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 07.05.2019

Naturopathy – an effective alternative or a load of hogwash?

About studies on the effectiveness of complementary medicine

Naturopathy and complementary medicine are generally a controversial topic, and opinions on them will often be associated with either extreme support or extreme rejection. To simply believe the occasionally crude and bold statements from a representative of one of the two sides would certainly not be fair – in view of the complexity of the subject. Ultimately, the question remains: what arguments are there for and against naturopathy?

Studies prove - naturopathy can certainly be evidence-based

One of the biggest criticisms often leveled by critics of naturopathy is that the effectiveness of complementary medicine is not based on evidence, unlike conventional medicine. This means that the success of naturopathic treatments will not be proven by studies.

There are indeed voices within the complementary-medicine movement that oppose the introduction of the same evidence-based standards as in conventional medicine. However, to judge naturopathy as a whole by this, would be a mistake. In fact, many theses on complementary medicine are also evaluated on the basis of studies. An overview can be found on the CAM-Quest portal (https://www.cam-quest.org/de) of the Carstens Foundation, among others, where many studies on various complementary-medicine topics are listed.

Anyone who thinks that only positive studies will be shown there because of the unique naturopathic-friendly position of the foundation, is wrong. In fact, the studies reflect the complexity of the topic well. Both supportive and opposing results are listed. This is no different than in conventional medicine.

Naturopathy: the effect of complementary medicine

Effect of complementary medicine evidenced in many studies

On the part of the Carstens Foundation, some of the most exciting study results from the field of naturopathy are explained in more detail and put into a larger context (https://www.carstens-stiftung.de/studien-kurz-und-knapp.html). Again, you should always maintain a critical eye here. One positive study on its own is not enough to ultimately assess the efficacy of a treatment. But in any case, it shows that the picture is not as clear-cut as critics of complementary medicine would like it to be. And it also becomes clear that a closer examination of the topic is needed.

Above all, a differentiation should always be made, because there are those who are only critical of a naturopathic treatment idea because someone else disproved it in their eyes. This rejection is not on the basis of evidence, but on the basis of the Person’s own prejudices. To lump all of the occasionally very different aspects of naturopathy and complementary medicine together is a gross simplification and not fair in view of the broad spectrum.

When naturopathy and conventional medicine complement each other

Naturopathy and conventional medicine - can they complement each other?

Instead of becoming fixated on one extreme, it's best to be open to all ideas. Naturheilzentrum Bottrop (‘nabo’ for short) sets a good example in this respect. The complementary medical treatments are not viewed here as being in opposition to conventional medical treatments, but rather in addition to them. Ultimately, the patient's wellbeing should come first, and not be placed behind the vanities of competing medical views.

This also includes the cooperation between naturopaths and doctors. Many People see worlds of differences between these two job titles, but the reality is more nuanced. Like doctors, naturopaths are obliged to undertake further education and must adhere to the same statutory requirements in many respects, as the portal https://www.heilpraktiker-fakten.de/ explains.  Thus, very high standards also apply to naturopaths in Germany.

Transparency in naturopathy

Transparency instead of misinformation

nabo works with transparency instead of spreading uncertainty with misinformation. This also includes pointing out alternatives. This is precisely where Naturheilzentrum Bottrop rises above the stubbornness with which the conflict between conventional and complementary medicine is often fought.

Ultimately, not only can the patients benefit from this, but so too can those who deal with the topic of naturopathy critically but openly. This was recently underlined again in an article published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2645149).

nabo regularly shares information on many health topics via its numerous online channels and, among other things, critically deals with naturopathic treatment approaches. For example, there is a new video on the nabo YouTube channel every month, in which the managers of the institute, Farid Zitoun and Christian Rüger dispense interesting background information and present specific tips on everyday health issues.

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*important note: till now, the statements met here concerning the effect and the interdependencies of the therapies and means are not accepted generally among scientific experts,particularly the orthodox medicine.

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