Britt Marie Hermes

Britt Marie Hermes (née Deegan; born 1984) is an American former naturopathic doctor who became a critic of naturopathy and alternative medicine.[2][3][4][5] She is the author of a blog, Naturopathic Diaries, where she writes about being trained and having practiced as a licensed naturopath and about the problems with naturopaths as medical practitioners.[6][7]

Britt Marie Hermes
Britt Marie Hermes QED 2016-10-15.jpg
Hermes speaking at QED 2016 in Manchester, England
Born
Britt Marie Deegan

1984 (age 37–38)
NationalityUnited States
EducationSan Diego State University, 2006 (B.A.)[1]
Bastyr University, 2011 (N.D.)
University of Kiel, 2017 (M.Sc.)
OccupationDoctoral student
Years active2011–2014 (naturopathic doctor); 2015–present (blogger)
Known forNaturopathy, scientific skepticism, blogger
WebsiteBrittMarieHermes.org

Hermes' writings deal with the education and practices of licensed naturopaths in North America,[6][8][9] and she is a noted opponent of alternative medicine.[6][10] Hermes has been dubbed a whistleblower on the naturopathic profession[7][11] and a "naturopathic apostate".[6]

Early life, education and careerEdit

Hermes was born and grew up in California,[7] and in 2002 graduated from Oak Park High School in Ventura County, California.[12] Hermes has said that she became interested in natural medicine while in high school to treat her psoriasis,[6] and that "A bad experience with a doctor as a teen pushed her to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine".[13] In 2006, she graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor's degree in psychology (magna cum laude) and earned membership in the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.[1]

Hermes received her N.D. in 2011 from Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington.[2] She was first licensed as a Naturopathic Physician in Washington state,[14] where she then completed a one-year residency at a naturopathic clinic in Seattle focused on pediatrics and family medicine.[2][15] Prior to graduating from the N.D. program, Hermes travelled to Ghana and Nicaragua with other students from Bastyr to provide naturopathic care to rural communities.[16]

Hermes moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she practiced until 2014 using the title “naturopathic medical doctor.”[14] There she worked in an outpatient naturopathic clinic.[2] She had a Federal DEA number that allowed her to prescribe controlled substances. And in her practice, she prescribed drugs and ordered tests like X-rays, MRIs, and blood work.[14] After witnessing illegal and unethical treatments of cancer patients and discerning that such practices were common in her field,[17] due to poor education and low professional standards,[15] she decided to leave the practice of naturopathy.[2]

While Hermes was working for Michael Uzick, Uzick was given a letter of reprimand by the Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Board of Examiners for administering Ukrain that he obtained from an unregistered source.[18] Hermes characterized this disciplinary action as a "token punishment"[19] and a "slap on the wrist."[20]

In 2016 Hermes studied for an MSc in biomedicine at the University of Kiel in Germany[2][5] specialising in the mammalian microbiome.[6] As of June 2017, Hermes is a doctoral candidate at Kiel in evolutionary genomics,[21] studying the signatures of co-adoptation between microbes that are living on humans and the human genome.[22]

Hermes was joint winner of the 2018 John Maddox Prize, awarded by Sense about Science.[23] As an "early career researcher 'in recognition of her advocacy and writing on evidence-based medicine'". Judge Colin Blakemore stated that "Hermes's story is one of exceptional courage".[24]

Naturopathic DiariesEdit

 
Hermes receiving the 2016 Ockham Award for Best Blog given by The Skeptic magazine at QED[6][25]

In 2015, Hermes started a blog, Naturopathic Diaries,[26] that is "aimed at contextualizing the false information proliferated by the naturopathic profession."[4] Hermes is concerned with a lack of informed consent when naturopaths practice and the failure of naturopaths to employ science-based medicine.[3][15] Her blog provides an insider's perspective on how naturopaths practice and are trained.[6][27] Naturopathic Diaries was given the 2016 Ockham Award for Best Blog by The Skeptic magazine.[6][25]

