Cancer Integrative medicine Medicine Naturopathy Pseudoscience Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

The quackery of “naturopathic oncology” is metastasizing

“Integrating” naturopathic care with real medicine started out largely in academic medical centers. Unfortunately, the cancer of integrative oncology appears to be metastasizing to community hospitals.

I’ve frequently lamented the infiltration of pseudoscience into academic medical centers and medical schools, so much so that I often refer to this unwelcome phenomenon as “quackademic medicine.” It’s a phenomenon that is not well-appreciated, although there has been some fitful recognition from the press of late. Basically, quackademic medicine involves the adoption, practice, sale, teaching, and study of highly implausible alternative medical interventions, such as homeopathy, naturopathy, and acupuncture, as though they had scientific plausibility and might actually be efficacious, and, as I’ve documented since not long after the beginning of this blog. Particularly galling to me is just how much such quackery has found a home in oncology, even in National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers (NCI-CCCs). In particular, I’m disturbed by how accepted the quackery that is naturopathy has become in oncology, even to the point where two naturopaths have served as past presidents of the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO).

Naturopathy is, of course, quackery. Of that there is no doubt. I’ve shown numerous examples of this over the years, particularly when you look at what naturopaths say to each other when they think no one’s listening. The quackery they practice is depressingly epic. Sadly, though, naturopaths are enjoying some success in fooling state medical boards to license them as legitimate health care providers, even though they are antivaccine and you can’t have naturopathy without homeopathy (The One Quackery To Rule Them All). Basically, naturopaths are fake doctors cosplaying real doctors. They don’t know their limitations. It’s almost as though they think theirs is a real medical specialty.

Naturopaths are even starting to subspecialize. Indeed, they’ve even created a “specialty” known as naturopathic oncology, complete with a suffix to put after their name and “ND” (not a doctor) title, FABNO (which I like to refer to as, “FAB? NO!”). At first, FABNOs were confined mostly to bit cities and academic medical centers, but yesterday I learned that it appears that naturopathic oncology is now metastasizing to smaller community centers:

The Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wis., for example, has offered integrative medical services for the better part of a decade. Its integrative care services has especially grown in the last couple of years, and is now offered at six of the health center’s locations.

“We have traditional healing and herbal therapists who have agreed to work with our clinic, and they’ve agreed we share the patient,” said Jeffrey Landercasper, MD, a general and breast surgeon affiliated with Gundersen. “We’ve been able to keep patients who said they were leaving.”

In some centers, such as Northwest Surgical Specialists (NWSS) in Eugene/Springfield, Ore., naturopathic doctors participate at tumor board meetings, an approach for involving integrative care providers that was discussed during a panel session at the 2017 annual meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons by Winnie Henderson, MD, a general and breast surgeon at NWSS.

“I’ve never heard of anyone else doing that. It’s a novel idea that I think ought to be investigated,” Dr. Landercasper said.

No, it is not. It is a horrible idea, and oncologists should have stomped that sucker flat the first time a naturopath or woo-prone oncologist suggested it. I attend our breast cancer tumor board every week. There is absolutely nothing of value that naturopaths can add to the multidisciplinary discussion of patients and how best to care for them. None of this means that we don’t discuss strategies to improve patients’ quality of life. That’s the con that naturopaths use to insinuate themselves into legitimate cancer care: That only they care about diet and lifestyle modifications and that they are somehow uniquely qualified to address these issues. They are not. Worse, naturopaths’ counseling about science-based lifestyle interventions like diet and exercise comes with a price, and that price is that quackery inevitably accompanies any science-based interventions. Naturopaths use all sorts of quackery, ranging from homeopathy to functional medicine to bogus allergy testing to traditional Chinese medicine to more forms of nonsense than I can recount. It makes me wish that I had attended the American Society of Breast Surgeons meeting earlier this year, so that I could have attended that panel discussion. Oh, well, maybe next year.

The article next trots out Heather Wright, president of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP), who of course is all for this new model. So does Michelle Niesley, a naturopath with the Clinic of Natural Medicine, in Eugene, OR:

“A lot of people have no idea what a naturopath is,” Dr. Niesley said. “Many doctors aren’t aware that we go through a four-year postgraduate program, and that there are hospital-based residencies in integrative medicine for naturopathic doctors.”

At these multidisciplinary meetings, integrative care providers can present research in their area, which “allows other team members caring for the patient to hear the rational and evidence base for the supportive care offered by naturopathic doctors,” Dr. Wright said.

Often though, Dr. Niesley said, integrative care providers usually are simply there to answer questions. “We listen to the cases and provide clarification. For example, if a patient has asked an oncologist about some sort of alternative treatment that the oncologist is not familiar with, we can provide evidence-based information.”

