Medicine and Naturopathy Bridging the Gap

medicine and naturopathy

 Medicine and Naturopathy –  Snake Oil in the 21st Century 

Naturopaths have often been likened to Snake Oil salesmen. (1) I remember being humiliated on ABC radio as a regular guest on the popular National Nightlife program with Tony Delroy in the late 1990s. Tony had invited a doctor along to the studio one evening. This doctor proclaimed that all naturopaths were snake oil salesmen and that naturopathic medicine had no scientific basis.  “If that was the case”, I asked “why do my patients’ health improve when prescribed naturopathic remedies”. He responded that my ‘charming smile’ must be medicinal. 


‘Truth Passes Through Three Stages:

  • First, It Is Ridiculed.
  • Second, It Is Violently Opposed.
  • Third, It Is Accepted As Self-Evident’

Attributed to Arthur Schopenhauer

Naturopaths were prescribing probiotics 30 years ago, well before mainstream acceptance of the importance of the gut’s microbiome.  Fish oil, St. John’s wort, zinc, vitamin D, and turmeric were prescribed decades before the studies proving their efficacy.

It is reassuring to witness naturopathy catching up with science. Or is science catching up with natural therapies? We were once mocked for suggesting that people cut back on sugar—the same reaction for recommending whole grains over refined flour foods.  

 Naturopathic Bubble

 Fortunately, I live in a bubble. I teach students who want to become naturopaths, I treat patients who wish to be treated by a naturopath, and local health professionals, including GP’s who enjoy working collaboratively, refer their patients to me. 

I am under no illusion that not all is peachy in the world of natural health.  There are indeed snake oil salesmen and women.  Weight loss tea, anyone? Cure cancer with vegetable juice! Scary indeed. 

A Meeting of Minds

Nowadays, the minimum requirement for Naturopaths, herbalists and nutritionists is a Bachelor’s degree in their discipline.  This qualification is required to be accepted by major associations such as the NHAA.   Alongside the qualifications of natural therapists there is an avalanche of peer reviewed journal articles and studies affirming the efficacy of herbal remedies, vitamins, minerals and other therapies that used to be the domain of ‘quacks’ and ‘charletans’.  

My fervent hope is that, in the not-too-distant future, natural therapists will be valued members of a therapeutic team of health professionals who have one goal in mind: the well-being of their patients. 

Book a naturopathic consultation with me.  I can’t promise any snake oil!

(1) Although nowadays ‘snake oil’ has bad press as sham medicine, apparently, the original snake oil used in the 1800s contained omega 3 fatty acids, similar to fish oil, and just may have been a really helpful medicine.