A Victorian hospital has employed a naturopath to the staff of an endometriosis clinic.

This is despite an admission by the Technology/Clinical Practice Committee that ‘There is no good evidence of effectiveness for naturopathic advice in patients with endometriosis.’

Endometriosis is a painful condition characterised by bloating, period pain, heavy or irregular bleeding and occurs when the tissue that normally lines the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside the uterus. Endometriosis can be a chronic, recurring condition and occurs in approximately 10% of women. The causes are not fully understood, but treatments include surgery, hormone therapy as well as medication for pain relief.

In a bizarre decision summary (full pdf here), released by the Committee, of the Southern Health Moorrabbin Hospital, they state;

The applicants have stipulated that the naturopath will not initiate discussions about naturopathic medication, however it is anticipated that patients may bring this up. In this situation the naturopath will advise that there is no evidence for safety or effectiveness (my emphasis).

This seems in stark contrast to the role of the committee which is described as ‘to ensure that new technologies and clinical practices at Southern Health are introduced within a rigorous and evidence-based framework’.

The decision summary also states that;

‘The naturopath will not be prescribing..’ but will ‘be providing dietary and exercise advice and general health measures.’

It’s curious therefore that the hospital did not employ a dietitian, who could easily fulfill such a role without the humiliation of having to tell patients that there is ‘no evidence for the safety and efficacy’ of their own profession.

The proposal was also put forward in 2008, but rejected. It is not clear why it was approved on this occasion.

In the decision summary, the committee states (perhaps in acknowledgement of the lack of evidence) that the ‘This clinic will provide opportunities for research into the role of naturopathy in endometriosis.’

The position will be trialled for two years, then reviewed with the option of making it permanent.

Thanks to Jo and Kathy for the tip off.


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  • Brendan

    I completely understand why there may be some skepticism over homeopathy, but to suggest Naturopathy is not efficacious, is just plain ignorant. Despite the fact that much of Naturopathy is based on thousands of years of knowledge passed down through the generations, their is abundant scientific evidence to prove the validity of pharmacological activity of herbs and food as medicine. For example, the reputation that Echinacea has for immune stimulation is based on over 50 years of scientific research. In vitro and in vivo, whole extracts, as well as isolated constituents have been shown to: enhance non-specific immune function including increased phagocytosis and leukocyte mobility, stimulate natural killer cell activity, increase properdin production, increase levels of various cytokines including interferon, and increase T cell response.

  • AC

    Seriously the ignorance and uneducated comments on this blog have bemused me. I suggest you all do a little research guys – it may actually help you!
    Its a shame western medicine has not created a way to implant a few brain cells into each of you!!

  • Chris

    Anyone who uses the word “allopathic” does not know much about medicine. It is a pejorative word made up by Hahnemann to distinguish between homeopathy and the brutal medicine practice two centuries ago.
    But, then again, it took you over half a year to compose that word soup of nonsense.
    Maggie, who runs this blog is a real medical researcher and does real science.

  • Scienctific objective

    Its interesting to note that many of the commentors on this site including the author of this article seem to have a very poor understanding of the term ‘scientific evidence’ in a medical sense. It should be noted that should an allopathic doctor be forced to explain every treatment decision upon the scientific evidence of his diagnosis he would be made to admit above all else that allopathic treatment is mainly based on ‘germ theory’ – a hypoythesis that has not been proven by scientific evidence. Whilst there is little doubt that microbials can and do cause disease given certain circumstances it is as plausible as germ theory itself that other lifestyle factors including nutrition, diet, supplements or lack thereof and emotional factors all play an increased role in setting the conditions that manifest in disease. Naturopathic doctors spend a minimun of 5 years studying scientific degrees that complement the latest in medical science techniques. In many universities the nutrition subjects up to an undergrad level run parallel with dietetics degrees and in many aspects approach health similiarly. A naturopath would consider treatments outside of diet alone as well. Herbal pharmacology is of course an exciting and potent field of specialisisation. And before that statement gets any uninformed individuals up in arms please know this – there is not a single ‘pharmaceutical’ breakthrough in medical history that was ‘invented’ outside the formula of taking a plant (or mold etc), noticing its remarkable properties, identifying the active molecule and then synthesizing it in a lab. Ofcourse its that step that brings a host of side effects, addictions and ofcourse profit. The natural route is always most affective and best received by the body ensuring long term cure. The allopathic approach to treat and mask a symptoms is simply a formula for further problems down the line and an loyal client base. Luckily many smart people already know this.