Hermes has documented that naturopathic organizations make misleading claims about naturopathic education in comparison to the training of medical doctors.[2][4][15] She contends that accredited naturopathic programs do not adequately prepare students to become competent medical practitioners.[2][15][28] Hermes argues that naturopaths are not able to recognize serious health conditions and treat according to the standard of care due to inadequate medical training.[15][17]

Hermes has described her experiences observing licensed naturopaths frequently misdiagnosing patients and providing inappropriate medical advice, such as advising against vaccinations and treating cancer with alternative methods.[2][17] She has characterized naturopathic methods, especially ones using vitamins and supplements, as lacking adequate scientific evidence and based on exaggerated health claims.[2][4][29] Hermes' views are consistent with and elaborate upon previous criticisms of naturopathic education and practice.[7][8][30][27][31]

AdvocacyEdit

Hermes believes that naturopathic doctors are misrepresenting their medical competency to the public and lawmakers.[2][10][15] She maintains the following policy positions on the regulation of naturopathic doctors:

  • Naturopaths should not be permitted to use the title "doctor" or "physician" because this misleads patients into thinking naturopaths have medical training commensurate with that of physicians practicing evidence-based medicine.[7][15]
  • Naturopaths should be prohibited from treating children.[10][15] She highlights the case of a Canadian toddler who died and whose parents faced criminal charges for not providing him with prudent medical care for his fatal bacterial meningitis, which included seeking treatment by a licensed naturopath in Alberta who prescribed him a tincture of echinacea.[15][17][31] However it turns out that the naturopathic doctor in question never saw or examined the child — or even knew that the herbal remedy was for someone with the deadly illness,[32] moreover the parents themselves never suspected the toddler might have meningitis especially that the child was seen by a nurse who told them she didn't see anything obviously wrong with the toddler, yet advised them to go to emergency anyway.[33]
  • Naturopaths should not be granted medical licenses, and where they are already licensed their scope of practice should be reduced.[26][28]

Hermes started a Change.org petition, "Naturopaths are not doctors", to raise awareness of the shortcomings of naturopathic medicine and the naturopathic profession's political agenda of gaining licensure in 50 U.S. states by 2025 and participation in Medicare.[7][34][35] Naturopaths, including the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, have accused her of defamation against the naturopathic profession.[7][34]

When she was asked in an interview about the harm that could come from believing naturopathy, she responded,

  1. Cost "these treatments could be very expensive sometimes costing thousands of dollars.
  2. Believing in magic "patients would forego conventional treatments, and this... Can delay treatment or preventing them getting the treatment that could potentially save their life."[22]

Speaking at CSIcon Las Vegas 2017, Hermes described herself as delusional regarding her naturopathic education, describing the teaching at naturopathic schools as pseudoscience.[36]

In a separate interview in 2018 she commented on one of the distinctions between naturopathic medicine and science-based medicine stating that "When you’re going through naturopathic school, we’re told that what we’re being taught is evidence-based or science-based. These are different things. Evidence-based doesn’t mean the same thing as science-based. Homeopathy is a really good example to try to differentiate these terms. You can find evidence, even randomized controlled trials, that make it look like homeopathy might work. You pull from that body of research. You cherry-pick those studies. Now you have an evidence-based therapy. Science-based means that it’s actually plausible. Homeopathy is not science-based. It’s nonsense. It breaks the laws of physics. It’s not plausible. The argument is that we should make sure something is science-based before we even move on to studying it. It should pass the science test first".[37]

An anonymous blog was set up that has attempted to pick apart Hermes's claims by citing low-quality studies by naturopaths in defense of naturopathic practices.[6]

Hermes also contributes to Science-Based Medicine,[7][38] KevinMD,[39] Science 2.0.,[40] and Forbes.[13][41]

LawsuitEdit

US-based naturopath Colleen Huber filed a defamation lawsuit against Hermes in Germany over her statements about natural cancer treatments and research which were published in a blog post about Huber.[42] The lawsuit was filed in Kiel, Germany on September 17, 2017.[43]