“Evidence-based information.” You keep using that term. I do not think it means what you think it means. Naturopathy and evidence-based information are related only by coincidence. Indeed, more often, naturopathy embraces exactly the opposite of science- and evidence based practice. Including naturopaths in a tumor board of necessity requires injecting quackery and pseudoscience into those boards.

Another argument made for this sort of arrangement is this:

But the educational aspect goes both ways. Dr. Henderson and her colleagues began inviting local naturopathic oncology providers to tumor boards in an effort to form an alliance with the integrative care providers they knew their patients were seeing or thinking about seeing.

“We want the naturopathic providers to know what happens when patients follow, or don’t follow, a certain path of care—or instance, what happens as a result of delayed treatment,” she said.

There were numerous situations, Dr. Henderson said, in which newly diagnosed patients who turned to alternative therapies as a primary treatment returned with tumors that had grown to the point of requiring a salvation mastectomy or had metastasized.


“Instead of shutting out integrative care providers, we want them to know why we might suggest one treatment plan over another,” Dr. Henderson said. “For patients with triple-negative breast cancers, time is of the essence. These are situations in which it’s important for the naturopaths to refer patients back to us for the aggressive treatment some patients need.”

There is a germ of a point here. Alternative medicine kills cancer patients. It is deadly for cancer patients. I can say from my own anecdotal experience is that pretty much every patient I’ve seen with large, ulcerating, fungating breast cancers resulting from patients delaying effective treatment in favor of pursuing alternative medical treatment received their quack treatments from naturopaths. Fortunately, the number over the years has been relatively few, which, unfortunately, means that I can’t draw much in the way of conclusions from this observation.

The point is that many naturopaths tell patients that they can cure their cancer naturally and without all the toxicity of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. Such naturopaths do not accept their profession as being in a subsidiary role to standard medicine; they really believe they can treat cancer “naturally.” As a result, the sorts of naturopaths likely to be influenced by this education are very likely not the naturopaths out in the community killing cancer patients by delaying their seeking effective care. In other words, naturopaths who are content to be “integrative” instead of being in charge are the ones who least need the lesson. Again, naturopaths don’t know their own limitations.

Here’s another bad idea:

Another model for alignment with integrative care is to bring those providers into the practice setting, giving patients the opportunity to meet with both their standard care providers—their surgeon and oncologist—as well as naturopathic doctors.

“In the tumor board setting, you have the naturopathic doctor explaining the patient’s reported symptoms and condition along with their desire for a natural or holistic approach to the conventional treatment team. In the practice setting, the integrative provider can explain and reinforce to the patient the benefit of the treatment offered by the surgeon, medical oncologist and other providers,” Dr. Wright said.

Notice how this model presents naturopaths as being equal to real physicians, such as oncologists, surgeons, and radiation oncologists. Again, this model depends on finding naturopaths who actually accept that chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and targeted therapies are valid treatments that work better than their quackery, which brings me to this:

Dr. Wright and Dr. Niesley recommend practices searching for a naturopathic oncology provider consult the OncANP, which has a list of licensed NDs with specialty training in oncology care listed by location ( “It’s not a complete list of doctors who practice integratively, or for other integrative providers, but it’s a great place to start,” Dr. Niesley said.

I’ve done this sort of activity before, using websites affiliated with organized naturopathy to look for licensed naturopaths and then seeing what they offered. The results were not pretty. Really, they weren’t. Because naturopathy is quackery, endorsement by a naturopathic “professional organization” does not mean a lack of quackery. The quackery is “baked in” to naturopathy.

So I did the same thing with Oregon and found similar results. For instance, the Sage Cancer Care clinic touts liver “detoxification” to deal with chemotherapy. Another, the Amber Wellness Group, offers IV therapies that include high dose vitamin C and chelation therapy for heavy metal and treats the fake disease known as chronic Lyme disease. They offer nonsense such as mistletoe therapy, “hormonal, neurotransmitter and adrenal optimization,” “genetic analysis in regards to methylation pathways,” and, of course, that absolutely unavoidable favorite of naturopaths, “detoxification.” They also use Doctors Data to do all sorts of dubious provoked heavy metal testing, and run tests for “chemical exposures.” Meanwhile, Dr. Niesley goes on about “biochemical individuality“:

At the Clinic of Natural Medicine we treat you, not your condition. We believe that whatever your disease or condition may be, it is a manifestation of underlying imbalances in your body. Determining these underlying imbalances is an essential step in correcting them. This is achieved through a thorough consultation (our first visit is often one hour in length), a review of all conventional testing (blood work, pathology reports, imaging, etc.), a physical/nutritional exam, and further testing if indicated (conventional or non-conventional blood work, salivary, fecal or urine analysis). This may even include analysis of your genomics, which tell us at the most basic of levels how your process certain nutrients or break down substances your body manufactures, like hormones, catecholamines, and neurotransmitters.

