My Turn: Consumer Reports is off-base on Natural Medicine

For the Monitor
Friday, February 16, 2018

‘Did you see the article in Consumer Reports on naturopaths?” my friend asked.

I had not yet received the March issue, which to my dismay has a front-page headline, “The Health Risks of ‘Natural’ Medicine”. My friend knows I’m an avid supporter of our local naturopathic doctor. The article cautions its members to think twice when considering a naturopath.

As a long-time subscriber to Consumer Reports, I appreciate the fact they are not beholden to any manufacturer whose product they test. The magazine and its reports are the first place I turn to when I’m considering purchasing a new car, mattress or other tangible consumer product.

But, when it comes to health and nutrition, Consumer Reports lags behind. It took the magazine many years before it included natural and organic foods in its reviews, and to acknowledge they often taste better, and are better for you. When it comes to natural vs. conventional medicine, they sadly remain in the Dark Ages.

The current article, “How ‘Natural’ Can Hurt You,” is filled with misinformation, such as: “Naturopathic practitioners resist drugs and surgery” and “Many keystones of naturopathic care, such as homeopathy and intravenous vitamin treatment, haven’t been scientifically proved.”

Consumer Reports warns of using unlicensed naturopaths. The same could be said of using any unlicensed practitioner. Buyer beware! There are quacks in every profession. The author quotes several known skeptics of alternative medicine, but not a single naturopathic doctor or patient.

Our local naturopath is a licensed medical professional, an ND. She is well versed in both conventional and alternative medicines. She interfaces with New London Hospital and Dartmouth Hitchcock, and recommends surgery and conventional medical tests when appropriate. Medicare and other insurance cover most office visits to her, just as they cover visits to an MD.

Unlike an MD, she’s normally right on schedule, and takes 30 to 60 minutes for an appointment. You sit and talk with her, face to face. Among the tools at her disposal are homeopathic medicines, herbal remedies, and nutritional supplements. She has a thriving practice and is in great demand in our rural region.

Consumer Reports’ claim that homeopathy has not been scientifically proved is simply not true.

There have been numerous studies proving its efficacy.

I challenge Consumer Reports to test the medicines the same way they test anything else. Rather than rely on the testimony of those already prejudiced against them, as they do in this article, have the Consumer Reports staff use homeopathic medicine during this awful flu season.

Many will find they are able to counteract any symptoms as they arise, preventing the flu from taking hold.

They might ask their staff to try homeopathic Arnica next time they get bruised, Apis when stung by a bee, Nux Vomica for a hangover, or Gelsemium at the onset of flu symptoms. The results are often instant, and remarkably effective, with no side effects. Empirical evidence is the cornerstone of Consumer Reports. It’s time they applied it to natural medicine as well.

They could ask Consumer Reports subscribers how many of them use homeopathic remedies and would recommend them? Homeopathy is a form of medicine you would expect Consumer Reports to support. It’s effective, a very good value, does no harm, and is readily available.

In this day of ever more outrageous pharmaceutical costs, homeopathic medicines cost pennies per dose. And since the pharmaceutical companies cannot patent them, their interest is only in seeing them go away, an effort the FDA is currently pursuing.

One of the more galling assumptions made by this article, and others like it, is that people who frequent naturopaths or homeopaths are stupid. Why else would they continue to seek help from these quacks? The concept that people are actually smart enough to know when they are being helped seems foreign to these presumed authorities.

The reason millions of people around the world turn to naturopaths, homeopaths, chiropractors, osteopaths, acupuncturists, and Chinese Medicine, is because they get results! The vast majority of these people also use conventional MD’s when needed, but for most, their local holistic practitioner serves as their primary, and is often able to help.

Consumer Reports correctly states that naturopathic medicine’s “approach to healthcare is based on the belief that the human body possesses “an inherent self-healing’ ability.” But the statement suggests there’s something amiss with this belief, despite the fact it refers to our immune system, the body’s primary healing mechanism.

All holistic approaches attempt to bolster our immune system, whether through herbs, homeopathic medicines, nutritional supplements, or stimulating and balancing the flow of energy with acupuncture.

So many conventional treatments, from cold, flu, and allergy medicines, to radiation and chemotherapy, suppress symptoms, and our immune system as well. They often have side effects that may be as bad as the condition they’re designed to help, sometimes leading to additional medications to offset those side effects.

Cancer researchers are now using the immune system of patients in a promising field of treatment that does not have the ill effects of radiation and chemotherapy. One of my friends is having positive results from a clinical trial that charged his system with his own cancer fighting T cells. Seeing him regain his strength and vigor after years of debilitating cancer treatments is very encouraging.

It’s unfortunate that Consumer Reports, in this article, makes inaccurate statements that are not based on their own tests. I hope in future reports they will subject homeopathic medicines, herbal supplements and other natural therapies to the same rigorous in-house testing they use for a bicycle or washing machines.

(Sol Solomon lives in Sutton.)