Commentary | Relying on conventional medicine alone is whack

Re: “Naturopathic medicine is whack” | Commentary | March 15

Riva Gold’s portrayal of naturopathic medicine in North America is skewed, uninformed, and unfairly extreme.

Currently, in order to become a naturopathic doctor (ND), one must undergo four years of rigorous instruction and clinical practice at an accredited school; this includes a study of biomedical science, physiology, and anatomy, in addition to alternative healing techniques. There are only two accredited institutions in Canada which offer this program and only six in all of North America. Not just anyone can call themselves an ND.

Secondly, many of the drugs that are produced and sold by pharmaceutical companies come from natural sources themselves, and are only synthetically created in the lab so that they can be patented (because no one can patent a plant or herb). An example of this is tetrahydrocannabinol, the medical ingredient in cannabis, which is synthetically produced and sold as “Dronabinol” by pharmaceutical companies.

I am arguing that naturopathic medicine should not necessarily be used as the sole form of medical treatment, but should be combined with conventional medicine to form a more complete system. I would venture to say that the majority of naturopathic physicians would agree with me on this (I have spoken to a few reputable NDs about this very topic). Likewise, I do not believe that the average person should depend solely on conventional drugs to temporarily rid them of symptoms, without addressing the underlying causes of the illness. Instead, naturopathic medicine should be understood as a complementary approach to healing that can bring many benefits to the overall, long-term health of the Canadian population, largely through prevention and a focus on addressing diet and lifestyle (which, I might add, are an underlying cause of the biggest killer in North America – cardiovascular disease).

Alison Bruni
BSc ’09 Biomedical Sciences