by Sean Croxton
It’s a name I’ve been called one, two, maybe 597 times since I launched this website.
To be honest, I’ve embraced the term as my own little badge of courage, as I patiently await the day when I have my own profile page on Quackwatch.org. Sometimes I wonder what’s taking them so darn long! I’m so looking forward to throwing myself a party where we all dress up like ducks.
Considering how dear I hold the word quack to this big heart of mine, you can probably imagine how geeked up I was last week when I opened up a package and found inside of it a book entitled If Naturopaths are Quacks…Then I Guess I’m a Duck: Confessions of a Naturopath by Dr. Shauna K. Young.
If you know me, you know that I have a stack of at least 30 books in what I call my On Deck Circle, each waiting to be read and blogged about. But with such an awesome title, this particular book jumped to the front of the line. Creativity and a sense of humor go a long way with me.
Speaking of a sense of humor, Dr. Young’s wit and rib-tickling personality quickly become apparent through her writing style. Think Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution or even my own The Dark Side of Fat Loss. She’s got quite a bit of edu-tainer in her. Which makes for a fun and engaging read.
Comedy aside, If Naturopaths are Quacks is also a serious — and quite surreal — look at the state of our health care system: the quarreling among different kinds of doctors (even those who would appear to be on the same side), the laws that dictate what an alternative practitioner can and cannot say and do, the cost of losing a prescription drug user to a natural protocol, and the ever-growing tension between those solely concerned with empirical evidence and those who care more about getting results.
If you’ve ever wondered what an alternative practitioner — naturopath, chiropractor, acupuncturist, etc. — must go through on a daily basis just to pursue his or her great passion of coaching clients back to health through natural means, Dr. Young pretty much sums it up. The miracles. The frustrations. The stigma. The you’ve-gotta-be-friggin-kidding me moments. They’re all in there.
As a semi-retired Functional Diagnostic Nutrition practitioner myself, Dr. Young literally had me at hello when in chapter two she listed and described a handful of client-types we often come across, including:
* The Self-Medicators
* The List Makers
* The “I Feel Funny” Folks
* The “Yes, buts”
If you’re a health practitioner you know all about these types just by looking at their names. If you’re not, you may want to pick up the book and see if the descriptions sound like you or someone you know.
Sometimes clients forget that in order to be helped, they need to be willing to DO the work, to take the supplements, to eat the right foods, to drink enough water, to move their bodies, to follow the program, and to be patient. Please, be patient!
That’s how it’s supposed to work.
But in reality, we as alternative practitioners often find ourselves banging our heads against our desks because half the time our clients want to follow their own programs. Or they try the diet for a day and quit because a health challenge they’ve had for 10 years did not disappear after 3 meals. Or they refuse to take the recommended natural supplements out of fear and skepticism, but are perfectly content to be on five different medications, each with a list of side effects as long as my right forearm. Many times, the health challenge they are hoping to get rid of is a side effect of one or more of the drugs being taken! Go figure.
And don’t even get me started on those folks who think that alternative health services should be free. You don’t even want to know how many times I’ve been told that if I really want to help people, I shouldn’t do it for profit. Really? The last time I paid my bills I couldn’t put “helped 3 people get healthy this month” on the line where the dollar amount goes.
It’s these very same people who will be perfectly content to spend their $30 co-pay to see a doctor for seven whole minutes and leave with a prescription for a drug that causes side effects that will require yet another drug. Let’s also not forget that that prescription never comes with any plan for how to get off of the drug!
The crazy part of this is that the care described above is what we call “standard”, while the care given by drug-free, natural, get-to-the-root-cause health practitioners is called “alternative”.
Alternative to what?
As Dr. Young points out, “there is evidence of herbs being used medicinally all the way back to Neanderthals, and the extremely well preserved ‘Ice Man’ they found in Switzerland (a Cro-Magnon) had some of the very same mushrooms in his possession that I use for health purposes today.”
Otzi the Iceman was NOT carrying Prozac, Paxil, or Vioxx. Natural medicine has been around for ages. Most of the top-selling drugs we take these days weren’t around in the 90s!
Who you calling “alternative”?
Pardon me, but The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) ranked medical doctors as the number-one cause of death in the U.S. Not naturopathic, alternative doctors. No, medical doctors! Numero uno.
Dr. Young writes, “one recent JAMA study attributed 2,036,884 unnecessary deaths per year directly to the American medical system.
Don’t believe me? Just google “iatrogenic illness”, better known as doctor-induced death. And once you read up on it, ponder why you may have never heard of this alarming statistic before now. Then imagine what would happen if just one — JUST ONE — person died today at the hands of their “alternative” doctor. Lead story on CNN. Front page news. Picketing in front of your local chiropractor’s office.
Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. This book review has quickly morphed into a rant. My bad, peeps. Allow me to pump my brakes for a moment before some of you guys get the wrong idea here.
No, I am not saying that all medications — and the doctors who prescribe them — are bad. Not even. I actually think that there is a place for the allopathic pharmaceutical approach. And anyone who can get through medical school can’t possibly be mistaken for an outright idiot. Kapeesh?
