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Opinion: Naturpathy: Unproven, dangerous choice for babies

It was shocking to see Ellie Reinhardt’s story (Consider these natural alternatives in baby care, July 18) that claims that naturopathy offers parents a safe alternative to working with a pediatric MD. This was an advertisement disguised as a news article, even providing contact information. The lack of editorial oversight is particularly troubling when the subject is medical care of babies. We expect news reports on controversial topics to present different points of view. The typically responsible editors of the Addison Independent unfortunately failed us this time. (They also fail us when they don’t label as an advertisement the regular Wellness Directory.)
Naturopath Katina Martin is quoted as saying, “It’s what our ancestors used and what makes sense.” If she is referring to “naturopathy,” the term was first used in 1895, so not many ancestors could have used it. If she is referring, rather, to pre-scientific treatments over the longer history of humans, our ancient ancestors had a life expectancy of 35 years, and 30 percent-40 percent of children died before the age of one. In more recent centuries, blood-letting was a standard treatment, and in my lifetime polio was common.
She also states that newborns only need sleep and good nutrition. She does not mention that they also need vaccinations.
Reinhardt writes that “the naturopathic approach harnesses … manipulative therapeutics….” (chiropractic). In reality these treatments are not supported by science, and can be dangerous.
Further, she writes ”where a conventional approach would use antibiotics or other prescription drugs, naturopathy focuses on causes within the body.” The implication is that proven medications don’t work on causes within the body. This is ludicrous. And parents who avoid administering antibiotics, when appropriate, to their seriously ill children can put them at terrible risk.
Martin claims that eczema is usually caused by food. I can’t find any scientific support for this claim.
The story states that acupuncture, herbs, and homeopathy can be helpful. Briefly, science has yet to find the qi and meridians upon which acupuncture is based, herbal nostrums vary widely in content and can be dangerous, and homeopathic pills have no active ingredients.
“Alternative medicine” is a marketing term. In reality, there is just medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t. In order to find out which is which, researchers use science, and MDs go where the science goes. Naturopaths don’t. Their training and licensure don’t require it, and there is no external oversight that demands it.
Jerome Shedd
Ripton

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