Letter to the Editor
Moshe Daniel Block, ND, HMC
I deeply love being a naturopathic doctor, and I have been proud to be a part of this profession. As a graduating naturopathic student, I took to heart the vow to serve humanity. But the path that the profession is taking is doing humanity a great disservice, and it is heartbreaking to witness.
What I write below is distinctly expressed in my unique style but I feel it represents a great number of naturopathic doctors and students that I have heard from and who share very similar sentiments about what appears to be happening in the profession.
The Day the Music Died
A cancer has taken hold of the profession. It involves the phasing out of the more vitalistic elements in naturopathic medicine – such as mind-body medicine, homeopathy, and other vitalistic approaches – in favor of strictly “evidence-based,” materialistic medicine in order to gain credibility in the eyes of the conventional medical/pharmaceutical industrial complex. This insidious problem has been around for some time, but it is worsening at an alarming rate.
I have extensively taught my course, Holistic Counseling, and have met with and spoken to many students from the different naturopathic colleges. I have a hypothesis that is based upon my very rough estimates. I estimate that around 30% of students in any given college are medical-doctor-hopefuls and carry the package of ideologies that pertain to conventional medicine. These students scoff at homeopathy and other vitalistic aspects of naturopathic medicine, are materialists, view the body mechanistically, and overuse the word “pseudoscience.” They will surely become allopathic naturopaths, or “Green MDs.” On the other hand, I estimate that the same percentage of students enter the program totally excited to learn the roots and philosophy of our medicine and all that it has to offer. These students resonate with mind-body medicine and acupuncture, homeopathy, and nature-cure, and have a connection with their spirit. They expect the program to bring a good dose of vitalism, holism, and – at the very least – to expound upon the philosophical tenets of our medicine, which are, in their essence, holistic and vitalistic (ie, treat the whole person, treat each person as an individual, treat the root cause, employ the healing power of Nature, etc). The remaining students, which I estimate to be around 40% of the student body, are open and curious but don’t really know what they believe. They are attracted to the idea of natural medicine, but are very amenable and influenced by what is taught in the program. What this means is that, ultimately, what is taught in the program determines the direction of up to 70% of the graduating population of naturopathic students.
What is Evidence-Based, Really?
It’s clear that the student population is divided, like the world itself. Our program should reflect that eclectic, diverse nature that makes us the wonderful bunch that we are. I fully support a balanced profession. But this is what is so disturbing: It would be one thing for naturopathy to be firmly rooted in conventional biomedical sciences and to support our mind-body, vitalistic roots. But instead of naturopathic medicine supporting homeopathy and our philosophy along with the conventional biomedical sciences, there appears to be a sharp decline and phasing out of the programs at the colleges of homeopathy and holistic, vitalistic, mind-body education. Instead of being at the spearhead for the bold and fearless embodiment of the roots of our true nature, the colleges seem to pay lip service to the tenets of our philosophy, while the programs themselves do not adequately offer them. Instead of leading humanity toward a better horizon of health and sticking to our roots to gain eventual “proof in the pudding” recognition, we’re following the falling-apart jalopy of conventional medicine right off the cliff.
Constantine Hering was sent by a medical doctor of Leipzig University, in the early part of the 19th century, to debunk homeopathy. Instead, he recognized the brilliance and power of the medicine, had a total change of heart, and became one of the greatest contributors to homeopathy of all time.1 If homeopathy and other core naturopathic principles are phased out of the naturopathic programs, students will never have the opportunity to study homeopathy or discover how important and effective a medicine it is. Homeopathy is like the barometer of vitalism in a naturopathic college. Its removal from a program is a sign that a good part of the intelligence and wisdom of Nature has left the building.
To phase out the heart, soul, and light of naturopathic medicine is a catastrophic mistake. As I have shown, it means a good majority (~70%) of the graduating naturopathic students will be heavily steeped in suppressive allopathy and have next to no exposure to, or ability in, the more effective, truly healing modalities. We do humanity a disservice by cutting off the best parts of ourselves.
The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), my alma mater, has been the naturopathic college teaching the most homeopathy. However, with their curriculum revision, they will be reducing it considerably. The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) mandates that all accredited colleges teach homeopathy in the curriculum2; unfortunately, though, it fails to specify the minimum number of hours required to do so adequately. I feel this gives the 1-tracked allopathic machine the freedom to phase it out until it is nothing but a 1-hour introductory lecture in the first year.
