Sunday, July 15, 2012

What Amy Rothenberg, A Connecticut Naturopath, And Huffpost Don’t Seem To Want You To Read

Amy Rothenberg, ND had an article published by Huffpost on July 11, 2012,,

I submitted the following comment:

The author states that naturopaths, “look for low risk methods that have few to no side effects”. Unfortunately, they don’t know where to look. If they did, the 241 naturopaths licensed in VT never would have included silver, a heavy metal toxin, in their drug formulary. They would have known that taking it internally is all risk and no benefit and that it is dangerous snake oil that can seriously disfigure you. 
Rosemary Jacobs

As of today, July 15, 2012 my comment has never been posted on the site. Wonder why? Bad for business maybe?

Amy Rothenberg, ND, Huffpost, naturopaths, doctors promoting their profession, Connecticut naturopaths

Friday, June 29, 2012

Joel J. Gagnier, PhD, ND Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Assistant Professor, Epidemiology, Michigan School of Public Health

Finally, a naturopath, an ND, has engaged me in a public conversation and he used his name rather than the screen tag “Anonymous”! Thank you, Dr. Gagnier! 
Our exchange took place in the comment section after an article about regulating NDs in Ontario, Canada.
The Michigan School of Public Health has this listing for Dr. Gagnier: in which it states that in addition to having a ND degree from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine where he was also an assistant professor (2002-2004), that he has a PhD in epidemiology,, and is presently an assistant professor at the Michigan School of Public Health.
Dr. Gagnier told me and another commentator that we are “incredibly uniformed” about naturopathy and should not write about topics that we don’t know anything about. Speaking directly to me, he said that I was making “outrageous, inflammatory, and generalized statements…” and guilty of “classical inferential, unfounded, biased reasoning,” things alt med practitioners are notoriously guilty of, going so far as to call me a monster adding that what he feared about our public exchange was that “good reasonable people” would read it and “not actually think for themselves.” 
In response to my questions regarding the promotion, use and sale of silver by licensed naturopaths, Gagnier replied that NDs study toxicology, learn about argyria, skin discolored by silver, and can diagnose the condition. He added that, “I am a Canadian, licensed in Ontario, ... We do not use colloidal silver. I have never used it, don’t know anyone who has, and would not recommend it…I do not claim there is evidence for colloidal silver for any therapeutic means.” I assume that final sentence means that he doesn’t know of any evidence showing that ingesting silver offers benefits. 
What Gagnier did not respond to was my question as to why if all that he said is true that 241 of his colleagues, naturopaths licensed in Vermont with degrees from 4-year naturopathic schools including Canadian, had included silver for internal use in their state sanctioned formulary. He didn’t explain how they could possibly have done that if they knew, as he claimed they did, that it causes argyria and that there is no evidence that it offers health benefits. Or as the attorney who heads the naturopaths’ Vermont state regulatory agency put it when I presented him with evidence of the uselessness, danger and illegality of including silver in the state formulary, “Why hasn’t anyone brought this up before?” 

Oh if only Gagnier or one of his colleagues would tell me! I mean with 241 NDs in VT who graduated from schools that he claims teach them about the danger of ingesting silver, why hadn’t any of them picked up their mistake? And why won’t Gagnier or any of his ND colleagues address this when I bring it up? And why do they all insist that they don’t know of any licensed ND who uses silver when you can find several of them promoting and selling it on the Internet?
If they don’t have answers, why won’t they admit that Vermont NDs were wrong to include silver in their formulary and that all the licensed NDs outside the state who use and sell it are too? 
Could it be  because they know that such an admission will reflect poorly on their profession and be bad for their businesses? Or perhaps because their system of medicine is based on the belief that Nature and her products heal, they believe in spite of all the objective evidence to the contrary, that taking silver internally offers benefits and can be done safely because, even without toxicology studies, NDs think that they can accurately guess the amount that is “safe” to take? Neither explanations would surprise me.   
I am furious with NDs for ignoring this very important issue and trying to sweep it under the rug. I am furious with NDs for trying to convince the public and legislators that the dangerous belief-based system of medicine that they practice is safe, effective, supported by evidence and scientific when that isn’t so. While I suspect that many naturopaths actually believe all that and believe that they learn the same things in their accredited schools that MDs learn in medical schools, the fact that so many of their naturopathic treatments and remedies are unproven or disproven shows that they are wrong. I will continue shouting that as loud as I can and continue presenting the reasons why I believe I am correct in order to protect the public. 
I don’t want another person to come down with argyria in this day and age. I don’t want one more person to hear people who claim to know as much or more about medicine than MDs do, people the public trusts because they are licensed as “physicians” by governments, that ingesting silver offers benefits and is safe when that isn’t true.  I especially don’t want another child or teenager to have to live through what I lived through. 
In this day and age there is absolutely no excuse. MD stopped using silver internally over 50 years ago when they discovered that ingesting it was at best useless and at worst harmful. Silver seriously disfigures people for the rest of their lives! In this day and age anyone calling himself “doctor” who has a government license to do so and a license to “practice medicine” should know better than to promote silver and should be prosecuted if he sells, recommends or administers it to patients.  
No matter how angry NDs like Gagnier get with me for exposing their profession for the dangers it poses, I will continue to do so because I fear that they will cause more new cases of argyria and that one or more of their “treatments” or “remedies” may be far more dangerous than silver. 

