You may hear that Naturopathic Physician Bills or Dietitian Bills/Laws do not negatively affect traditional healers and practitioners.  We have heard from others in states where these bills have passed, that this is not the case.  We are putting together a list that you could use to show legislators as examples of what could possibly happen if such a bill were to pass in your state. If you are aware of other Health Practitioners negatively affected by a Naturopathic Physician or Dietitian Law, or negatively affected because there are no laws in place - please email it to:


OHIO – PATTY SHIPLEY - Updated June, 2009


My name is Patty Shipley and I earned my certification as an herbalist in 1999 and my degree in naturopathy from Trinity College of Natural Health in Warsaw, Indiana in 2002. 


I’ve continued my education with natural health seminars 3-5 times per year, most of which offer CEU’s to licensed health professionals.


Currently, I am working on a nursing degree at Columbus State, and for the past 7 years, I’ve been practicing as an herbalist/naturopath inside Central Ohio Compounding Pharmacy (COCP), located in Worthington. 


COCP is a preceptor site for pharmacy students and 1-2 days per month a pharmacy student is assigned to me for observation and project management.  At COCP, we believe strongly in integrative care, and many of our clients are referred from local licensed practitioners.


My story is a sort of worst case scenario as to what is happening and will continue to happen until a legislative safe harbor is established for unlicensed health practitioners.  This should also serve as a warning to states where a dietetic law is being proposed.


In 1999, I posted a flyer at Wild Oats advertising “herbal hours” I was offering at a chiropractor’s office where I was sharing space.  Aside from talking about medicinal herbs and aromatherapy, I also discussed the importance of eating a diet that excludes refined and processed foods.


Within only a few days of posting the flyer, I received a call from Beth Shaffer, the compliance officer for the Ohio Board of Dietietics (OBD).  The complainant was a personal friend of Kay Mavko, the executive secretary of the OBD, who had seen my flyer and mailed it in.  What I learned as a result of that initial call and 2 subsequent office visits, was that in a planned setting (group or one-on-one), anything I said that would motivate someone to change their diet in any way was considered the practice of dietietics, according to their interpretation of the law.


I was told I could not even suggest a book written by a dietitian, because then I would be holding myself out as an expert on who the experts were.  Having no money to defend myself, I “came into compliance” and quit offering the classes, which had been a good source of new clients for my practice.


Since that time, a code revision has made it legal to provide general non-medical nutrition information (GNMNI).  This means I can give clients basic nutrition information as long as I tell everyone the same thing and don’t set up specialized diets to address specific health conditions. 


Alongside providing GNMNI (such as eating whole grains versus refined, good fats versus bad fats, and so on), I help clients construct a protocol utilizing herbs and nutrients that best addresses their health concerns.


In 2004, I began co-lecturing at the Elizabeth Blackwell Center with Bob Wood, the consultant pharmacist that oversees my practice.  In early November of 2005, I again received a call from Beth Shaffer, the compliance officer for the OBD.  A woman who had attended one of our lectures took issue with the designation I was using and filed a complaint.  Although there are 15 states that license naturopaths to use the designation “ND”, she stated in her complaint that it was the same designation nursing uses to indicate a nursing doctorate.  This marked the start of an investigation that lasted from late 2005 until March of 2007, costing me in excess of $18,000.00 in attorney fees, and an untold number of hours spent away from my practice and clients.


During this investigation, the OBD googled me and dissected newsletters I had posted on various websites, subpoenaed records, deposed me, deposed both pharmacists that co-own the pharmacy, questioned our dietitian, Stacey Homan, under threat of deposition, and submitted list after list of questions to me through my attorney.  Even though I advised the OBD that I had retained an attorney, Beth Shaffer continued to call the COCP offices leaving messages with staff members that she was “investigating a complaint” filed against me.  She delivered subpoenas personally and in every encounter I had with her, she was unnecessarily aggressive and consistently behaved in a manner that I found unprofessional and inappropriate for a representative of a state agency. 


