Date Published: September 15, 2011
Publisher: BioMed Central
Author(s): Timothy Caulfield, Christen Rachul.
The increasing popularity of complementary and alternative medicines in Canada has led to regulatory reforms in Ontario and British Columbia. Yet the evidence for efficacy of these therapies is still a source of debate. Those who are supportive of naturopathic medicine often support the field by claiming that the naturopathic treatments are supported by science and scientific research.
To compare provinces that are regulated and unregulated, we examined the websites of 53 naturopathic clinics in Alberta and British Columbia to gain a sense of the degree to which the services advertised by naturopaths are science based.
There were very few differences between the provinces in terms of the types of services offered and conditions treated. Many of the most common treatments–such as homeopathy, chelation and colon cleanses–are viewed by the scientific community to be of questionable value and have no scientific evidence of efficacy beyond placebo.
A review of the therapies advertised on the websites of clinics offering naturopathic treatments does not support the proposition that naturopathic medicine is a science and evidence-based practice.
In recent years, naturopathic medicine has gained popularity as a form of primary care. In fact, a recent Canadian study found that 13% of children with asthma used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to treat their asthma . With this increase in popularity, a number of provinces have granted more official status to these and other CAM practitioners , including regulatory reform in Ontario and British Columbia (BC) that expanded naturopaths’ scope of practice to include allergy testing and treatment, as well as new prescribing rights, among other things.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
TC designed the study, CR collected the data, both authors contributed to drafts of the manuscript and approved the final manuscript.