Yes, Dr. Gagnier, PhD, I know that I have “inferred” that you are angry with me. While you may consider the inference to be “unfounded” and based on “biased reasoning”, I believe that your comments are evidence that my conclusion or inference about your attitude towards me is correct. Any interested reader can decide for himself. I also think you’ve got your priorities all screwed up. Instead of being angry with me you should be furious with your colleagues who have included dangerous snake oil in their state sanctioned formulary and totally ignored me and my friend Arline when we expressed our concerns, You should call licensed NDs who promote and sell silver quacks. 
Doctor, heal yourself and your profession before trying to save and legitimatize it.  Go back to the drawing board and get it right before you try selling it to the public. 

Joel J. Gagnier, Michigan School of Public Health, silver, colloidal silver, naturopaths, canada, ontario

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chiropractors Marketing Themselves

Steven Salzberg wrote an article for Forbes published online on June 10, 2012 about government subsidizing chiropractic schools,, in which I thought that he and Allen Botnick brought up important points. 

Last I looked there were 5 pages with 59 comments, most of which were from chiropractors or people studying to be chiropractors. I read very few of the comments. A glance was enough to disturb me because it told me that they were not addressing the important issues raised the way people concerned about providing good health care would. They were ducking the issues and attacking those who had brought them up. Like I’ve seen naturopaths do constantly, they were marketing their goods and services, defending their turf. 

With a few notable exceptions that stand out this is what I’ve seen chiropractors do en mass whenever anyone questions the safety of their neck manipulations which are known to cause strokes and even kill people, mentions the lack of evidence supporting the benefits of chiropractic treatments or speaks about the pre-scientific concepts, now known to be wrong, that chiropractic is based on.  

Why is it that so many alt med practitioners, not just chiropractors, who use “remedies” and “therapies” that have never been evaluated for safety or efficacy and for which there is no plausible scientific reason to suspect they may be beneficial constantly insist that their treatments are science-based and that they practice scientific medicine? Why do they go ballistic when others say that isn't true rather than simply stating, “There is no evidence that this works, but many people enjoy the results they obtain using it and as far as I know I’ve never hurt any of my patients. That’s good enough for me. Science doesn't have all the answers.” I can only guess. My guess is that the self promoters believe that making scientific claims about the safety and efficacy of the goods and services they sell is a wonderful marketing device that greatly increases sales. 

Steven Salzberg, Allen Botnick, chiropractors, marketing medicine, selling alternative medicine; alt med practitioners 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

John Weeks, Huffpost, Naturopaths

John Weeks posted a blog on Huffpost on 6/13/12 on naturopathy, he hasn’t published the comment I submitted below or the second one I left excluding the links in the first. 

To me that shows that he is promoting, pitching, selling his cause rather than trying to gather and address the facts of the matter.  That might be fine if the product is a toaster but not when it is a system of medicine.

The comment Weeks won't post:
Naturopaths terrify me. They routinely use products that have never been evaluated for safety or efficacy. One or more of these products could be totally useless and as lethal as cigarettes but by the time that is known, it will be too late to prevent many premature deaths.

Worse still, they use dangerous snake oil like silver which disfigured me over 50 years ago. 

