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Licensing Alternative Medicine Practitioners in Arkansas

by Stephen Propatier

December 19, 2012

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Donate The Arkansas House of Representatives has recently proposed a bill to license Alt. Med practitioners specifically Naturopathic Practitioners.

This was a television news report broadcast by KARK in Arkansas. " Naturopathic medicine becoming more popular in the Natural State as more people frequently turn to alternative healing. According to the Arkansas Naturopathic Physician's Association however, people trained in this field seem to be leaving the state for greener pastures. This could be changing with a recent bill filed. Rather than leave for a state that recognizes their field, they could stay here. As it is now, there's no legal way to license a naturopathic practitioner in Arkansas and some who want to practice but follow the law say it has opened the door for people who don't. Ann Arouh for example is licensed, but only in Oregon. She just helps out in her husbands general practice/primary care physicians office right here in Arkansas. A recent bill filed in the Arkansas Legislature, House Bill 1011, could allow her to practice the alternative medicine she's educated in and worked hard for. "It means that I could see patients," Arouh said. "I could do my diagnosis, I could do all the proper intakes, I could do the office procedures, order the labs... take better care of my patients."

This report had all the usual alt med logical fallacies. Argument of Popularity common in alt medicine. Blood letting was very popular for thousands of years. I am not a fan myself. There are the usual warnings that unlicensed alt med practitioners are somehow more dangerous that the licensed kind. This is a common quack medicine argument "look out there may be quacks practicing my quackery you need to legalize me to stop them.".

This law, as reported by the television news segment, focuses on licensing naturopaths. 16 States and 5 canadian provinces already has such a law. Unfortunately, naturopathy is a group of mostly unscientific treatment based on vitalism and other prescientific notions of disease. As a result, typical naturopaths are more than happy in essence to "pick one from column A and one from column B" when it comes to pseudoscience, mixing and matching treatments including traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, herbalism, Ayurvedic medicine, applied kinesiology, anthroposophical medicine, reflexology, craniosacral therapy, Bowen Technique, and pretty much any other form of unscientific or prescientific medicine that you can imagine. Despite their affinity for non-science-based medical systems, naturopaths crave the imprimatur of science. As a result, they desperately try to represent what they do as being science-based, and they've even set up research institutes, much like the departments, divisions, and institutes devoted to "complementary and alternative medicine" (CAM) that have cropped up on the campuses of legitimate medical schools and academic medical centers. Naturopaths don't like it when they encounter criticism that their "discipline" is not science-based. In fact, though, every school of naturopathy whose curriculum I've ever examined includes homeopathy as a requirement, even as the AANP requires and defends homeopathy. It's no wonder, too. There is actually a North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners, just like medicine's National Board of Medical Examiners. The NABNE even has a certifying examination, just like real doctors! It's all science-y and medicine-y, too, with all the trappings of science-based medicine but none of the rigor. This examination, the NPLEX (Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations), which is required for naturopaths to be licensed in the sixteen states and five Canadian provinces that license naturopathic physicians tests naturopaths on homeopathy

I am against medical pseudoscience being legally licensed in another state. What is interesting about this story is that I can find no evidence of an actual bill in the Arkansas house of representatives. I have emailed a request to the reporter questioning where the bill is, and who is the sponsor. So far no response. I have done some research at the government website but the only bill coded HB1011 for this year is a finance bill that has nothing to do with alt med.

At this point I can only conclude that it is real but so far I have no dis-confirming or confirming evidence. It begs the question is this some government alt med proponent testing the water to see the response? Real bill or "testing the waters" this needs to be knocked down quickly. I am very concerned that "Ann Arouh ND" may be able to; diagnose, perform office procedures and laboratory work on her "Patients". Maybe, if this law is stopped, naturopaths will leave Arkansas. I would call this Arkansas medical addition by subtraction. More likely they will continue their slow erosion of science based medicine.

Licensed quackery is still quackery. Every time pseudoscience is legitimized it erodes the the safety and efficacy of treatment in that state. In my opinion being licensed to practice magic does not make the illusion real.

by Stephen Propatier

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