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Naturopathy & Regulation

Complementary Alternative Medicine - CAM

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Natural Therapy - Naturopathy & Regulation

Complementary Therapies - Holistic Health Care

Article by: Dieter L. Editor of useNature


Natural Therapy, also known as "CAM" Complementary Alternative Medicine, has been the"Traditional Health Care Provider"for as long as humans existed.

Hippocrates, the founder of medicine:

Hippocratic medicine was humble and passive. The therapeutic approach was based on "the healing power of nature" ("vis medicatrix naturae" in Latin). According to this doctrine, the body contains within itself the power to re-balance the four humours and heal itself.

Basically, that's what Naturopathy or Natural Therapies are still practicing today, by providing prevention and supporting Health.

Unfortunately, there are some misguided, organised groups, often called "Skeptics" which are completely opposed to Natural Therapies, purposefully misrepresenting the aims and treatment scope of Natural Therapists.

Their basic claim is; natural therapies have no validity and no scientific evidence, and that there is NO evidence that Naturopaths offer a service, which is not already offered within the Conventional Medical Health System, and they are attracting media and government attention by those false, misleading, biased and generalized statements.

First I like to address so called "Scientific Evidence":

The medical and complementary medicine systems work in "Opposing Direction", therefore one can not use medical based evidence to validate natural therapies. Cherry picking evidence is obvious, therefore evidence by itself can become meaningless.

NOTE: One has to consider, how studies are conducted and who paid for it.

The holistic approach to medicine, aiming to support a body to heal itself, is directly opposite to the medical approach of "fighting" a disease, and being a treatment for one individual patient, this type of support treatment can not be validated by scientific evidence. The patient itself, feeling better is the main evidence.

The Medical System needs much stricter control and evidence, because it treats with drug therapy or surgical intervention, and faces more patient safety issues.

NOTE: There has been no evidence of a patient dying from an overdose of nutrition, vitamins, herbal tea or meditation. - And just in case there is one, it most likely was self-prescribed or suggested by a novice.

There should be no competition between the medical & complementary systems:

  1. The medical system is vital for public health, but it needs to improve the questionable amount of drug induced side-effects.
    Medical evidence is validated mostly by double blind testing.

  2. The complementary system, has to have clear self-imposed guidelines of how to practice to eliminate misrepresentation.
    The system is complementary in nature, and therefore, the aim of the treatment is in supporting patients health with natural means and lifestyle modification.
    Evidence is provided and validated for nutritional and botanical substances.
    *However, evidence for lifestyle, diets, stress control, mental attitude and brain plasticity is not suitable, as each treatment protocol attributes only to one patient.

How can Natural Therapy be incorporated into the General Health System?

  1. Natural Therapists, Associations and Colleges need to be united under the same umbrella guidelines.

  2. Natural Therapy Scope of Practice Guidelines need to be established as part of the umbrella guidelines.

  3. Scope of Practice - Self-regulation needs to be adhered to, it must be assured that there are NO "obvious reasons" for complains.

  4. Strict division between "Qualified Practitioners" and members of the public, "over the counter supplements", and novice advice has to be achieved.

  5. Biased, corrupt, or conflict of interest influences on Government Bodies and Regulation needs to be investigated.
    Note: *Medical trained individuals are possibly likely to be biased against Natural Medicine.


To facilitate changes within the Natural Therapy Health Care Category for integration ....

Five Work Groups need to be established:

  1. Unite Task Group - Uniting diverse groups of practitioners, association, colleges and others.

  2. Scope of Practice Task Group - Draw up guidelines for the various Natural Therapy Modalities.

  3. Self-Regulation Task Group - "Police" our own industry against violation of guidelines and scope of practice.

  4. Legal Task Group - Following up on false claims, corruption, conflict of interest cases, unfounded attacks on Natural Practitioners or Modalities.

  5. Communication Task Group - Statements (letters - e-mails) need to be send to relevant government bodies to overcome biased representation against our industry, and also need to be send to political parties to lobby for better representation of Natural Therapies.


There is an urgent need for the Natural Therapy Industry to unite.

Uniting means, to have the same goals, without fighting each other.

