As I have been writing about for the last two months, I have been consultinga Naturopathic Doctor, Katy Wallace. She specializes in nutrition and healing with whole foods. I have had great success with her help, in losing weight, reducing pain, improving my energy and digestion, and overall well-being. I believe in alternative and natural healing, and in our right to pursue whatever kind of health care and health information we so choose.
There is a bill currently moving through the Wisconsin Sate Senate, SB115. This bill aims to regulate the field of dietetics and nutrition, creating a licensing regulation for anyone who provides nutritional services. I strongly oppose this bill, as it would limit what information practitioners are allowed to provide about diet and nutrition to solely western-science based information.
The bill extends the control of dietitians to all nutrition care services in the state (developing a monopoly over nutrition services available) and makes it illegal for any professional with a position different from the American Dietetics Board (ADA) to provide individual nutrition care to consumers. This is problematic, as the ADA has a specific perspective. For example, one of their positions is that there is no evidence that organic foods are healthier than conventional foods.
Under this bill, my Naturopath's practice, as a natural health consultant, would be considered illegal and she would be put out of business. I wouldn't be able to obtain the kind of health care or information I choose and want. The excellent information she provides and education she has in her field would be considered illegitimate and illegal to share.
In order to be a registered dietitian, practitioners will be required to:
1) receive a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in certain nutrition fields from a college or university that the board determines is accredited or receive a degree from a program in nutrition approved by the board;
2) complete at least 900 supervised hours of dietetics practice; and
3) pass the registration examination, or its equivalent, established by the American Dietetic Association (ADA).
Because many of the alternative health practitioners do not prescribe solely to Western Medicine's views on diet and nutrition, they would not be able to become registered dietitians, or if they did, they would have to provide information they do not necessarily endorse nor agree with. It would limit the source of nutritional information available to the public to one perspective: that of the ADA. To keep consumers and communities healthy, Wisconsin deserves access to a variety of valid approaches to nutrition.
This bill is primarily being pushed by Registered Dietitians, who on the whole take the stance that they are the only practitioners with "real" nutritional knowledge. Many of them consider naturopaths to be "quacks" (as one RD described to me). I am willing to recognize that from their perspective, this bill would "protect the public" from receiving "bad" or "unfounded" health information and services. I respect that they are trying to push an agenda that they feel is best for people. I realize that in general, having regulations and licenses for health practitioners sounds like a good idea (I myself am a licensed massage therapist; I have a level of ambivalence about this I would be happy to discuss) but not when it means that the state is taking away our right and ability to choose alternative care or to use medical practices not currently recognized or endorsed by Western medicine.
Western medicine provides a lot of valid information about health and nutrition. But it is not the only "right" source, and I want to be able to choose what I believe about my health, how to manage it, and what kind of practitioner I want to see about it.
I believe it should be up to individuals to research their own practitioners and find what kinds of treatments and practices best serve their personal needs and align with their own beliefs.
Please contact your legislator (find out who your legislators are and get their contact information at: http://www.legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/waml/waml.aspx) and encourage them to oppose SB 115.
The text of the bill can be found here: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB-115.pdf
and for more information, the Wisconsin Health freedom Coalition website is useful: http://wihfc.com/WDA_legislation.htm
Please pass this information along to other alternative and natural health minded friends.