Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Naturopathy bill draws opposition

Naturopathy bill draws opposition

By Ryota Dei
Pacific Daily News

At issue during a public hearing on naturopathy yesterday was whether the bill was for Guam's health-care needs, or for a special interest group and the wealthy.

Bill 154, introduced by Sen. Lou Leon Guerrero, D-Tamuning, would offer alternative methods of treatment and care for the island's residents and, in doing so, could possibly reduce health-care costs.

Naturopathy, or natural medicine, is a practice that excludes surgery, the use of X-rays, and the use of most prescription drugs, according to the bill. Instead, the practice aims to cure people of illnesses and conditions by helping the body's innate capability to heal itself.

As a holder of doctoral degrees in medicine and naturopathy, Dr. Daniel Lamar, a primary care physician at PacifiCare in Saipan, said today's medical practice focuses too much on eliminating or alleviating symptoms of illnesses instead of preventing causes.

"In medicine, we don't do a good job with motivating people to improve their lifestyle and diet because those medical doctors don't really know how to improve their lives," Lamar said.

Several local doctors opposed the bill, condemning naturopathy as an unproven practice that puts lives in danger. According to the physicians, naturopathic doctors lack the education background in medicine to match medical doctors.

"To cite a clear example in the difference of naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine is their opposition to the well-established practice of childhood immunization," Dr. Geoffrey Galgo said.

Discussion revealed that a Japanese company intends to open a naturopathy clinic on Guam.

According to its business plan submitted as testimony for the bill, Starlight Group stated it plans to open a naturopathy clinic, named Cellvolution Clinic, on Guam targeting "wealthy people in the Asian region, and Japan in particular."

Dr. Akio Sato, Starlight Group's representative, said that naturopathic practice is not permitted in Japan although there is a growing interest toward a nature-oriented lifestyle among wealthy Japanese people.

Using naturopathy as an attraction, the group intends to promote medical tourism from Japan and the rest of the region to Guam.

Leon Guerrero acknowledged that Starlight's representatives paid a visit to her to discuss the bill. However, she strongly denied that the bill was intended to promote the Japanese company and to exclude lower-income people.

"I moved it forward because of benefits that it brings to our people," she said. "This is a business plan for Starlight. ... So, because it is submitted as testimony, I hope this is not deter from what we are trying to do here -- to create a legislation that would be good for our people."

Originally published October 6, 2005

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