War on Integrative Medicine, Part One: Eliminate the Integrative Doctors

Upset medical doctor womanThe basic idea is to preserve the conventional medicine monopoly by all means possible, including the use of state medical boards and physician credentialing groups.
There’s a close-knit confederacy of three powerful conventional medical organizations in the United States. These groups work closely together and are allied with both federal and state  government. One of their prime objectives appears to be to eliminate competition from natural health practitioners, especially integrative MDs and DOs, whom they seem to regard as traitors.
Decades ago, chiropractors sued the American Medical Association for similar assaults which they believed represented an illegal restraint of trade. The case went to the Supreme Court, which sided with the chiropractors. The present assault on integrative doctors seems to us to be just more of the same, motivated by the same crass business reasons—though it’s even worse this time.
If this sounds like a conspiracy theory, it’s not. Let’s look more closely at the AMA and its allies.

  • The American Medical Association (AMA) is the most powerful of the three groups we’ll discuss. It influences Medicare prices, has recommended that drug companies keep mercury in vaccines, and makes about $218.8 million a year on its government-granted CPT medical code monopoly. It’s also the eighth most powerful special interest on Capitol Hill, spending $18 million on lobbying in 2013.
  • The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) co-runs the medical licensure exam and is the umbrella organization for the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). In turn, ACCME accredits organizations that provide Continuing Medical Education (CME), which is mandatory for all licensed doctors. The FSMB has a history of discrimination against integrative medicine. Allegedly a private organization, it is hard to gather much information about, but it also seems to be led by the AMA, and seems especially determined to eliminate integrative doctors by one means or another. We will be writing more about the Federation in the future.
  • The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) consists of specialty boards of medicine (e.g., the American Board of Allergy and Immunology) and offers board certification. The ABMS was formed by a conference that included the FSMB and the AMA, and considers both organizations to be Associate Members.
    Technically, board certification is not mandatory. After all, doctors are required to remain abreast of the latest medical developments in other ways, such as through mandatory CME classes. But since the FSMB controls CME accreditation, doctors are forced to play the AMA/FSMB/ABMS game, one way or another.
    Moreover, the best jobs in medicine are typically reserved for those who are “fellows” of a given board. The higher rungs of medicine are run very much like a classic Medieval guild: knowing the right people and not displeasing them will make or break your career, regardless of your talent.

The three organizations described above work so closely together that they seem to us to be virtually one entity led by the AMA. The AMA and FSMB openly collaborate on projects and initiatives, while the FSMB is officially affiliated with ABMS.
Until now, doctors who are board-certified by the AMBS must be recertified every ten years. That gives the organization considerable control over doctors, though the control is loose. But, starting this year, the AMBS is requiring that doctors go through “mini” recertification every two to five years. This would make it much easier to keep tabs on and rein in anyone daring to dissent from standard orthodoxy.
Fortunately this has been met by opposition. In April 2013, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), not an integrative but an independent and courageous group unaffiliated with the AMA, sued the AMBS for imposing “enormous ‘recertification’ burdens” that are “not justified by any significant improvements in patient care.” The lawsuit goes on to call the recertification process a “money making scheme:”

[AMBS’s recertification] brings in many tens of millions of dollars in revenue to ABMS and the 24 allied corporations. Though ostensibly non-profit, these corporations then pay prodigious salaries to their executives, often in excess of $700,000 per year. But their recertification demands take physicians away from their patients, and result in hospitals denying patients access to their physicians.

As noted above, we do not think this new proposal is simply a “money making scheme.” Nor just an intra-professional power play. We believe it is designed to stamp out doctors who dare to explore non-conventional treatments that go outside the bounds of FDA-approved drugs and surgery, no matter how commonsensical (such as changing one’s diet) they are.
In response to criticism, the AMBS has responded that certification is purely voluntary, and that doctors not willing to be recertified more often can simply opt out. We have already explained why this is disingenuous. In addition, on their Certification Matters website, AMBS itself implies that uncertified doctors are somehow less qualified and may not provide adequate care:

Being licensed does not indicate whether a doctor is qualified to practice in a specific medical specialty, such as family medicine, surgery or dermatology. One of the best ways to know if your doctor has the qualifications to provide care in a specialty is to find out if he or she is Board Certified.