Sounds like functional medicine quackery to me. In any case, you get the idea.

What was particularly annoying about this article is that there wasn’t even a token skeptical voice included. The writer interviewed naturopaths, and she interviewed physicians who think it’s a good idea to “integrate” naturopaths into conventional medical care. Naturopathy is presented not as the quackery that it is, but as a valid equal to conventional medicine and the observation that, more and more, community hospitals are “integrating” naturopathic care with conventional medical care as a positive development.

It’s not. It’s the exact opposite.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

72 replies on “The quackery of “naturopathic oncology” is metastasizing”

The integration of quackery with conventional healthcare is the next big thing in healthcare – or so the proponents claim. Very unfortunate, but as this article states, it is indeed infiltrating more and more hospitals, clinics etc. The universities who are the main driving force behind this, is also not backing off and continue unabated. Just today I noticed a press release with the title “Chinese connection to blossom into better healthcare internationally”


‘The NICM Western Sydney University – CACMS Centre for Chinese Medicine Research aims to improve health outcomes through the integration of evidence-based Chinese medicine into international healthcare systems.’

So, it is coming to a hospital near you!!

It is not quackery medicine when one heals the body by natural herbs conventional medicine is nothing but chemical induced which is poison to the body which 85% of the population is brainwashed by so called doctors. As usual it is all about the money keep the people sick so they have to return every month to fatten the doctors wallet.

Show me the clinical studies then….Did my homework and they dont exist. Only science based medicine is required to show proof.. caution though, clinical study without oversight by the same company selling a product does not count. Neither do anecdotes. Work from there and see what you uncover (as I did, a lay person).

** forgot commas before, I meant to say before that a clinical study done by the company selling the product but without oversight (by an in biased party), does not count. Careful what studies you accept.

AGREED! The only so called QUACKERY I hear is the cartoon character who wrote this article going quack, quack, quack!!!

As usual it is all about the money keep the people sick so they have to return every month to fatten the doctors wallet.

OK, so you only see a naturopath for… what? How often?

Herbs are also chemicals. Water is chemicals, air is chemicals. Everything tangible is made up of chemicals – including people.

mistletoe therapy? MISTLEtoe therapy? mistletoe THERAPY?

I’m sorry, but my mind has just boggled itself one boggle too much.


James 2:24

mistletoe therapy? MISTLEtoe therapy? mistletoe THERAPY?

Makes sense. It’s the logical progression of your mother kissing the owie to make it better. The problem is that it’s only available at Xmas. Better hurry.

Modern naturopath logic is more like paclitaxel comes from Pacific yew, so Pacific yew most be effective against cancer.

Right, sounds like common sense to me! AND U don’t even need a PHD to figure that out! Look who’s quackn’. Now!!!

It’s all too horrible, but in addition to exposing this metastasis, doctors need to actively use those lifestyle bits you refer to, but that don’t seem to happen at the local clinic. “Lose some weight”, is not sufficient. I’m betting that the main driver of this is the support and attention to the individual that people get.

The thing is that doctors aren’t really trained in the nitty gritty of diet, in the weight loss or other senses. Maybe clinics should start hiring RDs to provide that kind of help.

But JP, you know hospitals have and use RDs all the time:
as a case in point, Comrade, my late father had quite a lot of experience in hospitals in his last 10 years. While he never had a diagnosis of cancer, he had complicated cardiac issues, ulcers, BPH and was ancient. At various times, I spoke to RDs who were great. I had an interaction with an Indian woman who warned me about how black pepper was the enemy of ulcer/ GERD patients. She knew her stuff. They gave me many printed diets and additional material to read.
RDs were especially useful in his last months when he didn’t want to eat- a situation they helped ameliorate through their suggestions. They kept him going..

Every clinic I’ve been in in the the ten year (and there have been a few, in different states)s since my Type II diagnosis has referred me to an RD. I still see one now and then for support. Support is what it takes to lose weight and most of all–to maintain it (as I have). But honestly, after the initial visit, you check in with your primary most times and mine was instrumental in my success–as was the entire clinic. I don’t get that where I am now–large regional medical center (small rural clinic before) so it’s a good thing I can now pretty well do it on my own. It jyuast ain’t rocket science; somehow, you have to learn to get by on fewer calories and still eat a babalced diet. You don’t need advanced degrees for that, but you do need to take the time to listen and offer motivation, and reinforce success.

At various times, I spoke to RDs who were great. I had an interaction with an Indian woman who warned me about how black pepper was the enemy of ulcer/ GERD patients.

Well, how is it?

Eat healthy = get healthy!!!

