An open letter to Dr. Peter Lipson (Sinead O’Connor style)

I recently read this article:

I was looking for a way to procrastinate studying for my upcoming exams so I decided to respond in this trendy “open-letter” format.

Dear Dr. Lipson,

I am a first-year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine.  I have seen a significant amount of negative press on this career and I still chose this route over the conventional medical route.

I am not a blind follower.  I do not believe in magic.  I am not at war with any other type of medicine.  I am skeptical at every turn and if one method of treatment proves itself 100% effective, then I will advocate it, be it extremely invasive or waving a magic wand.  If it works, it works.

Being skeptical of naturopathic medicine is absolutely essential.  Dr. Lipson, I welcome and accept your criticisms.  I, as a student, am skeptical.  If, at any point, I suspect my medical education is sub-par or my conventional medicine colleagues appear to surpass my level of education, I will speak out.  I will drop out of NCNM and apply to a conventional medical school.

You seem to imply in your article and subsequent comments that naturopathic physicians are relatively uneducated, blindly following a “belief” in spite of evidence based medicine.

I am an inexperienced first year student and I cannot yet speak for the entire profession so I will only speak of my own individual opinion.  I am going to school to help people, the same as any other medical student.  I do not study naturopathic medicine to spite anything.  I am not uneducated.  Many of my undergraduate colleagues have gone on to conventional medical school.  We received the same grades and took the same classes.

Naturopathic medicine has saved my life as a patient.  I was cured with remedies that have no solid research behind them.  Before my trip to the naturopathic physician, I saw multiple conventional doctors and exclusively used evidence based remedies.

I saw the ND out of desperation.  I gave conventional medicine 10 years to cure me and after 10 years of consistent decline, I saw an ND without even knowing what it was.  I didn’t care.  It was different than the doctors who had been contributing to my sickness.  After 4 months of this medicine with no evidence, I no longer needed any medication.  I eventually transformed from a sickly asthmatic, reliant on pharmaceuticals, to a competitive athlete free from any drugs.

Now here’s the issue, and here’s where we need skeptics such as yourself: There are so many of these non-evidence based remedies being tossed around.  Which ones work?  Which are harmful?  I am sure that some of this stuff is garbage while some of it is gold.  Show me.

Writing an article that says “naturopathic medicine is wizardry” does nothing.  Naturopathic doctors and their patients will hate you and the skeptics will agree with you.  You will not change anyone’s views with these attacks.  You’re just perpetuating the stalemate.

In the comments section of your article, you were given an opportunity to debunk many naturopathic opinions, but you failed to show any proof or give any solid rebuttal.

Please realize that I am a student spending more money than I’ve ever even actually seen on my education.  If I’m going into a profession that is just plain wrong, PLEASE, show me.

Do not tell me that there is no proof of these remedies being effective.  Show me that they do not work.  Show me that they are harmful.  Show me that there is a better way.  Telling me that there were no studies on a particular remedy means nothing to me.  Do a study and show me it doesn’t work.

Do not tell me that naturopathic doctors would fail “every classic board question”.  Show me.  Has a naturopathic medical school graduate ever taken the USMLE?  Did they fail?  Has a conventional doctor ever taken the NPLEX?  Did they easily ace it?

Do not tell me that NDs are not qualified to be PCPs.  Show me that they are ineffective.  How many patients of naturopathic PCPs end up in the emergency room or end up requiring conventional care?  Are MD patients consistently more healthy than ND patients?  How are ND patients at risk?  What are the risks?  Are there comparable risks with MD patients?  Can NDs improve their methods?  Specifically, how is a conventional PCP better?

I’m a little fed up with the constant war.  “NDs are quacks!”  “No, they aren’t!”

In the end, I don’t care who is right, I simply want to know the truth and to know how I can effectively help people.  Don’t tell me your opinion.

If you stop writing articles saying that NDs are quacks and start showing me how it is a harmful or unhelpful method, then you will have an ally in your cause.  If you can prove to me that the conventional medical treatments are far superior, then I will listen.

I am a student.  My experience with naturopathic medicine, although extremely positive and life-changing, is very limited.  I need your skepticism and I need your criticisms, but I cannot change my life path based on your opinion that it is “wizardry”.  And the sooner the better, because I’m spending a lot of money and even more time studying here and I’d hate for it to be a waste.

Thank you,
James Munro

One thought on “An open letter to Dr. Peter Lipson (Sinead O’Connor style)

  1. Good answer James I just read his article and I am impressed how there are people out there who can publish an article without any facts, and after reading the comments in which different ND’s gave very exemplary responses and hearing him answer “oh I missed it in all your words” ( a very unprofessi onal response). The truth is many people out there have their opinion about our future path and its always good to hear the different points of view that are out there so that we can learn how to answer back. Naturopathic Medicine rigth now is on a phase of exponential growth and is the time in which many people will give their opinion about it even if in many cases it doesn’t make sense at all.


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