On the same website, AMBS has a search tool to verify if your doctor is certified. Not surprisingly, the ABMS refuses to work with integrative doctors, and only includes ABMS-certified doctors in their database—not doctors qualified by other boards.
Integrative practitioners do have some certification boards either in existence or in creation. But none of these boards will ever be recognized by the AMA-allied medical establishment and its allies and overlords in government any more than integrative doctors themselves will be recognized.
The whole point of integrative medicine is to take the best aspects of both conventional and complementary/alternative medicine and integrate them into a sound healthcare approach. We work for a healthcare system that embraces both modalities with equality and respect. All of medicine has a common foe in greedy, monopolistic organizations that seem to us to have their own best interests in view—not those of physicians, and certainly not those of patients.
For more information on finding an integrative practitioner in your area, visit our “Find a Practitioner” webpage.


  1. I think it is criminal what those three organizations are allowed to get away with. There are cures for cancer that exist, but woe to the Dr. that does not adhere to the slash and burn concept of treating cancer strictly by chemo, radiation or surgery.
    As a whole the medical community and all the associated industries are interested in the bottom line and it appears they will stop at nothing to make sure they keep their monopoly on how we are treated. Already individual’s rights are being abused when children are being removed from their parent’s because they choose other methods than the slash and burn.
    These organizations are dinosaurs and time for them to become extinct. Time for us to take back our life and our health, which means we have to get to the core of the problem, influence peddling in Washington.

    1. Sadly, I think the only way that things will change is when the allopathic near-monopoly of U.S. medical services sinks of its own weight – in dollars. Countries that cover alternative medicine under their national health plans spend far less and get much better results. The bottom line – allopathy is an expensive corporate entity that too often does more harm than good. It is rapidly becoming unaffordable. (Yes, I recognize that there are some allopathic treatments that are useful – but the overwhelming testing/drugs/surgery practice is a disaster). Moreover, environmentally triggered conditions are growing at a tremendous rate due to the thousands of toxic chemicals to which we are being exposed daily. Allopaths are mostly clueless about that – as well as about the contamination of the food we eat. It may begin with an underground movement, but natural, alternative approaches will move forward.

    2. Right you are Linda…as well as the many other contributors…but WHO will light the fuse? Anyone out there who has the cash to fund this effort, contact Wendy Chappell – [email protected] who is executive director of ICIM and this organization will run with the ball.

  2. You are correct in saying the activities and relationships you describe are not a “conspiracy” as that would imply something “illegal” according to the dictionary. I believe it does sound like “machination”, which my dictionary notes is “a hostile intrigue”. I hope the alternative medical folks have the ability to go all the way to the Supreme Court as did the chiropractors and highlight the ties and actions of all the “legitimate” medical groups and big pharma and get a ruling of illegal restraint of trade. OOPs…maybe there is a conspiracy here.

    1. No actually a great case of Sherman Anti-Trust and Rico Racketeering can be easily applied to the FSMB. All of their meeting have been recorded as evidence. But they are so arrogant as to believe that no one would create a class-action suit against them.

  3. I am contacting you to ask that you allow all options for medical care; I believe in alternative medicine and I want access to whatever I decide is appropriate for me and my family. Freedom allows this and I also want to ask that any insurance that we choose to purchase may be also free to cover this choice. This is the only way to ensure the future of America. Thank you.

  4. What is this world coming to? I would not feel comfortable have an unqualified doctor handling my medical needs. Must be qualified and not hip-to-hip with the poisoness pharmaceutical drug pushers. I could care least if the pharmaceutical companies go broke or not.
    Thank you,

  5. I speak as a patient.
    Although I live in another country (United Kingdom) I am interested in what seems to be happening in the USA.
    I was born, by chance, into a medical family. Grandfather, father and eldest brother were/are doctors.
    At age 17 I came across wholefood vegetarian ideas and naturopathy. I have studied widely for the benefit of others mainly.
    In my sixties I was warned to expect aches and pains relating to my age. This was why I read further and started taking many natural supplements, to fortify the food I have to eat, which is largely produced by modern agriculture with chemicals and on deficient soil.
    At 78 I am free from regular aches and pains and have no serious health issues. I have rarely needed medications, having had ‘flu once as an adult.
    I have had no colds for 10 years. I only wish that our comprehensive National Health Service in the United Kingdom embraced integrative practitioners, rather than the drug leg protocols.
    I support the freedom of patients and practitioners to use a range of treatments, and not restrict themselves to products of the pharmaceutical companies.
    Those trained in natural therapies with suitable training and qualifications should be enabled to assist patients to improve their health.

