This week there have been several articles in the media about homeopathy, including one online at stuff.co.nz. In this article it was stated that 51% of New Zealanders believe in homeopathy, however, one commenter suggested that this could be because “”In general people don’t know what it[homeopathy] is. They get it confused with naturopathy. It’s not just members of the public it’s doctors as well.”
My immediate question was, so what is the difference between a naturopath and a homeopath?
A homeopath prepares and prescribes extremely dilute solutions (so dilute that they seldom contain any active ingredient) in the belief that they can help treat disease.
A naturopath is someone who can treat a client with a wider range of “natural” therapies. According to the prospectus for the Naturopathic College of New Zealand, naturopaths are trained in anatomy, physiology, nutrition, iridology, colour therapy, reflexology, herbal medicine, hydrotherapy AND homeopathy.
So while naturopaths learn a wider variety of therapies they still support homeopathy. If fact last year the Naturopathic College of New Zealand issued a press release supporting homeopathy.
The statement on stuff.co.nz implies that naturopathy is a more legitimate profession than homeopathy, however given they also offer homeopathy as a treatment, I find this difficult to swallow. I can’t see that there is much difference between a naturopath and a homeopath when both use at least one* unproven, scientifically implausible therapy.
*Reflexology, iridology and colour therapy involve practices and explanations that are also considered to be scientifically implausible.