Naturopaths practice a belief-based system of medicine, not an evidence-based one with the result that when there is overwhelming evidence that something like silver is useless and dangerous they are emotionally unable to believe that because the idea that something natural can be harmful and useless is contrary to their religious or philosophical belief that Nature heals.

john weeks, huffpost, naturopaths, health care reform, integrated medicine, bad medicine, dangerous medicine, political agendas

Friday, June 8, 2012

Accredited Naturopathic Schools

Naturopaths, NDs, have a very successful marketing/lobbying campaign going on across N. America aimed at making them the legal equivalents of medical doctors, MDs, by having states and provinces grant those who have graduated from “accredited 4-year naturopathic medical schools” the same privileges that MDs have, such as prescribing and using prescription drugs. One of the marketing mantras they use is that “naturopathic medical schools” provide the same education that MDs get in “their medical schools”. NDs present lists of the courses they take, many of which use the same titles as the courses given in real medical schools, such as “pharmacology”,  "gastroenterology", "oncology".

In reality, naturopaths do not believe in or understand science or the medical sciences like pharmacology or toxicology. Theirs is a dangerous belief-based system of medicine.

I don’t have the resources to investigate to see if my suspicions are correct, but I’ve long believed that those who are attracted to “naturopathic medical schools” are for the most part the most gullible among us. Who else would pay huge sums of money to get degrees that only qualify them to work as clerks in health fraud stores? Who else would believe that the folk medicine that didn’t work for and often killed our ancestors and which is now taught in naturopathic schools is scientific or evidence based?

Today I was sent the link to a blog that I think gives a lot of weight to my suspicion that naturopaths have been scammed into believing that the educations they get in their schools are the same as those that MDs get in theirs.
While the author’s expertise is chiropractic schools, I suspect that his allegations apply equally to “naturopathic medical schools” and wish that I had the resources to throughly investigate and report the matter. 

Except for a few obvious conmen, the majority of NDs I’ve dealt with strike me as being caring human beings who really want to heal people and solve all of life’s problems. However, they also strike me as being the most gullible among us, the most easily conned since they believe everything that pleases them without ever trying to verify any of it independently. They also strike me as running away from everything unpleasant. So it makes perfect sense to me to think that when they get their “med school” diplomas and can’t use them to earn a decent living that they believe the people who convinced them to enroll in those schools when they tell them that the problem isn’t the education they paid all that money for, but  rather The Establishment, the medical doctors who believe in and practice evidence-based or scientific medicine who fear that NDs will put them out of business. It also makes perfect sense to me to see the most aggressive of this passive lot chant the marketing/lobbying mantras that savvy professionals teach them. What I don’t understand is why so many politicians support and enable them, especially since they don’t seem to have much public support evidenced by the fact that so few people use their services and so many don’t even know what a naturopath is, even in Vermont, a hotbed of alternative medicine.

accredited naturopathic schools, naturopaths, alternative medicine, vermont, dangerous doctors, unscientific medicine, scams, useless degrees, useless diplomas, useless degrees

Monday, May 28, 2012

Vermont Bill S.209 - Craig Jones, MD

Vermont House Health Care Committee 
Hearing On Bill S.209
April 11, 2012
Craig Jones, MD

Dr. Jones’s testimony is recorded on a CD which can be purchased for $1 from the Legislative Council, tel. 802-828-2231. It is CD # 164, House Committee On Health Care, Wednesday, April 11, 2012.

This is my report on what Jones, the Director of the Vermont Blueprint for Health,, told the committee.

Jones believes it is important to include NDs, naturopaths, in the Blueprint because they are already practicing as PCPs, primary care physicians, in Vermont and aside from Medicare are already reimbursed by insurers for the services they provide in that capacity. Once included, NDs will be scored like “tradition medical practices” are against the “fairly rigorous” Medical Home national  standards set by NCQA,, National Committee for Quality Assurance. This will in turn help to evaluate the quality of health care offered to all Vermonters seeing all PCPs, not just MDs.

According to Jones, the services of NCQA are used by many states to evaluate how well medical practices: comply with guidelines for basic care; provide access to doctors; communicate with patients; coordinate with team members like social workers; and, whether or not their outcomes are tracked electronically. Because of that, Jones believes that including NDs in the system will: guarantee the quality of the services they provide; and, give their patients access to the other team members like dietitians, social workers and counselors. 