  6. Wow! Really lays out how the docs are forced to stay in the box.
    Well done. There is a role for palliative Rx treatment in treating illness, but the cart is before the horse. Many diseases are driven by lack of nutrients in our mal formed food growing and delivery system. Identifying the nutrient deficiencies and taking proper remedial action should be part of the basic treatment module.

  7. I read Zite every morning and this popped up on my radar. I applaud this article for exposing the dirty business of certification. I am board certified in neurology by an ABMS/AMA speciality board but in am lucky to not have to re certify as I was certified in the 80’s. I am also certified in the American Board of Clinical Neurophysiology and by the American Board of Sleep medicine. The last 2 boards aren’t ABMS approved boards but preceded the AMA/ABMS approved boards and were much higher boards to clear than the AMA approved boards that followed.
    I have just completed the integrative medicine fellowship at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine this January. I am absolutely committed to the ideals of integrative medicine. And I am horrified to think that what you say is true. To think that in my quest to find some greater truth to help relieve suffering is going to make me a target is hard to swallow.

    1. I am an M.D. who went undercover to two of the Federation of State Medical Board’s annual meetings in 1999 and 2000. There I heard and saw the mechanism set in place in 1912 (when FSMB was incorporated). They bring the members of the state medical boards to their lavish affairs and talk of “quack” doctors who do IV chelation, vitamins, etc…ie. Integrative Medicine. They published a subcommittee report in 1986 that spells out to the state medical boards how to “get” an integrative doc…they used the word “questionable medical practitioner” throughout the monograph. This blueprint to stamp out these threat (Rockefeller and his ilk got into Pharma big time just around 1912) by holding a big club over our heads – stay in line-write prescriptions or else we will take away your means of earning a living. I reported this at great risk to Clinton’s White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2001. This is no BS people…this organization is the “Beast” behind the scenes…hiding in the dark and more effective than the AMA because it holds huge sway over our governmental body the state medical board. Over 260 full time staff in two huge two-story buildings in Euliss Texas and where do they get their income? Well, they are private so unless they are sued and opened to the discovery process we will never know. But they sure can’t exist on paltry $10K yearly membership dues from each state board. This would make a great novel/movie. Brilliant control of couse really Big Pharma.

    2. “I am horrified to think that what you say is true”
      I am horrified to think that all that education was at the same time shielding you from what’s happening in the real world. Isn’t it bizarre and ironic that there is very little MDs can or do know that I cannot research on the web, yet much of what I know (not a medical professional) seems to be completely unknown to MDs I talk with, or even reveal such ignorance on their web sites. Which corroborates the article, meaning that the allopathic medical industry’s reach is deep, in this case illustrated by the pharmaceutical influence on your medical school ‘education’. Glad you smelled the coffee and it jolted you even more to following your commitment. And perhaps proactively fighting the tyranny at the same time.

  8. My doctor is board certified. When my lab tests came back a few years ago, he told me my blood calcium was too high and told me to stop the calcium. Fast forward one year later, my lower spine
    is out of alignment and causes me pain. He put me back on the calcium. I think he never should have taken me off the calcium. So in my book, board certification means nothing, His board certification hurt me more then helped me.

  9. Recently Raymond R. Townsend, MD commented on the recent JNC8 recommendations on hypertension.
    “Once the question was written and we had the data back, we had to manually go through the thousands of hits that we got through the process and grade them based upon preset criteria for what is an acceptable-, good-, fair-, or poor-quality randomized clinical trial. We consciously made the choice from the get-go that we would only accept clinical trial evidence for the report itself. We looked at meta-analyses. We looked at other things. But for distilling it down to what became the evidence base, we only used randomized clinical trials.”
    Even with that, six of the eleven recommendations were expert opinions that were not fully supported by the available clinical trials.
    “Those were the 3 critical questions that we came down to, but one of the problems that we faced — and we all knew this going in — is that we have fairly good evidence for diastolic blood pressure thresholds and diastolic blood pressure treatment goals. … What we lacked was really definitive evidence on the 140-160 mm Hg range for systolic blood pressure, particularly in the population at greatest risk of having that kind of blood pressure: those who are 60 years of age and older. … We acknowledge that there are no good- or fair-quality randomized clinical trials (particularly in the United States) that tested 140 mm Hg vs 160 mm Hg as a systolic blood pressure goal. So we acknowledged that from the get-go, but you’ve got to say something about what to do in that particular situation and base it as best as you can on your understanding of what we do have in terms of clinical trial data.”
    MDs apologize when they cannot find a high quality study to assist in a medical decision but Chiropractors, Homeopaths and others who would advertise themselves as practitioners of “Integrative Medicine” don’t need any study at all.
    Is it rude to say that anyone who talks about spinal subluxations that are manually reducible knows nothing about anatomy? Anything that a hand can push one way would be pushed the other way instantly by normal activity.
    Is it rude to say that anyone who talks about drugs whose maximum potency depends on their not being even one molecule of the original active principle in the bottle knows nothing about pharmacology?
    Continuing medical education is a courtesy to these charlatans in the faint hope that they will learn not to kill their patients.

