The Amercian Medical Association (AMA) recently published a lengthy article on naturopathy in the US. Here are some excerpts:

There are three types of health professionals who offer naturopathic treatment:

  • Naturopathic doctors. These nonphysicians graduate from a four-year, professional-level program at an accredited naturopathic medical school, earning either the doctor of naturopathy (ND) degree or the doctor of naturopathic medicine (NMD) degree.
  • Traditional naturopaths, who have obtained education through some combination of a mentorship program with another professional or at an alternative clinic, distance-learning program or classroom schooling on natural health, or other holistic studies.
  • Other health professionals such as chiropractors, massage therapists, dentists, nurses, nutritionists, or physicians who practice under a professional license but include some naturopathic methods in their practice and who may have studied on their own or taken courses on naturopathic methods.

At least 24 states and the District of Columbia regulate the practice of naturopathy. In order to be licensed, naturopaths in these states must earn an ND or NMD from an accredited naturopathic program and pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam. Three states—Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee—prohibit the practice of naturopathy. In states that neither license nor prohibit the practice of naturopathy, traditional naturopaths and NDs alike may practice without being subject to state regulation.

Postgraduate training is neither common nor required of graduates of naturopathic schools, except in Utah … less than 10% of naturopaths participate in an approved residency, and such residencies last only a year and lack a high degree of standardization.

… naturopaths are required to get at least 1,200 hours of direct patient contact, physicians get 12,000–16,000 hours of clinical training…

ND programs emphasize naturopathic principes—for example, the healing power of nature—and naturopathic therapeutics such as botanical medicine, homeopoathy and hydrotherapy. Coursework in naturopathic therapeutics is combined with, and taught alongside, coursework in sciences. But there are no specifications around the number of hours required in each area … naturopathic students may lack exposure to key clinical scenarios in the course of their training … naturopathic students’ clinical experience is typically gained through outpatient health care clinics, as naturopathic medical schools typically do not have significant hospital affiliation. This means there is no guarantee that a naturopathic student completing a clinical rotation will see patients who are actually sick or hospitalized, and they may not be exposed to infants, children, adolescents or the elderly. It has been said that naturopaths tend to treat the “worried well.”

… Naturopaths claim they are trained as primary care providers and, as such, are educated and trained to diagnose, manage and treat many conditions, including bloodstream infections, heart disease and autoimmune disorders. Yet their education and training falls several years and thousands of hours short of what physicians get.

…The AMA believes it is the responsibility of policymakers to ensure that naturopaths’ claims that they can treat a broad range of conditions are backed by facts—facts that include the specific education and training necessary to ensure patient safety.


The AMA is clearly cautious here. A less polite statement might simply stress that naturopaths are taught a lot of nonsense which they later tend to administer to their unsuspecting patients. On this blog, we have repeatedly discussed the danger naturopaths present to public health in the US and elsewhere, e.g.:

Claims that naturopaths are a viable alternative to evidence-based medicine are wrong, irresponsible and dangerous. Regulators must be reminded that they have the duty to protect the public from charlatans and should therefore ensure that no false therapeutic or diagnostic claims can be made by naturopaths.

15 Responses to Naturopaths are not physicians

  • Re education. It should probably be noted that the Christian Albrechts University at Kiel evaluated the ND program offered by the premier naturopathic college of the US on the occasion of a graduate applying for a degree program there. The result was a disaster. Normally MDs are admitted to a PhD program, probably with the obligation to take a few courses to “fill up” gaps. In that case, the candidate was required to do the entire master’s program</b b/c of the quality (or better lack of) of the lectures given by the ND college. I am not sure if anything was given credit for. That alone should disqualify NDs from being “physicians”.

      • This one really stuck in my mind:

        Makes me wonder how many children have died because naturopaths advised a gallbladder cleanse (whatever the hell that’s supposed to be) instead of proper medical care, with parents following along with whatever those medically incompetent quacks dreamed up – just because it’s deemed ‘natural’.

