The Integrator Blog
Share |
Contact Me, Experience, Mission, Sabbatical in Central America, plus
Editorial Advisory Board
Michael Levin
Taylor Walsh
background resources in PDF
Insurance, Integrative Clinics, Industry Summit Reports, News Files '99-'04
some organization links
Professions, Academia, Research, Policy
some CAM/IM publication links
Electronic, Peer-Reviewed, Blogs, More
Bradly Jacobs, MD, MPH, Revolution Health Blog
supported conference
Institute for Health & Productivity Management - Integrative/Complementary Healthcare
Guest Column: Peter Glidden, ND, Lashes Out Against His Idea of MD-led "Integrative Medicine" PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Guest Column: Peter Glidden, ND, Lashes Out Against His Idea of MD-led "Integrative Medicine"

Summary: Naturopathic physician Peter Glidden, ND, sent me this column on a dare. He didn't think I'd publish it. Glidden blasts much of the so-called "integration" effort, lambasting MD-directed "integrative medicine" in particular." In truth, I held this for a few months. But I think that Glidden does capture sentiment frequently expressed by members of the distinctly licensed complementary healthcare professions as they observe the ascendancy of the "integrative MD." It's just that it's usually not shared in mixed audiences - such as the Integrator readership. What do you think?
Send your comments to
for inclusion in a future Your Comments Forum.

Peter Glidden, ND - What's the fuss about integrative medicine?
A peculiar pleasure, somewhat sadomasochistic, of working with many of the diverse parties involved in "integrative medicine and integrated health care" is observing members of one discipline blast the "other" when the other is not around then watching the same person sing a less polarizing tune when the other is face-to-face. As I shared in my column which explored parallels in our work with themes in Barack Obama' March 18, 2008 speech on race, all disciplines have what might be called the "Reverend Wright's Church Phenomenon." Things are said to one's own tribe that are rarely ventured in mixed company. Each profile holds pieces of the truth.

This column, by naturopathic physician Peter Glidden, ND, lashes out with the kind of perspective typically reserved for such tribal audiences. Glidden sent it to me on a dare, knowing that the Integrator readership is precisely mixed company. I held it for a few months, uncomfortable. Yet I think that what Glidden expresses captures views of many distinctly licensed complementary healthcare practitioners, particularly those who have been at it for years, as they observe the attention and ascendancy of this newcomer, the barely adolescent "integrative medical doctor."

Glidden, a 1991 graduate of the naturopathic medical program at
Bastyr University, presently splits his practice between Lombard, Illinois, and Vashon Island, Washington. On the homepage of his website, Glidden invites patients to "Build Health, Reduce Prescription Drugs, Attempt a Cure."

What is all this fuss about Integrative Medicine?

- Peter Glidden, ND

I must admit, I don’t know what all this fuss about Integrative Medicine is about.

“Integrative medicine” is like Christmas. The thought of it is always better than the actual practice of it. And besides, it doesn’t work. You cannot treat a patient with homeopathy and with allopathy at the same time, and, unless you were a moron, why would you want to.

I suppose that, as a holistic practitioner, it is a good idea to have an allopathic referral base for the rare patients who really do need surgery or drugs. (I can remember 7 in 20 years of clinical practice). But isn’t that already available? I mean, what’s the big deal?

"Unless I am mistaken, the
holistic practitioners working
at integrative medical centers
are being integrated right into
the second or third tier of
treatment. Great! Can't wait
to get that job."

- Peter Glidden, ND

The Marino Center is Allopath-Centered with the integrative therapeutics offered there being adjunctive, just as they are at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Unless I am mistaken, the holistic practitioners working at integrative medical centers are being integrated right into the second or third tier of treatment. Great! Can’t wait to get that job!

I wonder how people would feel about an integrative medical center that was naturopathic-centered, and that had allopathic therapies as adjunctive? Do any exist? Oh yes, I forgot – any ND’s office in Seattle, now that WA ND’s have full prescriptive rights for all legend drugs. By the way, has anyone checked [Henry] Lindlahr’s grave to see if he’s rolled over yet?

The best any of us can hope for, and certainly the thing that will help the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time, is not for there to be more clinics where MD’s act as the gatekeepers with the “adjunctive” holistic practitioners employed there scrambling for therapeutic crumbs, but for there to be an EQUAL PLAYING FIELD for all types of licensed medical disciplines.

Naturopathy needs to be licensed in all 50 states with secured scopes of practice reflective of our training and skill. Period. That way the entire country will become like a giant idealized integrative medical clinic, because then all of the people will have equal access to all of the medical disciplines all of the time. How great would that be? Isn’t that better than having a naturopath tell you to take your acidophilus after the allopath has pumped you full of IV Rocefin? I think so, but who am I to judge?

Furthermore, an enchilada from a Taco Bell in Chicago, is not the same thing at all as an enchilada from ANYWHERE at all in Puerto Vallarta (except of course from a Taco Bell).

"My experience with most MD’s
who practice holistic medicine
is that their therapies are
watered down and sophomoric."

- Glidden

My experience with most MD’s who practice holistic medicine is that their therapies are watered down and sophomoric. It is always better to go to the source to get the best of anything. MD’s are great at surgery and to a lesser extent with emergency care. They should leave it at that. For everything else, their therapies consistently fail, and cause harm in the mean time.

