Naturopaths in Sydney pharmacies! What has the world come to?

In my previous blog post I’ve written about the Honorary Fellowship that Western Sydney University (WSU) has bestowed upon the naturopath Judy Jacka – a true ‘leading Australian’. The day that a university openly gives credibility and legitimacy to naturopaths, then we must know that we are in for a rough ride. We should therefore not be surprised if they try and push the envelope, for example, by placing naturopaths in pharmacies. By giving this award to a naturopath, WSU has also given their unbridled support for the following:

“Energy and Subtle Healing, Flower Essence Therapy, Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy, Hypnotherapy, Meditation, Nutritional Therapy, Planetary and Human Ecology, Reflexology, Acupuncture, Acupressure, Alexander Technique, Aromatherapy, Ayurvedic Medicine, Bowen Therapy, Chiropractic, Colonic Irrigation, Colour Therapy, Counselling, Craniosacral Therapy, Crystal Healing, Feldenkrais, Hydrotherapy, Kinesiology, Mind/body Medicine, Myotherapy, Music Therapy, Musculoskeletal Therapy, Natural Vision Therapy, Osteopathy, Polarity Therapy, Reiki, Remedial Massage, Shiatsu, Spiritual Healing, Thought Field Therapy, and many types of traditional medicine, including Traditional Chinese Medicine.”

All of the above is what Judy Jacka actively endorse and promote. Was it not for the millions of dollars that Judy have donated to the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) hosted at WSU, one might consider this move by WSU to be absolutely crazy. Although, even with the millions of dollars, it is still completely ludicrous. WSU has now destroyed their scientific credibility for the sake of short term cash.

Recently there has been a report that Blackmores, also a sponsor of the NICM,  wants to place naturopaths in Australian pharmacies. As the argument goes, they want to ‘integrate’ the above complementary medicine modalities with mainstream conventional medicine. In the NICM’s latest newsletter, their one and only objective, the integration of CM with conventional medicine, is also clearly stated:

“Australia has a well-developed – and growing – complementary medicine research sector. Support for this sector through industry and government funding of research partnerships is critical for a number of reasons. Australians use complementary medicine and seek to integrate this use into their mainstream healthcare. Research will assist in the safe and effective integration of this medicine in practice. An environment that supports innovation and encourages greater investment in R&D leads to better outcomes for the community. The integration of different aspects of healthcare, complementary and conventional, needs to be driven by innovative science.”

A lot can be said about the above paragraph. Some thoughts below – by no means exhaustive.

  1. Australia has a relatively small CM research sector for obvious reasons. Most CM’s have been shown to be worthless and at best might produce a placebo effect. The risks can however be grave as was stated in the NHMRC homeopathy report.
  2. Support from government should focus on unbiased research into the risk-benefits of CM’s that has a reasonable scientific underpinning (e.g. should ‘colour therapy’ be studied?). The NICM has shown that they are biased towards CM as was demonstrated by their immediate rejection of the NHMRC Homeopathy report – without even considering the possibility that this report might actually be correct. Thus, their main objective is to integrate CM with mainstream conventional medicine and it has absolutely nothing to do with independent, unbiased scientific research.
  3. Based on the NICM’s modus operandi, the safe and effective integration of CM’s is not possible. In their view, all CMs are safe and effective (even Rhino horn) and no real research is needed, only ‘innovative’ research.
  4. It is apparently not the NICM or the CM industry that wants to integrate CM with mainstream medicine, but the Australian public that demands it. It is their fault! Problem is that most members of the public have limited scientific knowledge and therefore they trust scientists at universities to guide them through this ‘minefield’ of misinformation. The NICMs job is however to fool the Australian public by either remaining quiet about risks or fool them into believing that all CM’s are efficacious and safe. And now with the unbridled support of WSU, their deceit is only going to get worse.
  5. As usual not much is being said about the scientific evidence for a specific CM.
  6. etc. etc.

Unbridled support of all CMs by WSU and the NICM – and some other universities around the world- will have a detrimental impact on science, scientific education and society as a whole. Placing naturopaths in pharmacies will only be the start of things to come. It is easy to fool people who do not have the knowledge of a specific scientific field. However, you have to be an excellent salesman, being able to sell sand to an Arab, without any ethics to station naturopaths, like Judy Jacka, trained by the NICM in pharmacies.

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