MAFP Opposes Naturopathic Licensure, Scope of Practice Legislation

This week, MAFP and its members reached out to Michigan Senators to urge them to vote no on Senate Bill 826, which came up for a vote on May 17. Introduced by Senator Rick Jones, the bill sets forth requirements for the licensure, education, and training of naturopathic physicians, and outlines their scope of practice.

Opposition to the bill stems from, among other things, the following concerns:

  • There is a lack of scientific evidence that naturopathy is effective.
  • Naturopathic teaching claims that natural herbal remedies are generally superior to pharmaceuticals in the treatment of most diseases, yet the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) forbids manufacturers of herbal preparations and dietary supplements from making therapeutic claims.
  • The bill allows naturopaths to perform “minor office procedures.” Naturopaths should not be engaging in such procedures, however minor they may be. Naturopaths have no training in the care of hospitalized patients and are not familiar with the clinical manifestations of diseases serious enough to require hospital care.  
  • Compared to medical school and residency training, a naturopathic education consists of relatively few hours of study on pharmacological treatment of disease and provides virtually no clinical reinforcement of pharmaceutical intervention on patients during clinical rotations or optional post-graduate training.
  • Naturopathic practitioners might fail to diagnose in a timely fashion or delay referring patients for appropriate medical treatment, endangering the health and safety of patients with serious diseases who are relying solely on care from naturopathic practitioners.
  • Naturopathic treatments may divert patients away from proven evidence-based medical therapies.
  • An injection of any kind, even something as seemingly benign as vitamin B-12, comes with risks. Crohn’s disease, pancreatic insufficiency, autoimmune atrophic gastritis, and certain prescription medications—as well as other treatable diseases that cause persistent pernicious anemia—can only be treated by non-naturopaths.
  • Even some naturopathic associations are divided over the administration of injectable medications. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the American Naturopathic Medical Association, two naturopathic organizations, are divided over this and other issues of naturopathic medicine.
  • Naturopathic services are not covered by Medicare or most insurance policies.

Unfortunately, the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 24-11 and now heads to the House Health Policy Committee for consideration. It is critical that Michigan Representatives hear from EVERY MAFP member that SB 826 is a threat to patient safety and should be voted down when it comes up for a vote in committee and on the House floor.

Click here for your Representative's phone number and email address, based on your address, and talking points you can use when talking to and/or emailing your Representative (MAFP member login required).