    1. Is it rude to say that homeopathy works? Is it rude to say that chiropractic works?
      Until you’ve seen the correct homeopathic remedy work something close to a miracle or had your asthma wheezing stop when a certain chiropractic adjustment is made, then I suppose you have no incentive to learn about these modalities.

  10. obviously people are turning AWAY from their useless big pharma approaches, they must be getting scared of losing profits. I’m so sick of this…

  11. Nutrition and medicine must work together. They can’t exist without one another or the ill person will never totally get well. This is what Big Pharma wants so they can have patients for life for one or hopefully many ailments.
    So as a nutrition coach, the only thing to do in my opinion is to go to an integrative doctor or a ND.,

  12. They are obnoxious ignorant horrible poeple who practice antiquated medicine unlike modern integrativre doctors!!

  13. Why isn’t EVERY physician member of the AMA and such organizations required to be board certified? Elderly members whose training could be out-dated have been “grand-fathered” into such boards and NEVER have been tested and are certified for LIFE because they created the rules, while forcing all younger physicians with more recent up-dated training to test regularly and for the rest of their careers! Many of these same board members attend CME conferences, attending their own organizational meetings at board expense, while never attending the CME programs; yet they fraudulently and unethically claim credit for such CME training. The AMA and the AOA knows this, and even when confronted with proof of such activity, denies holding those physicians responsible for their lack of ethics and loss of educational opportunities that in the end truly does affect patient care.

    1. Oddly enough, despite the power wielded by the AMA, only a small percentage of American physicians remain AMA members. Last I heard, it was only 18-19%! So who do they really represent? Certainly not doctors.
      As a former board member of ANH-USA, it is wonderful to see this great organization continuing to powerfully confront the issues that affect the integrative community. Keep up the great work!

    2. I have found the older physicians to be more open to more natural suggestions for medical care than the younger ones.

  14. I go to a medical Dr. and to a Nathropathic Dr. Between them, I am quite a healthy nearly 76 year old.
    My uncle was a physician and our son graduated from Medical School, though he is not practicing medicine. There is enough room in our country and thinking to have room for both. Perhaps the medical Drs. do not want to share the dollars spent elsewhere but there is a need for both. I do not keep the fact that I use both from either and list my prescriptions and supplements with both healers.
    There is a lot of knowledge in this world, not everyone has all the answers, so let we people have options. Anything else points to arrogance somewhere.

  15. I appreciated this article that precisely explained the tension between traditional and integrative medicine. I am a retired RN raised in the traditional but my past 10 years have been studying integrative medicine – I find it so common sense, much less harmful to the patient, easier and less invasive ways to get to the source of the medical problem, and the doctors involved are for most part real doctors with a lot of courage and knowledge. I am very grateful for their continued care and pray that this division in the medical field will one day be broken down and the two might work together. I have had traditional doctors tell me that while they are aware of integrative practices if they try to prescribe any or encourage them, even if it will help their patient, they will be reprimanded. This is so sad. But there are also traditional doctors who will not listen to integrative doctors practices. I encourage all to do their utmost to break down these
    high walls of division which includes a lot of greed and ignorance.

  16. Horse accident and work related injuries nearly stopped me from working in 1980, had I not decided to seek Chiropratic and Acupunture I WOULD NOT be here today. It’s that simple. This is my body. Sincerely.

  17. I totally support alternative medicine and natural healing methods.and promote that information on my website. I am very skeptical about conventional medicine and strictly against big phama

  18. Integrative medicine means using both conventional and alternative. How do you consider chiropractors integrative? I’m not bashing the article at all but really if your going to write about the war on integrative instead of alternative medicine then please get the facts correct.
    The drugcare system definitely needs to have its monopoly broken up as we know there’s plenty of success both historical and present in using alternative therapies. Though one needs to actually understand what real alternative med.

