HIV / AIDS and Naturopathic Physicians

In many countries throughout the world, people are going to naturopathic physicians when faced with a health issue. Unfortunately, where I live in Vancouver, (British Columbia, Canada) the government is planning to cut back the scope of naturopathic medicine by imposing controls on what a naturopathic physician can and cannot do. The B.C. government does not allow naturopathic physicians to have access to medical labs and x-rays or to prescribe medications. The proposed changes include limiting the ability of naturopathic physicians to perform physical exams, diagnose and treat food allergies and place severe restrictions on the medicines ND’s use to treat patients. We must not lose the right of choice and the right to choose!

Dr. Garrett Swetlikoff, ND, British Columbia Naturopath Association President says,
“The B.C. Liberal Government is developing scope of practice regulations, which will negatively impact the provision of valid, science-based, natural medicine from licensed naturopathic doctors. In addition, the proposed changes will limit patient heath care options. Oddly, this comes at a time when preventative medicine is being regarded as an essential component in addressing health care issues. Even Federal Health Minister Anne McLellan recognizes the benefit of complementary care. In recent correspondence, she referred to naturopathic medicine approaches as well placed to play an important role in advancing living strategies, preventing illness, and improving health. The B.C. Liberal’s view is radically different than the federal view.”

It is naturopathic physicians, not medical doctors, who are specifically educated as physicians but with an expertise in alternative medicine. The naturopathic physician spends years of pre-medical training, which is the same as a medical doctor, as well as spending another four years in naturopathic training at University. The United States, Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and South Africa all have 3-4 year courses with a recognized degree.

Here in Vancouver, the Health Professions Act forbids the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia from acting against a medical doctor practicing “alternative medicine” unless the therapy can be demonstrated to be more dangerous than the conventional therapy. This same Act demands that naturopathic physicians, who are specialists in alternative medicine, must prove the absolute safety and efficacy of a treatment before it is allowed to be included in their practice. This double standard is ridiculously biased and does not recognize the naturopathic physician’s expertise. Naturopathic physicians are licensed to diagnose and treat all medical conditions. Naturopathic physicians are specifically trained in the appropriate medical use of all natural prescriptions. However, the government continues to deny their ability to treat patients according to their needs by restricting naturopathic doctors from the same access to necessary prescriptions, labs and other diagnostic tools.

Naturopathic physicians are primary care providers! Government must recognize the value and credibility of naturopathic medical care and emphasize more, the value of preventive health care. It is particularly important now when we are experiencing a health care crisis in this province and across Canada. Government can advocate better acceptance of naturopathic medicine by the medical profession!

The naturopathic physician spends a great deal of time with me to explain my health condition and he gets to the root cause of the problem. Often, the naturopathic physician has answers for me where my MD does not! My naturopathic physician teaches me and emphasizes specifics in diet improvement, healthy lifestyle changes and approaches, which recognize the importance of a healthy body, mind and spirit. There are few other physicians who are able to take the necessary time with me.

For many people, their primary care provider is a naturopathic physician. Many in the medical profession are on the side of the government to change the scope of naturopathic medicine because they are losing patients! Many people living with HIV/AIDS have turned to naturopathic physicians. It is important to be aware that licensed MDs are legally required to use first line pharmaceutical intervention or risk losing their professional practice.

I. Poeitzer says, “More and more citizens are utilizing naturopathic medicine because it is safer, non-invasive, respects the body’s natural healing potential and it has proven success. This move towards naturopathic and other non-allopathic modalities of health should indicate to you the political will of the people.”

We may have jumped the gun and put all our efforts into pharmaceuticals when it came to fighting AIDS.

Recognizing the ability of the body to heal has prompted many to choose to combat HIV in a non-medical direction. Often, people are effective in preventing illness for years before drug intervention is ever necessary, or not necessary at all. Others have continued to live without any sign of HIV/AIDS related opportunistic infections or disease. For some who have tested positive, there has never been any virus replicated in their body. Equally so, many people who are on drug treatments have learned to address the importance of diet, exercise, alternative therapies and supplements, mind, body and spirit. Let’s not close our minds to what is right in front of us showing endless opportunities. There are opportunities for us to learn, grow and have healthy bodies!

“Health is indeed determined by a wide range of influences beyond the traditional health care system. Opportunities and responsibilities to improve or influence health are shared by everyone, including individuals, communities and governments”, says Diane Marleau, former Minister of Health.

In both Canada and the United States, health care systems are being affected by the strains from use and rising costs. Billions are being spent, while people look to the medical profession to care for their illness. There is a whole consciousness that supports disease and we can make an attitude adjustment. If we took a little more care and responsibility for our health and what we put into our bodies, there would be less demand on our health care system. We must not allow ourselves to fall prey to the belief that science and the medical profession has all the answers, nor can we find all our answers in pharmaceuticals. Science, medicine and the use of pharmaceuticals play key roles, but so does the greatest disease fighter on the planet, our immune system.

Those having to make decisions in treatment around choices for healing do not have an easy task. Every person is unique. Each one of us will have different responses to HIV and antiretroviral treatment. There are options and we do have choices. Many have chosen natural healing! Not everyone is OUT publicly about his or her disease and/or treatments and the number if known would be many! In the United States, of those who went to hospitals and sought out medical advice, three times as many people chose alternatives.

It seems there is only money in illness and no money in wellness!

There are no shortages of researchers exploring the positive benefits of vitamin supplementation and complementary and alternative medicine. However, government funding very often never materializes! Without government funding, how can there be any ‘evidence-based’ medicine for complementary therapies? Government lags in funding, while science and the general public already realize the benefits of complementary therapies.

Funding, education, implementation of complementary therapies in our health care and recognizing the importance of naturopathic physicians and securing their place in our health care, is paramount! We should be studying the use of supplements and including them in our health care. Funding is necessary for additional research and fast tracking the implementation of them, providing positive effects for individuals with disease. Saving people’s lives! It is the responsibility of governments around the world to include and provide these life-saving, natural alternatives in health care systems and ensure natural supplements continue to be available. With choice there is hope!

People infected with HIV or have AIDS and all those living with a disability need a quality of life that does not undermine their health. There are people dying due to the stress on an already stressed and suppressed immune system. There is added stress due to a lack of funds available to support nutritional diet and good health. Proper nutrition is necessary for HIV infected individuals, as those who eat well feel better compared to those who consume a less than adequate diet. Malnutrition can compromise their ability to fight off infection. We should be making good nutrition a high priority in AIDS treatment! There are people living with HIV who are in constant need of medical attention due to the poor quality of food and water. Water must be clear of micro-organisms and tap water is not fit to drink by people with a suppressed immune system, as they are susceptible to Cryptosporidiosis and Microsporidiosis. There is a need and an added expense of purchasing bottled water for drinking and cooking. The lack of bottled water contributes to their disease. There is a need for affordable housing, providing a comfortable and stress free environment in which to live.

Health care would have a payback in reduced and delayed usage with these provisions in place, as suggested by studies confirming lower survival associated with these! A call for action is necessary. The present situation dictates that these are vital necessities for people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the world! Since many people infected with HIV have neither the health nor energy to work towards creating awareness and change, it is my intention to speak through my experience for those whom I hope will benefit. Ignoring the importance of meeting these needs will bring an ever-increasing cost to our health care systems and us worldwide. A simple exercise in these directions and implementation would have an enormous impact on the fight against AIDS!

About the author:

Article written by Bradford McIntyre, HIV+ 20 years
Vancouver, Canada


Author: Bradford McIntyre
Copyright © 2023 Bradford McIntyre. All rights reserved

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