Jones pointed out that since NDs are already practicing in the system, scoring them according to the same standards by which MDs are scored and giving them access to the other professionals MDs have access to would only improve the situation and the quality of care provided which is in line with the intention of the Blueprint that aims to improve the quality of care and to coordinate the services provided to Vermonters.

Jones said that he had had discussions with NCQA and found that they would be willing to receive and score data collected from VT ND practices and report the scores to the state. He added that NCQA now recognizes and scores nurse practitioners, NPs, and physicians assistants, PAs, as primary care provides, although it did not do so a few years ago. 

According to Jones, NCQA did an exhaustive review of how each state regulates naturopaths and found that out of the 50 only 16 have any laws pertaining to them. Among those 16, there is no consistency, no national standards or protocols for NDs that apply broadly across states as there are for MDs, NPs and PAs. For that reason NCQA couldn’t give their “stamp of approval” to NDs because although NCQA is not a licensing body, it wants its stamp of approval accepted by all the states. 

In a compromise Jones worked out with NCQA, the agency agreed to score VT NDs using the same standards used for all practitioners in the system and report their scores to state officials. They would not, however, include NDs as a profession officially recognized by NCQA on their website. 

Bill S.209 would, Jones said, take something already included in the health care system, NDs practicing as PCPs, and add it to the Blueprint/Medical Home thereby making the Blueprint more “holistic” while assuring the quality of the additional services by measuring them against objective standards. 

Under the Blueprint, teams from UVM, University of Vermont, medical school go into practices and score them against NCQA’s national standards. The way they do that will be the same for NDs as it is for MDs. The UVM team sends the documents and support material it gathers during its reviews to NCQA in Washington, DC where they are tested against national standards. Then the scores are sent to VT officials. But under the compromise Jones worked out, with NDs, unlike others, the final step of stating on the official NCQA website that the practice is an NCQA officially recognized Medical Home will be omitted.  

The Blueprint has teams of facilitators that work with practices for 4 - 6 months to teach them how the system works. The same teams that work with MDs will also work with NDs.

Jones repeated again that including NDs in the plan would make an “existing situation stronger”. He believed that VT is setting the standards for including NDs in Medical Homes across the nation. 

The Blueprint director concluded by saying that it is his personal belief that MDs wrongly frame the question as “us versus them” when the entire point of the Blueprint is to provide more holistic care offering “complete services” for the general public. In his opinion the “hurdle” is cultural.


I am in the process of attempting to verify the claims Jones made about NCQA, its agreement with VT and its accreditation procedures and may have more to report on that later.

When I heard Dr. Jones speak, I found him very persuasive. Listening to him for the first time on the CD, I thought that he was correct. If all those practicing as PCPs are evaluated by the same yardstick, the public’s interest is served. However, as I thought more about the doctor’s talk I changed my mind. I saw some very serious hurdles that are not cultural. They are factual. It appears to me that Jones’s conclusions are based on assumptions and the unverified, self-serving claims that naturopaths make about themselves.

1. Jones said repeatedly that Vermonters are already being treated by NDs. Really? Where’s the evidence, Doc?

Looking over the material presented to the committee, I noticed a handout submitted by Lorilee Schoenbeck, ND stating that somewhere over 5,000 Vermonters are using NDs as PCPs, the number of VT NDs practicing primary care is “40 and growing”. 82% of those are “credentialed” to be reimbursed by insurance and of those 95% are taking new patients. 7.4% of the PCPs in VT are NDs.

But what does that mean? I don’t think we have all the statistics needed to know. 

According to the US census,, the population of Vermont was estimated at 626,431 in 2011. If only about 5,000 of those people are using NDs as PCPs, in reality there are very few Vermonters already seeing them. I wonder what the reason for that is. But if Schoenbeck, who said in her oral testimony that many MDs are not taking any more primary care patients and that many who are have long waiting lists yet 95% of Vermont’s ND PCPs are looking for more patients, it would seem to me that few Vermonters want their services.

If you look at the members listed on the NDs official site, VANP,, you will note that several of those who practice in VT also practice in adjoining states like NY and MA where they cannot be licensed. And a few work out of more than one office in VT. 

