have a reference to support this idea that naturopaths draw on the scientific literature? Do we mean all naturopaths or just some?

This is a bit weasel-wordy but it is at least on the right track "Those remedies which have not been evaluated using the scientific method (and which haven't had side-effects reported with the same strictness that the FDA requires for pharmaceuticals) may have negative side-effects of which the physician is not aware, which is a major criticism leveled by critics." Which remedies are those remedies? Which critics? Also I would suggest you avoid long brackets in your writing as much as possible as it may be hard to read as you have to remember what was at the start of the sentence while you read the bracket. Of course I am a big offender here, especially on talk pages but I would strive to avoid it in the article.

"Patients are drawn to these remedies because they may provide benefits that pharmaceuticals cannot." This statement makes two seperate claims; naturopathic remedies provide a benefit, pharmaceutical medicine does not provide said benefit. Both of these claims would require a reference and such reference would have to be a scientific source. Also we run into a problem with naturopathy being a broad field and some remedies may be of differing efficacy to others.

Hopefully a reply to some of your other comments will allow you to see my reasoning behind these objections:

"Some people choose the potential advantages of untested medicines along with the potential risks." Another common criticism is that both the risks and the benefits are unknown since no solid evidence exists so it is not really an informed decision.

"And for a lot of people, long folk traditions are all the evidence they need that a medicine is safe and efficacious, and until each one of those remedies has been subjected to the wonderful evaluatory rigours of an RCT, they want the right to seek the council of someone trained in the venerable folk tradition of those medicines. They would then seek out an herbalist, a homeopath, a nutritionist, a massage therapist, an acupunturist, or a naturopath" No doubt this is how some people feel but as far as most scientists are concerned folk traidition is not really evidence at all. At most, it is very weak evidence.

"They would then seek out an herbalist, a homeopath, a nutritionist, a massage therapist, an acupunturist, or a naturopath. And if they want someone who has also studied pharmacology, biochemistry, and drug interactions at a graduate level, alongside those other modalities, they would consult an ND who is a graduate of one of the accredited 4 year institutions." I would argue that all the scientific training in the world is useless if you do not base your opinions on the available evidence.

Also, I would suggest that the meta-anlyses of homeopathy are controversial in the same sense that evolution is controversial. A political controversy, not a scientific one. JamesStewart7 (talk) 10:56, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

I would like to take issue with the statement "Medical doctors almost exclusively use treatments that have been shown to be efficacious in randomized, placebo controlled trials (RCTs.)" From personal experience, most medical doctors I have seen have been quite willing to use pharmaceuticals in ways that have not been studied with RCTs -- so-called "off-label" uses. For example, Cytotec, which was originally developed for acid reflux, is routinely used by Obstetricians to induce labor despite the fact that it is not FDA approved for this and can cause uterine rupture. Femara, a cancer drug, is often used to induce ovulation in women who are not ovulating. Metformin, a diabetes drug, is used similarly. Prozac has been prescribed routinely for women who are pregnant or lactating despite the fact that it has never been tested on pregnant or lactating women. The list goes on. The point is, this is another blanket statement that is not backed up with any citations. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jennired65 (talkcontribs) 08:02, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

I do need to see where you get this?

I have a problem with the following paragraph:

With only a few exceptions, most naturopathic treatments have not been tested for safety and efficacy utilizing scientific studies or clinical trials.[citation needed] There is a concern in the scientific and medical communities that these treatments are used to replace well-studied and tested medical procedures, thereby endangering the health of the patient.[citation needed]

Please explain to me, after seeing what ND's go thru in school and practice to see this type of misinformation written. ND schools and clinics do practice in the most ethical manner - do no harm to the patient. If what the patient has does not respond, send them to a qualified MD. See what the Bastyr University program details. They do have clinical trials and they do publish the results in the ND journals. That is when you see the MD's pick up on them, i.e. the vit D work ups that are now the rage in the MD realm.