CCNM has also just censured me from teaching my course, Holistic Counseling, in the Continuing Education (CE) department. This course, which I have taught for years, is a profound, life-changing course that shares the deep philosophy of holism and how to effectively apply mind-body medicine in practice – a discussion that appears to be all but missing from the colleges. I was told to not take it personally, and that the reason I was barred was because my course is not evidence-based. However, not all courses in the CE department are evidence-based, and the only criteria for whether or not a course is taught in the CE department include its popularity and ability to generate money for the college. I suspect that my books have played a role in this – The Revolution of Naturopathic Medicine and Holistic Counseling: Introducing the Vis Dialogue – 2 of the only books about philosophy and holism in naturopathy that have been written since Henry Lindlahr. This is also the second time I have been censured from teaching in the CE department at CCNM. The first time was back in 2004 when I published The Revolution. The reason, I was told, was that I was “going against what the college was trying to accomplish.”
What is “evidence-based,” really? There is lots of evidence for the medicines that this trend away from the vitalistic principles would be eliminating. Lots of scientific, validating studies. Plenty of evidence in patients feeling better and recovering. Ample evidence in practitioners applying age-old true principles and seeing great results. There are plenty of studies demonstrating the mind-body connection3 and the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on adult illness.4,5 There are entire countries grounded in studies from very reputable bodies of scientific research that recognize homeopathy as an official medicine of their country.6,7
We need to have rigor, certainly, and be sure that our methods work and “do no harm.” But a method “based in evidence” should not have to only resemble the myopic and restrictive formula that has been spawned from Big Pharma, biomedical sciences. Like a CIA mind-control technique that uses repetition of untrue information to convince people of its veracity, the phrase “evidence-based” has been continually shoved in our faces until we have actually come to believe that if the way of conducting medical research, education, and practice does not exactly follow the protocol that they have prescribed in their allopathic minutiae and myopia, then it has no legitimacy. It has become the zombie response for allopathic doctors reiterating utter nonsense. There are many other channels of evidence available to us, the best one being the inner knowing and experience that each human being is gifted with in this life. True science is open to discovering all of reality.
Double Standards & Ironies
There are a great many ironies here as well. First is the motivation to phase out the principles of our medicine for a mostly evidence-based curriculum. Public image is coming from the intention to appear credible to the conventional medical mind. However, conventional medicine itself is only slightly evidence-based.8 So why the double-standards for naturopathy? Not to mention that a close scrutiny of evidence-based practices in conventional medicine reveals extreme non-compliance of protocols and questionable conflicts of interest regarding pharmaceuticals.9 It really calls the whole enterprise into question, especially in attempting to apply it to principles-based naturopathy.
People want an authority to tell them how to value things, but they choose this authority not based on facts or results. They choose it because it seems authoritative and familiar.
(The Big Short movie)10
Another other irony in our emulation of conventional medical methodologies is that conventional medicine has already long demonstrated that it should no longer be the authoritative representation of medicine for our society, since it is incapable of offering any solutions for all the chronic diseases we face, other than aggressive, invasive, suppressive, and/or toxic treatments. These treatments do nothing to help improve a patient’s health, but rather divorce a person from the connection with his or her body. All the while, the number of deaths from iatrogenic disease increases, making conventional medicine the #1 killer in America.11 Would you ask for driving lessons from someone who has a driving record of countless accidents and whose car is falling apart?
Herein lies a glaring double standard for naturopathy: There are horrendous numbers of people dying daily at the hands of conventional medicine; however, should one naturopathic doctor be even remotely responsible for the death of a patient, a modern-day witch-hunt ensues, with the critics demanding the cessation of naturopathic medicine. It is foolish to fall into the trap of altering our course just to disprove these irrational and unjust accusations. Haters gonna hate.
In addition to that, while we are moving toward evidence-based medicine, many conventional medical doctors are moving away from it and toward “integrative medicine,”12 which is really a pseudonym for naturopathic medicine. Harvard13 and Maryland14 university medical centers, which have great credibility, are spearheading scientific research with cutting-edge Mind-Body departments. Naturopathic doctors, who have always recognized a “whole person” connection between the mind and the body, should be sitting down at the table with other pioneers of bio-medical “whole person” research. But we are ashamed to boldly embody our own principles, even while the very people we are trying to impress with theirs are already recognizing ours.15 Isn’t that horribly ironic? Will we wave as we pass each other by?
Honoring Who We Are
I’d like to add, as I feel it is necessary, that conventional medicine still fulfills a service for our society and will continue to provide this necessary role in heroic measures to save lives in extreme, acute emergency situations. I myself would not hesitate to refer a beloved family member, patient, or friend to a conventional medical doctor if I thought their life was in danger and the tools I had as a naturopathic doctor and homeopath were insufficient to save their life.
That aside, it’s quite clear that the conventional healthcare system is badly decrepit and ineffective at dealing with chronic ailments and many acute ailments as well, like the common cold and flu; yet people still inject it with life force by continuing to value it as the authority on health.
