AMVETS in Action

AANP, AMVETS Promote Non-Pharmacological Approaches for Chronic Pain



Diane Zumatto, National Legislative Director
Phone: 301-683-4016

Michael Jawer, Director of Government and Public Affairs
Phone: 202-237-8150

Washington DC, September 16, 2015 – AMVETS, one of the nation’s largest veterans service organizations, has joined with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) in seeking to promote natural, non-pharmacological approaches to treating veterans suffering from chronic pain.

The organizations have collaborated via a “Dear Colleague” letter in the US House of Representatives calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to take steps to employ licensed naturopathic physicians, who are specially trained in natural, non-invasive methods of healing. A “Dear Colleague” letter to that effect has begun circulating in the US House of Representatives. Leading the charge is Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI), who – like many of his colleagues – is concerned about the dangers of overmedicating veterans, especially with painkilling opioids. Rep. Pocan is joined by Representatives Julia Brownley (D-CA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Walter Jones as the letter’s initial signators.

“After incidents across the country of veterans overdosing on or abusing opioids associated with chronic pain, it is clear we need a new approach to veterans’ pain management,” Rep. Pocan stated. “Our veterans deserve access to all possible forms of care when making their healthcare decisions, including the services provided by naturopathic doctors (NDs).”

The VA serves 8.76 million veterans each year, and chronic pain is known to disproportionately affect those who are serving or have served in the military, affecting nearly half of all active-duty military personnel and veterans.

The letter urges VA Secretary Robert McDonald to assign an employment code to licensed NDs so that they can be brought into the agency’s healthcare system. Signators will be on record as supporting the inclusion of “licensed naturopathic doctors, who are trained in the use of safe and effective natural and conventional therapies, in the spectrum of healthcare professionals employed within the agency.” Citizens can quickly and easily urge their Representative to sign the letter by clicking here.

Before its collaboration with AMVETS to support the House Dear Colleague letter, AANP commissioned a nationwide survey of a representative sample of America’s veterans, finding that nearly two-thirds of veterans (64%) would prefer a doctor who prescribes natural therapies before considering drugs or surgery, and that nearly three-quarters of veterans (73%) would consider seeing a ND if he or she were on staff at a nearby VA facility.

For military veterans, chronic pain often coexists with other health problems such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. NDs are well suited to help, since they are specially trained in natural, non-pharmacological approaches that facilitate the body’s self-healing ability.

Approximately 4,400 NDs are licensed to practice naturopathic medicine, having earned their degree from 4-year postgraduate naturopathic medical schools accredited through the US Department of Education. The approaches studied include nutritional counseling and stress reduction, botanical medicine, therapeutic manipulation, and oriental medicine. A strong emphasis is placed on disease prevention and educating patients on proactive self-care to maintain wellness. Resolutions passed by the US Senate have urged Americans to learn more about this “safe, effective, and affordable form of health care.”

The seeds for the VA initiative were planted at this spring’s AANP legislative conference, when NDs and naturopathic medical students swarmed Capitol Hill expressing the need for the VA to bring NDs into its employment mix. The agency has the ability to assign NDs an existing employment code; Congress’ letter is intended to encourage the VA to take the next steps.

Ultimately, the letter will be delivered to the VA, with the agency asked to respond to this “clear and present need.”

AMVETS (American Veterans), a leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s Armed Forces, has supported Veterans, Active & Reserve Component Service Members, their families and survivors, for more than a half a century. As a leading advocate for Veterans rights and benefits, AMVETS serves as one of the preeminent voices of Veterans on Capitol Hill. AMVETS seeks to enhance and defend the earned benefits of all Veterans & Service Members through leadership, advocacy and service. Learn more at

About The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians:
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) is the professional association that represents licensed naturopathic physicians. AANP strives to make naturopathic medicine available to every American, and to increase recognition of naturopathic physicians as the identified authorities on natural medicine. Learn more at

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19 thoughts on “AANP, AMVETS Promote Non-Pharmacological Approaches for Chronic Pain