And if you just happened to wonder how I could write such things about some of my former clients above, it’s not a diss by any means. In fact, working with real people — hearing the excuses, stories, and outright lies that come out of some of their mouths — is what led me to understand why our take-this-pill health care system is the way it is.
When the majority of a doctor’s patients are unwilling to do the work, eat the diet, and change the lifestyle, what else are we left with?
When the patients want what’s convenient, pills are what they get. This isn’t rocket science. The medical docs aren’t always the problem. The patients play a ginormous role in all of this. Spend a year working with real people and you’ll learn this soon enough.
Now back to the book.
As I read about Dr. Young’s experiences with medical doctors who typically tend to blow her off as some kind of fake doctor who doesn’t know her stethoscope from her thermometer, I wondered what her naturopathic peers thought of her.
Why, you ask?
Well, because I noticed the letters CTN behind her name. CTN means Certified Traditional Naturopath. A couple of years ago, I learned about a naturopath-on-naturopath squabble going on that at the time did not make a whole lot of sense to me. To get the whole scoop, Dr. Young goes into all of the details in her book.
But the way it was described to me when I first heard of this naturopathic beef is that naturopathic doctors who went to medical schools are not the biggest fans of those traditional naturopaths who learned their craft through an approved correspondence school. In reference to the correspondence schools in question, Dr. Young writes, “Not some diploma mill that churns out degrees to any creep with a hundred bucks. An approved school. Readin’ writin’ and ‘rithmatic.”
I told you she was funny.
Words of wisdom: the last thing you EVER want to do when in the company of an ND — naturopathic doctor — is refer to a CTN — clinical traditional naturopath — as a naturopathic doctor. I did it once and nearly had my head taken off!
Just saved your life.
In fact, many (but not all) NDs refer to traditional naturopaths as “UnDs”. I’ve heard a good handful of stories about CTNs not being allowed entry into conferences due to this feud.
Sheesh…can’t we all just get along.
When it comes to medical doctors in general, alternative practitioners get little, if any, respect. I can speak from experience on this one.
There was the time when a client of mine who had been dealing with digestive complaints for the last decade (not kidding!) tested positive for H. Pylori (a bacterial infection typically found in the stomach) on a stool test we ran. When he showed his doctor the results, he was told not to worry about the infection, it was nothing to worry about, so therefore it should not be treated. Never mind the fact that H. Pylori is well known to cause ulcers as well as stomach and duodenal cancer. And let’s just forget about the fact that it is highly transmittable through fluids, even saliva. Nope, no big deal. Just let it ride.
I can go on and on with stories just like that one. Dr. Young has a million of them. The ones in her book will have your neck sore from shaking your head so much.
Anyway, I didn’t plan on this blog being a long rant about how being a naturopath — or any other type of alternative health practitioner — can suck to the high heavens. No, my point is that despite all of the crap that gets flung in their direction, these practitioners just keep on trucking.
No amount of name-calling, discriminatory lawmaking, or pharmaceutical shenanigans can stand in the way of them and their missions to help real people maintain or regain health.
My main man John Demartini says that for every right, there is a wrong, and for every good, there is a bad. Being a traditional naturopath (or naturopathic doctor) is not all sunshine and rainbows. But when the sun shines, it shines bright. And when the storm breaks, the rainbows are some of the most beautiful you will ever see.
Despite being called a quack 597 times, I had never looked into where the negative connotation came from. Thanks to Dr. Young, I found out this morning. Turns out the term comes from the Dutch language. At the marketplace, those who sold snake oil and other cures were said to be so loud that they sounded like ducks.
Like Dr. Young, I am a duck and very proud of my quack. But you won’t catch me quacking about snake oil. Instead, I’ll quack my ass off about the results I have gotten with my clients, the care I feel for them as real people who want nothing more than to feel well, and my ability to help them to help themselves.
There are a good handful of people on this Earth who swear they would not be here if they never worked with me, heard my radio show, read my blog, or watched my videos.
There are three or four once-frustrated couples struggling to conceive who got pregnant after changing their lifestyles, eating real foods, and removing internal and external stressors naturally through my program.
There are literally thousands of UW Radio podcasters who have sent me big, long emails about how an “alternative” doctor who appeared on my show gave him or her the missing link to a long-standing health problem that the standard allopathic approach couldn’t figure out.
So, my hat is off to all of the alternative practitioners around the world. Your jobs are not easy but the rewards make it all worth it.
I encourage you, the reader, to check out If Naturopaths are Quacks today. It’s a real page-turner, eye-opener, and knee-slapper. I’ll see what I can do about getting Dr. Young on the radio show soon. She has some ideas about autism and manganese toxicity that more people need to know about.
Results. They can get you into big trouble these days. At the very least, they’ll have someone out there calling you a quack.
We’ll take it.
Maybe This Blog Will Finally Get Me on Quackwatch. I’m Ready to Party with my Duck Suit On!