A page on the Institute for Vibrant Living website states the following:

Doctors are generally aware of what complementary medicine has to offer; in fact, they are better educated than most people about both orthodox and alternative medicine options. However, they are unable to suggest any natural health therapies to patients due to their employment contract. Regulations by health insurance companies prohibit doctors from suggesting natural non-drug treatments as a condition of their employment, backed up by Medical Board Regulations.

Is it true that all doctors in the USA are forbidden from suggesting non-drug treatments to patients?

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    Yes, the ban is called the HippocraticOath :)
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 20:11
  • 18
    Would my doctor recommending more exercise count as suggesting a non-drug treatment? Or more fish for high cholesterol? Or a cold compress for a sprain? Seems like what it really comes down to is that doctors can get into some trouble for recommending treatments that are not demonstrated to be safe and efficacious.
    – femtoRgon
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 21:26
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    Many(most?) doctors do recommend non-drug treatments. Also, doctors don't (generally) work for insurance companies, so there's no employment contract involved. Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 21:45
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    I am reminded of a quote by Tim Minchin; "There's no such thing as alternative medicine. Do you know what they call alternative medicine that's been proved to work? Medicine." Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 22:28
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    That some doctors may be inclined to prescribe medicament X because the sales representative promised to arrange for a "research weekend" in Rio de Janeiro, is a totally different story ... Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 14:51

2 Answers 2


Kaiser Permanente Seems to offer encouraging advice and services along those lines, and implies that their doctors can discuss options.

Possibly "natural health therapies" is a specific product line.

  • 1
    I can remember my health insurance company in the US supporting alternative medicine as well. Counter-examples are good, but it doesn't really demolish the central claim.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 21:59
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    @AndrewGrimm I read the claim as "all doctors in the USA are forbidden from suggesting non-drug treatments" my link suggests Kaiser doctors do not have such a ban, therefore not all doctors do. Kaiser is a large employer of doctors in my region so it would even cover a similar "these services are not widely available through doctors" claim the quote suggests. If I have miss-interpreted the claim I welcome guidance.
    – user36688
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 22:27

Doctors are NOT prohibited from recommending "alternative" therapies; in fact, some of the medications we use everyday came from home remedies. For example, salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin, was used by the ancients. It's found in the bark of the willow tree, and a tea made of the boiled bark was known to work wonders for pain. In fact, many if not most of today's common medicines are based on chemicals found in various herbs that we've used throughout history. The only way a doctor would get in trouble for recommending "alternative" medications is if he/she recommended ones that hadn't been proven to work and might cause severe side effects such as St. John's Wort. It's been proven to help with a variety of conditions, but isn't often recommended because it interferes with several key enzymes and may cause serious problems if one eats the wrong thing or combines it with the wrong medications. Some natural remedies used simply because the payoff for the patient is minimal, not because their a payoff for the doctor, and be suspicious of any claims made for products that have not been evaluated by the FDA.

  • 3
    Please provide some references to support your claims.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 1:18
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    Callingf aspirin a "natural" or "alternative" therapy reveals that the terms are poorly defined, but it doesn't get to the core of the claim.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 1:19
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    On this whole post, my favourite quote by Dara O'Briain comes to mind "“I'm sorry, 'herbal medicine', "Oh, herbal medicine's been around for thousands of years!" Indeed it has, and then we tested it all, and the stuff that worked became 'medicine'. And the rest of it is just a nice bowl of soup and some potpourri, so knock yourselves out.”"
    – SGR
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 15:23
  • For references, please look for any articles about Dr. Mehmet Oz and the complaints lodged against him. He has had a very popular TV show where he pushes home remedies and "alternative" medicines. He has been investigated several times because the majority of the remedies that he pushes are ones that haven't been proven to work by the FDA, and has received much negative publicity because of this, and has even had to explain why he has gotten on national TV recommending unproven therapies.
    – Harlemme
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 15:50
  • Also please provide some paragraph breaks for easier reading. >_< Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 17:47

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