  1. You have been misinformed about the training of naturopaths. While they are licensed in some other states, these folks have not had the same training as medical doctors. Naturopaths graduating from the so-called accredited schools take classes that have the same titles as classes in regular medical school but the content and depth is totally different and shallow. Their clinical training is also far less than an MD. Naturopathic schools offer about 1200 hours of clinical training, which includes chiropractic, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, and botanical remedies. These are not based in science as they have been shown to be ineffective and dangerous in lieu of proven treatments. Naturopaths do not do medical residencies, but some do naturopathic “residencies” that are a continuation of the same clinical training they learn in school. The fact that they are licensed in some states as PCPs has no bearing on their legitimacy, but rather a reflection of recent political maneuvering and grandfathered laws from the early 20th century.

    It would be a shame for American veterans to seek care from a naturopath. Veterans deserve the best medical care available, not old timey remedies from under trained “doctors” who think they have received the same training as medical doctors. Their education is also not accredited by the US Department of Education, but a group of self-promoting naturopaths who run a group called the CNME.

    Veterans should lobby the VA to make new policy on opiate pain relief, not invite snake-oil salesman and quack peddlers. Please reconsider your partnership with the AANP.

    For references please visit:

    1. Please post a legitimate, unbiased source if you want to refute the efficacy or affordability of naturopathic medicine. This hogwash barely holds any weight.

      1. Can you provide any sources to support your claims?

        Those sources I posted are reputable. Here are some more:–2003-and-S–1091–An-Act-to-Create-a-Board-of-Registration-in-Naturopathy/#.VeNG5NOqqko

        Let me reiterate that naturopaths get “1,200 hours of clinical training, which includes chiropractic, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, and botanical remedies.” This is a claim made by naturopathic schools themselves, and it is contextualized by naturopathic apostate Britt Hermes when she explains how that training actually works. That is, treatments for patients are pulled out of a hat and most of the patients are diagnosed with bogus diseases.

        Real doctors get over 15,000 hours of clinical training in real medical settings without any of the quackery. Real medicine works. It is unfortunate that NDs are misled to think they are trained to be doctors.

    1. “Britt Hermes, a Naturopath who could no longer practice Naturopathy in good conscience.”

      Britt Hermes was an unsuccessful Naturopathic physician who now writes blogs in Germany. There are many MD’s who have gone back to Naturopathic medical school because they weren’t happy with the conventional medical system. Having MD’s, DO’s, Nurse practitioners, and ND’s work together under the same room is a brilliant idea, something our vets should be excited for.

  2. Please reconsider allowing the AANP to trade on your good name. As the previous commenters have stated, naturopathic “medicine” is pseudoscientific quackery, pure and simple.

    Veterans have a hard enough time accessing decent health care without AMVETS helping the AANP to add more noise to the signal… you’ll be actively helping the AANP line their pockets at the expense of veterans’ lives.

    That’s not a good trade.

  3. I hope to god that AMVETS immediately drops this ill conceived plan to join up with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. My niece, a young beautiful child, had been treated by a naturopath because her parents assumed that NDs were trained the same as medical doctors. The naturopath convinced them to space out their daughter’s vaccines and opt out of several of them. When there was the measles outbreak last year, guess who got the measles?

    What a f-ing scary tragedy. Luckily, she didn’t have serious complications and is still alive, however she had to be hospitalized. To add insult to injury, when she started to get sick, the naturopath 100% mis-diagnosed her, thinking she had some sort of common rash, and she gave her some herbs and a pack of flowers to place on her stomach, plus some homeopathic pills. When her fever raged, and the ambulance came, it got real. The doctors at the hospital knew within three seconds what the problem was. The naturopath had no clue.

    I had no idea what naturopaths even were before this happened, and my poor brother and sister-in-law are ashamed to have subjected their daughter to this incompetence. The naturopath appeared to them as a “licensed, accredited, board certified physician.” In their state, they are licensed as such, which is just a god awful lie to patients who don’t know any better. Please, AMVETS, drop this plan. Naturopaths would seriously bring down the level of medical care at the VA. I am embarrassed to be a part of this great organization and to see this press release shared to me by one of my countryman. We can do better.

