Naturopathic care can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among high-risk patients, according to a clinical trial recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) – an influential journal comparable to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in the U.S.
“Although cardiovascular disease may be partially preventable through dietary and lifestyle-based interventions, few individuals at risk receive intensive dietary and lifestyle counseling from their doctors,” said Bastyr University’s Ryan Bradley, ND, MPH, who co-authored the landmark study with doctors at Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.
“Prevention is an important tenet in naturopathic philosophy, so we performed a randomized controlled trial for the first time in people at risk of cardiovascular disease to evaluate if naturopathic care may prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing the risk factors for the disease – and it worked,” said Dr. Bradley.
Delivered as a workplace wellness initiative, the yearlong study followed more than 200 Canadian postal workers of mixed ethnicity, aged 25-65 from Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton. Participants were separated into two groups:
- One that received naturopathic care, including individualized health promotion counseling and risk factor-targeted diet advice and nutritional supplementation;
- Another that received intensified usual care, including more frequent risk assessments and recommendations to return to their primary care provider.
Using traditional risk factors such as body weight, waist circumference, cholesterol profile, fasting glucose levels and blood pressure, the study found the “naturopathic group” had a reduced 10-year risk for cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. It also found a lower frequency of metabolic syndrome, a pre-diabetic syndrome that includes elevations of both metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors.
“Simply put, the participants who received naturopathic care had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease after their naturopathic care than when they started, rather than their risk increasing over time as it did in the usual care group,” says Dr. Bradley. “Naturopathic care appears to contribute to primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
“While this is not a major surprise given the high frequency of heart-healthy advice delivered by naturopathic doctors, it is encouraging that our research clearly demonstrates what we already knew, and we are hopeful people and communities who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease engage naturopathic doctors to reduce their risk and improve their health.”
In addition to the CMAJ website, the newly published study can also be found on Medscape, part of the WebMD Health Professional Network (login required).