MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

A recent post of mine prompted this categorical statement by one of the leading alt med researchers in Germany: naturopathy does not include homeopathy.” This caused several counter-comments claiming that homeopathy is an established part of naturopathy. Now a regular reader has alerted me to the current position paper on homeopathy by the ‘AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF NATUROPATHIC PHYSICIANS’ (AANP). It clarifies the issue fairly well, and I therefore take the liberty of citing it here in full:

“Overview of Naturopathic Medicine and Homeopathy

Homeopathy has been an integral part of naturopathic medicine since its inception and is a recognized specialty for which the naturopathic profession has created a distinct specialty organization, the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians. Homeopathy has been recognized, through rigorous testing and experimentation, as having significant scientific evidence supporting its efficacy and safety. Single medicines are given on the basis of an individual’s manifestation of a disease state in comparison to combination remedies which are given on the basis of a particular diagnostic category.

Homeopathic products are being subjected to intensified federal regulations and restrictions. Products are being promoted and marketed as “homeopathic” for a variety of uses ranging from weight-loss aids to immunizations. Many of these preparations are not homeopathic and many have not been satisfactorily proven to be efficacious. Homeopathy is practiced in a variety of traditional and non-traditional forms.

Position of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians:

  • Homeopathy is taught in the naturopathic colleges and its practice should be included in the naturopathic licensing laws. Naturopathic physicians recognize other licensed practitioners of the healing arts who are properly trained in homeopathy.
  • The naturopathic profession initiates more clinical trials and provings to further evaluate the effectiveness of homeopathy.
  • Naturopathic physicians shall be authorized to prescribe and dispense all products included in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS).
  • Homeopathic products shall be subject to strict labeling requirements. Preparations which are not prepared in accord with the manufacturing principles in the HPUS should not use the term “homeopathic.” If parents choose homeopathic preparations for their children or their wards for the prophylaxis of infectious disease as an alternative to conventional immunizations, the physician should clearly state that they are unproven and that they are not legal substitutes for the state-mandated requirements.
  • Homeopathic prescriptions should be made with careful evaluation of their effect on the entire organism.
  • Electro-diagnostic testing is an investigational tool. Electro-diagnostic testing should be used according to accepted protocol and it is recommended that it not be relied on as the sole determinant in homeopathic prescribing.”

So, was Prof Michalsen wrong when he stated that “naturopathy does not include homeopathy. It is established in Germany as the application of nutritional therapy, exercise, herbal medicine, balneotherapy and stress reduction, defined by the German Board of Physicians. In conclusion, my general and last suggestion to these kinds of comments and blogs: Please first learn the facts and then comment.”? Not wrong, perhaps – but just a little Teutonic and provincial? The Germans like their own definitions which do not apply to the rest of the world. Nothing wrong with that, I think. But, in this case, they should make it clear that they are talking about something else than the international standard, and perhaps they should also publish their national drivel in their provincial journals in German language. This would avoid all sorts of misunderstandings, I am sure.

But this may just be a trivial aside. The more interesting issue here is the above AANP-statement itself. The AANP has the following vision: “Naturopathic physicians will guide and empower people to discover and experience improved health, optimal wellness, and effective management of disease through the principles and practices of naturopathic medicine.”

These are very nice words; but they are just that: WORDS. The AANP clearly does not believe in their own vision. If they did, they could never speak of ‘EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT OF DISEASE’ while condoning the use of therapies that have been shown to be ineffective.

And this is where, in my view, the importance of their ‘position paper’ really lies: it demonstrates once again that, in the realm of alternative medicine, organisations and individuals make statements that sound fine and are politically correct, while at the same time disregarding these pompous aims/visions/objectives by promoting outright quackery. This sort of thing is so wide-spread that most of us just take it for granted and very few have the nerve to object. The result of this collective behaviour is obvious: on the one hand, charlatans can claim to be entirely in line with public health, EBM etc.; on the other hand, they are free to exploit the public with their bogus treatments.

Could this be the true common denominator of naturopathy in Germany and the rest of the world?

5 Responses to Naturopathy and homeopathy: united in quackery?

  • “Could this be the true common denominator of naturopathy in Germany and the rest of the world?”

    In everyday language, I abhor the usage of pedantry and the insistence upon semantic correctness. However, when the main topic of discussion concerns science or science- and evidence-based topics such as medicine, then correctness is essential in order to avoid the ambiguity that so frequently leads to pointless and polarised heated arguments.

    Your paragraph preceding that question clearly highlights the true lowest common denominator or least common denominator (abbreviated LCD), which is mathematically the least common multiple of the denominators of the set of fractions that comprise the set classified as alt-med (aka sCAM; Integrative Medicine).

    Reading the claims of a naturopath whom denies the use of homeopathy in their practise is reading the claims of a quack who is trying really hard, but failing dismally, to disassociate themselves from being a member of the set of alt-med practitioners. This same attempt at disassociation is clearly evidenced in the many arguments given by advocates of TCM. Those who try hard to disassociate themselves from alt-med are hoping to convince their audience that: If a practitioner making health claims doesn’t belong to the set of alt-med practitioners then they must belong to the set of real medical practitioners. Ha! That’s simply invoking the fallacy of the excluded middle (aka a false dichotomy). An alt-med practitioner who disassociates themselves from alt-med is not a medical practitioner: they have become an obnoxious troll who is hoping to exploit only the most vulnerable members of society.

    LCD!

  • Britt Hermes is a former naturopath with her own blog. In a timely coincidence she just yesterday published a piece titled ‘Naturopaths are Homeopaths’. Have a look: http://www.naturopathicdiaries.com/naturopaths-are-homeopaths/#more-386

    • I’m becoming increasingly irritated by the tendency of people who support Big Snakeoil not to know what their particular snakeoil comprises (see also the thread on toxic metal additions to ayurvedic medicine). Is it possible that alternative medicine is an appeal to ignorance? (For clarity to the believers: that’s meant to be irony.)

  • Why do items in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS) need to be “prescribed”? That suggests that they have active ingredients.

    If all such concoctions were made OTC homeopaths couldn’t charge clients for “prescribing” them.

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