Britt Marie Hermes recently described how she used to be "a quack" while practicing naturopathy, an alternative medicine that generally adheres to the belief that disease can be treated naturally.
The former naturopath recalled in an op-ed for Science 2.0 on June 21 how she thought of herself as being a primary care physician after going to naturopathic school.
Hermes recalled how she and her classmates "believed that we were being trained just like medical doctors but with the added bonus of learning the secret knowledge of harnessing the healing power of nature, which could somehow supersede science."
Upon graduation and in practice, Hermes said she had a DEA number, like a doctor, and could legally call in prescriptions for her patients "because naturopaths aggressively lobby for laws to issue them medical licenses."
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Hermes added that students in naturopathic programs do not realize they are are actually taking "educational shortcuts and therefore do not possess any demonstrable competencies found in modern medicine."
She said the turning point for her was when she found out her ex-boss, a licensed naturopath, had been giving "a non-FDA approved drug to cancer patients, many of whom were terminally ill."
Hermes said she didn't realize it at the time, but she was helping him do this by giving "various intravenous injections and drips to many of his patients."
Hermes added that she did some research into licensed naturopaths and found numerous "examples of professional misconduct and unethical treatments advertised online or discussed favorably on social media communities."
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According to Hermes, her ex-boss was using a drug called ukrain that was manufactured by a shady chemist in Austria who was charged with commercial fraud.
Hermes recalled that her ex-boss only got a warning letter from authorities, no fines or license suspension. He also reportedly did not have to pay back the hundreds of thousands of dollars that he had billed his patients, some of whom had cancer.
Hermes said she took out over $250,000 in federal loans in order to get her "fake medical education," even though the same amount of money could have gotten her a real medical degree.
Hermes added: "I am trying to be grateful for my scientific rehabilitation. ... Today, I can no longer disregard the inconvenient fact that I was a quack."
The ex-naturopath noted that she is "completing a Master of Science program in biomedicine, while trying to understand my journey into, and out of, magical ways of thinking."
She also wrote that she wants to educate the public "to prevent mistakes resembling mine or those of my former patients who only wanted to be treated by a doctor like me."
Hermes has started a petition on Change.org "to voice opposition to legitimizing naturopathy through state licensure and mandated insurance reimbursement."
"Naturopaths are attempting to become legally recognized as 'primary care physicians' in all 50 states and become Medicare providers," the petition continues. "This is a dangerous future."
Ryan Cliche, executive director of the American Associations of Naturopathic Physicians, has started a counter-petition on Change.org that states: "This petition is in response to misleading and defamatory statements made in a recent Change.org petition you may have seen: 'Naturopaths are not doctors: stop legitimizing pseudoscience.' This petition by a former naturopathic doctor who resides outside of the United States neglects facts and evidence to support her claims."