Heathfully, Michelle, healthfully. Of course, there are all sort of generically healthful practices that can backfire; legionellosis and the epidemic era of polio spring to mind.

We should welcome these highly implausible medical interventions rather than complain, and learn from them. What they actually mean is that universities and hospitals are driven by profit, not by science. When they use CAM, this becomes obvious, but it’s no less worrying when they use plausible treatments with side effects, if they don’t take science into account.


That’s good! I didn’t know that, although I’m not surprised that they are employed in hospital settings.

I was thinking more along kissmetoad’s statement that just saying “lose some weight” (which one wouldn’t say to a cancer patient) isn’t sufficient, and I was thinking mostly of outpatient clinics, which is where I have gotten all of my (non-psychiatric) health care, except for getting stitched up once and having an abscess lanced.

@JP – I was thinking more along kissmetoad’s statement that just saying “lose some weight” (which one wouldn’t say to a cancer patient)

Doctors would and consistently DID say that to me during my cancer treatments. Obesity is a contributing factor to cancer, many studies show. Chemo and fatigue caused me to gain unwanted weight even as I switched to a healthier diet.

I am a cleaning at Gundersen, the last year when I pick up in the hospital they have largely put me on medical oncology. Most of the integrative stuff is kept to the Onalaska Clinic. A couple years ago the nurses were offering essential oils in addition to regular medicine, but they have moved away from that. I have never seen a ND in the hospital, never seen accupunture done in the hospital, or reiki. I’ve seen dog therapy.

That is good news–I think. We are considering the La Cross area for retirement, so I was alarmed, but it seems to be the same as here in the big city where yes, it’s there, but nobody mentions it unless asked. Not ideal, but the best we’re going to get for now I guess.

We are considering the La Cross[e] area for retirement

Oh, kewl, you can run into the Dachelbot at the grocery store.

What works in naturopathy is not unique (to naturalpathy)…
…but is still likely unavailable from (y)our regular MD.

I wouldn’t consider what works in naturopathy optimal, but something beats nothing. We can get a lot of nothingburger served with a lot of hubris by msm.

I suspect the infiltration may be worse in Canada. This insidious gem “Complementary Therapies – A guide for people with cancer” from the Canadian Cancer Society, no less ( ) can be found on the literature shelves for patients at most every oncology department in the country, right beside the legitimate literature. The only redeeming feature is that it is a once source stop for all the bovine excrement with overdoses of bait and switch that Orac writes about.

sighs I wonder at what point I will be doctor/clinic shopping to find one that doesn’t incorporate woo, at this point? You know, if they didn’t market it as medicine, I wouldn’t really mind. Here, this lovely smelling oil will help relax you. Can we play some music in the background and give you a massage? (sounds lovely, especially if hot stones are involved!). Here, we have this cute fluffy animal that you can pet and it relaxes you, or this lovely lady who will set next to you and comfort you with her presence. Sure, offer those services, charge extra for them for those who want them, but don’t confuse them with medicine. grumble
From personal anecdotes, I do wish that the current health care system allowed for more time for patient/PCM interaction. Some still do a good job (my kids pediatrician, for example), but some completely fail in that regard. I do understand the time pressures they are under, but as a patient, it is frustrating sometimes.

We do have a couple chiropractors on staff. When I messed my back up bad on cat litter the doctor prescribed muscle relaxers and told me I needed to keep to my normal activity levels. She did not refer me to the chiropractors. I don’t think all the docs buy into the integrative stuff. I once overheard an extremely pissed off pediatric allergist venting about how he had to spend two hours explaining to a mother why (I think he was talking about ND’s) spraying different allergens in the patients face and feeling under their arm was not how you test for allergies.

I’ve heard a similarly stupid “test” for allergies/ sensitivities ( as they say):
the person is to lie in bed upon awakening and take their pulse, then ingest the suspect substance and take their pulse again. If it increases by more than X ( I forget the exact number- 5? 10?) they can be assured that they are allergic or sensitive to said food.
Although I guess it’s not as insane as the kinesiology “test” wherein your arm gets weak if you merely hold the substance or suchlike nonsense.

On the one hand a serious and immediate allergic reaction likely would change the heart rate – on the other hand, I guess that’s not how that test is meant to work.

This article still minimizes the problem. This issue is causing one of the largest health care epidemics of all time. America will soon fall due to how pervasive this issue is.

Well i believe in both traditional and hollistic practices. And with the experience with seeing traditional pill pushing drs that dont believe that a green wholesome diet can help your health or maybe just talking to your patient to get to the root problem issues in case there is depression or a highly stressfull life perhaps affecting the person maybe people wouldnt seek other forms of treatment. People nowadays are more spiritually sick depressed with todays society and you add a bandage (pills) to it. You will have a very sick patient. When ive had treatment in Mexico they treated me as a whole person and along with labs was diagnosed in a 30 min visit when drs here in the US took them 3 months to diagnose me with the same thing. Oh and i only paid like 50$ visit and 75$ lab.

