Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.—The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), an organization that works to expose charlatans and help people defend themselves from dangerous paranormal and pseudoscientific claims, today issued this statement by JREF President D.J. Grothe on proposed licensing schemes1 for practitioners of naturopathy:
States should not give out licenses for self-styled health advisers to practice what they call “naturopathy.”
Naturopathy is so vaguely defined that there are no standards to which state regulatory agencies could ask licensed practitioners to adhere. The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges says that "Naturopathic medicine is defined by principles rather than by methods or modalities." In fact, even the principles of naturopathy contradict each other. State regulators could never discipline a practitioner or revoke their license for violating standards of care, because no standards of care exist for naturopathy.
Naturopathy is simply a hodge-podge of beliefs and health treatments, some of which are good for you and some of which are pseudoscientific nonsense that has been repeatedly shown not to work by clinical trials and can actually harm a patients’ health. The parts of naturopathic advice that are good for you—nutrition, exercise, stress reduction—are all things that are recommended by regular, licensed doctors and are part of established scientific medicine.
What sets naturopathy apart from scientific medicine is its promotion of discredited treatments like homeopathy, a practice in which plain water is imbued with supposedly healing “vibrations” by being shaken.
States already have a system in place to determine whether people have the qualifications to diagnose and treat disease: physician licensing. Within those rules, doctors can adhere to whatever personal philosophy they want. But people who aren’t qualified to practice medicine that works should not be given state approval to practice medicine that doesn’t work.
Creating special licensing schemes for naturopathy gives a seal of approval to scam treatments that have been shown not to work. It also gives consumers the false impression that practitioners have specific and legitimate skills that the state could monitor and maintain, and that there are standards of care that naturopaths could be required to meet.
1. New York Times, Feb. 21: Colorado Faces a Fight Over Naturopathy | http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/health/22license.html
# # #
The James Randi Educational Foundation was founded in 1996 to expose charlatans and help people defend themselves from paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. The JREF offers a still-unclaimed million-dollar reward for anyone who can produce evidence of paranormal abilities under controlled conditions. Through scholarships, workshops, and innovative resources for educators, the JREF works to inspire this investigative spirit in a new generation of critical thinkers. | www.randi.org