If you investigate individual VANP members, you find that in addition to seeing patients most sell supplements, some do Skpye consultations, at least one teaches and one gives advice in a natural products store. You will also see that NDs claim that they spend a long time with each patient. One says an initial consultation takes 90 minutes and it seems as if repeat visits for most are at least 35 minutes.

Considering all that, it sure doesn’t sound to me as if a lot of Vermonters are using the services of NDs. In fact it doesn’t sound as if Vermonters want their services. It sounds as if NDs need more Vermont patients to stay in business, especially when you consider that according to the Director of the Office of Professional Regulators there are 241 of them licensed in Vermont. Presumably, they are either employed in other occupations or are residing and practicing naturopathy somewhere outside the state.

My guess is that it is the failure of most NDs to attract enough customers to stay in business practicing their profession that is the real reason that naturopaths are lobbying so hard to be granted all the same privileges that MDs have. Think about it. Even though Vermont licenses NDs as PCPs and insurance reimburses for their services, Vermont is reporting a shortage of PCPs yet 95% of the ND PCPs here are looking for more patients. That sounds to me as if Vermonters want more MD PCPs in the system, not more NDs.

This raises another question. With so few Vermonters using the services of NDs, why is it that the NDs have so much influence on the legislators and the state bureaucracy which is advocating for them? I have no evidence, but I believe that the billion $$$ dietary supplement industry is behind it because NDs promote, use and sell their products. 

Then there is the other side of the coin. 

In addition to NDs Vermonters “are already seeing” many other kinds of old hippy, New Age “health care practitioners”. Check out the rest of the practices that share the building with Lorilee Schoenbeck,, by clicking on “the practices” button. 

According to Jones’s logic, we should let any of them who requests it practice in Vermont Medical Homes because they are already practicing here and people want to use their services. They probably want to have third party payers reimburse them too. Isn't everyone in Vermont who thinks he practices medicine entitled to be given what he wants or is it just a lucky few? Maybe we should give them all prescription privileges too like the legislators just gave to the NDs when they passed H.524.

I’d have a great deal more respect for libertarian politicians who say they voted for laws giving NDs the same privileges as MDs have in order to guarantee the public’s “freedom of choice” if they passed laws decriminalizing street drugs, legalizing assisted suicide and doing away with the requirement that a prescription is needed to buy legend drugs so that Americans, just like their Third World cousins, could buy whatever antibiotic, heart med, pain killer, etc. they wanted without having to convince a doctor that they needed it. If politicians did those things, I’d believe that “freedom of choice” and not political expediency motivated their actions.

2. Dr. Jones thinks that by including NDs in the Blueprint that their patients will have access to other professionals included in the team like dietitians, social workers and counselors. 

Does he know anything about naturopaths? They constantly insist that nutrition and counseling are included in their scope of practice. They claim that they practice “holistic” medicine and treat the “whole person”, his “mind, body and spirit”. They believe that they are shrinks, healers and preachers. (p. 70 & 74)
Does Jones really think they believe they need to refer patients to team members competing with them in what they believe are their areas of expertise? 

The team concept is a model traditionally used by MDs who refer patients to dietitians, physical therapists, psychologists, social workers, etc. The holistic concept is an alt. med. model in which the practitioner believes he can and should treat the patient’s entire or whole being, his mind, body and spirit.

3. Dr. Jones reports that NCQA discovered that NDs don’t have a national standard like MDs, NPs and PAs.

HELLO, LEGISLATORS! HELLO BUREAUCRATS! DID YOU HEAR THAT? Have you also heard and read the continuously repeated claim by NDs that they have to pass the USMLE, United States Medical Licensing Examination, and that it is a rigorous test the passing of which shows that they know as much as MDs do? IS THERE A FACT CHECKER IN THE HOUSE?

4. Jones tells us that those who do not meet the NCQA standards will not be permitted to practice. Really?

Based on my experience with the way Vermont has “regulated” NDs, I don’t believe it. The state let them write their own formulary in consultation with a pharmacologist. When the pharmacologist objected to the inclusion of IV substances, he was ignored,, # 6. They let 2 ND advisors write a test that those two and their colleagues took. Passing it gave them the right to use the drugs in the formulary that they had drawn up. It was a 48 hour test the person could take anywhere his heart desired. A person with no college science courses did just that and passed, According to their rules, NDs were supposed to annually review and update their formulary. Between 1996 and 2012, they did that once. My complaints about their using dangerous snake oil and breaking federal drug laws have never been looked into. The state bureaucrats take whatever the NDs tell them at face value without independently verifying a word of it. 

