A bitter fight over who can be called 'doctor'

by MAURA LERNER ,  Star Tribune | 2008-06-08

It took 99 years, but Minnesota has finally given official recognition to the practice of naturopathic medicine, which relies on the body's powers to heal itself.

Under a new state law, naturopaths -- who use everything from herbal remedies to biofeedback -- will be allowed to register with the state and call themselves doctors without fear of running afoul of the medical establishment.

You might think that would be a cause for celebration throughout Minnesota's alternative-health community.

But you'd be wrong.

Instead, the new law has triggered a bitter rift among the vast array of people who practice alternative medicine, from homeopaths to folk healers to massage therapists.

To those covered by the new law, it's simply a way to get more respect and professional freedom for a particular brand of holistic medicine. But others see it as an assault in a turf war that could benefit a few highly trained practitioners at the expense of others.

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