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Quack blood tests ok'd by Washington naturopathic board

Last year, the Washington State Board of Naturopathy issued a "policy statement" purporting to resolve a regulatory kerfuffle between the Board and the State Office of Laboratory Quality Assurance (LQA). The LQA had cited a Spokane naturopathic clinic for conducting "live blood cell analysis," for which it was not licensed. The clinic director then asked the Board to resolve a jurisdictional issue regarding who had say-so over whether the tests in question could be performed because, in the clinic's view, this type of "live blood cell analysis" was one within the "statutorily designated naturopathic scope of practice."

We won't get bogged down in the regulatory niceties of laboratory medical tests here. Suffice it to say that, according to the Board, the Board 

governs what naturopathic physicians can do (to include performing laboratory tests) and, as an [federally] approved program, LQA governs how those laboratory tests are done based on federal . . . laws. 

What is significant here is not who controls what aspect of testing. It is that the that the Board was perfectly comfortable with these tests being used at all, even in the face of the fact that, as the Board itself states in its policy statement, rather grandly,

The Washington State Legislature has granted the Board of Naturopathy . . . the authority to protect public health and safety by regulating the competency and quality of licensed naturopathic physicians. 

We could well question the Board's understanding of the meaning of the terms "protect public health and safety," "competency," and "quality" when we learn what these tests are.  

First under consideration in the policy statement is the "Bolen Blood Procedure," described by the Board as follows:

The Bolen Blood Procedure uses a finger lancet and five to six drops of bloods are placed on a clean slide to dry (no reagents ar used in the slide preparation). When dry, the slide is then observed under a microscope to detect blood vitality.

Blood vitality? Naturally, if you will, the Bolen Blood Procedure is not part of "conventional" medicine, so you won't find it in any medical text. I did find an explanation in the "Patient Manual" of a Washington naturopath's website, discussing its use as a way of detecting "a viral or bacterial infection, autoimmune response, or body toxicity." In addition, it is useful, according to the Manual, to establish a baseline as "a way to monitor your progress with your diet changes and/or hydrotherapy series."  I assumed the "hydrotherapy series" involves colonic irrigation, used by naturopaths to relieve us of said "body toxicity," which naturopaths imagine all of us are suffering from, although they can never say exactly which toxins, or in what amount, or to what effect, nor can they reliably demonstrate that they have actually relieved the body of these toxins, whatever they are. Sure enough, right there in the Manual, "constitutional hydrotherapy" is touted as "by far the most effective therapy for stimulating the immune system and achieving total body detoxification." Total, no less. 

Next under consideration was the "Carroll Food Intolerance Evaluation," which, as described by the Board,

uses a finger lance to collect a dime-size circle of blood on a piece of absorbent paper, which is put into a small envelope and placed upon the patient's forehead.  A glass rod is used to locate acupuncture point "Stomach 25" on the abdomen, which then interacts with skin current to produce a "tug" (an electro-magnetic response, a normal "positive"). Food samples in glass containers are then placed on top of the envelope and if the food is incompatible to the patient, a negative skin response occurs (no "tug" effect). 

As I am composing this on Oscar night, I do have to wonder whether the naturopath says to an evening-gowned assistant, in an appropriately dramatic voice, "the envelope, please."

According to this same helpful Patient Manual, the Carroll Food Intolerance Evaluation helps the naturopath get to that famous "root cause" of disease because "food intolerance," as uncovered by this evaluation, is -- you guessed it -- the one true cause of all disease.  Perhaps I've overstated it here. Actually, the Manual modestly claims only that food intolerance is "the #1 cause of illness of any kind," leaving room for other, lesser causes.

Licensing bills for naturopaths are always predicated on the presumption that they protect the "health, safety and welfare" of the public, which is the state's constitutional basis for regulating health care providers.  What a farce. Here we have the Board entrusted by the state to regulate naturopathy blithely endorsing two more of the many iterations of naturopathic quackery.   

If you check out Legislative Updates, you will see this farce being repeated in real time, as state legislatures endorse the myriad forms of pseudoscience that plague the public, all based on the same false assumption that the legislatures are "protecting" the citizenry. 

 

Points of Interest 02/22/2015
Points of Interest 02/20/2015

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