I predict we will never, ever change the opinion of those who still fail to see the false gods in conventional medicine and who maintain it as the authority on medicine. And, so, that should not be our goal. The naysaying opponents of mind-body vitalism are not even looking at the whole picture. It’s a sclerotic prejudice that is very hard to root out. Being so unflinching at discrediting us, they will not be satisfied until we are fastened tightly to their short leash, begging for our food, and rolling over and playing dead at their behest. It’s the same as those who target and condemn homeopathy as pseudoscience. They are not looking at all the existing scientific evidence, research, and published significant historical successes of homeopathy in times of major epidemics.16,17 The evidence for homeopathy is undeniable.18 So, then, how can anyone deny it? The ignorance of these facts is not scientific. It’s not even logical. The sad part is that, instead of leading humanity into healthier pastures, we are kowtowing to unscientific, willfully ignorant, and hateful prejudices.
The hard lesson now is that even though it’s more difficult and perhaps even more frightening to some, true and lasting reward always comes from embodying one’s true nature. And there is no coincidence that this lesson is the most important element for the health and well-being of any patient.
Moshe Daniel Block, ND, HMC
- Constantine Hering, M.D. WholeHealthNow Web site. http://www.wholehealthnow.com/bios/constantine-hering.html. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- Handbook of Accreditation for Naturopathic Medicine Programs. January, 2017. Council on Naturopathic Medical Education; Great Barrington, MA. Available at: http://www.cnme.org/resources/2017_cnme_handbook_of_accreditation.pdf. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- Mission and History: About the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine. Massachusetts General Hospital. Available at: https://www.bensonhenryinstitute.org/about/mission-and-history. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adverse Childhood Experiences. April 1, 2016. CDC Web site. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- Fellitti VJ, Anda RF, Nordenberg D, et al. Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults. Am J Prev Med. 1998;14(4):245-258.
- Swiss government gives homeopathy the same status as conventional medicine. December 2, 2016. The Aurum Project. Available at: https://aurumproject.org.au/3816-2/. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- Malik N. Worldwide Status and Growth of Homeopathy: World Health Organisation, Development, Global Scenario, Time-Line, Popularity. May 21, 2011. Available at: https://drnancymalik.wordpress.com/article/status-of-homeopathy/. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- Kumar S, Nash DB. Health Care Myth Busters: Is There a High Degree of Scientific Certainty in Modern Medicine? March 25, 2011. Scientific American. Available at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/demand-better-health-care-book/. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- Siegfried T. Evidence-based medicine actually isn’t. August 18, 2014. Science News. Available at: https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/context/evidence-based-medicine-actually-isnt. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- Lewis M. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. Detroit, MI: Large Print Press; 2011.
- Null G, Feldman M, Rasio D, Dean C. Death by Medicine. Available at: http://www.webdc.com/pdfs/deathbymedicine.pdf. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- Wang EA. East Meets West: How Integrative Medicine Is Changing Health Care. 2011. Explore Integrative Medicine. UCLA Web site. http://exploreim.ucla.edu/health-care/east-meets-west-how-integrative-medicine-is-changing-health-care/. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine. BensonHenryInstitute Web site. http://bensonhenryinstitute.org/. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. Mind-body medicine. Last reviewed October 2, 2011. UMM Web site. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/mindbody-medicine. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- Landau MD. Medical Schools Embrace Alternative Medicine. April 12, 2011. US News & World Report Web site. https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles/2011/04/12/medical-schools-embrace-alternative-medicine. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- Perko SJ. The Homeopathic Treatment of Influenza: Surviving Influenza Epidemics and Pandemics Past, Present and Future with Homeopathy. San Antonio, TX: Benchmark Homeopathic Publications; 2005.
- Golden I. Homoeopathic Immunisation Against Leptospirosis in Cuba. November, 2010. Homeopathy for Everyone Web site. http://hpathy.com/homeopathy-papers/homoeopathic-immunisation-against-leptospirosis-in-cuba/. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- Malerba L. In Defense of Homeopathy. October 5, 2015. GreenMedInfo Web site. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/defense-homeopathy. Accessed March 22, 2017.
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Moshe Daniel Block, ND, HMC is the author of The Revolution of Naturopathic Medicine: Remaining True to Our Philosophy, a book about the philosophy and practice of naturopathic medicine, and Holistic Counseling – Introducing the Vis Dialogue, a book about a breakthrough healing method uniting the worlds of Mind-Body Medicine & Psychology. He graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (Toronto, Ontario) in 2000. Dr Block then went on to complete the Homeopathic Master Clinician course with Louis Klein, FSHom, in 2003. He specializes in autoimmune illness and myasthenia gravis, a disease he was personally diagnosed as having and from which he has healed himself. He teaches the very wisdom and knowledge that helped him heal himself and others in his Holistic Counseling course for NDs (holistic-counseling.ca). Some of the other projects Dr. Block has worked on can be found at his private practice website (myasthenia-gravis-cure.com), his books website (nddoctor.net), Holistic Counseling (http://www.holistic-counseling.ca) and his global website (david-house-productions.com).