My naturopathic doctor was the one talked me INTO doing chemotherapy (carboplatin and paclitaxel) for stage 3 uterine and ovarian cancer.

He supported my recovery from major abdominal surgery by providing nutrients my body needed and added to my cancer fighting arsenal with high dose IV vitamin C, artesunate, turkey tail mushrooms, and curcumin, all of which have solid studies supporting their use.

I recently went to a retreat with 40 women with my cancer who’d had had only conventional treatment, most of whom had had it recur 1, 2, or 3 times. One, a 38 year old, went home afterwards to die in hospice.

My conventional oncologist, who is a top oncologist in my large metro area, is amazed that I have not had a recurrence, given the seriousness of its initial presentation. He now thinks I am in the clear, and my CA-125 remains at 5, and thinks whatever I did worked to dramatically improve my outcome.

What did I do differently than the patients who weren’t so lucky? I used both naturopathic and conventional care.

You who bash naturopathic care are a bunch of arrogant, narrow-minded jackasses.

I’ve seen naturopathic care successfully work on other patients who failed conventional treatment and were left to die by conventional medicine. Due diligence in evaluating a broad set of treatment modalities and careful choices can mean the difference between life and death.

My naturopathic doctor was the one talked me INTO doing chemotherapy (carboplatin and paclitaxel) for stage 3 uterine and ovarian cancer.

If that’s the case, then your naturopath is the exception. I can provide more examples than I can count offhand of naturopaths who did the exact opposite: Reinforce the patient’s desire not to undergo chemotherapy. I know of one who even told a patient, “chemo is for losers.”

Whenever I encounter a patient like you, I always ask her: What, specifically, did the naturopath do? What did the naturopath recommend?

What, specifically, did the naturopath do?
Our alternative MD offers naturopathic support based on patient wishes; but even wrote an oral 5FU prescription to be helpful. I pretty much pre-emptively forestall anything not chemically tangible.

What did the naturopath recommend?
Several naturopathic possibilities – acupuncture and something that I think is EFT related, besides the therapeutic nutrition support including IV vitamin C. He doesn’t like chemo, and often gets burnt out, terminal patients, after they have failed chemo. I only buy nutritional – chemical entities and his navigation of, and insights on regular medicine.

I can plead guilty to at least on occasion being accused of being arrogant, sometimes a jackass, but never narrow minded. Therefore, please back your claims with citations, for ” high dose IV vitamin C, artesunate, turkey tail mushrooms, and curcumin, all of which have solid studies supporting their use”

This explains well how false beleifs like high dose vitamin c can propagate. Although a necessary nutrient for normal function it doesn’t have any curative motility. Study “regression to the mean” if you really want to understand why you and others believe in vitamin c in high doses (which actually can affect gut flora negatively) and other “remedies” (not cures or medicines). History is replete with quackery and it always takes centuries to get it debunked because of human nature.

Quackwatch is pretty laughable technically on the vitamin C controversy, doesn’t know beans about IV vitamin C. Some peoples’ vitamin C expectations actually are better referenced to vitamin D or other nutrients.

Hemila (MD-PhD,PhD), 2006 is probably the best source for getting a conventional MD background and single site commentary. His old articles are getting dated on more recent developments in cancer and on sepsis.

He is cautious about the evidence base and maintains “appropriate circumspection” about the high dose venues but implicitly recognizes the mere existence of some of those other claims. Hemila, 2017

The fundamental problem remains that conventional medicine has been extremely resistant and obstructive on specified high dose treatments’ trial. Even Hemila is still wallowing around in the immune support range’s lower levels, much less the Fenton reaction related effects at therapeutic IV vitamin C levels. These would be in the neighborhood of 25-100 grams C/m2 per drip delivered ca 1 gram C/min.

