EDMONTON (AB) — Regulation to ensure safety is a good goal, but Albertans should be concerned by the recent announcement by the Alberta Government regarding naturopathy. The July 25 release about the regulation and recognition of states, “… Albertans can be assured they are receiving safe, effective services from qualified professionals,” yet they refer to treatments that have been shown to be unsafe and ineffectual.
“The government is legitimizing forms of medicine that, after repeated studies, have not been shown to work — grounds to consider it ineffective medicine,” says Greater Edmonton Skeptics Society spokesperson Marc-Julien Objois.
Naturopathy largely consists of treatments that have not demonstrated efficacy in scientific trials. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a US government agency, has spent more than $2.5 billion researching these treatments, with only ginger showing efficacy — an expense not worth the return — yet treatments continue worldwide.
Moreover, while some treatments are outright harmful, even those not directly harmful often cause patients to forgo seeking proper treatment — potentially leading to serious harm or death.
Lending legitimacy to ineffective forms of treatment is not the right move for our government, and is bad for average Albertans trying to navigate the vast, often complicated field of healthcare. While true that many swear by these treatments, the impression that they work can be more psychological than physical. The placebo effect, combined with cognitive biases in both practitioners and patients, can all-too-easily lead people to the wrong conclusions. Our government has a duty to assist Albertans seeking care by promoting the right treatments. This announcement displays a concerning lack of judgement for the future of our healthcare.
“This could be a stepping stone to tax money going toward ineffective treatment.” Objois says. “It also increases the likelihood that Albertans will seek out ineffective treatments over effective ones.”
One aspect in particular that should be alarming is the naturopathic use of chelation therapy. The FDA’s research on the naturopathic / alternative use of chelation therapy is a chilling read when considered in the light of the Alberta Government’s apparent stance.
“There are serious safety issues associated with chelation products, which can alter the levels of certain substances in the blood,” the FDA says. “Even when used under medical supervision, these products can cause serious harm, including dehydration, kidney failure, and death.”
To help keep Albertans on the right track when it comes to healthcare, our government should take a more realistic, unbiased look at naturopathy and reconsider this action.
“We as a group hope to bring this to the attention of Albertans so they can inform themselves and contact their government officials.” Objois says, “The mere fact that the government of Alberta is legitimizing practices that seem ineffective should be of concern to Albertans. Citizens should be free to choose even ineffective medical practices, but our governing bodies should act in the best interest of the public.”
Get your skeptic and secular holiday spirit on at Snowed In, the official joint winter social hosted by the Greater Edmonton Skeptic Society, the Society of Edmonton Atheists, CFI Edmonton, and the University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics.
Swing by Accent Lounge on Friday, November 25, 2011 anytime after 8pm to mix and mingle with science enthusiasts, skeptical thinkers and atheists from all across Edmonton and the surrounding areas. Accent Lounge is providing us with food, wine and draft beer specials for the evening, and while there is no door charge to get into the event, we do encourage all attendees to bring Edmonton Food Bank items.
There will be a “photo booth” at Accent all night long with a box full of seasonal props, so come and get your holiday photo taken as a souvenir of the festivities for a loonie a photo. The premier entertainment for the evening will be the Trivializing Christmas Trivia Contest, the winner of which will earn the reward of picking a charity to receive all proceeds from the photo booth. We encourage all attendees to bring a cash donation at the door, and come ready to win for their charity of choice!
When: Friday, November 25, 2011
Where: Accent Lounge, 8223 – 104 Street
What Time: 8:00pm to Midnight
If you liked our SkeptiCamp, you’ll love LogiCON: a day-long all-ages event celebrating science and logic including presentations on alternative medicine, vaccinations, psychic abilities and other pseudosciences. Think critically about everyday life in workshops and discussions. LogiCON will take place on April 9th, 2011 at the Telus World of Science.
This event will feature a variety of speakers, with a keynote from Daniel Loxton, editor of Junior Skeptic.
LogiCON will be targeted to skeptics, kids, and the general public, and will feature workshops as well as talks. Check the LogiCON schedule for more information and a list of speakers / topics.
The event will be free to attend, but you must pay admission to the Telus World of Science. Register for LogiCON to reserve your free lunch before it fills up.