Before you start throwing stones at a profession, do some in depth research please. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:46, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

-- The paragraph in question needs to be referenced, put into context or just deleted. Who specifically in the 'scientific and medical community' is concerned? A large number of interventions used by NDs have been evaluated, but I don't know that there is an oficial score being kept anywhere. (talk) 17:57, 19 February 2008 (UTC)


The lead is supposed to summarise the rest of the article and introduce terms. The content of this quote is not discussed later. "Naturopathic medicine (also known as naturopathy) is a school of medical philosophy and practice that seeks to improve health and treat disease chiefly by assisting the body's innate capacity to recover from illness and injury.". This was the previous revision which both Mccready and I altered. I agree that Mccready made some point of view edits (mccready see arbcom ruling on quakwatch) but I think altering this sentence is defendable. The sentence makes about 3 unsupported claims. The first claim is that what is stated is actually naturopathy philosophy. I don't doubt this but it should be referenced anyway. The second is that naturopathy actually can effectively assist the body's capacity to recover. Although the notion that naturopathy can improve health is not presented as fact, the idea that it assists the body's capacity to recover is presented as factual. "By assisting" is a statement of fact. The third unreferenced claim is that the body has an innate capacity to recover from illness and injury. I will accept this claim as factual, if and only if, the immune system and tissue repair systems are the only thing being referred to here. If this sentence refers to some "innate system" that is implicated in naturopathy but not conventional medicine then it should be both specified and referenced.

Also, if seems very contradictory to place a CAM template in the article and then call it a medical system with a link directing to the medicine article which is about conventional medicine only. As such the term "complementary and alternative medicine" has been used instead. JamesStewart7 (talk) 08:32, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

-- James I think you are missing the point of having a wiki aticle about naturopathic medicine! Surely our first goal is to describe what naturopaths believe and do. Example: It is a fact that naturopaths believe in the existence of an innate capacity for self-healing. The 'vital force' may or may not actually exist, but this does not alter the fact that self healing is the central emphasis of naturopathic medicine. The second goal of the article is to provide a context that should include noteworthy critisism and opposing views - but it not an apropriate forum to debate or judge the primary content. In demanding that the beliefs of naturopathic practitioners be 'proven' before being described, you are making for an article that is uninformative, and ironically, short on the facts. (talk) 18:25, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

Great lead: now all we need is a description of naturopathy.

The lead section as it now stands is laughable: it contains multiple arguments against naturopathy but almost no description of what naturopathy entails. The criticism has almost completely eclipsed the thing that it is criticizing. If I were a visitor coming to read this article with no knowledge of naturopathic medicine, I would walk away with very little beside the impression that somewhere, out there, there are some people who really don't like it very much.

The bit about naturopaths preferring not to use ‘scientifically tested medicines’ is particularly tragic, and also just a little bit amusing for anyone who is up on the current trends in research. For a quick laugh (or cry, depending on your POV), do a pub med search on genestein, or EGCG, or vitamin D, or lactoferrin (don't tell your oncologist, but the FDA just fast-tracked this one!), or curcumin, or alpha-lipoic acid, or N-acetyl cysteine, or L-arginine,or niacin, or resveratrol, or DHA or EPA, or allicin, or lycopene, or artimesinin, or lutein, or beta-sitosterol, or… well, the list of natural molecules that are enjoying intense interest from the research community goes on and on. You would need a specialized 4-year degree just to keep track of them all! These are all natural molecules that are sold by the bucketful at your local health food store (and in your supermaket if you known where to look!). But do they work? Are they safe? You could ask your GP, but your GP has no idea. [I'm not GP bashing here. I like my GP, but never in a month of sundays could he match the above with their natural sources, never mind know how to safely prescribe them.] Hmmm… if only there were a group of board-certified, medically trained professionals interested in focusing their attention on these natural therapeutics, willing to add hundreds of years of traditional human experiential evidence with the latest evidence-based research…hmmm…geee…i wonder…

The great tragedy of the article isn't the that those who actually know something about the topic have been shut out by the critics - its in the tyrany of saying 'no' to an idea without even allowing it to be expressed in the first place. (talk) 07:37, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

There. I have removed all criticism from the article. Since you are so obviously more knowledgeable than I am, perhaps you can bring the article into compliance with Wikipedia's neutral point of view policy. Thanks, I'm outta here. Silly rabbit (talk) 15:39, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Poorer training than MDs?