  19. Hello. I have had Lyme disease for over 20 yrs. most doctors do not recognize or believe in “chronic Lyme” even though it is almost impossible to get rid of if you got treatment too late. and the 2 yrs of HIGH DOSES of different antibiotics hurt me in many more ways…and still suffer with Lyme–if I did not have herbs & vitamins to combat the worst symptoms, I could not stand it, or live with it. Samento is the ONLY thing that has ever helped Lyme, and kept the worst problems at tolerable levels. But it makes the “conventional” test for Lyme seem “negative” due to less spirochetes circulating–NOT showing the cysts that Lyme morphs into, & hides in the brain, organs & other parts of the body, able to hide even from the immune system. so Lyme is never really eradicated. I believe that they WANT US TO SUFFER from these man-made diseases, and want us to think we have to take their Rx’s for life, which are marked up thousands of times above their actual cost, when they don’t help, but actually add more problems, that they’d give us more Rx’s for! and on & on & on….I DO NOT KNOW WHAT I’D DO WITHOUT ACCESS TO THESE NATURAL HEALTH ENHANCERS AND LIFE SAVERS…HOW MANY PEOPLE WOULD SUFFER! AND the medical dis-establishment would be laughing about all the $$ they were making–never batting an eyelid to our suffering. If we figure it out, they say we have mental problems, and try to add 5 or 6 more Rx’s to the mix and ruin our credibility, so no one else would ever believe that they are not there for our health & healing, or welfare, but only for the almighty $, or their BOTTOM LINE.

    1. I too suffered with Lyme’s disease for a long time before I found an Md who also practices holistic medicine, he got me well & I am so fortunate that I found him! I am well now & suffer relatively few problems. I am very much a proponent of vitamins, herbs & supplements!

      1. Hi Teri, I wondered if you could take the time to let me know what your treatments consisted of? I am currently suffering from chronic Lyme. I cannot financially afford to see a holistic Dr, and am worried about being on long term antibiotics. Hope to hear back from you.

  20. Sadly in my state New mexico, ND’s are not licensed! I will in no way go them as they are basically operators or gatekeepers for the AMA. Here they set out and suceeed to brainwash the heck out of any person seeking natural care and get them to believe that they will die if they don’t take the referral they are giving you to see their AMA friend. They tell you the natural route is illegal and you must go see their Dr. friend. any natural remedies they do recommend are ones that are really of no value and would not work, hence you need to go to their friend. The ND’s essentially work for the AMA Drs! This sadly happens so much in states where there is no ND license.
    Often the ND’s move to a state that allows them a license and in those states it is safe to see an ND and they have your interest at heart and not the interest of the AMA. AZ has many competant and caring ND’s and they are a great option.
    Just think most people are not aware of what is going on w/ ND’s in states where there is no license for them and how they work for the AMA and how much pressure and brainwashing they put on patients to do things against their best interest.
    This is just another way the AMA stomps out natural medicine!

  21. Integrative medicine modalities do NOT prove out to be efficacious in rigorous large scale controlled and double blinded studies. It’s a waste of precious health care money!

    1. Come visit our office for one day and see the Power of Complementary Medicine: chiropractic care, clinical nutrition, acupuncture, chinese medicine, therapeutic massage – – and you might change your mind…. We’re practicing medicine as it was meant to be practiced, naturally, non detrminetal to the body. It sad that conventional medicine feels cut, burn and drug is the only solution … how very sad. Our family, our friends and our patients find health, peace and balance through complementary medicine. I don’t need any blind studies to know and see what happens in front of me every day.. . . I wish you well . . .

    2. You simplify and distort the truth about studies. Integrative Medicine is individualized for each patient. It is far from cook book as it takes the unique individual into account. There are many, many studies showing benefit from many of the modalities. All studies are not large scale, and it’s difficult to double blind a study on meditation or guided imagery, don’t you think? Keep in mind that IM is “INTEGRATIVE”, meaning it embraces conventional and EVIDENCE BASED non-conventional modalities for optimal care and well being. Your simplified statement that there aren’t large scale double blind randomized trials is simply ignorant to the realities of performing studies on complementary and alternative methods.

    3. It all depends on the studies you are reading and study design. There are many studies out there. And if integrative med was not so good why do the pharmaceutical companies keep stealing all our herbs to turn into their next greatest super cure?

    4. Karin, I am severely allergic to pharmaceutical drugs… all of them. I am almost 80 years old and I would not know what to do without knowledgeable integrative medicine doctors. Many modalities have been proven over thousands of years.

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