All of that tells me that the State of Vermont is doing all it can to empower naturopaths to do whatever they want as long as they don’t get caught hurting anyone because that would make the state look bad, and if, as Jones stated, the official NCQA website will list all Medical Home practices that the agency has officially recognized, except those of NDs, there will be no way for the public to verify that they have met the agency’s standards. We will just have to take the state’s word or it.  

5. Jones and Schoenbeck think it will be wonderful to include NDs in the Blueprint so that they can have their practices evaluated.

Excuse me. I thought professions had to be evaluated before they were let in the door to see if they were qualified to perform the job. Has any other profession gotten through the door before it gathered the appropriate data to show that its members were capable of doing what they claimed they could? MDs have kept records for as long as I can remember and I’ll be 70 before the end of summer. Somehow I suspect that record keeping is a relatively new practice with NDs. It certainly is according to VANP’s rep, Lorilee Schoenbeck, who stated in her oral testimony that including them in the Blueprint is a good idea because it will let them capture data that will show whether or not their beliefs about the benefits of their “preventive” medicine are accurate. Schoenbeck’s statement is an admission that her profession hasn’t gathered the data needed to determine if their claims of safety and efficacy are correct, but that has never kept them from insisting that they are.

6. According to Jones, the Blueprint was intended to provide Vermonters with more “holistic” care. Really?

I thought the intention was to provide improved outcomes with lower costs.

7. Dr. Jones believes that MDs are framing this as “us versus them” when they shouldn't be. 

Wait a minute. Aren’t the naturopaths and their advocates doing that? Haven’t they been doing that ever since they entered the picture?

Hinda Miller said in her testimony, “There has always been tension between those of us who feel nutrition and diet and all those things can help us maintain our health…” and those other guys, the MDs, She includes herself with NDs and considers MDs “them”. This attitude is a strong element running through all alternative medicine and has been there ever since the term was coined. It is usually accompanied by rants much stronger than Hinda’s about big, bad, medical doctors on the take and pharmaceutical companies conspiring to keep us all sick so that they can rake in the gold. I myself have repeatedly been falsely and viciously accused of being funded by “the medical establishment, the drug cartel” and the government too because alts don’t like what I say about silver and their belief-based systems of medicine and can’t comprehend that anyone not paid to do so would ever disagree with them. They are so certain that their beliefs and feelings are right and that those of us who base our conclusions on objective evidence that contradicts their beliefs and feelings are wrong.

Critics like Jones, Miller, et. al should be discussing the reasons why MDs who practice evidence-based medicine contend that NDs are not qualified to practice medicine safely and effectively and they should investigate to see if their allegations are correct rather than simply dismiss them out of hand. If in fact, NDs had the same education that MDs have, why would it disturb MDs that they were permitted to practice as PCPs too, especially given the fact that there is an acute shortage of such practitioners in the state? If their educations were the same, MDs would welcome NDs into the fold with open arms.

And the state bureaucrats should stop telling us how safely NDs practice as PCPs based on what they did yesterday which is different than what they are doing today or what they will be doing tomorrow. Till very recently naturopaths practiced as “drugless healers”, not PCPs. Even now most states refuse to license them.

There is no way to draw conclusions based on the number of complaints filed against NDs unless you know how many people they’ve treated, what they treated them for, whether or not those people were sick, hypochondriacs or the worried well who the NDs simply gave diet and exercise advice to. You also have to know things like whether or not their patients were being treated by MDs or other practitioners at the same time, practitioners who maybe told them not to drink the silver or take the botanical because it might poison them or interfere with their heart medication. 

Even with such information, the statistics wouldn’t take into account the harm and premature deaths that don’t show up for years and which may never be associated with the “remedies” or practitioners who caused them. That is a lesson those who practice scientific medicine learned years ago and is why they strive to throughly test their drugs and therapies for safety and efficacy before they use them.. Remember thalidomide? NDs sure don’t.,
Naturopaths with their untested “natural medicine” bring us right back to where we were when thalidomide deformed so many innocent children. They are creating a two tiered system of medicine, one with rigid standards, the other with virtually no standards, but worse yet, they are blurring the line between the two so that patients can’t tell one from the other.

