The Current Theme : Registration
Author: Alec Milne
Date : April 2006

On a national scale, we are poised to get an Identity Card, ostensibly for our struggle against terrorism. Following the same principle, the practitioners in the Nature Cure (a name no longer in vogue, it appears) movement are being cajoled into a Registration scheme in order to protect the patient, we are told, and to achieve certain standards of training and practice. Under the leadership of Prince Philip's Foundation for Integrated Health, negotiations have been under way to bring together all the various strands of therapy that calls itself Naturopathy under the aegis of a General Council of Naturopathy.

The committee formed to implement this, and to which Leslie Harrison has been an assiduous observer, has laboured long and mightily to come up with its recommendations. The carrot offered is that the practitioner when Registered, would achieve a recognised status, much desired, and would be operating in what would become a much more limited field than the free-for-all that exists at the moment. A further inducement is that standardisation would allow fees to be increased to a more appropriate level. The stick is that those that do not qualify would not be able to use the name or advertise that their trade is that of Naturopathy.

The curriculum designed to reach appropriate standards is extremely detailed, based on the key words of 'naturopathic training' and 'naturopathic medicine' and would seem to indicate that the design of the course is to be able to play on the medicals playing field, using medical methods and yardsticks but not able to prescribe drugs as such. But the way would be open for the Registered Naturopath to prescribe any of the plethora of non pharmaceutical preparations that can be bought over the counter, and have a booming sale because, and I repeat what many patients who have no shame, have said 'after all they can do no harm and might even help'. At no point, is the patient's interests protected. Registration is for the benefit of the Practitioner.

Some of us do not like this. The effort to regularise our particular field has been going on for a long time, and as long ago as 1924 this society included in its bye laws that no preparations of any sort designed specifically to change the nature of a symptom, would be contemplated as part of our treatment. The precise definition of what was to be proscribed occupied our best minds for many years. What it came down to was 'no remedies', and has served us well. We also set up a Register of practitioners and brought into play 'Registered'. So a Registered Naturopath could be relied upon to uphold the ISRN principles, and particularly that of 'no remedies'. We are outnumbered quite comprehensively by the British Naturopathic Association, and they in turn by the Herman Keppler group, newcomers to the field. Instead we offer an enviable integrity, a large amount of experience, and a consistent philosophy to back it. In contrast, if you go to your local health food shop and inquire about naturopathy you will be offered supplements, quasi vitamins and spurious tonics. Our claim is that we treat people, not symptoms and feel that our independence must not be compromised. This is the core of our opposition.

Peter La Barre offers this summary:

The Establishment's justification for Registration
  1. To protect the public from abuse and danger, registered practitioners will be able to get insurance.
  2. To maintain standards of competence.
  3. To remedy disorder in the field.
  4. To improve the situation for both the public and practitioners.
  5. To monitor both academic and clinical training.

Harmful Side-effects of Registration

  1. Unnecessarily restricting the supply of practitioners.
  2. Inflating the cost of services.
  3. Stifling innovation in the training of practitioners.
  4. Discriminating against minorities by raising entry requirements.
  5. Quoting Carl Rogers. 'There are as many certified charlatans and exploiters of people as there are uncertified'.
  6. 'Sadly, the correlation between training and effectiveness as a therapist is low' Mark Aveline 1990.
  7. Imposition of a medical style system not appropriate, many aspects of NC therapy not quantifiable.
  8. Codes of ethics and practice are not a substitute for practitioner integrity
  9. Encourages defensive naturopathy, not innovation.
  10. Fosters the imposition of a system for cure, rather than exploring for the causes for the present state.
  11. Takes no account of the fact that the person may have to get apparently worse before getting better.
  12. Professional indemnity increases the risk of litigation and does not encourage mutual trust.

Response: Lyanne Mitchell

The subject of "Registration" for Nature Cure practitioners, was chosen by Sandy because, seemingly this is an issue which is currently being much discussed / debated within the ISRN. We both felt that this would be a good choice as our very FIRST "Current Theme" on this new Nature Cure Forum.