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  • Disappointing to see Hospitals defraud the patients they are supposed to be helping. The lure of money, combined with the ability to get away with it is obviously very strong.

  • Michael Kingsford Gray

    As someone pointed out at the recent 2010 Global Atheist Conference, what manager is not going to say “yes please’ to the offer of another bod on the ground?
    In a perfect world, hospital managers would be given a choice:
    * Naturopathetic
    * Social Worker
    * Psychologist
    * Hygeinist
    * Homeopathy Fraud
    * Cleaner
    …and be allowed to chose the value-for-money.

    But if given no choice: “Naturopath or Nobody”, what (as a manager) would you choose? It is a case of one more person, as ineffective as they may be, on the payroll.

  • How does this shit happen? Really?

  • Ilijasx

    Yet another example of the standards of science being compromised to allow the incursion of non-scientists to permeate the health care industry.

    That sort of stuff just peeves me right off.

    Just how this decision could be rationalised or justified is beyond me. It’s like putting a roof painter in charge of restoring the Sistine Chapel.

  • @AndyD,

    Yup. This is just as ridiculous.

  • I hear that David Copperfield can make things mysteriously disappear. Although there’s no rigorous scientific evidence to support the claims, anecdotal evidence of his amazing powers abounds (I’ve seen it myself of TV!!!). Is there any truth to the rumour that another Victorian hospital is looking to employ him in their cancer ward – on a trial basis?

  • @Ken,

    According to their website, http://www.mihsr.monash.org/cce/shtcp.html The Centre for Clinical Effectiveness is the Secretariat for the Southern Health TCPC. Please refer any enquiries or correspondence to the person responsible for Clinical matters Dr Claire Harris Director, Centre for Clinical Effectiveness Phone: 9594 7576 Email: claire.harris@southernhealth.org.au

  • Ken McLeod

    Have I got this right? Taxpayers’ money is going to pay for this? Can someone find out the name and address of the officer reponsible for this decision so that we can all let him/her know what we think of this? I shall also be writing to my MP.

  • Steve

    This doesn’t bode well for moving more control of hospitals to the local level. Next they’ll be opening a homeopathy clinic.

    There are a number of interesting changes from the 2008 rejection to the 2009 approval: Consistent, clinically important benefit? changed from “no” to “unknown”. Clearly this appointment is not supported by an evidence base. Even minimal costs from the program budget should be directed elsewhere. Concerns about interactions of recommended natropathic treatments with medical therapy seem to have been resolved. And concern about the lack any professional body from which to seek guidance about such things as professional capacity and professional development has also dissappeared.

    Most shocking though is the recognition that this staff member may make recommendations for which “there is no evidence of safety” with an unknown consistent, clinically important benefit.

    It is a law suit waiting to happen.

  • Will post this on a dietitians mailing list and see whatctgd response is. For exercise advice they could also consult an exercise physiologist, four year degree qualified health professional at http://www.aaess.com.au

  • Or maybe the naturopath is now a captive of Big-Pharma? How will anyone trust him/her?

  • Clearly they are shills for alt-pharma. 🙂

  • Oh.


    Just as the Health System is under review all over Australia we have a local health board pulling a stunt like this.

    It looks like an effort to find a job for some local and I hope that is not the case, but regardless, it is plumbing the depths of poor decision making.

  • Nescio

    This is Victorian as in the Australia state, not as in some historically-themed hospital? There is good evidence regarding naturopathy. It’s nonsense, based on false premises and ideas that were abandoned for good reasons many years ago.

  • This is just… weird. It’d at least make sense if they believed naturopathy works.