Australian Skeptics managed a fundraising campaign to assist Hermes in her defense. The campaign met its initial goal of A$80,000 within the first nine days.[44] In an interview on the European Skeptics Podcast, the president of Australian Skeptics, Eran Segev, spoke positively about the fundraising campaign saying that "the skeptical community does rally behind people. We have seen this with Ken Harvey. We are seeing it again now".[45]

On June 3, 2019, Hermes announced in Naturopathic Diaries that "On May 24, 2019, the District Court (Landgericht) of Kiel, Germany ruled against naturopathic cancer quack Colleen Huber in a defamation lawsuit she brought against me." Hermes also said that Huber could appeal until early July 2019, "which I would zealously fight".[46] In a presentation a CSICon in Las Vegas in October, 2019, Hermes noted that the appeals deadline had passed and therefore Huber cannot sue her again for these points in Germany.[47] The entire history of the lawsuit was described by Hermes in a 2020 article in Skeptical Inquirer.[48]

PublicationsEdit

  • "An Inside Look at Naturopathic Medicine: A Whistleblower's Deconstruction of Its Core Principles" in Pseudoscience: The Conspiracy Against Science, 2018[49]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "East County Bravos". Ventura County Star. June 3, 2006. Archived from the original on June 13, 2006. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Belluz, Julia (September 2, 2015). "Why one naturopath quit after watching her peers treat cancer patients". Vox.
  3. ^ a b Spitzer, Gabriel. "This Ex-Naturopath Turned Back To Science-Based Medicine, And Paid A Price For It". Sound Effect. KPLU. Archived from the original on April 21, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Haglage, Abby; Mak, Tim (May 25, 2016). "Inside Donald Trump's vitamin 'scam'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Robins, Rebecca (May 17, 2016). "Funded by vitamin makers, naturopaths push to expand in US". STAT. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Thielking, Megan (October 20, 2016). "'Essentially witchcraft:' A former naturopath takes on the field". STAT. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Senapathy, Kavin (May 31, 2016). "Why Is Big Naturopathy Afraid Of This Lone Whistleblower?". Forbes. US. Archived from the original on March 22, 2020. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Novella, Steven (March 10, 2015). "Naturopathic Delusions". NeuroLogica. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  9. ^ Campbell, Hank (September 13, 2015). "Would the last naturopath to exit please turn out the lights?". American Council on Science and Health. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  10. ^ a b c Hutchins, Aaron (January 11, 2017). "Gluten-free baby: When parents ignore science". Maclean's. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  11. ^ Gentry, Carol (December 1, 2016). "Despite Skeptics, Alternative Doctors 'Detoxifying' Blood With UV Rays". Health News Florida. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  12. ^ "Bravo!: October 8, 2011". Ventura County Star. October 7, 2011. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Mustain, Patrick (January 10, 2017). "Doctors Hate Him! The One Weird Trick That Gave Us President Trump". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  14. ^ a b c Gerbic, Susan (July 25, 2017). "The Bloody Work of "Naturopathic Doctors" with Britt Hermes". Skeptical Inquirer. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jim Brown (April 10, 2016). "Former naturopathic doctor calls for an end to naturopathic pediatrics". The 180. CBC.
  16. ^ "'We're grateful for the chance to do this'". Bothell Reporter. February 23, 2009. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  17. ^ a b c d Kirkey, Sharon (April 4, 2016). "Should naturopaths be restricted from treating children after tragic death of Alberta toddler?". National Post. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  18. ^ "Dr. Michael Uzick disciplinary actions". Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  19. ^ Hermes, Britt Marie (June 21, 2016). "How A Former Naturopath Can Help Unravel The Trickery of Alternative Medicine". Science 2.0. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  20. ^ Hermes, Britt Marie (January 29, 2016). "The shocking confessions of a naturopathic doctor". KevinMD.com. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  21. ^ Rogers, Kaleigh (June 21, 2017). "A Former Naturopath Told Us How She Sold a Detox Scam". Motherboard. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  22. ^ a b Jarry, Jonathan (January 11, 2018). "An interview with Britt Hermes at CSICon - CSI". www.csicop.org. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  23. ^ "Maddox Prize 2018 – Sense about Science". senseaboutscience.org. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  24. ^ "Britt Hermes Awarded 2018 Maddox Prize for Courageous Defense of Science". Skeptical Inquirer. 43 (2): 9. 2019.
