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I am not as unalterably opposed to the collection of unproven, non-medical healthcare practices known as “complimentary and alternative medicine” (CAM) as most other MDs. For instance, I am not above allowing the placebo effect to help patients — as long as they feel better, and the therapy isn’t hurting them in any way, who cares if the “therapy” is no different than a sugar pill? And that is what the vast majority of CAM is: the placebo effect. As long as they aren’t ripping the patient off financially, I’m all for anything to raise a patient’s spirits — which can in turn raise their overall health. Mind over matter is a real thing, and happier patients have been shown to have better outcomes.

In addition, therapies like chiropracty and acupuncture really can have beneficial effects for back pain sufferers besides the placebo effect. This is especially important as conventional medicine has a tough time addressing this common condition, and physicians have been guilty of actually making it worse via overprescription of narcotics, or performing surgeries of questionable efficacy. Also, I often suggest an herbal remedy called elderberry for people suffering from the common cold and other viral illnesses. I’m not aware of any randomized, double-blinded research studies on the benefits of elderberry, but some people (physicians, even) swear by it, it doesn’t hurt either way — and in any case, since there isn’t squat Western medicine can do to cure a cold, it can be worth a shot.

So no, CAM is not all bad. But then, we get to the snake oil salesmen.

Via the site http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/ , I found this delightfully infuriating blog post about what naturopaths say to each other when nobody’s looking. Naturopaths, or “NDs” as they style themselves, are graduates of unaccredited naturopathy schools who do not learn actual medicine, but nevertheless believe themselves completely competent to practice medicine.

As any naturopath would tell you, they only believe in “natural” and “holistic” remedies to help the body heal itself; the fact that scientific studies show no benefit to their snake oil leads them, of course, to attack scientific studies. They also decry the harsh evils of Western medicine. Or as one fine naturopath put it:

I am opposed to all sources of toxins therefore I am against vaccines whose one size approach fails to account nutritional statuses, toxic burden of mom/child and genetic polymorphisms that are at epidemic levels.

Besides the nonsense word salad at the end, note the reflexive anti-vaxx paranoia this specimen justifies with being against “all sources of toxins.”

Now, let me direct your attention to the beginning of blogger Orac’s post, where he quotes some other “NDs” discussing their unique… therapies for the common cold:

Looking for experiences that anyone has had with results from IV hydrogen peroxide therapy.

Excuse be but… are you discussing putting hydrogen peroxide into someone via IV?

I do a lot of IV H2O2 mostly for acute viral infections, it works very well if this is your goal for treatment.

Why yes. They literally are putting hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into people’s veins. For the common cold. My elderberry thing is suddenly sounding a lot more appetizing now, isn’t it?

I have used H2O2 a fair amount in the vast protocols needed to treat lyme. I believe it addresses the co-infections the best. Almost all lyme patients have EBV, mycoplasma, yeast et…. I am not convinced H2O2 helps with borrelia. If one is using HCl along with H2O2, the immune stimulation that occurs with HCl might be the therapeutic value.

So IV hydrogen peroxide can cure anything now! Well, except for “borrelia,” which is actually the same thing as Lyme, which H2O2 does cure, got that? Oh, and notice the admixture of HCl. HCl means hydrochloric acid. Yes, literal hydrochloric acid is going into their victims’ patients’ IV. The same people who call vaccines “toxins” advocate pouring hydrochloric acid directly into your veins.

At some point, it becomes clear that certain areas of CAM stops being harmless placebo, sails past even innocent mistake, and starts entering the territory of actual malice. They are not only intentionally scaring their patients away from more useful medicine (especially vaccines), just to make themselves a buck. They are also inflicting direct harm on their patients, either through ignorance or else through malice aforethought, or else both. (And hell, aren’t malice and ignorance often indistinguishable?)

The reason we care about all this is because naturopaths aren’t just some particularly vapid host of The View. No, naturopaths are allowed to write prescriptions in many states. That’s right: the same people who call vaccines “toxins” and use IV hydrogen peroxide to “treat” the common cold, may write for the exact same evil Western medicines they were railing against five minutes ago. This, even though they have precisely zero legitimate medical training, zero understanding of actual pathology (as opposed to the study of magnets, chi and pure magic), zero understanding of pharmacology and zero residency training, and are in fact unalterably opposed to the same underpinings of Western medicine that has allowed our life expectency to reach the late 70s: evidence-based therapies, peer-review, and above all, vaccinations.

And many of our state legislatures, in their infinite wisdom, allow these people to practice medicine. I’m not lying when I state without reservation that a veterinarian is far more qualified than these quacks to treat humans. Hell, a bright college undergraduate student who believes in science is more qualified.

Naturopaths are just one example on just how precarious the Enlightenment and civilization are. The barbarians always stand ready at the gate, ready to drag us back to our ignorant and primitive pasts. And for some of them, for no other reason than to make a quick buck.