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Supported by science?: What Canadian naturopaths advertise to the public

DOI: 10.1186/1710-1492-7-14

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Abstract:

To compare provinces that are regulated and unregulated, we examined the websites of 53 naturopathic clinics in Alberta and British Columbia to gain a sense of the degree to which the services advertised by naturopaths are science based.There were very few differences between the provinces in terms of the types of services offered and conditions treated. Many of the most common treatments--such as homeopathy, chelation and colon cleanses--are viewed by the scientific community to be of questionable value and have no scientific evidence of efficacy beyond placebo.A review of the therapies advertised on the websites of clinics offering naturopathic treatments does not support the proposition that naturopathic medicine is a science and evidence-based practice.In recent years, naturopathic medicine has gained popularity as a form of primary care. In fact, a recent Canadian study found that 13% of children with asthma used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to treat their asthma [1]. With this increase in popularity, a number of provinces have granted more official status to these and other CAM practitioners [2], including regulatory reform in Ontario and British Columbia (BC) that expanded naturopaths' scope of practice to include allergy testing and treatment, as well as new prescribing rights, among other things.However, the growth in naturopathic medicine has not been welcomed by all. Many critics contend that naturopathy treatments are not supported by scientific evidence [3]. Others have gone so far as to suggest that naturopathy is "no more based on science than astrology" and that it is just "a hodgepodge of alternative healthcare practices that are said to boost the body's natural healing powers" [4]. The lack of scientific evidence in naturopathic practices has been a particular concern for health professionals in the context of allergy and asthma [5,6].In response, a variety of commentators, including many involved in the profession, have stated that

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