  25. ^ a b "The Ockham Awards 2016". The Skeptic. 26 (2). 2016.
  26. ^ a b Bellamy, Jann (May 4, 2015). "Naturopathic Diaries: Confessions of a Former Naturopath". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  27. ^ a b Lowe, Derek (October 25, 2016). "Regrets of a Naturopath". In the Pipeline. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  28. ^ a b Iranpour, Neda (March 23, 2016). "Should Naturopathic Doctors Have More Rights?". CW6 San Diego. Archived from the original on July 1, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  29. ^ Mills, David (June 2, 2016). "Exactly How Bogus Were Those 'Trump Vitamins'". Healthline. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  30. ^ Gorski, David (March 13, 2015). "A naturopathic "apostate" confirms that naturopathy is a pseudoscientific belief system". Respectful Insolence. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  31. ^ a b Cliche, Jean-François (May 2, 2016). "Interdire la naturopathie aux moins de 18 ans?" [Prohibit naturopathy to those under 18 years?]. La Presse (in Canadian French). Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  32. ^ Blackwell, Tom (March 16, 2017). "Regulator clears naturopath in Alberta boy's meningitis death that saw parents criminally convicted". National Post. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  33. ^ "Alberta parents whose toddler died of meningitis were told to visit doctor, trial hears". CBC. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  34. ^ a b Ernst, Edzard (June 14, 2016). "Naturopaths: rubbish at healthcare, excellent at character-assassination". Edzard Ernst. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  35. ^ Novella, Steven (May 24, 2016). "Naturopaths are not doctors". NeuroLogica. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  36. ^ Frazier, Kendrick. "CSIcon Las Vegas 2017 Conference Report". www.csicop.org. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  37. ^ Damania, Zubin (February 18, 2018). "Naturopathy Is 99.9% Bull$hit, But Here's What That 0.1% Can Teach Us". Medium. Archived from the original on April 17, 2018. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  38. ^ Britt Hermes. "Author archive". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  39. ^ Britt Marie Hermes, ND. "Author archive". KevinMD.com. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  40. ^ "Britt Marie Hermes". Science 2.0. August 27, 2014. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  41. ^ Hermes, Britt Marie. "Britt Marie Hermes". Forbes. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  42. ^ Devlin, Hannah (March 27, 2018) "The naturopath whistleblower: ‘It is surprisingly easy to sell snake oil’", The Guardian. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  43. ^ Hermes, Britt (January 13, 2018). "I need your help: naturopath Colleen Huber is suing me". Naturopathic Diaries. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  44. ^ "Fundraising campaign for Britt Hermes". Australian Skeptics Inc. January 13, 2018.
  45. ^ "Jelena Levin and Pontus Böckman" (January 17, 2018). "Britt Hermes and Eran Segev" (Podcast). theESP. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  46. ^ Hermies, Britt Marie (June 3, 2019). "Justice prevails! Cancer quack Colleen Huber loses her defamation suit against me". Naturopathic Diaries. Britt Marie Hermies. Archived from the original on June 4, 2019. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  47. ^ Frazier, Kendrick (April 2020). "From fantasyland America to the fabric of space and time: Celebrating science and probing our public confusions". Skeptical Inquirer. 44 (2): 15.
  48. ^ Hermes, Britt (2020). "Beware the Naturopathic Cancer Quack". Skeptical Inquirer. 44 (2): 38–44.
  49. ^ Bigliardi, Stefano (2019). "The Advocates of Pseudoscience Are Not Monsters - but Pseudoscience Is". Skeptical Inquirer. Center for Inquiry. 43 (6): 58–59.

External linksEdit