Naturopath Banned From Practice

A naturopath was banned from practice in Australia.

Most folks know that I support patients having choices to access a variety of therapies, including naturopathic medicine when offered by properly trained and credentialed practitioners. At the same time, nobody can close their eyes to true abuse when it occurs by poorly trained practitioners or those who give patients misleading information. There are all types in the complementary and alternative medicine world -- great healers who produce results that cannot be explained by contemporary science (unless one invokes 'new physics' and so on), and those who are ignorant, misinformed, misdirected, or otherwise dangerous. The essential debate around this has not changed in 250 years. Both light and shadow exist.

Here is a report of one naturopath who was sanctioned by authorities:
A NATUROPATH who diagnosed a patient with "pesticides" and a "fungal infection" in her blood after analysing a drop of it has been banned from practising alternative medicine after repeatedly exaggerating the benefits of his treatments.

In a series of advertisements in a Manly newspaper early last year, Jeremiah Jeffrey Hunter claimed his "live blood analysis", the examination under high-powered microscope of a single drop of a patient's blood, could reveal "various states of sub-par health".

"Are you sick of being sick? Need a cure?" asked the advertisement, which also included claims that Hunter, 39, was a "doctor of natural medicine" and that his treatment programs worked with a wide range of ailments including skin problems, food allergies, weight control, chronic fatigue syndrome and high blood pressure.

Under the name Jeffrey Dummett, Hunter was acquitted of manslaughter last year after a 37-year-old man with chronic kidney disease died after suspending his conventional treatment to follow the naturopath's regimen.

Hunter was convicted in 2001 for dispensing medical advice he was not qualified to give to a patient at his Lismore practice and for other offences relating to advertisements.

In 2002, Hunter was convicted of 22 offences under the Fair Trading Act for false advertising in Lismore. He was ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines and court costs and was put on a good behaviour bond.

In the NSW Supreme Court yesterday, Hunter was banned for life from practising a number of health services, including naturopathy, medical herbalism, iridology and blood analysis, after the advertisements were found to contravene the Fair Trading Act.
Now note that the charge appears to be a civil law claim, not a criminal action, and is probably something akin to U.S. laws against unfair and deceptive business practices. The case should serve as a warning, because "live blood cell" analysis is popular among some health care practitioners, and authorities can be dubious about claims that live blood cell analysis can reveal anything specific.

It does seem strange when "naturopathy, medical herbalism, iridology and blood analysis" are all lumped together, because along the lines of the argument that not all Ps are Qs, not all naturopathy contravenes 'fair trading' rules; not all medical herbalism is unsafe or ineffective; and as for irridology, I suppose a lot depends on belief systems, although I can see the argument for irridology based on systems such as ear acupuncture.

In any case, one should always steer clear of over-broad claims and promises of cure. Patients should not be dissuaded from conventional care or persuaded to undergo CAM therapies in lieu of necessary medical care. And statements about "various states of sub-par health" should be avoided, because they may or may not be meaningful, and even if meaningful, can be said or taken out of context, and make it appear as though a practitioner has crossed the line out of an authorized scope of practice, and into practicing medicine without a license.
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