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Naturopathic Quackery?


biloba

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Hey Guys,

 

I wanted to ask you guys of your opinions.

 

My mom recently went to a Naturopathic Doctor (i'm not quite sure if its even a Naturopathic, but for the sake of not confusing anyone, I will leave it at that) to get a "health checkup." The Doctor took some blood from her finger, and analyzed it under a microscope.

 

Basically, the Doctor said he was shocked at the results (diagnosis from the spot): My Mom's blood had hardly any white blood cells, no T-Cells, certain deformed cells, and Kidney / Gallbladder Problems.

 

This was just from the blood analysis.

 

My question to you guys are, is this even possible? I thought WBCs comprised of 1% of total blood anyways... Is it even possible to make a diagnosis from some drops of blood off of my mother's finger?

 

Any comments would be appreciated.

 

Thanks

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Umm...well, all I can say is "wow" about the ND.

 

Your mom should definitely see her medical doctor for a more realistic/scientifically-based analysis of her symptoms & blood. That said, if your mom is healthy with no significant symptoms...based on my (admittedly minimal) experience with blood films/tests, I would not be struck with any amount of surprise if there is absolutely nothing wrong.

 

(Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but is there any possible way you could diagnose GALL BLADDER trouble based on a blood film only?? Is it just me or is that borderline laughable?)

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I have a friend who is a ND who said she felt that my presence brought negative ions so I should sit in a tub more often with the water splashing or I should get a salt lamp (I think she just meant I was stressed???)

 

I'm surprised she didn't tell you to hop 20 times on each leg with your hands raised over your head.

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Hey Guys,

 

I wanted to ask you guys of your opinions.

 

My mom recently went to a Naturopathic Doctor (i'm not quite sure if its even a Naturopathic, but for the sake of not confusing anyone, I will leave it at that) to get a "health checkup." The Doctor took some blood from her finger, and analyzed it under a microscope.

 

Basically, the Doctor said he was shocked at the results (diagnosis from the spot): My Mom's blood had hardly any white blood cells, no T-Cells, certain deformed cells, and Kidney / Gallbladder Problems.

 

This was just from the blood analysis.

 

My question to you guys are, is this even possible? I thought WBCs comprised of 1% of total blood anyways... Is it even possible to make a diagnosis from some drops of blood off of my mother's finger?

 

Any comments would be appreciated.

 

Thanks

 

I try to be understanding of all walks of alternative medicine, but this is why I hate people who believe in stuff like naturopathic medicine and similar pseudoscientific fields.

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Actually the scary thing is my mother does get tired and all, and she does have an overactive bladder...

 

I argued with my parents because I thought they were quackery. All in all, I think they used assumption based diagnoses? (I think all women after a certain age have overactive bladder problems)...

 

They also did a Colon Irrigation and said that it would help to clean out the bad stuff that has been accumulating in her intestines... (better energy, more nutrient absorption)

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I try to keep an open mind about NDs... but sometimes... I just want to... laugh. I try very, very hard not to and to be very, very respectful because that's the type of person I am.

Ditto...but like you said...it's hard to not laugh sometimes.

 

I had a patient whose ND told her that of the 4 meds she was on (Methotrexate - a chemotherapeutic drug also used to treat some autoimmune diseases, Infliximab - an immune system modulator, a COX-II inhibitor - an anti-inflammatory med like Vioxx, Losec - a med to lower stomach acid, one of the most prescribed class of meds in the developed world) the most "toxic" that she should try to stop was Losec! I just can't fathom how one could assume that an acid-lowering medication (known through millions of patients' experiences to be very benign) would be more toxic than a chemo drug designed to kill your immune cells? Seems like a no-brainer to me? (Again...please correct me if I am wrong!)

 

Anyway...things like that make it difficult for me to remain impartial & respectful :(

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Personally, I think it's just quackery, like you said. MOST of the time I DO try to keep an open mind and hey, if it works, and you like it, so be it.

 

My mom sometimes brings out little theories in alternative medicine. She doesn't believe it in its entirety, but she says sometimes it "miraculously works somehow". That doesn't sit very well with me.

 

 

Actually I was thinking about ND today. Both an MD and a ND work to improve the health of the people. Does the mean matter so much as long as the end is satisfied (and I know this is a pretty big assumption -- assuming that the end IS satisified)? So what would make us (me) turn away from a ND? I know for me, my background has always been scientifically driven (whether it is empirical or synthetic or analytical), so to me the natural progression is MD, rather than ND. Would some people shy away from a ND just because of the social stigma (if any)?

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UPDATE:

 

I just found that most of what the ND's practice is based on the following book:

 

Introduction into Darkfield Diagnostics (Semmelweis-Verlag, Hoya, 1993) by Cornelia Schwedtle / Franz Amoul

 

What made me laugh is that the ND told my father through blood that his left side of the heart was faulty..

