One can almost hear
the rousing "yahoos!" in school yards around
the world as summer vacation begins. Many alternative practitioners are probably
yearning for those innocent days when they can toss aside the books and paperwork
and just head off to the beach or lake. And a summer break, for many doctors,
can not arrive soon enough. The assault on alternative and naturopathic medicine
is coming from all sides, even from within our own ranks! Of course, internecine
squabbles have always been part and parcel of science and conventional medicine – why
should alternative medicine be any different?
Recently a patient informed me that she had had food allergy testing done outside
my office. Having counseled and treated this patient for many years, I was taken
aback. I always find myself getting a little piqued when patients wander elsewhere
to get testing done that I readily could have provided. So I asked what sort
of testing she had done and who had performed the testing. She informed me that
she had had food allergy testing done by blood testing, presumably ELISA IgE
or IgG antibody allergy testing. I wondered which doctor she had consulted. I
was aghast when she informed me that this testing was done at a local Costco
store without an appointment. Phlebotomists had been hired by Costco and, for
a nominal fee and completion of a lab history form, an unnamed laboratory conducted
the food allergy testing, sending the test results directly to the patient.
Food allergy testing has always been fraught with controversy. Reports published
in the Townsend Letter and elsewhere have found that food allergy testing has
had a certain degree of testing uncertainty. For a warehouse merchandiser like
Costco to get involved with a test bearing a greater likelihood of uncertainty
than cholesterol testing, for example, seems risky and not very understandable.
What is a patient to do with food allergy test results without competent nutritional
counseling? How can the patient sort out potential pitfalls in analyzing these
test results? I still cannot fathom why Costco would want to get involved in
a type of lab testing that the medical profession, by and large, does not accept
at face value. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the alternative medical
community now has been put on notice that Costco is willing to go after its livelihood.
noted in the Townsend Letter and elsewhere, recent research published
during the last six months has assailed the value of naturopathic
and herbal medicine.
As summarized by Dr. Alan Miller of Thorne Research (www.thorne.com), in
"Bad Medicine or Bad Reporting," numerous studies have deprecated the
of vitamin and herbal supplementation and amino acid and mineral therapy,
as well as nutritional dietary counseling. Dr. Miller notes in his
that a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study found that
L-arginine supplementation was not helpful in patients who had
recently had heart attacks,
even though previous reporting found arginine to be helpful in treating heart
patients. Another JAMA study found that low-fat diets were not helpful in
preventing heart, breast, or colon diseases. An article in the New
England Journal of
Medicine (NEJM) reported that saw palmetto was useless for the
treatment of prostate enlargement.
Then, another study in the NEJM questioned the value of Vitamin D and calcium
in preventing fractures in osteoporosis patients, as well as the protective
effect of these nutrients in preventing colon cancer. Later, yet
report found that lowering homocysteine levels with B-vitamins did not help
prevent heart disease. Dr. Miller's report examines these
studies in depth and argues that the researchers neglected the
of data that would minimize
the negativity of these report outcomes. Be sure to look up this report on
www.thorne.com and keep it for future reference for patients, doctors,
and the media.
It is obvious that the conventional medical world is now quite worried about
patient use of nutraceuticals and herbs. There is clearly an effort being made
in academic institutions to attempt to belittle the value of alternative medicine.
We should be prepared for more of this sort of reporting in the future.
was recently informed by our columnist, Dr. Gina Nick, that the AMA
is once again organizing against alternative medicine. The AMA
is seeking to
councils and groups with the intended purpose of politically challenging
other disciplines practicing non-AMA medicine. Dr. Nick recently assumed
of the California Naturopathic Medical Association and is the spokesperson
for naturopaths in California. In mid-May, she initiated a public relations
to counter the AMA's attempt to suppress naturopathic and alternative
medicine practices. It is important for the readership to look out for
efforts to encroach on natural medicine nationally, statewide, and locally.
In Washington State, for example, Dr. Jonathan Wright informed me that
the medical disciplinary board is beginning to look over his shoulder again.
reason for the investigation: Dr. Wright has exceeded his medical responsibility
with his Tahoma Clinic web site (www.tahoma-clinic.com). Other individuals
in Washington State, who coincidentally practice chelation medicine, also
scrutinized for very dubious reasons, such as using compounded pharmacy
perhaps the most bizarre instance of medical usurpation I have witnessed
in three decades of practice, a non-licensed, "traditional"
practitioner has registered a trademark with the US Patent Office – for
naturopathic medicine!! Beverly Betancur, ND, a doctoral graduate
of Trinity College, has established an organization in Connecticut
National Council Inc. For a fee of $500, a so-called "traditional"
naturopathic doctor can be licensed to practice as "Doctor of Naturopathy,
Dr. Betancur told me that she has the authority to license doctors
registration No. 3,047,099. Her organization specifies that "individuals
who are engaged in the direct sale of herbs or nutritional supplements...without
first being duly licensed by the Naturopathic National Council, Inc.
to practice naturopathy will be subject to civil prosecution for
Betancur disdains naturopathic physicians who are graduates of four-year
programs. To review the policies of this organization, see www.naturopathic.us.
this issue of the Townsend Letter, we review natural treatment
approaches to controlling parasites, particularly the treatment of
Diarrhea." We also examine the use of the herb artemisia annua
in the treatment of malaria. Unlike saw palmetto, echinacea, ginkgo
and other herbs
that have been attacked in the conventional medical journals, artemisia
is one of
a few herbs the medical profession has openly embraced as an acceptable
form of treatment for malaria. While researchers worry that the
may develop resistance to artemisia as it did to quinine years
ago, the parasite remains very sensitive to the herb and its derivatives
is to use artemisia in conjunction with other medical therapies.
I find this approach strikes a chord with me, as I definitely think
be used judiciously with other prescription medications and vitamin/mineral
In the past few years, we have been very focused on worrying about
interactions between herbs and medications; it is nice to read
of a complementary
relationship between herbs and prescriptions.
Jonathan Collin, MD