    1. Thank you for sharing your personal story but I don’t agree with much of what you have to say with naturopaths treating safely and effectively. I personally think this is a much needed service and that there is no better profession than the naturopathic medical profession. I see that you put 1977, maybe the profession has changed much since then? If I were you I would look up local ND’s and have a conversation with them and I think your mind would be changed. My grandfather gained major relief from a naturopath (a licensed one) and if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have had the relationship I was able to during the later years of his life. I’m grateful to live in a state that licenses them. Again, thank you.

      1. 1977 is the year I was born. I am speaking about licensed naturopaths as they practice now. I think it is shameless to say that “there is no better profession than the naturopathic medical profession.” These yahoos claim to be as good as medical doctors, but based on what I have researched they learn a bunch of bullshit in their schools. The others who commented are right to recommend that everyone read Britt Hermes’ blog: She has a lot of great essays about her decision to quit being a part of naturopathy and other essays about how NDs are basically quacks who run a racket on students thinking they are becoming doctors and on patients who think they are being cared for by a competent practitioner.

        That NDs do not support vaccination in full is enough to know they are a breed of lunatics. When you consider the wild treatments and bunk modalities they use on people, how can anyone who is not drinking the kool-aid believe naturopaths are good for anything.

        To the person who has a daughter going to ND school, I’m sorry for you. I wish you could understand that she is paying a lot of money for a piss-poor education. She might be considered a “doctor” in some hippie circles, but if you are bragging to your relatives that your daughter is in “medical school”, then god bless your delusional soul. Try and think about the possibility that she is being fooled and so are you.

        1. Wow, I’m sorry that you’ve had a negative experience with a naturopathic doctor, but your own personal experience, by no means paints a picture for the rest of the population that has had a positive experience working with one. I love my naturopathic doctor because she takes the time to listen to my health concerns and treats me in an effective manner. Not always with drugs, but sometimes in conjunction with with nutrition, botanicals, supplements, or herbs. My family’s checkups are very thorough, and our insurance covers most, if not all of our visits. She shows empathy and by now has developed a great relationship with my family. I don’t know what else encompasses the characteristics of a good doctor, but maybe you can enlighten us.

          Frankly, having experienced seeing an ND and not just having “researched” the profession, I state with great confidence that there is a large discrepancy between what this individual’s perception of what a Naturopathic doctor is, and what my own (and my communities) personal experiences actually working with one are. Here are a couple:

          1. “She might be considered a “doctor” in some hippie circles”

          Actually, in the state that I live in, they are licensed by the state and have been given permission to use Physician behind their name. They are also considered primary care physicians by my insurance provider, so where in the world are you getting your information from?

          2. “These yahoos claim to be as good as medical doctors”

          I have never once had the vibe come from my naturopath. As a matter of fact, my doctor receives referrals from MD’s in the area, and also refers out to MD’s, DO’s, Nurse practitioners on a regular basis. They are trained as primary care providers, so I assume that they are trained to refer out when appropriate, that’s what mine does at least. I remember my grandfather being referred out to a dermatologist due to some issue, and I was to see another primary care provider (MD or DO?) for another personal matter.

          3. “That NDs do not support vaccination in full is enough to know they are a breed of lunatics”

          What an odd statement considering that my own child has received vaccinations from this so called anti-vaccine practitioner.

          I am still wondering why I am spending a Saturday night on my computer, but reading your response really got me fired up and I felt obligated to dispel the unusual and misinformed babble that you are happily dispensing to the public, who are reading this and wondering what naturopathic doctors do. I’m guessing you do this often.

          If you mean for one second that pharmaceutical drugs and surgery is the only method of recovery, you are greatly mistaken. My Naturopathic doctor is one of the most caring, most heartfelt individuals I have ever met, and has spent countless hours looking after our health. I have been less sick over the years because of her knowledge of prevention, and feel like I’m in control of my own health because of her. She jokes and says that the less she sees me the better.