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It seems to me like NDs are always pushing their "miracle pills" or something along those lines to "cure" all your problems ...and the pills just happen to be pricey.

And they love to bash allopathic medicine, saying unfounded things like "MDs just cure the symptoms, and not the cause!" :rolleyes:

 

It annoys me because they are conning people out of their money and potentially harming their bodies by giving dangerous treatments, or omitting them from getting the help they need from a real doctor.

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This ND sounds like a quack... but not all NDs are.

I think as future physicians we need to be open to alternative treatments. There seems to be hostility between both NDs and MDs but sometimes we need to work together (if a patient sees both professionals).

I could be wrong, but this is just my opinion now.....

Some people think MDs are just pill pushers and others think NDs ALL have their heads in the clouds. We need to think objectively and not draw generalizations.

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Naturopatheic/Alternative therapies are acceptable only if they meet guidelines for acceptable treatment. That is they are used by at least a respectable minority of physicians, they have the ok of Health Canada and there is high quality, peer reviewed scientific studies showing the therapy's effectiveness. The thing is, once most therapies meet these guidelines they are integrated into evidence based ("regular") medicine anyway.

 

Most alternative therapies fail the high quality scientific proof part. That's why they can pose major risks to the public safety. Personally, it's my belief that anything that therapies which don't have high quality scientific data showing their effectiveness should not be available to the public. Do the research first before you start telling people it works. ND's and other alternative medicine sources should be held legally responsible, and face strict punishment, for any therapies that they provide which do not meet approved appropriate care guidelines.

 

Think about it this way, if engineers designed airplanes without using high quality scientifically proven methods, you'd never step foot on an airplane. Why would you demand anything less from a health provider?

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We had a little discussion about this in a class last fall, where the paper wrote about some sort of "magic lamp" that was supposed to speed up healing of wounds and cure pretty much everything, and it cost $1200 and had a license from Health Canada. Our prof was so perplexed that he decided to research it and he found out that the only condition required to get the Health Canada approval was for the device to not cause any harm (it's not required to actually cure anything). After he read more about the lamp, it turned out to be a regular heat lamp.

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I'm a medical student and I've visited both naturopathic and homeopathic physicians in the past. They helped me identify certain food senstitivites and I've been much better for it. I think things often depend on who the practitioner is, what you're seeing them about, and what methods they practice.

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I find this discussion to be interesting....especially since I am an ND (who has applied to med school).

 

One thing to keep in mind as an MD or future MD is that ND's are only trained in 7 modalities at school (Nutrition, Acupuncture/chinese Medicine, Homeopathy, Botanical Medicine, relaxation massage, minimal chiropractic techniques, and lifestyle counselling).....anything else like darkfield microscopy (live blood cell analysis), colon hydrotherapy, craniosacral therapy etc.etc. is all stuff that the ND has done on their own, and is NOT endorsed by the profession. There are some really good ND's out there, but unfortunately it's the bad ones who give us names like "quacks".

 

My advice- don't scare your patients into not telling you what sort of alternative therapies they are seeking- act open minded b/c they will still do it even if you disapprove and it's better to know about it. Also, get to know an MD friendly ND so that at least you can direct your patients to their care so they are not seeing one of the "left winged" ND's.

 

There are a lot of good natural treatments out there, but like someone else said, as soon as they are proven, they become "regular/allopathic" treatments. Also, there are a lot of potent natural medicines out there that get pulled from the shelves b/c people should not be able to buy them without a prescription....keep that in mind. MD's have the ability to prescribe lots of things that really, are natural and ND's don't even have access to them.

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That is they are used by at least a respectable minority of physicians, they have the ok of Health Canada and there is high quality, peer reviewed scientific studies showing the therapy's effectiveness. The thing is, once most therapies meet these guidelines they are integrated into evidence based ("regular") medicine anyway.

 

OK, there is a lot of misinformation here!

 

Why is physician use relevant? What is a respectable minority?

An ok by Health Canada doesn't really tell you anything about its efficacy just that it is most likely safe if used as instructed.

Peer reviewed scientific studies are great and very helpful in determining appropriate treatment and diagnosis but for many therapies ( medicine, dentistry, physio, chiro, naturopath, homeopath) these have not been completed. Many that have been done are far from high quality, just look into studies completed by the drug companies.

Evidence based medicine is a tool, a great tool, but a tool alone. It is there to give the clinician the best information available in order to make decisions on care. Ultimately, the type of care a patient will recieve will be based upon the physicians ( or other healthcare providers) experience and knowledge base.

 

As in all professions, there are people in the healthcare field that are just plain bad at what they do ( read: incompetent, lazy, dogmatic, lack common sense)! It is very dangerous to paint an entire profession because of a few encounters with what sounds like poor practicioners. As future physicians, we have to keep an open mind or risk alienating patients that need help. Like it or not the number of people seeking alternative/complementary medicine is growing every year and having an open, nonjudgemental attitude may allow you to help these people make better decisions regarding their health.

