Readers' Letters
by: L.E. BASKOW, Jill Stanard, director of clinical operations at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, measures tinctures for dispensing at the clinic. A growing number of Oregonians choose naturopathic doctors for their primary care, a move encouraged by state officials. Letter writers, however, are at odds over whether that is a positive trend.

Naturopaths can solve the (primary-care doctor) shortage problem now (Paging Dr. Alternative, April 1). NDs can set up their own office in a rural area and administer drugs. Physician's assistants would need the state to allow them to prescribe drugs - currently allowed in limited cases.

Alternative medicine can co-exist with Western medicine. This is not an either/or problem. There is a need for a wellness point person in everyone's life. Such a person would look at the bigger picture: Give advice on life wellness and work with an ND at the same location.

Joe Power

Northwest Portland

MDs lack tools to heal patients

If you MDs did your job, we would be out of a job (Paging Dr. Alternative, April 1).

Your drugs - they kill. They don't heal anything, they only suppress and down regulate the body. You never get to the root of anybody's problem.

Emergency and trauma medicine? Sure, we need you for that. I mean, nobody ever received a gunshot or got in a car accident and asked for an alternative care provider. They need emergency medicine.

But when you look at health care or wellness, your drugs kill more than they heal. You create more side-effects than you cure. It's not your fault; you just don't have the necessary tools to heal anybody.

And, really, the best way to get rid of all these alternative health care providers? It's simple: Start doing your job.

The patients will get healthy and they won't need us. You don't listen to your patients. You rush them in and out.

Alternative health care providers see that we should both work together - when we do, the patient gets healthier quicker, and they are happier. But most MDs believe it's their way or the highway.

Get 'em and get 'em out - six minutes - write your 'script and go.

It's OK: Your patients all come see me, because you never help them.

Brad Whisnant

Southwest Portland

Nurse practitioners are better solution

One thing left out of the educational background aspect of this article is educational accreditation differences between MDs and the various degree titling used in the complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) field (Paging Dr. Alternative, April 1).

While MD programs have fairly rigorous oversight, the same can not be said of ND (naturopathic) programs, which vary a great deal, lack depth and include - as core training - many modalities completely lacking in scientific evidence.

A much better solution to the primary care provider shortage is getting more nurse practitioners in the field, or at least require equivalent training and accreditation of naturopaths wishing to assume these roles.

Those wanting more information on quality CAM studies can search the Cochrane Collaboration Consumer Network at

Jeffrey G. Woodall

Southeast Portland

Are you covered?

Did I miss the part where the story (Paging Dr. Alternative, April 1) addresses malpractice coverage?

Sally Choong


Combine Eastern, Western medicine

I have an excellent MD and treasure her medical care (Paging Dr. Alternative, April 1). At the same time, I have been fortunate to have experienced naturopathic medicine in China. I am a Type 1 insulin-dependent diabetic caused by an MD's accident with a needle; have a hereditary back problem; and have had three medical white papers written about me.

While touring China with my family, part of the tour included the world's leading Tao medical university, whose practice is more than 4,000 years old. Compare that with the medicine practiced by our MDs. It wasn't too long ago that MDs were using leeches, and the red on our barber poles is from the days of blood letting.

As part of the tour, we were offered the opportunity to be examined by the grand master at the school. The process is simple: a thumb on the inside of a wrist with the index finger on the opposite side while they concentrate. Then, they do the same on the opposite wrist and sometimes have you stick out your tongue. They believe that there are 144 sensors in the body sending signals through the blood and that they can read the signals and then discover the problems.

As the grand master started to provide his diagnosis, while my family smiled, our guide/translator stopped him because he didn't understand. The grand master started again with the same diagnosis and again the translator stopped him. At this point, we told the translator that the grand master was right when he said that my brain does not sleep - American MDs have tested and shown this to be true. With that, the grand master continued and did not miss a single malady, including some from the past.

When we finished, we were offered the opportunity to buy the medicine that was prescribed. So, I did, and began taking the little gray/brown rough granules.

By the third day, I no longer needed insulin and my back stopped hurting. (I can't remember the third problem, but it went away as well). This absence from pain and the need for insulin continued for over three months until three days after I ran out of their medicine. I would love to go back and get more.

Fortunately, some of our leading medical universities and professionals are studying medicine as practiced in China and combining it with Western medicine. Then we will have the best of both worlds.

Jim Crowell

Northwest Portland

Alternative therapies same as placebo

Thank you for interviewing Mark Crislip and Kimball Atwood for your article on naturopathy (Paging Dr. Alternative, April 1). There are a few glaring omissions, however, in the article.

One is that in 10 years, $2.5 billion has been spent testing the efficacy of 'alternative' therapies with the result that none of them work above and beyond placebo. The second is that supplements, which many naturopaths rely on, are not regulated by the FDA and have not been tested for drug interactions.

Unlike homeopathy, supplements contain chemicals that interact with our bodies and other medications we might be taking. The idea that 'natural' equals 'safe' is laughable, but all too common.

Many people do not feel that supplements are drugs and fail to report use of them to their doctor or pharmacist. I sincerely hope the state comes up with a better solution to the shortage of primary care physicians than licensing quacks.

Meagan Ness

Southeast Portland

MDs have no room to criticize

Northwest Portland physician Mark Crislip, an infectious disease specialist, needs an appointment with a naturopath. In a recent story, Peter Korn's 'Paging Dr. Alternative' (April 1), Crislip explains the difference between medical doctors and naturopathic doctors: 'Their (naturopaths) primary curriculum is based on magic,' he says. Magic?

If Dr. Crislip is the point man for MDs regarding naturopathic medicine, they might want to find someone less feverish. One board-certified, state-licensed, health care provider degrading other board-certified, state-licensed health care providers does little to improve health care in general and smears all medical doctors equally.

Is there magic in health care? What else can you call a CT scan, PET scan, MRI or even an X-ray. Seeing through a body even sounds magical, let alone seeing different depths in the body. Even Superman, with his special vision, thinks it's magic.

A recent Newsweek story, 'This Won't Hurt A Bit' (March 5) cites the Rand Corporation/The Milbank Quarterly, William Weintraub and the Christiana Center for Outcomes Research for their numbers in listing what they called pointless procedures: '$33.3 billion for gratuitous medical imaging, CT, MRI, PET scans; $11.1 billion for ineffective spinal surgeries; $2 billion for unnecessary angioplasty with or without stents; $1.1 billion for inappropriate hysterectomies; $550 million for needless antibiotics for viral infections.'

Is this the tip of a financial iceberg, or something else?

Author Sharon Begley writes that most in the medical industry worked to keep health care reform from exploding. Big Pharma agreed to give up $80 billion in revenue over the next decade. Hospitals agreed to cut $155 billion. The American Medical Association 'pledged to support health-care reform only if its members' incomes didn't take a hit.'

It doesn't take magic to see through that smoke cloud.

David Gillaspie


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