From Physician Assisted Suicide to Death by Naturopath

The case of Ezekiel Stephan has been well described at Another child dead from quackery and Ezekiel Stephan: Another Pediatric Death by World View.

The child, unvaccinated, first developed pneumonia, then empyema (an infection between the lung and chest wall) and then meningitis (an infection of the brain).

As an Infectious Disease doctor I take routinely care of all these illnesses  and treated appropriately they are awful for the patient.  Ezekiel did not get the benefit of appropriate medical therapy.  He was treated with maple syrup, juice with frozen berries and a mixture of apple cider vinegar, horseradish root, hot peppers, mashed onion, garlic and ginger root. 

When the child was so rigid he could not be put in his car seat for travel but instead laid on a mattress in a mattress in the back of the car, they took him to a naturopath. As an aside, at that point given his meningismus, he probably had fairly advanced meningitis and every movement, such as car bumps, would have been excruciatingly painful.

By one report, the naturopath did not even examine the patient but was given a naturopathic remedy for meningitis, a tincture of echinacea to boost his immune system.  The naturopath appears to have been inspired by the infamous Tuskegee experiments and allowed the disease to run its natural course despite the availability of curative antibiotics

Without appropriate therapy, bacterial meningitis is 100% fatal, and, sadly, but not unexpectedly, the child died.

Anyone who understands the nature of naturopathy knows that naturopaths have no education, training, or experience that would allow them to recognize and treat serious illness. What data there is concerning naturopathic practice shows they do a poor job at providing the basics of primary care (screening and vaccination) and that those who use naturopaths are more likely to have, and in this case die of, a vaccine preventable illness. Ezekiel, it is noted, died in Canada.

Despite their complete lack of training, Oregon has granted naturopaths primary care provider status.

It is sometimes noted that in some states naturopaths practice medicine without a license. Whatever it is naturopaths do, with or without a license, it is not medicine.

Naturopathic practice is to medicine is what using an easy bake oven is to being a chef or guitar hero is to playing guitar in Led Zeppelin.

And it is patients who will pay the price.

At some point an equivalent disaster will happen in Oregon. Not that it hasn't occurred. I remember my first experience with naturopathy, the case that led to an interest in all things pseudo-medical.

I was called to see a case of gangrene. It was a 20 something female with a dead leg, wet gangrene, with a smell few get to know. A year earlier she had been diagnosed with a sarcoma that could have been cured with amputation. She opted instead for a naturopath who treated her with herbs and alkaline therapy. The cancer grew, advanced, and rotted. She continued to believe her naturopath when told that the rotting leg was good, it was a response to his nostrums. She was only in the hospital as she had a fainting spell and was brought in by a family member. She refused any intervention on her leg. That night the tumor eroded into her artery and she bled out and died.

When you have uneducated, untrained, and inexperienced practitioners who are immersed in fantasy-based diagnoses and therapies, do not be shocked in the coming years when naturopathic care results in another unnecessary death. It may be a child dying of a vaccine preventable illness. It may be from untreated cancer. It might be death from chelation. Again. But someone will die who should not.

The Oregon legislature has made it possible.  We have had physician assisted suicide for years in Oregon. Now we can add death by naturopath. 

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