During this period, Ms. Shaffer intimidated our dietitian, Stacey, by insinuating that the investigation could expand to include her, and as a result, the dietitian left our practice shortly before the case closed.  This was particularly disheartening, as one of the reasons we brought a dietitian on board in the first place was so that we could refer clients who needed medical nutrition information that we are not allowed to provide.


The OBD took the position that because I gathered information about a person’s symptoms before suggesting specific herbs and supplements, I was practicing dietetics, even though:


1: the dietetic curriculum does not include training on the applications of herbs and most of the specialized nutrients I utilize in my practice, and


2: I was not giving individualized advice about food.


After the many months of extremely high stress levels, the investigation was closed without any fundamental changes to my practice.  The only stipulation was that I provide a paper trail showing oversight from Bob Wood, our owner/compounding pharmacist. 


In neither the OBD investigation of 1999 or the protracted investigation ending in 2007 was someone claiming harm—in fact, in neither instance was the complainant a client—but instead someone seeking an avenue for investigation through the OBD.


My story represents only a sample of the regrettable abuse endured by non-licensed practitioners in this state—abuse that will continue to happen until something changes.  I may sound reactionary, but I cannot avoid sounding angry.  I am angry as a business owner. I am angry on behalf of my clients and staff who were negatively impacted by the misguided actions of Ms. Shaffer and the OBD.  And I am angry on behalf of the citizens of this state who will find it more difficult to locate a practitioner such as myself who could help them dramatically improve their health.


You know, it wasn’t that long ago that mainstream licensed health practitioners were telling their patients that margarine was the healthiest fat.  How many people suffered heart disease and an early death from this advice? 


Citizens have a right to choose where they get their information, and with growing endemics such as diabetes and obesity across the nation and the state of Ohio, we must make the services of practitioners like me more accessible by passing legislation that creates a safe harbor.






Dietician Licensure Protects Dieticians and Not the Public
By Pamela A. Popper, posted February 13, 2004

In 1987, the Ohio legislature passed a law creating the Ohio Board of Dietetics. As has been the case in almost every state where dietitian licensure has been proposed to the legislature, the impetus for the law was not public demand, but dietitians wanting a board, licensure, title protection, and turf protection. Not one member of the public in Ohio testified that licensure was desired by the public, or that it would benefit the public in any way.

Ohio State Representative Don Gilmore had reservations about this law from the time it was passed. I have included a copy of a letter he wrote expressing some of his concerns, all of which actually became reality during the next several years.

Problems began shortly after the law was passed. The Board received national attention as a result of its interference with the activities of a visiting well-known nutritionist from California who had intended to present a continuing education program at a hospital. A story was featured in an issue of Dr. Julian Whittaker's newsletter and is attached as Exhibit B.

Over a period of time, the Ohio Board of Dietetics adopted more and more stringent Rules and Regulations governing the practice of dietetics. Some of these regulations include: 

  • No one except a dietitian can use ANY title indicating expertise in the area of nutrition. This means that people who have earned Masters Degrees, Ph.D.s and titles such as "Certified Nutritionists" are not allowed to use their titles in Ohio. The Board has taken aggressive action against people who violate this rule, conducting expensive investigations and issuing cease and desist orders against legitimate practitioners who were using their earned credentials. 
  • Only dietitians are able to give advice to people about nutrition and health, provide educational programs or be involved in developing policies about nutrition. 
  • Until very recently, even activities such as public speeches about nutrition and conducting general classes on nutrition were strictly prohibited. I was told that showing a movie about diet constituted unlicensed practice because any activity that might cause someone to change dietary habits is defined as the practice of dietetics. Again, aggressive action was taken against people who tried to exercise their first amendment rights and many of them were put out of business.

I am a nutritionist with a M.S. and Ph.D., and also a naturopath registered to practice in Washington, D.C. The Ohio Board of Dietetics began an investigation of me and my business for unlicensed practice in 1987 that lasted for several years and has cost tens of thousands of dollars.

During the time that I was engaged in my conflict with this Board, I was threatened with criminal prosecution, as well as incarceration for refusing to comply with the terms of one of their subpoenas that demanded, among other things, a list of my clients and practitioners like me who had spoken at my health center.