I am not a member of ISRN, and I am not a link with Nature Cure is as an ex-patient and follower of the NC life-style. So this is not really a 'burning issue' for me. But I am hopeful, that some Nature Cure Practitioners will share their views with the rest of us 'lay' people!

The Forum looks rather daunting on first sight - but it really is very straight forward to post a reply, as I am doing now.

May I take this opportunity to wish all attenders of the forthcoming ISRN AGM in Edinburgh, a productive and enjoyable weekend. I hope to be able to pop in for part of the proceedings and look forward to meeting some of the NC File's regular writers!

With best wishes, Lyanne Mitchell

Response: Murray

I am against registration for the following reasons:

1. Kingston Nature Cure (KNC) is fundamentally different to all the other forms of practice aiming for registration, in that it is not medical. It is unique in being best described as an alternative to medicine. It is therefor inappropriate to lump it in with the others where its value will not be recognised, indeed is likely to be swamped and lost as having nothing medical to offer.

2. The purpose of registration is to formalise and authorise the practice of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) for the protection of the public. But how many KNC graduates would be prevented from practising without registration? Currently, there are very few and as far as I know, they can all practise under another qualification which will become registered. In the future, I think it is generally accepted that KNC can no longer be the sole basis for a successful practice. So overall, no individual should lose out on that score.

3. KNC is a philosophy, a practical philosophy, a body of knowledge, of wisdom which is sadly needed in the modern world. It seems to me that those who understand it, live it and teach it have a heavy responsibility to do all they can to save and promote it for the sake of the health of those who could, given the opportunity, benefit. Handled correctly, general awareness of the principles could increase and start to influence all forms of health care, as indeed they have increasingly over the last hundred years. With the right handling, this trend could be better promoted and increasingly appreciated to the point where KNC might even move into the area of orthodoxy. Then it would become acceptable to more and more people who currently reject it. But for this to have any chance, it must remain distinct from medicine and registration must be rejected.


Murray McGrath

Response: johnfielder

I, personally am in total agreement that registration under the existing guidelines would not only be restrictive, and perhaps even disastrous, it does not in any way differentiate from Kingston NC and what is currently termed Naturopathy.

As I have expressed on a number of occasions, and in particular at the last AGM of the ISRN, it is my belief that it is really of no value, and in fact could be seen as harmful for the society and its members, to continue to be aligned, or even seen to be aligned, with the current practice of Naturopathy.That, as expressed by others on this forum, Naturopathy as it is practiced in today's society, equates with the practice of medicine, albeit alternative medicine. Whereas, the practice and principles of the ISRN are those of an "alternative to medicine", not "alternative medicine".

With this in view, I believe the use of the name Naturopath, and the alignment with Naturopathy, should be abandoned. That we should make every effort to distance ourselves from it and all its connotations, to differentiate ourselves as separate from its beliefs and practices. And yes we do have areas of philosophy and practice in common, our basic premise though is so far removed that there can be no reconciliation.

Naturopathy today, in spite of all rhetoric to the contrary, has embraced the medical mode, and is the treatment of symptoms. It does not see, as NC does, that the symptoms are purely the manifestation of the organism in action as it endeavours to deal with the underlying cause. It is directing its energies towards "cure", whereas as Dr Russell Thacter Trall pointed out, "there are no cures in the whole of the universe, there is only a return to obedience".

It is my belief that we should therefore place our emphasis where it should be by discontinuing the use of the name Naturopath, and Naturopthy, and embrace the name Nature Cure Consultant, or some other alternative such Lifestyle Consultant, or Sustainable Living Consultant , to better describe our mode of practice. In this way, so I believe, we will be enabled to differentiate ourselves publicly from the other schools of thought, and in actual fact present ourselves, and practice more honestly.

John L Fielder,DO,DC,ND(Adel)
President ISRN
Osteopath & Lifestyle Consultant
Academy of Natural Living