The vast majority of people injured by unscientific or alternative medicine never complain or sue. Many never realize that their health problems could have been caused by a “natural remedy” and most of those who do are too embarrassed to say anything. They feel like fools when they realize that all the alt BS they believed about how horrible evidence-based medicine and its practitioners are and how good the alternative kind and its practitioners are is bunk. I know this all too well from dealing for years with silver victims. And to date, the vast majority of people attracted to alts have been the most gullible and sometimes the most desperate among us, but thanks to the lobbying efforts of naturopaths, many less gullible people will use their services tricked into believing that they offer the same evidence-based medicine as MDs do because the state implies it by giving them all the same privileges. 

As for the unseen harm they do, consider the fact that alts, including NDs, have traditionally opposed vaccinations. Most still do. Vaccination rates are lower in the areas where there are a lot of alts. So let’s say you live in one of those areas. Vaccination rates are down. Your infant is too young to be vaccinated against whooping cough, contracts the disease and dies. Do you sue the naturopath down the road who convinced your neighbors not to vaccinate their children?

Craig Jones; Vermont Blueprint for Health; NCQA; VANP; naturopaths; Vermont Bill S.209; Vermont House Health Care Committee

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Vermont Bill S.209 - Lorilee Schoenbeck, ND - Written Testimony

Lorilee Schoenbeck, ND
Vermont Bill S.209 
House Health Care Committee
April 11, 2012

The oral testimony presented by Schoenbeck is available from the Legislative Council, tel. 802-828-2424. It is recorded on CD # 163, House Committee On Health Care, April 11, 2012. The CD costs $1. They can also provide hardcopy of her written testimony.

Her written testimony along with my comments:

VANP Health Notes. This consisted of 2 printed pages in which the organization’s web address was given,, without a publication date or a specific URL. I was not able to find it on the organizations site. Some quotes from VANP Health Notes :

“They” NDs “are experts in the effective clinical use of nutrient, herbal and other natural therapies and are the only providers trained in herb/nutrient/drug interaction potentials, guiding patients who prefer a natural approach to their health care in the safe and appropriate use of these remedies.” 

That hit me in the face like a wet towel. NDs use “remedies” long before they are every studied which means that there is no data on those products and therefore no one can be an expert on them or know if they offer benefits or are deadly. My greatest fear is that one of them will turn out to be as lethal as cigarettes but by the time that is known it will be too late to save many from premature deaths.

After remedies become popular or evidence appears linking them to deaths and serious injuries, they are studied by scientists who report their findings in the medical literature which is indexed. Competent practitioners who practice evidence-based medicine, meaning most but not all MDs, closely follow the studies that are relevant to their specialties. (Based on my experience with silver, I have to conclude that NDs do not review or read the indexed medical literature as practitioners of evidence-based medicine do.) 

But if any of you has gotten a prescription drug lately, you have seen the list of possible side effects and food and drug interactions that comes in the package with the drug as well as the admonition to discuss the use of any supplements you take with your doctor or pharmacist. The list doesn’t come from naturopaths. It comes from pharmacists who like MDs carefully follow these studies as they become available. It is their job. It is what they are trained for. In fact, like MDs, pharmacists often do the studies to determine these things. If you browse PubMed, the online index of medical journals,, you will see that those who practice scientific or evidence-based medicine have been conducting and reporting on such studies for decades while NDs have rarely done them in the past and are only now just beginning to do them. 

Health News also stated:
“Naturopathic medical college prepares NDs with a biological and biomedical education of the same breadth and depth that prepares an MD to be a primary care physician”.

Even if that were true, and I don’t believe that it is, it is besides the point which is that NDs are never taught the most fundamental principle of science which is that one does not assume, one tests, one experiments and in medicine one strives to objectively test all drugs and therapies for safety and efficacy before using them which is the exact opposite of what NDs routinely do.

Health News:
“2012 ND stats: Percentage of insurance credentialed NDs practicing primary care: 82%; Precentage of these taking new PC patients: 95%; number of VT primary care NDs: 40 and growing; percent increase in ND PCPs in VT in the last 5 years: 82%; Today 7.4% of VT’s primary care physicians are NDs” 
Note: PC = primary care; PCP = primary care physician; insurance credentialed = reimbursed by insurance.