          Call them lunies all you want, but I am personally glad vets from across the nation are going to experience what my family has, and for that I am truly optimistic.

          ps. Britt Hermes seems like a hurt individual, and would probably benefit from some counseling or possibly a couple of hours with my ND 😉

          1. Got to chime in on this one. Sounds like you are lucky with your naturopath because you like her a lot. There’s no doubt that there are a few more or less capable NDs out there, for treating super basic issues, but by large the field is represented by quacks. If your ND gives you any sort of homeopathic product, then you’ve got a problem, as homeopathy is pure nonsense and quackery. If your ND gives you supplements or any other product sold out of her office, then you should be aware that this is an ethical problem since most of the products don’t actually do anything but then are prescribed and sold right before you leave, which is a conflict of interest. If your has delayed vaccinations or encourages spacing them out according to anti-vaccine docs like Bob Sears, then you are also in deep waters of woo. If your ND gets referrals from MDs, great, but let me guess, you are in Seattle or Portland, where there are large communities of integrative doctors who are drinking the same magic water as the naturopaths. That would also explain why insurance is covering your ND visits. If your ND is nice, then that is wonderful, but she may not actually know the limits of her knowledge and be suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect, which puts your family at risk. Also, back to supplements, they are extremely risky to take because they are not regulated, so who knows what is it in them. Sounds like bad news.

        2. Who the hell are you to tell me what’s best for my daughter. You can shove your rude and obnoxious statements right up the other end because they hold no truths! I absolutely know what my daughter is getting into and am supporting her every step of the way. So far her curriculum has been challenging and far from piss poor. I currently have nephews enrolled in med school and it’s interesting to see my daughter surpassing both of them in both anatomy and physiology after only one year. Her knowledge of biochemistry and nutritional biochemistry is also quite impressive! Yes, some of her professors are Naturopathic doctors, but the vast majority of them that are teaching the clinical sciences have their PhD’s.

          Miss hermes should have really researched the obstacles of the profession before enrolling. We did our homework. Part of the struggle is dealing with idiots like you.

          They are licensed in our state to call themselves Physicians, so she is going to medical school in my book. Maybe not in your little circle of close minded assholes, but to the rest of the state, they are.

          Go to hell

          -A proud mother

  4. Please drop this horrible idea. The VA Health Care system is already suffering enough without adding the nutcase brigade into the mix. Magical thinking and pseudoscience have no place in a system already struggling to provide adequate care to our nations veterans. While it may be tempting from an “add more bodies” sense, what it actually does is waste money, time, and resources on myths and gobbledygook. Veterans do not need sugar pills and snake oil; we need real medicine and real doctors.

    I mean, what’s next? Advocating MMS as a treatment for ptsd? Hiring Jenny McCarthy as a vaccine expert?

    Here’s an article for more information about this horrible misstep you’ve made:

  5. It is abundantly clear that AMVETS have no clue what a Naturopath is. You want my medical care to consist of sugar pills, herbs, crystal therapy, Applied Kenisology (look that one up) and other quackery? No thanks! You are not dealing with doctors, they are quacks!
    So sorry to hear this.

  6. I cannot believe the misinformation that is being spouted out against Naturopathic medicine. My family has been seeing a Naturopathic Physician for over 30 years now for our primary and conjunctive care, and I would have it no other way! My ND was able to reverse my grandfathers Type 2 diabetes, help my husband lose weight after a heart attack, and have provided me invaluable information that has provided me relief from my own pain from years of labor as a nurse. My MD and ND continuously talk to each other to provide the best care possible. Yes there was some medicine involved, but they were able to eventually wean us off that. I would not normally comment, but seeing this ill informed information breaks my heart. This is totally a step forward in the right direction and I commend Amvets and the AANP for working together to bring relief to those who are suffering from pain and addiction.

  7. Some of the comments here are hilarious. My daughter is going to school for naturopathic medicine and has befriended multiple students who have completed their time in the military. Open your eyes and realize that there are many lifestyle changes and natural solutions to the growing epidemic of chronic illnesses we have today.

  8. Wow, another VSO signs on to horse shit so they can prove they’re “helping vets.” All the legislative community does is run their mouth. Who’s your leader? Fire him!

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