 

the shaka

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the fact that the profession teaches homeopathy is what bugs me. Nutrition and lifestyle counseling is obviously a good idea. Same for massage and botanical medicine if done properly can be very beneficial for patients. Even accupunture has studies that who benefits. But just to hear the theory behind homeopathy: water has a memory and retains the essence of what was one in it and then you treat like with like.... Water has a memory??? :eek: That just sounds like BS.

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I worry that there is a danger in "cross-contamination". The UK has a much more integrated model of health care, and alternative therapies are a bit more commonplace there. I think this is a good idea, mostly because it fosters respect and cooperation between western medicine and these other things. Someone brought up the point earlier that it's important for patients to feel safe telling their MD's all of the alternative therapies they are using, and I think this is soooo important, particularly when it comes to homepathies, herbs, vitamins, etc.

 

I think it's also important to look at *why* people choose to visit an ND. I know a few people who never visit their GP but visit their ND on a monthly basis. I was investigating going myself, and I asked them why they went and what they got from it. Their responses were almost all the same - they didn't feel the GP truly listened to their complaints, and one friend felt so intimidated by her GP that she didn't feel she could even vocalize her complaints. They said that the ND spends a lot of one-on-one time with them and they feel cared for. And this is something that they value.

 

The danger in this is that there are lots of people out there selling "magic bullets" and "miracle cure" and the "device that will make everything better". I worry about people who put blind faith in care-givers, who will then milk them for all they've got. I don't know what the answer is!

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I think it's also important to look at *why* people choose to visit an ND. I know a few people who never visit their GP but visit their ND on a monthly basis. I was investigating going myself, and I asked them why they went and what they got from it. Their responses were almost all the same - they didn't feel the GP truly listened to their complaints, and one friend felt so intimidated by her GP that she didn't feel she could even vocalize her complaints. They said that the ND spends a lot of one-on-one time with them and they feel cared for. And this is something that they value.

This is understandable and true. However, very few family doctors have the same amount of time to devote to their patients. There is a huge demand on a family doc's time and taking an extra 20 minutes with one person means that 2 less patients get seen by that doc. It is unfortunate, but it is reality...

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That is they are used by at least a respectable minority of physicians, they have the ok of Health Canada and there is high quality, peer reviewed scientific studies showing the therapy's effectiveness. The thing is, once most therapies meet these guidelines they are integrated into evidence based ("regular") medicine anyway.

 

OK, there is a lot of misinformation here!

 

Why is physician use relevant? What is a respectable minority?

An ok by Health Canada doesn't really tell you anything about its efficacy just that it is most likely safe if used as instructed.

Peer reviewed scientific studies are great and very helpful in determining appropriate treatment and diagnosis but for many therapies ( medicine, dentistry, physio, chiro, naturopath, homeopath) these have not been completed. Many that have been done are far from high quality, just look into studies completed by the drug companies.

Evidence based medicine is a tool, a great tool, but a tool alone. It is there to give the clinician the best information available in order to make decisions on care. Ultimately, the type of care a patient will recieve will be based upon the physicians ( or other healthcare providers) experience and knowledge base.

 

Those guidelines are taken directly from CMA bioethics series for determining whether treatment falls under standard medical care.

 

http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/reprint/159/7/817

 

Physicians should be extremely careful with recommending treatments outside this standard (Especially therapies lacking high quality, peer reviewed data on their safety and efficiency). By doing so, they expose the patient to unknown risks and in a greater picture, they endanger the public health.

 

Physicians are professionally obligated to provide information and access to all treatments which are appropriate. The patient is then allowed to choose any of these treatments, or reject all treatments. One of the requirements for appropriate treatments is that they meet the criteria of standard medical care. The physician has no obligation to recommend treatments outside the area of appropriate care. I would even go so far as to argue that, except in extremely extenuating circumstances, the physician is ethically barred from recommending treatments that fall outside this standard.

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I find this discussion to be interesting....especially since I am an ND (who has applied to med school).

 

One thing to keep in mind as an MD or future MD is that ND's are only trained in 7 modalities at school (Nutrition, Acupuncture/chinese Medicine, Homeopathy, Botanical Medicine, relaxation massage, minimal chiropractic techniques, and lifestyle counselling).....anything else like darkfield microscopy (live blood cell analysis), colon hydrotherapy, craniosacral therapy etc.etc. is all stuff that the ND has done on their own, and is NOT endorsed by the profession. There are some really good ND's out there, but unfortunately it's the bad ones who give us names like "quacks".

What I'd like to know is how these people are permitted to identify themselves as NDs and perform these sorts of shady practices. What you're describing sounds more like NDs are in a more supportive role rather than a replacement to allopathic medicine. This is not the impression I've received over the years from people I've talked to on the Internet. I'll have to look at naturopathic medicine more closely.

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