In The News

CNDA Board of Directors - Response to Berkeley Wellness Article


We are disappointed to find that the Berkeley Wellness article mistakenly conflates traditional naturopathy and naturopathic medicine. Confusion among lay people is understandable, because the term “naturopath” is not protected by law in California. This is why licensure and regulation of trained naturopathic doctors is essential – to protect patients from untrained individuals.
 
We would like to address the inaccuracies that this article propagates:

Misconception #1:
FALSE: Licensed naturopathic doctors do not have medical degrees.
 
TRUTH: Licensed naturopathic doctors are medically trained clinicians. Naturopathic medical students undergo four years of postgraduate medical schooling, with comparable hours in the biomedical sciences as compared to MDs. While California law does not allow licensed NDs to be called physicians, in states where we have long been licensed, such as Washington and Oregon, we are trained and licensed as physicians, regulated, and are very much part of mainstream medicine.
 
Misconception #2:
FALSE: Licensed naturopathic doctors are unsafe.
 
TRUTH: NDs enjoy a high safety rating with a very low incidence of patient harm. As part of the 2016/17 Sunset Review, the California Naturopathic Medical Board, Naturopathic Medicine Committee, reported performance ratings in regards to complaints, malpractice claims, and disciplinary actions. There has been only one case of patient harm caused by a naturopathic doctor in California since licenses were issued in 2005.
 
Misconception #3:
FALSE:  Naturopathic doctors do not give good advice.
 
TRUTH: Research comparing naturopathic care to conventional medical care has shown that the patients of licensed NDs enjoy better improvement in cardiovascular disease. Given that cardiovascular disease is a leading killer worldwide, this is a significant finding. NDs also produce better outcomes for back pain.
 
Naturopathic clinics also enjoy high patient satisfaction ratings. Bastyr Center for Natural Health, a teaching clinic affiliated with the accredited naturopathic medical university, ranked #1 of 156 health clinics in an independent Puget Sound survey on patient experience. The survey found that naturopathic clinics outperformed conventional clinics in each survey category including timely appointments, provider-patient communication, and respectful staff.
 
The California Department of Public Health confirmed that more than half of all Americans live with a chronic medical condition. In California, 14 million people live with at least one chronic condition and more than 7 million have multiple chronic conditions. Research affirms that licensed naturopathic doctors are leaders in prevention and treatment of chronic disease.
 
Misconception #4:
FALSE:  Naturopathic doctors oppose pharmaceuticals and vaccinations
 
TRUTH: California allows licensed naturopathic doctors to prescribe medications under the supervision of an MD, the same type of licensure given to nurse practitioners; they are also required to maintain their pharmaceutical proficiency through continuing education. In states where NDs are part of mainstream care, they have independent prescription rights and enjoy a high safety record.
 
Like many well-known MDs, some NDs are opposed to vaccination; however, the majority of California licensed naturopathic doctors advocate for vaccination. In fact, pediatric-focused NDs often serve to encourage patients who are otherwise suspicious of conventional medicine to vaccinate.
 
The contributions of naturopathic medicine to the medical field are apparent in the increasing acceptance of integrative, patient-centered care in institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic, Cedars Sinai, and CPMC. We are proud to be the leaders in the practice of taking time to listen to patients, assisting them in improving diet and lifestyle, and safely prescribing dietary supplements and herbs in consideration of drug interactions. We are unmatched by any profession in our understanding of how to reverse and prevent chronic disease. Our long history of satisfied patients, and a growing number of independent studies, are testaments to this.

We welcome regulation, oversight, and dialogue with other medical professions. It is our belief that patients benefit from collaboration between medical fields, and we trust the University of California to join the many top rated medical and educational institutions in this dialogue. The epidemic of chronic disease, and the patients who suffer from it, deserve nothing less.
 
Citations:
 
Curriculum Directory of the Association of American Medical Colleges.
 
Seely, Dugald, et al. "Naturopathic medicine for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: a randomized clinical trial." Canadian Medical Association Journal 185.9 (2013): E409-E416. 
 
Szczurko, Orest, et al. "Naturopathic care for chronic low back pain: a randomized trial." PLoS One 2.9 (2007): e919.
 
Your Voice Matters: Patient Experience with Primary Care Providers in the Puget Sound Region. Seattle, WA: Puget Sound Health Alliance, 2012.