Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Bad news for science: naturopaths get positive press



The twitterverse was all abuzz the other day with the release of a journal article that found that patients who received counselling from naturopaths reduced their risk of heart disease significantly more than patients who only went to see a doctor.

Of course, a number of the authors of the paper reported potential conflicts of interest such as receiving funding from alternative medicine groups and naturopathic organizations. Naturally, they would have a vested interest in showing that there is a benefit to seeing a naturopath.

Doctors, unfortunately, are more often than not, ill-equipped to provide lifestyle and nutrition counselling. It seems pretty obvious that patients provided with an additional level of care would experience better outcomes than the patients who only met with their family doctors. This does not mean that all patients with elevated risk for cardiovascular disease should seek the help of a naturopath. It means that they should be receiving specialized nutrition and lifestyle counselling from a trained health care professional. Ideally, a dietitian as our advice is science-based and we do not promote homeopathic remedies.

The two things I get out of this study are: 1. patients with elevated risk for diseases which can be mitigated by lifestyle changes should receive counselling in the appropriate area(s), 2. doctors should be referring their patients to their appropriate counterparts in healthcare to supply that counselling. The fact that naturopaths were the providers of the counselling in this study is unimportant and gives the false impression to the public that naturopaths are a suitable alternative to doctors and dietitians.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people see food and nutrition from a different perspective and understand that nutrition and health are not necessarily a result of personal choice.

4 thoughts on “Bad news for science: naturopaths get positive press

  1. Hey Diana, read your post for the first time and i really liked the piece of information you shared. I agree – consuming the right food in a right quantity which suits the individual is a vital point. This gives clarity whom to go to.


  2. It is a nice point which you have made. I am also in the process of writing a post on this topic. Alternative forms of medicine are widely practised in India and sometimes these practitioners lure cancer patient away from their allopathic counterparts by giving them a false assurance of curing their disease. I have seen innumerable patients coming to me with advanced cancer after consulting these practitioners.


  3. Good points. For me, I see a GYN who is also into natural health, and if I could find a doctor who would also do so, that would be great. I have endometriosis. And unfortunately, the traditional treatments for endo (the pill, lupron, etc) never ended up helping all that much… so I think that is part of the reason, also , that people are heading towards naturopaths. That they have things that are not really helped by modern medicine… I think naturopaths, in general, also may have better ‘bedside’ manners (although the only one I tried made me so mad I could spit nails).


  4. Diana said:

    “(The article) gives the false impression to the public that naturopaths are a suitable alternative to doctors and dietitians.”

    Diana –

    Some people sharpen their minds by narrowing them. For someone involved in wellness – as you certainly seem to be – dismissing the outstanding contributions to society that many naturopaths do, is foolish.

    And doing so while at the same time considering the monstrous swathe of damage done by allopathic treatments is downright dangerous.

    Do you know that traditional ‘healthcare’ in the U.S. kills 400+ citizens every day of the year?

    Drug interactions, “side effects,” prescription errors, unnecessary surgeries, nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections and “hospital errors” are a leading cause of death in America.

    The number of deaths due to “medication errors” more than doubled from 1983 to 1993.

    Lazarou et al, published a landmark report in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998, showing that hospital-supervised administration of drugs leads to adverse effects in more than 2,2000.000 American patients and directly results in more than 100,000 deaths,

    Doctor Barbara Starfield documented that allopathic medicine is the third leading cause of death in America, after heart disease and cancer.

    Her study can be paraphrased as stating, “iatrogenic causes” result in “225,000 deaths per year” constituting “the third leading cause of death in the United States.”

    Other estimates have been more conservative, such as the 1997 review by Holland and Degury, in American Family Physician, wherein the authors note, “Recent estimates suggest that each year more than 1,000,000 patients are injured while in the hospital and approximately 180,000 die because of these injuries. Furthermore, drug-related morbidity and mortality are common and are estimated to cost more than $136 billion a year.” Thus, according to these authoritative reviews, we can reasonably conclude that not less than 110,000 and up to 225,000 American patients are killed every year by adverse drug effects, hospital errors and other “side-effects” of allopathic medicine.

    Now, I happen to have had the benefit of an extremely expensive education at UCSD school of medicine in La Jolla, California, so for more than 20 years, I drank the same traditional medicine Kool Aid you did.

    Then I woke up. I was fortunate enough to be offered a part-time position at a preventive medicine clinic in Palm Springs, California.

    I was literally stunned by how much I had to ‘unlearn.’


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