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  • Writer's pictureJohn T. Williams

YouTube Cracks Down on Natural Medicine with Controversial New Health Policy

YouTube, a global leader in online video content, has recently updated its policies regarding health-related content, significantly impacting natural and alternative medicine videos. This change comes amidst growing concerns over medical misinformation online.

YouTube's revised policy, geared towards ensuring high-quality health content, is now more aligned with the guidelines of health authorities like the WHO and CDC. It categorizes misinformation into three main areas: Prevention, Treatment, and Denial. The policy targets content that contradicts established health guidance, particularly on topics prone to misinformation.

Content creators focusing on natural remedies may find their videos scrutinized more closely under these guidelines. For instance, a video promoting a certain herb as a definitive cure for a serious health condition, without scientific backing or approval from health authorities, could be removed. This move could limit the availability of certain types of alternative health content on the platform. The policy has sparked varied reactions. Some content creators in the natural health community feel their freedom of expression is being stifled, while others acknowledge the importance of curbing harmful misinformation.

Dr. Eric Berg, a health influencer known for sharing alternative health perspectives, and over 11 million YouTube followers, has voiced his concerns regarding YouTube's policy changes affecting health-related content. He expressed that YouTube's modifications to its algorithms, which now limit content not aligning with the general medical consensus of organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), are problematic.

In a video, Berg stated, "YouTube has just now banned anything related to health that doesn’t align with the general medical consensus." He highlighted the potential negative impact of this policy shift, arguing that "freedom of health information is really freedom of speech," and warned of the slippery slope this represents. Berg's stance reflects the apprehensions of many content creators in the field of alternative health, who fear these changes may restrict their ability to share diverse health perspectives.

In 2023, I produced over 100 videos for The Get Well Foundation”, a non-profit public benefit organization. The foundation’s specific purpose is to educate the public and health care providers about natural medicine, alternative medicine, herbal medicine, and alternative therapies which are complements to Western medical practices.

In the face of YouTube's stringent health content policies, natural medicine practitioners must adapt strategically to sustain their online presence. Here are key steps to consider:

Content Framing: Focus on educational content, emphasizing the complementary nature of natural therapies. Avoid making definitive health claims unsupported by mainstream medical consensus.

Collaboration and Advocacy: Engage in dialogue with health authorities and YouTube to advocate for fair representation of alternative medicine perspectives within the platform's guidelines.

Diversifying Online Presence: Expand beyond YouTube by building a presence on multiple platforms like blogs, podcasts, and other social media channels. This approach ensures continued audience engagement, regardless of platform-specific policy changes.

Alternative video platforms: The video platform, “Rumble” positions itself as a platform with fewer restrictions on content, which has made it a popular choice for creators seeking alternatives to more conventional platforms with stricter content policies. This feature is particularly appealing to natural health practitioners and other content creators who feel constrained by the recent policy changes on platforms like YouTube.

Community Engagement: Foster a robust community through interactive platforms, allowing for the sharing of experiences and knowledge while staying within the bounds of YouTube's policies.

Professional Disclaimers: Clearly state professional qualifications and include disclaimers where appropriate, clarifying the scope and intent of the content.

Continual Learning and Adaptation: Stay informed about evolving policies and adjust content strategies accordingly. Be open to incorporating new research and guidelines into your practice and content.

By embracing some of these strategies, natural medicine practitioners can continue to share their valuable knowledge and perspectives, contributing to a more diverse and informed health discourse online.

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