Do you know what goes into making a medicine? I don’t mean the actual manufacturing of the drug itself, rather the process of getting it onto the pharmacy shelves and into the hands of doctors and patients. Years, often decades, of careful trials and research are needed to make sure potential new medications are both safe to use and (quite important this) genuinely make people better.
Modern, evidence-based medicine is a science. Doctors recommend treatments based on a sound, scientific knowledge of what works. And what is safe for us, the patients.
All of this is carefully managed and regulated by a whole plethora of regulators and overseen by authorities the world over. The aim: that health professionals use only the very safest and most effective treatments for every single patient; the gold standard.
Why am I saying this? Recently someone I know chose to become “qualified” as a naturopath. I say “qualified” because there is a whole industry of naturopaths training more of themselves, so I’m not entirely sure how that is externally regulated.
According to the College of Naturopathic Medicine:
A Naturopath is a health practitioner who applies natural therapies. Her/his spectrum comprises far more than fasting, nutrition, water, and exercise; it includes approved natural healing practices such as Homeopathy, Acupuncture, and Herbal Medicine, as well as the use of modern methods like Bio-Resonance, Ozone-Therapy, and Colon Hydrotherapy.
Before we progress with this any further:
- Homeopathy is, as we know, horse-shit.
- Acupuncture has been proven to be no more effective when performed by a trained person according to guidelines than by sticking the needles in at random, meaning that any benefits are almost certainly a placebo.
- Herbal Medicine = things that aren’t really medicine. Over the past (many) hundreds of years scientists and doctors have looked at all of the ‘herbs’ that old wives tales say are good for your joints, or cure a common cold. The ones that work are what we now call medicine.
- Bio-Resonance, Ozone-Therapy, Colon Hydrotherapy. Do I really need to comment?
According to the same website, “Modern orthodox medicine… does not subscribe… to the importance of prevention.” Please show me a doctor who does not know the importance of a healthy lifestyle; or a GP who doesn’t long for the day when they have the time to work with patients to prevent medical problems rather than fire-fighting the chronic conditions they see in their practices every single day.
This kind of ridiculous statement is praying on the lack of time and resource in the NHS. Everybody knows that preventing illness is better than treating it. To claim this as being unique to naturopathy is simply false.
Most shocking of all, to me, though, are stories of naturopaths telling sick patients not to take medications prescribed to them by doctors and instead to use treatments they provide. These so-called ‘natural remedies’ have no scientific evidence base and are not proven to be safe. They have not been through the same – or, in fact, any – approval process as real medicines.
What is worse is that many patients will not tell their doctors that they are taking these naturopathic remedies, for fear of offending their doctor.
Taking these fake medicines is dangerous. Naturopathy can kill. It stops people following the treatments – genuine, effective, real, treatments – prescribed by their doctors. I have seen, first hand, people end up in the hospital because of it.
We do not live in the dark ages any longer, which is where these deluded beliefs belong. This is 2016. We have science, fact, logical thinking and evidence. Real, genuine evidence to prove which safe, effective treatments are the ones that will keep us and our loved ones healthy, safe and well.
So, and I say this to every single person I know, and everybody who I don’t; if you want to practice naturopathy, homeopathy, chiropractic, scientology or any of the other branches of woo and quackery that are about, feel free; as along as you keep it to yourself. But as soon as you start spreading it to other people, you are doing real, actual harm and need to be stopped for the safety of society. And I make no apology for trying to stop you.
Find out more:
If you too care about this issue, you can learn more about the importance of clinical trials and evidence-based-medicine at:
- http://senseaboutscience.org/ – Sense about Science is an independent campaigning charity that challenges the misrepresentation of science and evidence in public life.
- http://www.badscience.net/ – Dr. Ben Goldacre’s website and blog
- http://www.cebm.net/ – Oxford University Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (who also have a series of podcasts).