A Senate bill giving naturopathic practitioners more power makes for uneasy medicine

Beyond alarming. That’s our reaction to learning of Senate Bill 538’s passage in the California Senate. The bill, now in the Assembly, would expand the scope of practice for naturopathic practitioners in California to allow them to perform minor procedures and to prescribe some medications, including antibiotics. It would also allow naturopaths to take patients off medications prescribed by a physician.

This, from the same Legislature that is very sensibly moving forward to support evidence-based medicine where vaccination is concerned, can only be perceived as a step backward.

Naturopathic practitioners do not have the stringent internship, residency and board supervision that a medical doctor completes. What’s more, many naturopaths practice homeopathy.

For those who are unfamiliar with homeopathy, it’s based on the concept of diluting substances to an infinitesimal amount and then essentially prescribing the resulting water as a medicine.

And it’s about as far from science as you can get.

While we certainly don’t want to prevent adults from freely choosing alternative medicine, nor do we wish to discourage the ongoing scientific investigation of traditional and complementary medicine, we must strongly oppose the effort to expand naturopaths’ scope of services into the realm reserved for evidence-based medicine. The potential for harm to patients is simply too great, and so we must join the California Medical Association in urging that this bill be defeated.