I too once thought that alternative medicine of any sort was quackery…until Western Medicine failed me time and time again. I found myself desperate at twenty three years old with numerous issues. I saw doctors across two states, all with various specialties (and some with high accolades). I was dismissed over and over. I was told that there was “nothing wrong with me.” My body said otherwise. I was young and losing hope. I weighed 89 pounds and was fighting to gain weight, but I could barely drag myself out of bed. I finally gave in and found a Naturopath. She worked under a DO to test my blood. I had blood work done at all of the specialists offices, including 11 vials taken by the rheumatologist and endocrinologist…all with no conclusive results (everything checked out as normal). The Naturopath and DO checked markers that the MDs did not, and numerous vitamin and mineral deficiencies were discovered as well as a potential thyroid issue that was being exacerbated by low iodine. Shame on my doctor’s for missing all of this. After less than 6 months of supplementation, dietary modifications, and lots of rest, I felt like a new person. I have never felt well in my life, but I’ve never felt worse than the time before finding that Naturopath. Today, I’ve never felt better. I was able to put weight back on and conceive a baby without any intervention. I went on to have a textbook pregnancy with no complications whatsoever, and I delivered naturally at a hospital. I know that my body could not have endured the pregnancy and especially not the intense pain that my back labor caused had I not been healed prior to that. I don’t even believe that pregnancy would have been in my cards. I am forever grateful to that Naturopath, DO, and nutritionist for saving my life and restoring my hope. If you have never been ill and incapable of getting answers from traditional doctors, please don’t shame Naturopaths before you have given them a chance. Sure, some forms of alternative medicine may not be as credible as others, but that could also be argued about Western Medicine. It is my opinion that traditional doctors are slow to open their minds, quick to dismiss, and quick to prescribe without finding a root cause. I am for the saying, “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.” So my question for you is…have you tried it?

The idea that physicians are ignorant about diet and nutrition is a staple of woo, but highly exaggerated to completely false.

While inpatients benefit from input of professionals re diet, primary care docs are (in my experience) knowledgeable about weight loss intervention and stress it to their patients, many of whom ignore hard truths about eating less and exercising more, in favor of fads and magic pills.

Which probably explains why a community hospital I work at offers classes in “anti-inflammatory eating”* (a concept that was the subject of the following takedown on SBM):

*the hospital’s outreach classes also include guidance on chakra alignment, horse-centered meditation and perhaps my favorite, “Mindfulness For People Who Can’t Stop Thinking”.

The idea that physicians are ignorant about diet and nutrition is a staple of woo, but highly exaggerated to completely false.
Dunno DB, most (all?) regular MDs that I’ve buttonholed on a few therapeutic nutrients were pretty f’g clueless.

This is extreme opinion. You just seem to be blind to all that is wrong in Allopathy. There is a lot done in Cancer treatment and Psychiatry that is not scientific, even by so called Allopathic standards. And Naturopathy and other fields have treatments that do work and work well, even independently. I say this after a good bit of experience. And, yes I am an Allopath with over 40 years of experience in a variety of fields of medicine.

When you understand the mechanisms behind quackery of history, you can see the mirror for today. Before attributing success to the unproven techniques, study on “regression to the mean” and “confirmation bias” even the famous placebo and nocebo effects . Science knows that preconceived notions (beliefs) so easily tarnish everything from data collection to analysis of that data, to even drawing conclusions that science (especially science based medicine) has mechanisms to help avoid that. By no means is science based medicine immune, but it is orders of magnitude better. Forget medicine for a moment and consider why 1 million Americans have been abducted by aliens and yet not even SETI can find a trace of them. Science however has been able to explain the mechanisms behind alien abduction and lab can even duplicate their findings. Explanations that include sleep paralysis, and suggestibility mind (often over production of dopamine). So in short, quackery lives on because the very people they have duped are selling it for them. Even practitioners are duped to believe they work. Check the work of James Randi if you really want to k ow the truth. Also Michael Shermer. They can show exactly what’s happening.

“Forget medicine for a moment and consider why 1 million Americans have been abducted by aliens and yet not even SETI can find a trace of them”

I just love that! Somehow, never thought of it this way. And SETI is one of the ultimate crowd-sourcing things out there, with their screen-saver use of your computer for their data analysis that is over 20 years old ([email protected]). Even then, though, SETI’s negative results are not proof that there is not a conspiracy to hide aliens for people of believe they exist and adduct people all the time and the government somehow hides this. Blame Star Wars for making it like traveling between star systems can happen in days….

“[t]here is a lot done in Cancer treatment and Psychiatry that is not scientific…” Then we ought to discourage that also.

One thing we have to keep in mind as skeptics is that most people have a tendency to turn rational argumentation into a tribal power struggle. The point of scientific skepticism is to find out or discuss what is supportable by the evidence, not to lionize or condemn particular groups. The fact is that just about every ‘alternative’ or ‘integrative’ therapy is unable to stand up to fair, open-minded tests. Thus, we are justified in believing that they don’t work.

At the same time, in fact there are groups whose livelihood and/or power depends on people acting on certain beliefs. Strictly speaking, this has no bearing on the plausibility of treatments. I can tell you this, though. I know for a fact that I could go into some ‘alt-medicine’ practice tomorrow and be a millionaire within a few years. I know how I would do it. Therefore, I am justified in believing that there is a high degree of charlatanry in ‘alt-medicine’.