The good news about the bad things that happened to me was that legislators who were appalled at the situation have introduced a bill that would repeal much of the original 1987 bill. During hearings for this legislation we have discovered many things: 

  • The Board finds its "prospects" for investigation by perusing the yellow pages, looking for flyers in health food stores and encouraging dietitians in the State to notify them when they find out about a non-dietitian's activities. A review of the files by the legislature found no consumer complaints. 
  • During one 6-year period of time, the Board investigated 795 people and took disciplinary action against 287 individuals, most of who were not dietitians. This resulted in numerous people being put out of business, as most of these people did not have the resources available to me, and served to restrict access to health information by Ohio citizens. 
  • The Board has not been able to produce one person who has been harmed by advice given by a non-dietitian. Examination of the files did not identify anyone who had been harmed either. 
  • Numerous people came forward to testify about the Board's heavy-handed investigation tactics and the impact these investigation had on their lives and financial status. 
  • Numerous members of the public testified that they specifically sought out advice from non-dietitians, and believed that it was their right to do so. 
  • Numerous individuals testified that they specifically sought out educational programs that did not promote the philosophy of dietitians and the American Dietetic Association.

It has become clear to everyone that the principal purpose of the Ohio Board of Dietetics has been to protect dietitians from competition and to make sure that the only information that Ohioans get about nutrition comes from dietitians. This is unfortunate since dietitians represent one school of thought about nutrition - a philosophy that more and more Americans disagree with.

Contrary to what most people believe, the American Dietetic Association is not a public health organization. It is a trade group that takes huge contributions from manufacturers and agricultural organizations. Their "position papers" on a number of health and nutrition-related subjects are, literally, bought and paid for. These are advertising messages, not scientific research. This organization controls the educational programming and registration of the thousands of dietitians in the U.S., and influences the thinking and practice of most dietitians. It is my personal opinion that the influence of industry on the practice of dietitians is one of the reasons why nutrition in institutions such as hospitals, schools and nursing homes continues to be abominable.

Although everyone agrees that dietitians have a right to form a trade group, restricting nutrition practice to only those who belong to that trade group is certainly not in the best interest of the public, and is unconstitutional.

The 1987 law passed in Ohio has been detrimental to the state in many ways: 

  • It has put people out of business. 
  • It has restricted the right of Ohioans to seek information they want from the source of their choice. 
  • Enforcement of the law has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars - licensure fees for dietitians have continued to increase to cover the cost of the Board's enforcement programs. 
  • Hearings, meetings, analysis of files and other activities related to repealing this awful law have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars during the last 3 years. 
  • Hundreds of hours have been invested by legislators working to reform this law - time that would be much better spent dealing with crucial issues such as improving our educational system.

The U.S. faces a health care crisis today - over half of the people in this country suffer from degenerative disease. We need more, not fewer people working on this problem.

Assisting dietitians in establishing a monopoly in another state is not in the public interest. I encourage you to vote against any attempt to do so.

Pamela A. Popper is is the founder and Executive Director of The Wellness Forum, a chain of health and wellness centers located throughout the United States and the Far East. This article was presented as testimony to the Virginia Legislature in January of 2004.




The Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners ruled May 15, 2007 Dr. Larry Rawdon of  Preventative Family Health Care, had been practicing medicine without a license. Dr. Rawdon, a pharmacist, is appealing the ruling.  Rawdon, owner of Osa’s Garden health food store, provides nutritional counseling to people who seek his advice, his supporters stated in an interview last week.


Rawdon is a licensed pharmacist in the state of Tennessee.  At this time, Dr. Rawdon’s pharmaceutical license has not been revoked. State Representative Dr. Joey Hensley stated, “They charged him with practicing without a license-- that is a serious charge...the penalty was excessive, I thought.” “The real problem is the practice of naturopathy is not legal in Tennessee and they [the Board] said he was practicing naturopathy...It is certainly not his fault someone died.”



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