There is a possibility that each Natural Therapy modality needs their own treatment guidelines. It is obvious that Naturopaths need far more comprehensive guidelines than Reflexology.

In order to unite it is actually helpful to look at the complaints against Natural therapy, some are very valid, and need to be responded to "responsibly".

Complaints by Skeptics against Natural Therapies :

  1. Unrealistic Therapy and Treatment claims...
    It does not matter if treatment claims come from qualified practitioners or not, the impact is directed toward all of the Natural Therapy Industry.
    However, if strict guidelines exists, than naturopaths can show documented evidence that undue claims are NOT from qualified naturopathic practitioners.
    Most complaints from Skeptics are due to Natural Therapists making therapeutic claims which can not be validated.

  2. Skeptics claim: there is NO evidence that Naturopaths offer a service, which is not already offered within the Conventional Medical Health System.
    NOTE: This is a very interesting argument. It is based upon the "assumption" that apparently health can not be improved.
    With other words, the Conventional Medical System, claims that if no treatable disease can be diagnose, the patient is "healthy".
    This is contrary to what the "WHO" states: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."
    The complementary medicine system works on the principle; if a body is under any stress, the requirements of specific nutrients are increased. This is not being to confused with the daily nutritional requirements, which statistically are just enough nutrients to survive.

  3. Skeptics claim: there are No Nutritional Deficiency in the general public.
    As above in claim 2, Skeptics try to establish that Naturopaths are not needed.
    NOTE: To the contrary, there are large groups of the public with mild to severe malnutrition. Malnutrition depicts not only nutrition as in carbohydrate or protein, it is much more specific, as in single or multi vitamin &. mineral deficiency.
    NOTE: Here is just one study, where the lateral effect of the study confirms that there are nutrient deficiency in the elderly. [1]


Valid Critic of Natural Therapies

  1. Highly variable standards of training, a myriad of professional associations, and a general failure of current systems of self-regulation to protect public health and safety. [sm1]

  2. Ineffective treatments, often self-administered or recommended by unqualified persons (such as vitamin consultants in pharmacies), may unfairly tarnish complementary medicine.

  3. Practiced by people who have simply done a weekend workshop with a multi-level marketing company selling vitamin and herbal formulae, calling themselves Naturopaths. [sm2]

  4. No unifying standards, confusion of treatment modality titles..


What, and what not .. Natural Therapists practice:

It must be noted, that the natural principle of Natural Therapy is, "the body, given it's right circumstances, will heal itself", therefore, Natural Therapists do NOT HEAL ANYTHING. - Natural Therapists do provide education and natural means to holistically "Support" a body system to prevent, or keep or regain complete Health, in effect " Healing itself".

Two - 2 - distinct ways of understanding Natural Therapies

  1. Philosophy: The Tradition and History of Natural Therapy as expressed in it's "PHiLOSOPHY". The philosophy is based on tradition, not on scientific evidence, that's why it is called Philosophy".
    We honour our history and urge everyone to do the same.

  2. Medical Science and Evidence of Natural Therapy - In our modern times, Natural Therapists, rely on scientific evidence for their "supporting therapeutic tools". Evidence for: Nutrients - Pro-biotic's - Herbal compounds - Supplements are TGA registered and effects validated by scientific papers.


And finally ... if Natural Therapy divisions can't find common ground, we are not only failing our self, we are failing the public.

... keep reading ... useNature's "Preliminary" suggestion for the formation of a Natural Medicine Advisory Board, for the unification, advancements and integration into the Australian Conventional Health System.

Article by: Dieter L. Editor of useNature

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for general use and for personal interest only. It should not be used or understood as suggestion or medical advice.

References:

  1. Vitamin B status and response to replacement therapy - Vitamin deficiency is common - 15 out of 16 people had a deficiency.

Study Material: (sm)

  1. The practice and regulatory requirements of naturopathy and western herbal medicine in Australia
  2. Complementary Medicine Association Submission
  3. An overview of the regulation of complementary medicines in Australia
  4. EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE REBATES FOR NATUROPATHY 
  5. Competency Standards for Naturopathic Practitioners

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