we finally achieved that important milestone – 25 years of
publishing the Townsend Letter!
I would like to say that we had champagne-toasting and caviar canapés
with pâté de foie gras, but that gala has not yet taken
place. For one thing, I don't own a tuxedo, and I really don't care
for doing the rental thing. For another, the exciting events we
hold in this tiny out-of-the-way paper-mill and tourist-catering
Victorian seaport tend to be rough-edged, lacking the blow-out venues
of L.A. or the Four Season splendor of New York. We still might
get together for "steak night" at the nearby Valley Tavern,
relishing the "chef's" bugle call. That being said, 25
years of publishing first a newsletter, then a "zine,"
and then a magazine has not only been an accomplishment for our
editors and writers and advertisers, but it has also been a tribute
to our faithful readers who have supported, advocated, and championed
We have been titled Townsend Letter
for Doctors, then Townsend
Letter for Doctors & Patients,
and now we have settled on simply the Townsend
Letter. Our subtitle, The
Examiner of Alternative Medicine,
is probably the best description of what we do. But perhaps an even
better description would be A Magazine
Forum Examining Alternative Medicine.
We strive to publish and print what goes on in alternative medicine
and healing. While "what goes on" is not always scientific
or medically acceptable, it is the work of healers and patients
here and abroad. As much as one would prefer to categorize the Townsend
Letter as a popular magazine or
a medical journal, it is probably neither. We "bulletin board"
what docs and healers do with patients, and much of it has not undergone
rigorous study or been based on scientific proof. Despite all the
efforts to legitimize alternative medicine practices by using labels
such as complementary and alternative medicine, functional medicine,
and integrative medicine, at some point, a treatment is either medically
proven and becomes a part of conventional scientific medicine or
is unproven, but still practiced, and remains a part of alternative
Our mission at the Townsend Letter
is to study and examine such unproven treatments; to consider what
science may be available for their acceptance; and to report on
those therapies that are in use yet fail to have scientific support.
We are a voice for the commercial parties who vend products and
services used in the alternative medical community and for practitioners
who advocate "pet" therapies. We also provide a forum
for the voices of consumers who seek alternative medicine treatments,
having found that their treatment choices have come to an end in
the conventional medical setting, as well as a forum for those who
seek "natural," non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical options
for treatment. Yes, there is a need for a forum for alternative
medicine discussion, and we have been honored to have been able
to offer such a forum for the past quarter-century!
Dr. Dan Labriola
At a recent medical symposium put on by Seattle's Swedish Hospital,
I had been forewarned by the lecturer that he intended to mention
the Townsend Letter. The doctor
is an individual I have known for many years who has contributed
a number of articles to Townsend Letter.
I was expecting a casual reference during his talk, nothing too
major, given that he was discussing complementary medical perspectives
with an audience of family practitioners and cardiologists. The
morning talks were centered on sleep apnea diagnostics, bariatric
surgery results, and pharmacologic treatment of hypertension and
hypercholesterolemia, and the audience and the faculty had been
predicating nearly every point with demand for scientific proof
and rigorous studies demonstrating clinical outcomes. In this arena,
I did not think the Townsend Letter
would be given a fair shake. So I awaited the moment with some trepidation
when Dr. Dan Labriola would cite our publication in his discussion.
Sure enough, the moment arrived, and the power-point slide displayed
an older cover of the Townsend Letter
while Dr. Labriola offered commentary on how the magazine provides
diverse and important information about alternative medicine that
the alternative medical community follows. Dr. Labriola allowed
that it was a forum, not a scientific journal, and he critiqued
that patients often are unable to sort out science from the unproven
in alternative medicine. The cover illustration had been nicely
done, and it remained on center stage for over one minute –
a nice tribute in the hospital medical setting!
Dr. Labriola, ND, is the founder of the Northwest Health Specialty
Care Clinic, which is associated with Seattle's Swedish Hospital.
During his talk, he discussed his concerns about the lack of quality
control and consistency in nutritional supplement products. Labriola
expressed his concern that many clinical failures in alternative
medicine treatment are the result of patients using mislabeled products
that do not contain the vitamin, mineral, and herbal contents cited
on the label.
Over the past decade, Dr. Labriola has required vendors to provide
assays of each and every supplement product sold. He has requested
independent laboratory assays that not only check for ingredient
concentrations, but also check for adulteration with chemicals,
toxic elements, and biological contamination. When he first demanded
these assays from his vendors, he was informed that such assays
had been done, but many failed to send him a copy of the actual
assay by lot number. Having found that a great many companies did
not provide him with written assays, he quit stocking his dispensary
with numerous proprietary formulas. Labriola states that now he
does get a lab assay for every supplement he purchases from each
supplying vendor who wishes to maintain his clinic's business. He
recommends that all clinics offering supplements for sale from a
dispensary require the manufacturer to provide a written assay of
each supplement lot. Labriola was willing to provide information
to health practitioners of the supplements he now stocks in his
dispensary and offers written reports of laboratory testing for
each individual supplement ordered by lot number.
The Townsend Letter intends to celebrate
our 25th year of publication by reprinting articles from past issues
throughout the year. In this issue, we will begin by reprinting
Dr. Labriola's editorial from November 1999 on the use of antioxidants
during the chemotherapy process.
Prof. Garth Nicolson
In the early 1990s, Professor Garth Nicolson wrote one of the earliest
reports on a condition that would later confound the US Veterans
Administration – Gulf War Illness. The Defense Department
was well acquainted with treating the injuries of the wounded, but
they were utterly unprepared for dealing with G.I.'s coming home
with chronic illness predicated on biological and chemical exposures.
In this issue, Prof. Nicolson reports that a diverse group of bacterial
organisms play a major role in the etiology of neurologic disorders,
including autism. Nicolson's Gulf War Illness work focused on mycoplasma
as a major infective agent in the 1990s. His current work examines
mycoplasma's role in multiple sclerosis, ALS, and Alzheimer's disease.
The role of Borrelia burgdoferi (Lyme Disease) in these disorders
as a co-infection with mycoplasma may ultimately transform neurology
into an infectious disease specialty.
Dr. John Cannell, MD, has devoted most of his energies to studying
and reviewing the role vitamin D deficiency has played on human
health. In this issue, he makes the case that autism may be related
to fetal and post-pregnancy vitamin D deficiency. Nenah Sylver,
PhD's two-part article on electromedicine reviews the devices in
use from the work of Rife to the use of low-intensity laser to work
on pain, muscle, and bone injury and healing.
Jonathan Collin, MD
Daniel Labriola, ND
Northwest Natural Health Specialty Care Clinic