There is a lot done in Cancer treatment and Psychiatry that is not scientific, even by so called Allopathic standards. And Naturopathy and other fields have treatments that do work and work well, even independently. I say this after a good bit of experience.

And a wholesale lack of detail. Let’s stick to your chosen items: what specifically does naturopathy have to contribute to oncology and psychiatry?

“And Naturopathy and other fields have treatments that do work and work well, even independently. I say this after a good bit of experience.”

Do share what treatments naturopathy “and other fields” offer that work by evidence-based standards, not anecdotes.

I am saying this with great respect for allopathic medicine treatments of cancer: I just wonder how much habe you had the chance to talk to some M.D., ND who have both degrees, like Marina Abrams in Seattle, or Dan Labriola, ND, who works as adjuvant to the M.D. oncologists in Seattle, making sure that naturopathy dies not hinder the primary oncolgic treatment ? Simply stating that the whole wisdom of the world of plants, in fact of nature, is our ennamy thus, suggestig patients remain ignorant about, is to take away part of their potential care by some well qualified physicians, like the ones I mentioned above. I do agree with you that well designed studies are needed to further comprehend the action mechanisms and limitations of a natural substance. Take for instance Rutin a substance not many MD s know about. Look up studies and you will find applications from oftalmology to cancer studies on mice…… We, practitioners of “evidence based ” approaches must admit that we lack the time and the interest to learn beyond what we have been trained to accept. Nevertheless, oncolgy is a place where life is under duress and well thought treatments must be followed. We, however, do not take it serious enough to invite to working together with naturopaths whether in research or clinically. A bit more self critic and more costrucive criticism would have been more useful for the future. Thank you for allowing comments.

There’s already a whole huge and very old sub-discipline of pharmacology known as pharmacognosy; i.e., natural products pharmacology. Pharmacognosy is dedicated to finding useful medicines from plants and other natural products. So it’s not as though we need naturopaths to find compounds from nature that have medicinal properties. The problem with naturopaths is that the price for their search for “natural” medicines is that they bring a lot of pure pseudoscience along for the ride. That’s my same objection to their use of lifestyle and diet; when naturopaths use diet and exercise, it comes with too much baggage in the form of homeopathy, functional medicine, bogus “allergy testing,” bogus tests for “heavy metal toxicity,” and unscientific, unproven hormone testing, among other quackery. There must be a way to emphasize the importance of lifestyle and diet without relying on the quackery that comes with naturopathic “medicine.”

Worse, naturopaths often get what they tout as one of their “core competencies” wrong, namely diet. They’ll test for all sorts of micronutrients and then supplement the hell out of them without evidence that helps. They’ll run batteries of tests, apparently not realizing that if you run 100 tests on a normal person, by random chance alone at least five of them will be abnormal, and then chase those labs. I’m continually amused and appalled at this. We try to teach our medical students and residents to treat the patient, not the lab values, to look at the whole picture and not necessarily chase individual lab values, to learn what’s important to correct and what’s not. Naturopaths have basically zero comprehension of this principle. Then there are the bogus lab tests, like provoked urine testing for heavy metals. Don’t forget the antivaccine views, either, that are so prevalent among naturopaths. the vast majority of naturopath harbor at least some antivaccine views, ranging from mild to rabidly antivaccine, to the point where I’m very surprised on that rare occasion when I encounter a pro-vaccine naturopath, even though almost inevitably disappointed to find out that even self-identified “pro-vaccine” naturopaths almost always, when investigated, will be found to have expressed some antivaccine views.

I have to stop now, or I’ll just keep going on.

Lili – I did an overview of what you wrote and found the following. Marina Abrams does not show any licensure with Provider Credential Search, Washington State Department of Health , under any of her claimed practices, which may mean nothing if registration was done under her original Russian name. However, Dan Labriola does show as having NT00000485 Naturopathic Physician License. Visiting their respective web sites I could find almost no evidence that Abrams practices anything more than as a Naturopath. In her own words ” Message from Marina Abrams, MD, ND, MSAOM 20 Years Experience with BioIdentical Hormones. National Experts since 1990 We offer highly personalized naturopathic health care. We work with you to develop a treatment plan customized to meet your needs and help you optimize your health with natural medicine.” ( ) At her website ( ) reflects the same with some spa features. Labriola ( ) lost me when I see the direct sales of supplements and your claim that he is a support person when the site clearly states ” Types of Cancer We Treat” plus a whole host of other specialties. In addition, his claim of: “He is also co-author of the landmark scientific paper “Possible Interactions Between Dietary Antioxidants and Chemotherapy” published in the prestigious journal Oncology, which explains how to safely combine nutrients with chemotherapy without creating interference” is hardly landmark and from 1999. After a quick perusal, sorry, it does not do what he claims, where as coauthor he discusses potential interactions, but at the same time speculates that antioxidants could inhibit the cellular effects of cytotoxic (Chemo ) agents, but also admits there is little data to guide clinical practice. As to Rutin, it is a bioflavonoid, is known, does interact with Warfarin, has some animal studies, but none that I could find that relate to humans in a meaningful way.

