I’m So Tired of the Discrimination Against Naturopaths


*rant alert*

I recently was having a chat to a new friend, and the conversation naturally came around to, “what do you do?” Now this girl, bless her, has a habit of blurting out the first thing that pops into her head. When I said I was a naturopath, she burst out with, “God, really? How’s that going though, like after that kid died?” I could see in her face, she was skeptical and not impressed. I didn’t really know which media story she was referring to because I don’t own a TV. But seriously, anytime the media blows up about some “naturopath” harming someone, it is almost always an unqualified person who chooses to use the title naturopath. These idiots make all of us look bad. 

I know there was a Sydney woman who was arrested last year after a baby almost died under her care – the thing that most drives me crazy about that story (aside from the devastating results for the baby and family) is that the woman wasn’t even a qualified naturopath BUT she WAS a qualified midwife and registered nurse. Did the papers write, “Midwife nearly kills baby”?! Did they write that midwifery is quackery?! No. Every headline screamed of a dangerous naturopath. The woman doesn’t even deserve to be called a naturopath because she’s not trained, yet her actions tarnished so many people’s views on naturopathy. Her main recommendation in question was that she advised the mother to take the baby off prescribed medication – which is not a natural treatment in itself, and in fact is something a qualified naturopath would never do. We are taught not to take people off their meds and not to practice outside our scope – we refer if necessary.

The massive problem here is that naturopaths are not regulated or registered in Australia so any idiot can give themselves the title of naturopath while the truly dedicated ones slave to get their qualification and keep their professional association memberships. Natural medicines can be harmful (though rarely deadly) if used incorrectly, but if you’re not trained, you’re unlikely to know about dosages and interactions and side effects right?

My degree took me 5 years to complete (it’s supposed to be 4 years, but with 7 units a semester and a massive workload, almost nobody completes it in that timeframe) and cost me over $60 000. Anyone who went to school with me or who knows me is well aware that I’m not stupid – I had my pick of universities and chose what resonated best with me. I worked my butt off to make it through that degree, which many people dropped out of due to the pressure. Every damn thing we wrote in an assignment had to be backed up with top quality current scientific evidence. We had to read thousands of journal articles and learn the most minute biochemistry details. No one partied or had a laid back ‘uni lifestyle’- there was no time for such things as it would have been impossible to keep up with the workload.

As a fully qualified praccy, I attend seminars and study continuously to keep up to date with all the amazing advances in medicine and in particular, natural medicine. I’m so tired of the misconception that naturopaths are quacks. It is so ridiculous and insulting and exhausting. It used to get to me a lot more – I’ve now learned not to bother rising to people’s rubbish and I put my energy into the people who want my help; but today it’s just getting me down again.

Wikipedia has the most absurd description of naturopaths, which of course ranks very highly on a google search of the word. It has all this stuff about us apparently being against vaccines and all this random crap that seriously does not reflect anything we were taught or the way we practice. It also calls naturopathy a ‘pseudoscience’ and ‘quackery’ which is just ridiculously insulting considering the calibre of some of our researchers – every time I attend a seminar I leave with my mind blown by the amount of technical detail. The Wikipedia description even goes as far as saying that naturopathy lacks a scientific basis – this is the stupidest accusation of all because anyone would only need to spend a short time on PubMed or a natural medicine database to come up with thousands upon thousands of top quality research articles on nutrition and herbal medicine. Anyone who says there is no scientific evidence is simply not looking! Interestingly, this Wikipedia description can’t be changed – I always thought anyone could change a Wiki article? – for some reason editing is restricted on that particular page. Hmm.

It drives me crazy that doctors can get on TV or in the papers making statements against naturopathy which are completely and blatantly untrue, with no consequences whatsoever. The human biology, chemistry and pathology we learn at uni is, I’m assuming, the same as what doctors learn (except we take the extra step of learning nutritional biochemistry). In fact, some of my own lecturers at uni taught naturopathy students at Endeavour College while also being employed at UWA or UQ to teach the medical students.

Honestly, I don’t really understand how doctors can know how a body works without learning nutrition. Everything in the body is made of nutrients, every chemical reaction in the body involves nutrients – hell, even if you just want to know how the digestive system works, you can’t possibly understand that without acknowledging that different nutrients are broken down, absorbed and assimilated in different ways. I also think a lot of doctors are way behind the times in terms of understanding the cause of disease – heaps of them don’t have a clue about MTHFR or even how to do a thyroid test properly. Most of them disrespect your time and make you sit in a waiting room for an hour after your APPOINTMENT time when you already feel like dying – like, what other industry can get away with that? It’s so damn rude! Don’t get me wrong, some doctors are absolutely freaking amazing, and all forms of medicine have their place, but they also have their downfalls. In fact, the British Medical Journal recently came out with an article showing that medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States. (http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2139) Can we just think that through for a second?



Is the media running around telling us to stop seeing doctors or that all doctors are stupid? No. Because that would be ridiculous. There are good and bad practitioners in all fields.
The Australian government needs to get their stuff together and register naturopaths so that the public can be protected against the fakers, and so that we can stop having our reps thrown into the gutter by people that don’t even resemble natural health professionals! I’m not a conspiracy theorist and I don’t really understand the reasons why there’s all this fear around people actually getting healthier through natural medicine, but I’m so over it and when I get past this little mood, I’ll remember that I’m extremely grateful people are catching on and times are changing. And haters gonna hate and I don’t actually need to concern myself with those people.
Arghh. Rant over, really must go shake it off.

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