Naturopathic quackery wins licensure in Massachusetts

I was busy last night doing something other than actually blogging. Perhaps I was recovering from the one-two punch of the antivaccine rant penned by the director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute followed by Donald Trump’s meeting with antivaccine crank Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Whatever the case I crashed early. However, I can’t help but note still more bad news.

I woke up this morning to this headline Naturopaths get their own licensing board in Mass.:

Governor Charlie Baker on Wednesday signed into law a bill that creates a licensing board to regulate naturopaths, alternative medicine practitioners who have fought for two decades for the right to be licensed in the same way as medical professionals.

The bill, pushed through on the Legislature’s final day, stirred controversy as opponents — primarily the Massachusetts Medical Society — said licensure would grant legitimacy to practices that are merely “a combination of nutritional advice, home remedies, and discredited treatments.”

But naturopaths and their supporters said the legislation will ensure that only qualified people call themselves naturopaths. The governor agreed. “This legislation,” said Baker spokesman Billy Pitman, “ensures an independent professional licensing board is able to implement minimum standards, education, and quality of care in a growing, yet unregulated field.”

As I said when I first noticed how this bill passed the Massachusetts legislature last week through some rather shady means, naturopaths are like The Terminator, as described in the movie of the same name. In their search for legitimacy and licensure, naturopaths “can’t be bargained with. [They] can’t be reasoned with. [They don’t] feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And [they] absolutely will not stop… ever, until they are licensed in all 50 states!” Well, they just notched up state #19.

Not surprisingly, naturopaths are overjoyed:

Amy Rothenberg, president of the Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Doctors, said in a statement that naturopaths “are thrilled to join the ranks of providers in the state.”

“We applaud Charlie Baker and the legislative process that studied and vetted this profession for over 20 years and came to understand the unique role that naturopathic doctors can play in the state,” she said, adding that naturopaths bring “expertise in both preventive medicine and natural integrative care.”

This is standard-issue naturopath propaganda, and I’ve discussed Amy Rothenberg before. Basically, she is someone who accepted conventional oncologic treatment for her cancer but supplemented it with naturopathic quackery. Now, she mostly attributes how well she is doing to the naturopathic quackery and is an evangelist to bring that quackery to everyone. Same as it ever was.

As is so often the case, organizations of conventional, science-based physicians, were ineffective in stopping the naturopathic juggernaut and are left only to complain:

Dr. James S. Gessner, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, said in a statement Wednesday that “licensing is likely to be perceived by the public as an endorsement of an area of care that lacks rigorous medical training and standards of care, and offers few if any treatments based on clinical and scientific evidence.”

But he said he was gratified the law prohibits naturopaths from prescribing and ordering medications, using the term “physician,” and portraying themselves as primary care providers.

The law also requires naturopaths to refer unimmunized children to physicians.

Dr. Gessner is deluding himself if he things that these sops to real physicians will stand for long. I predict that it won’t be long before Massachusetts naturopaths start lobbying to remove the prohibition against calling themselves “physicians,” portraying themselves as primary care providers, and prescribing drugs that aren’t controlled substances. It will happen, and soon, because this is the naturopath playbook. They get what they can, and then they go back for more, until they win the right to practice their quackery to the fullest extent of their quackiness. There’s no reason to expect that the situation will be any different in Massachusetts.

If there’s one thing that’s irritated the crap out of me over the last three years or so in my state, it’s how the Michigan State Medical Society threw everything it had to stop bills that would expand the scope of practice of advanced practice nurses to allow them to practice independently to the level of their training, but when it came to bills trying to permit naturopathic licensure they did very little. Fortunately, thus far, such bills haven’t had a lot of support in Michigan, but then the naturopaths haven’t target Michigan yet they way they targeted Massachusetts.

As I close this briefer than usual post, I can’t help but think of another bit of news that greeted me last night:

A man who went to jail after using natural remedies to treat his son’s meningitis is going to Prince George, B.C., to promote nutritional supplements sold by his family’s business — a move that is sparking controversy online.

David Stephan and his wife were charged with “failing to provide the necessaries of life” after their nearly 19-month-old son Ezekiel died of bacterial meningitis.

Alberta parents convicted in toddler’s meningitis death
The couple testified they believed Ezekiel had croup or flu and treated him with remedies including hot peppers, garlic onions and horseradish.

Court heard a recording of the couple explaining to police they prefer naturopathic remedies because of their family’s negative experiences with the medical system.

I’ve discussed the case of Ezekiel Stephan on multiple occasions, particularly children shouldn’t be treated with naturopathy and how naturopathic quackery and antivaccine views go hand-in-hand.

As you might recall, David Stephan works in his family’s supplement business for a company called Truehope. Clearly, and unsurprisingly,he’s learned nothing:

On Jan. 10, Stephan was scheduled to speak about “how his family members suffered from mental illness and were made well,” according to a display at Ave Maria Specialities, an “alternative and holistic health service” store in Prince George.

Stephan works for Truehope Nutritional Support, co-founded by his father.

Truehope produces EMPowerplus, billed on the company’s website as “natural alternative to pharmaceutical medications” aimed at treating mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, ADD/ADHD and stress.

One notes that the sentences Stephan and his wife received were a slap on the wrist.

One can argue (and we have argued) how much of a role the naturopath in this case,Tracy Tannis of the Lethbridge Naturopathic Medical Clinic, had in the death of Ezekiel, given the specific facts of the case and the limited contact she had with Ezekiel and his mother. What can’t be argued is that naturopathy is quackery very much like what killed Ezekiel and that naturopathy and supplement businesses like Truehope selling supplements using pseudoscientific and unsupported claims go hand in hand. Indeed, it’s supplement companies that are funding efforts to pass naturopathic licensing bills in Michigan and several other states. Basically, what Massachusetts just did is to make it easier for naturopaths to kill patients through negligence by providing naturopathic quackery with the imprimatur of the state.