Software to the rescue! It should be straight forward to write an anecdote generator, seeded with the first time commenters to this blog, complete with eerily similar typos, grammar errors and omitted punctuation. Run it a few times and you can even have a case series. Close your eyes while reading it and it can be totally blinded.

Lili Sacarin mentioned a naturopath named Dan Labriola as someone we’re supposed to respect for allegedly working with oncologists in Seattle.

Looking at the website for the ND group Labriola’s affiliated with, I see they recommend a specific line of supplements (Vitaqual) and link to the company’s website. Strangely enough, if you Google Labriola and the company, you find that Labriola is the person identified as filing to trademark the company name.

This company’s supplements are not cheap – for instance, their multivitamin and mineral supplement sells for $42.90 for 180 pills, which is about three times what you’d pay for a roughly equivalent One-A-Day brand.

I suspect that if LIli found out that an “allopathic” doctor promoted a line of pricey drugs or supplements on his clinic’s website, without it revealing that he was connected to the company selling them, she’d be (rightfully) fulminating about conflict of interest.

But Dangerous Bacon,

the vitamins the ND sells are organic, GMO free, free range, cage free, cruelty free, gluten/ casein free,
manufactured/ sourced with fair trade practices, kosher, halal, eco-friendly, NOT from China ( see Mike Adams or Trump) etc

And that costs real MONEY!

best cure for cancer = subsequent high doses of methamphetamine injections.
best cure for big pharma = for all cancer patients to inject themselves with subsequent high doses of methamphetamine

I find it difficult to believe that any outfit (including NN) selling a large line of supplements doesn’t get at least some of its ingredients from China.

It’s hard enough to find any garlic powder in the supermarket that’s not a Chinese import.

@ Dangerous Bacon:

There is very little on NN that I believe; Mikey really hates the PRC so I’d expect that even if his products came from there, he’d lie and say that they didn’t.

I’ve come to look at NN and PRN as collections of semi-literate, boozy tales like those one would encounter in low rent bars HOWEVER these guys claim to have never drunk alcohol AT ALL in their entire lives. If that is indeed the case, the amount of confabulation present in their essays/ recitatives would lead me to suspect other issues besides being salesmen.

On that note, I should mention that each of them has a group of set pieces that are tried and true audience pleasers-

Adams- his great abilities,his career as a scientist, corruption in the government and corporations, how the Man is out to get him ( see today). how food/ the planet is contaminated, how society is on its last legs, life on the ranch, guns, survivalism etc
Null- his great education, his career as a research fellow, reporter, inventor and author, his athletic achievements, his visits to
bucolic communities, how everything is corrupt and contaminated, how he has been threatened, hacked and lied about by the Man, wikip—- and sceptics ,how he is ahead of the curve, getting ‘off the grid’ AGW, life on the ranch, how to live to be 140 etc.

I know that I’m creative but even I couldn’t make up lists like those.

Guess I was wrong about the essential oils. They put me on a different unit, and they were using them. This probably won’t gain me friends here, but I might be inclined to go there were I a patient. I am allergic to hydrocodone. My personal preference is that I would rather be in pain than be itchy.

“My personal preference is that I would rather be in pain than be itchy.”

Same here, with most narcotics. Except it makes me nauseous and throw up, which happens with about one out of ten of the total population with narcotics. This is why I have to be given anti-nausea meds developed to help people on chemo before a colonoscopy, which due to medical issues I have had three in less than a decade.

First clue that you’re reading a post from a woo-phile/quackery/naturopathy fan? They write “allopathic medicine”, or even “I’m a fan of allopathic medicine but . . . ”
Travel in the opposite direction from anyone who does.

[…] It’s not just the NCCIH, the VA, and the FDA either. Journals, even prestigious medical journals, The BMJ and JAMA increasingly buy into the message that “nonpharmacologic treatment for chronic pain = ‘integrative medicine.'” Medical professional societies are jumping on the bandwagon as well. For instance, the American College of Physicians included acupuncture on its list of recommended strategies for low back pain. An entire professional organization, the Society for Integrative Oncology, is devoted to diluting the science of oncology with a mixture of lifestyle interventions that are in no way “alternative” or “integrative” plus pseudoscientific nonsense. Even NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers like Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center are increasingly “integrating” quackery with oncology. And don’t even get me started on “naturopathic oncology,” which is becoming increasingly accepted and metastasizing outside of academia. […]

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