The Alliance for Natural Health – my response

The Which? investigation into nutritional therapists is ably reported here, on DC’s webpage. The Alliance for Natural Therapies responds by saying that “ Although Dr McCartney’s presence on the panel was presumably to advise on the medical diagnoses involved in the investigation, medical doctors in the UK receive minimal training in nutrition as part of their medical studies – a mere 1 day in the entire medical curriculum. Their competence to assess nutritional therapy must, therefore, be seriously questioned. ”

Unfortunately, I think this neglects the issues at hand. For a start, doctors in training and at a post graduate level receive plenty of information and training about food, inborn errors of metabolism, endocrinology and gastroenterology. However it is based in physiology and science. I certainly didn’t learn about ‘leathery bowels’ or iridology; in the end, it isn’t possible to criticise a doctors’ training for leaving out stuff that isn’t based in evidence. In any case, my concerns centred around the medical safety of the advice that was given. There are going to be failings in any profession, and no person is going to get it right all the time. But this is less about the minutiae of what happened in any particular consultation, and more about the overall issues concerned with high street nutritionists.People were usually using the nutritionists in a role as ‘primary care’ – first point of contact with a problem.  If a person has symptoms and sees a nutritionist rather than a doctor, is this safe? The investigation found that people with potentially serious symptoms were not being given the appropriate care. The other issue is the cost of supplements, which were substantial, and not evidence based. This is the issue.

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