Assuming that all of those statistics refer to VT, two things catch my attention. First if so many NDs are taking new patients, I don’t think that Vermonters need NDs. I think we have too many already. Second, In testimony by the Director of the Office of Professional Regulation at another hearing, he said that there are 241 NDs licensed in VT. I wonder what the others do and how many of them live in VT.  

Ms. Schoenbeck submitted this written statement:

Lorilee Schoenbeck, ND
from the Vermont Association of Naturopathic Physicians
Testimony to the House Health Committee

S.209 - A Necessary Step Toward Improving the
Primary Care Delivery of Naturopathic Physicians

S.209 does not expand scope of NDs. It is needed so that naturopathic doctors (NDs) and their patients will be included in VT’s health reform.

NDs (naturopathic doctors) are trained in primary and specialty care in 4-year medical colleges recognized by the US Dept. of Education. They have been licensed as physicians in VT since 1996.

NDs provide routine primary care such as Pap smears, cardiovascular screenings and treatment of most chronic and minor acute illness. Most NDs in VT function as PCPs.

ND treatment involves nutrition, lifestyle counseling and natural remedies whenever appropriate, but also prescription medications like antibiotics, statins, hormones, pain medication and referrals to conventional physicians when necessary. NDs often find that 90+% of common complaints in primary care practice can be treated effectively without the use of pharmaceuticals.

There are currently over 40 NDs (and growing) serving an estimated 5,000 + Vermonters as their primary care physicians (PCP).

VT intends that all primary care physicians (PCPs) become medical homes by 2014. Currently, NDs are not recognized as eligible to become medical homes.

Failure to pass S.209 could result in thousands of Vermonters now currently enrolled with an ND as their primary care doctor to have to re-enter the pool of those without a PCP. Vermont could lose a significant percentage (7.4%) of its current primary care physicians.

Becoming PCMHs will enhance quality of ND primary care by holding NDs to the same structural standards as MD primary care. This is a win-win.

S.209 also clarifies language in Act 59 pursuant to the PCP status of NDs, which this Committee passed in 2007.

S.209 also levels the playing field to make NDs eligible for IT incentive funding that could also be available to MDs, which is currently not the case.


Being licensed by the US Department of Education does not mean that the agency has evaluated the school to see if it prepares students to practice medicine or if course work corresponds to the title of the course. While NDs have been licensed in Vermont since 1996 they are continually being given more and more privileges. What NDs were permitted to do here in 1996 is not what they are permitted to do here now or what they will be permitted to do here in a few years when new laws take effect. H.524 was just passed and will give NDs the same prescription privileges as MDs have.

To evaluate Ms. Schoenbeck’s comment about only treating 10% of patients with pharmaceuticals, one would need to know things like: are the common complaints people see NDs for the same as what they see PCPs who are MDs for; the percentage of patients with common complaints that MD PCPs treat with drugs; the % of patients ND & MD PCPs see who are hypochondriacs or the “worried well”; and other extenuating circumstances. 

For instance, a man with Crohn’s disease, an often debilitating inflammatory bowel disease that "usually affects the intestines, but may occur anywhere from the mouth to the end of the rectum (anus).", saw an MD who treated him with drugs in addition to a naturopath who gave him nutrition advice and lifestyle counseling. Since the ND didn’t have prescription privileges, he didn't prescribe drugs for the patient and couldn't have even if he had wanted to, but that may change once he has prescription privileges. Till then the naturopath practices in the capacities of a dietician and exercise physiologist, not a PCP.

If NDs have about 125 patients each, how many do MD PCPs have on average?

Why should anyone conclude that including NDs in Medical Homes will mean that they are held to the same standards that MDs are? The State of Vermont has never even held them to the standards they’ve set for themselves. They were supposed to review their formulary annual but didn’t. The bar has always been lowered for them. When they were required to pass a pharmacology test, 2 of their advisors drew it up and took it along with the other NDs in the state. It was a 48 hour open book test passed by at least one person who had no medical training whatsoever. 

Lorilee Schoenbeck; naturopathic schools; vermont; naturopaths; supplement, drug, food interactions; S.209; VANP; Vermont Association of Naturopathic Physicians