“The level of medical training that naturopaths hold … is generally poorer than that of conventional health professionals”

To quote Pierre Trudeau: “Well, yes, and I suppose if my grandmother had wheels she would be a truck.” Now back up and reverse the situation for a moment: Suppose a patient goes to see an MD for a comprehensive protocol that will require some combination of lifestyle modification, nutritional counseling, acupuncture, a homeopathic remedy or two, hydrotherapy treatments, a spinal manipulation, a review of supplements that the patient may be taking, or a customized herbal tincture containing 6 well balanced herbs. Does the MD have poorer training than the ND to complete the task at hand? Of course, but it is foolish to compare the training of the two very different branches of medicine. Lawyers don’t have 'poorer training' than airplane pilots, they just aren't very good at landing planes is all. Dermatologists don’t have poorer training than neurosurgeons - even though their training is shorter, you would best be advised to have the dermatologist look at that funny spot on your back, not the neurosurgeon. I wouldn't ask either of them to choose between Aveena sativa, Melissa officinalis, and Passiflora incarnata for your insomnia, however. And I sure-as-sugar wouldn't trust either of them with the acupuncture needles.

An MD would make a terrible ND and an ND would make a terible MD, but to say that one has poorer training than the other, you first have to make an extremely generalized judgment call about which is more valuable - naturopathic or conventional medicine, and then proceed to judge one practitioner by the other practitioner's standard.

I guess my question to whoever wrote this is: What, specifically can you tell us about the curriculum in naturopathic colleges? Are there specific topics that you are worried about? Do ND's spend less time than their MD counterparts on anatomy, and too much time on physiology in your opinion? Are they not using the latest textbooks? Are their board exams too easy? I suppose my second question would be: how specifically do you know this - have you ever looked at the curriculum, or sat in a class, or written the NPLEX? (talk) 07:53, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

The problem is that real physicians are trained to diagnose and treat real illnesses. Going to a naturopath to find out what sort of tea to drink is fine, but you should still go see a qualified healthcare professional for medical treatment. The way the paragraph was worded before this inclusion made it sound like you can go to a naturopath without seeing a physician. Then if a diagnosis is made, you can get a referral to a real physician. Well, that is a very dangerous attitude for the article to endorse, since naturopaths do not receive nearly as much training in actual medicine as do actual doctors. People have died because they did not seek proper treatment quickly enough. Finally, the threshhold for inclusion in the article is verifiability, not truth. The fact that this objection to naturopathy has been raised, even by notable advocacy groups like the NCCAM, clearly makes it verifiable for inclusion. Silly rabbit (talk) 12:11, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Well silly rabbit, at least it can't be said that you have a hidden agenda. But your opinions about the inferiority of NDs and their medicine make a pretty poor substitute for factual description of what NDs believe and do. I am going to assume good faith that you were not intending to insult those NDs who are in fact 'real' primary care physicians with a lot more to show for their education than just knowing how to make a good cup of tea. I am also guessing that you have very little knowledge of what a typical day is like for an ND in practice or for a student at a naturopathic college. (talk) 16:20, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

The article states that naturopaths generally have poorer training than conventional health care practitioners as if it were a fact but backs this up with two citations, one of which is an opinion of an MD, the second being the assesment of a committee in a jurisdiction that has not tightly regulated the educational requirements for NDs. The MDs opinion is published and may be notable but must be stated as an opinion belonging to that person so that the reader can decide for themselves wether they want to credit it. The finding of the Australian cttee is relevant to the article but can not be used to describe the education of all naturopaths, in deference to the jurisdictions that have much higher requirements. Another good reason to split the aticle perhaps? (See below). Naturstud (talk) 15:30, 21 February 2008 (UTC)