        Then again, children dying in large numbers is the natural way things go …

        • Well, the 2019 measles epidemics in Samoa with ~75 dead kids would warrant a deeper investigation to which levels NDs or similar where involved in the drop in vaccination rate. But it is not only children. There is a paper on naturopathy and cancer by Johnson et al, ( and the KM curves are a catastrophy. Depends on the cancer, but overall your chance to die within 5 years doubles if you do naturopathy instead of medicine.

          • Worelia wrote about it. Quote: “Australian anti-vaxxer backs Samoan ‘traditional healer’ who says vaccines spread measles”.

            There is more in it. Aside of the stupidity of the Samoans it was an incident in 2016, 3 years before the measles outbreak.

            “Ein Schadensfall der Evolution, auch bekannt als “Homöopathieanhänger””

            “Dank der Blödheit der Samoaner: 81 Menschen an Masern gestorben!”

            “SAMOA: Edwin Tamasese is a Deadly Saboteur to the Samoan People!”

          • I know about this incident. Unfortunately the Samoan government failed to propagate exactly what the reason was, namely diluting the vaccine with a relaxant instead of phosphate buffered saline. I actually discussed with Tamasese about the role of naturopaths in this disaster. The arguments where breath-taking, ranging from lack of Vitamins, improper treatment by the doctors, what not. Measles also hit neighbourig Tonga which has an adaequate vaccination rate. Result a fraction of cases and – most importantly – no deaths. The simple fact that nothing would have happened if vaccination rates would have been adaequate did simply not occur to this guy. As for naturopaths. They have a so-called treatment pyramid, starting with mild, “natural” interventions and ending with classical medicine, applied sequentially until something works. This is essentially treating by trial and error. On the contrary, medicine assesses the disease and starts (or at least tries to) with the treatment that works for this grade of disease.

          • Here is an interview with the criminal. I just found it:


            51 views Apr 12, 2021
            𝗧𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗼𝗮 𝗦𝗮’𝗼.
            Leao Tildsley speaks to Edwin Tamasese in Samoa about the measles outbreak three years ago and the reason he was arrested by the government. Edwin presents his side of the story and the actions he took to save Samoa’s children
            New Zealand’s largest, first and only 24-7 free-to-air Indian Television on Channel 36

            Only 51 views since April 2021. Looks like we are privileged… 🙂

          • @Thomas Mohr
            “I actually discussed with Tamasese”

            That’s interesting. Why did you do that, and how? Were you in Samoa? As far as I understand you are an oncologist.

          • Tamasese is on X. Doing what? Spreading medical misinformation. That is why I confronted him.

            No insight whatsoever on what he does.

      • Precisely. I wrote the expert opinion on Colleen Huber’s “analysis” of Huber’s cancer patients to submit for the trial. I think somewhere she tells her experience with the committee of the University Kiel that assessed which classes from her ND education could be credited.

      • This example is the more telling, since the committe at the University of Kiel had little to no motivation to downplay NDs. Aside that, with a solid coursework they couldn’t have done that anyways.

      • I don’t think so. Britt Hermes has her PhD now and works at the Max Plank Institute.

        • It is Britt Marie Hermes. Originally she obtained an ND, went to Kiel and applied at the University Kiel. After assessing her ND the committee in Kiel decided to put her into a master’s program before she could be admitted into the PhD program. This is highly unusual and only done if the original graduate degree is absolutely unrelated to the field. Somewhere she tells the story of facing the committee that assessed her ND. Not flattering for the university that awarded it. As far as I remember, they hardly credited any course towards her masters.

        • BTW, I know her personally. On her blog I reanalyzed Colleen Huber’s data on cancer, with a disastrous result concerning survival, contrary to what Huber claimed. That post was part of the lawsuit against her and I wrote a detailed expert opinion to the court on Huber’s “analyses”. Interestingly they sued her, but didn’t dare to sue me.

        • Just to be clear. Britt did in fact do a master’s degree and a PhD in Kiel.

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