Why would I, as a naturopath, want to align myself in an integrative medical clinic with a medical culture that has consistently failed for 200 years to come up with a cure of most chronic diseases that affect most people most of the time, and that has, by its own reckoning, provided treatments that are the 5th leading cause of death in the US? The only reason for anyone to do so is to hope that by riding the coat-tails of the MD’s they would pick up more patients.

I just don’t get it. Is our training so poor that we can’t cure cystitis without that antibiotic in our back pocket just in case? There is no logical reason to support the idea of integrative medicine, just as there is no logical reason to support the idea of the Democrats and the Republicans agreeing on economic policy.

What we need is equal protection under the law, and equal access (through insurance carriers) for ALL licensed and trained medical practitioners. Then integration will happen as a spontaneous social phenomenon, not as an artificially induced MD-directed one.

Comment: Four, brief comments from the many I think to make. First, Glidden shows a classic characteristic of the
"Reverend Wright's Church Phenomenon." The picture Glidden presents of what the typical naturopathic physician can accomplish with nature cure is, in my experience, grandiose. It understates the importance of the integration of allopathic drugs (yes, Lindlahr has probably curdled in his grave) and allopathic procedures and surgeries in the care of ND patients.

Second, it is a shame that we don't have the openness, confidence and equanimity in the ND and integrative MD cultures that would have allowed these two guilds
to be deeply partnered this last decade since the integrative MD was birthed. The fields have a lot to learn from each other, and to gain from working together.

Finally, and good news here: the work of Bill Benda, MD, to bring together leaders of diverse professional organizations advances in August. (See "Political Clout from and AHMA, AANP, AHNA Collaboration: The Vision of Bill Benda, MD, the Interlocking Director," June 5, 2007.) 
At a conference session for the annual gathering of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, Benda is adding to his mix of panelists Vic Sierpina, MD. Sierpina is chair of that fount of integrative MD action, the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine. As was explored here in the Integrator, it will be interesting to observe the tribal interaction.

Send your comments to
for inclusion in a future Your comments Forum.


< Prev   Next >
Integrative Practitioner
The Westreich Foundation
voluntary contributions
Support the work!
All Integrator Round-ups
Integrator Top 10 Lists 2006-2015
Issues #140-#142 Oct-Dec 2015
Issues #137-#139 July-Sept 2015
Issues #134-#136 April-June 2015
Issues #131-#133 Jan-March 2015
Issues #127-#130 Sept-Dec 2014
Issues #123-#126 May-Aug 2014
Issues#119-#122 Jan-April 2014
Issues #116-#118 - Oct-Dec 2013
Issues #113-#115 July-Sept 2013
Issues #110-#112 April-June 2013
Issues #108-#109 Jan-March 2013
Issue #105-#107 Oct-Dec 2012
Issues #102-#104 - July-Sept 2012
Issues #99-#101 - April-June 2012
Issues #96-#98-Jan-March 2012
Issues #94-#95 Nov-Dec 2011
Issues #92-#93 Sept-Oct 2011
Issues #90 and #91 - July-Aug 2011
Issues #88 and #89 - May-June 2011
Issues #86 and #87 - March-April 2011
Issues #84 and #85 - Jan-Feb 2011
Issues #82 and #83 - Nov-Dec 2010
Issues #80 & #81 - Sept Oct 2010
Issues #78 & #79 - July August 2010
Issues #76 & #77 - May June 2010
Issues #74 & #75 - March-April 2010
Issues #73 & #73 - Jan-Feb 2010
Issues #69, #70 & #71 - Nov-Dec 2009
Issues #67 and #68 - Sept-Oct 2009
Issues #65 and #66 - July-August 2009
Issues #63-#64 - May-June 2009
Issues #60-#62 - March-April 2009
Issues #57-#59 - Jan-Feb 2009
Issues #55-#56 - Nov-Dec 2008
Issues #51-#54 - Sept-Oct 2008
Issues #47-#50 - July-August 2008
Issues #46 & -#47 - May-June 2008
Issues #43-#45 Mar-April 2008
Issues #41 & #42 - Feb 2008
Issues #39 & #40 - Dec-Jan '08
Issues #37 & #38 - Nov 2007
Issues #35 & #36 - Oct 2007
Issues #33 & #34 - Sept 2007
Issues #30-#32 - July-Aug 2007
Issues #28 & #29 - June 2007
Issues #26 and #27 - May 2007
Issue #25 - April 2007
Issues # 23 & #24 - March 2007
Issues #21 and #22 - Feb 2007
Issues #19 and & 20 - Jan 2007
Issues #17 and #18 - Dec 2006
Issues #15 and #16 - Nov 2006
Issues #13 and #14 - Oct 2006
Issues #11 and #12- Sept 2006
Issues #9 and #10 - Aug 2006
Issues #7 and #8 - July 2006
Issues #5 and #6 - June 2006
Issues #3 and #4 - May 2006
Issues #1 and #2 - April 2006
All Articles by Subject: 2006
All Articles by Subject: Jan-June 2007
IAYT-Sponsored Series on the Future of Yoga Therapy