For reasons that will become clear, it is worth stating upfront that I got into the habit some time ago of copy-pasting and/or screen-shotting Facebook discussions whenever they became “interesting”.
Anyway, so I have a business colleague and Facebook friend that is a proponent of the new “wellness” industry, including naturopathy. It’s no big deal; for the most part I’m content to live and let live.
The other day, a (rather innocuous) post appeared in my feed as a result of my friend’s added comment. The original post (OP) was by a naturopath and described some simple recommendations for dealing with “gastro” (eg., ginger tea, barley water with lemon juice, stewed apples… that kind of thing). The post ended with the advice to take some probiotics, and to “See your naturopath”.
I guess I was feeling a little cheeky that day, so I added my own comment.
S[…]: Don’t get me started Paul 😉 I’ll just say E[…] recommends seeing a doctor for a diagnosis – so does my other friend K[…] who like E[…] has many credentials and years experience (not all naturopath’s are the same just as not all doctor’s are). Over the years if I had listened to the doctors only I would have several parts of my body missing and be heavily medicated – however I’m in 100% good health. I also observe the difference in ageing friends between those who have relied on Doctors versus those who have made a point of being very mindful of how they treat their body. Drugs are often a quick fix that don’t deal with the root cause of the problem. I now see doctors (and naturopath’s) who have a balanced point of view recognising the connection between mind and body. Watch the documentary The Connection – plenty of highly credentialed doctor’s backing this up!
It was difficult to leave things at that, so there were a few more comments to follow. My comments are the light blue blocks. My friend/colleague’s comments are in green. The OP-maker naturopath’s comments are in red.
This would be good place to close things off. We’d both made our points, and I was left feeling somewhat superior, having responded to a challenge with an argument that, other than the appeal-to-anecdote, had no comeback.
However, in the meantime another participant had joined the discussion in a different comment under the original post, replying to my earlier remark about demonstrating evidence. The new commenter is in yellow. Previous participants eventually joined back in too:
P[…]: “…any naturopath can demonstrate concrete evidence…”
Of what…? That type of claim is so open-ended as to be meaningless.
“…as far as I know they are regulated…” OK, so what exactly do you know about the regulation of naturopaths in Australia? I’ll admit I know nothing about it. I suspect there is no consistent regulation at all, and until shown otherwise, I don’t believe they are subject to anything like the same types of scrutiny and practice controls as real doctors.
And the next comment, about evidence, from my colleague:
S[…]:Evidence: I’m sick – Doctor diagnoses. Recommends life time of drugs after removing or tampering with essential part of my body. I see trusted naturopath. Follow advice, take natural medicines. I am fully healed no pharmaceuticals, recurrence, chronic illness or surgery. Times this experience by at least 10 over my life time, and another 5 based on the experiences of people known to me personally and I would say that’s all the concrete evidence I need. But everyone has to do what works for them 😉
The responses below take us to the end of the main commentary, but there was some more “side dialogue” and activity that I’ll describe afterwards:
Of course, I certainly was not suggesting that “anyone with a medical degree should be trusted more than [anyone else]…”. Hence I tried to conclude the discussion by re-emphasising the point that I was making in the first place:
However… Remember that remark earlier in the comment thread about regulation and scrutiny? Well, that resulted in another short discussion in parallel with the one above. As a reminder, this is the last sentence of the relevant remark that I made earlier:
…I suspect there is no consistent regulation at all, and until shown otherwise, I don’t believe they are subject to anything like the same types of scrutiny and practice controls as real doctors.
Which triggered this:
Now, I didn’t actually expect an answer to be forthcoming to my question, since our good doctor had apparently already made up their mind that I was “brick wall”. Furthermore, in the intervening time, I’d already checked it out myself. In Australia, medical practitioners are registered with AHPRA: The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. In fact, our naturopath here appears on that register – as a practitioner of Chinese medicine, including acupuncture. But this is just a side-note, because the qualifications of our naturopath were never in question. I never raised this as part of the discussion – I was simply challenging the “field” as a whole.
Having said that, it is worth mentioning at this point that our naturopath does not appear on AHPRA’s register as a practitioner of naturopathy, btw. But that’s ok, because no-one in Australia appears on the register as a practitioner of naturopathy. And the reason for that is simply because naturopathy is not recognised by AHPRA.
No surprises so far. What happened next, however, was a surprise. The following morning, my question above (about the regulation of naturopathy in Australia) and my entire final reply to my friend/colleague – the one that ends with “These are not sound bases for knowledge or health” – were excised from the comment thread.
So, I added a new comment:
And that was the end of that.
Or so I thought. Because an hour later, the following appeared:
That was a satisfying way to conclude the whole discussion.
Arguably, though, our naturopath did actually have the final say. A short time after this, every single comment on the original post either made by me or referring to me was deleted. Everything you see in this post was wiped.
The original content was the naturopath’s own feed of course, so she’s well within her rights to manage comments as she sees fit. So I’m not complaining about that fact, since I have my own channel here to document the discussion.