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Clinic Offers Alternatives to Traditional Medicine

by Dr. Jonathan V. Wright MD

Published: The Virginia Pilot – Monday, April 3, 2000

‘PHYSICIANS should be trained in the use of botanicals,” Andrew Weil said recently before a congressional subcommittee hearing on alternative medicine. The noted University of Arizona Physician-author of “Coyote Medicine” and “Eight Weeks to Optimum Health” is on a tear.

But Dr. Jonathan Wright tore into traditional medicine years before, promoting alternatives to help the chronically ill and disabled years before.

In 1973, he founded the Tahoma Clinic, incurring many practitioners’ wrath for treating patients successfully with less than pharmaceutically prescribed drugs. His convictions paved the way for Weil and others.

The clinic is in a nondescript, two-story, 22,00-square-foot building 25 minutes from the Seattle-Tacoma airport. The sign in front reads: “Family Medicine, Preventive Medicine, Nutritional Biochemistry, Allergy.”

Becoming a patient is simple.

After making an appointment by phone, the clinic sends out a new patient packet that includes an eight-page “Case History, ” for completion. The clinic also asks for copies of prior test results.

“Most people, who come here, arrive with a diagnosis in hand,” Wright said, noting, ” We may not always agree with it.”

Tahoma receives special rates from a nearby hotel that offers airport transfer and daily round trip clinic transportation free.

After arrival, your assigned doctor does a complete hour-long “work-up”. On staff with Wright are six other specialists. Thomas A. Dorman, a board certified internist concentrates on orthopedic problems and chronic illnesses. Davis W. Lamson, a chemical researcher from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and naturopathic practitioner, specializes in diseases of the immune system.

Others specialize in MS, diabetes, aging, natural hormone replacement, endocrinology, pain control or incorporating Chinese and traditional western medicine. A nutritionist works with diet and food, chemical and environmental allergies.

Almost everyone is given a gastric analysis test to determine whether the stomach is producing enough acid to digest food properly. The procedure involves swallowing a capsule about the size of a large multi-vitamin that contains a miniature battery, radio transmitter and pH sensor. The results are recorded on a graph. If acid is lacking, specific enzymes are prescribed.

There’s also a “bio-terrain” assessment testing urine, saliva and blood by computer for abnormalities. Larry Ward, Tahoma’s expert in the field of computers and electrodermal screening, says, “this technique measures that status of the body’s systems.”

Using the body’s meridian points, Ward also scans for some 10,000 food, vaccine, chemical pesticide, metal and food additive sensitivities. He also searches for parasites, bacteria, mold and viruses. Yet, Ward reinforces this FDA-approved computer as an investigative, not a diagnostic tool.

Other tools are diagnostic. A German-made thermography machine called the CRT 2000 detects body heat to reveal tumors. It’s proven more sensitive in detecting breast cancers than mammography.

Tahoma’s in-house laboratory tests 190 foods and 36 inhalants, according to lab manager, Dr. Steve Hillary, A Virginia Tech biochemist. It also test hormone levels and essential fatty acids, analyzes mineral and endocrine levels.

The clinic uses over a dozen different IV infusions for conditions ranging from malnutrition to high blood pressure. All solutions are preservative-free.

Treatment plans can include vitamin, mineral, amino acid, and hormones to be taken by mouth or injection for chronic illnesses such as severe asthma in children where B-12 shots have proven successful.

Tahoma has its own “Dispensary,” with many products formulated by Wright and his colleagues.

Tahoma takes no medical insurance. You must pay up front. However, the staff will file your provided insurance forms for reimbursement to you. The average initial visit costs between $1,500 and $2,500.

“It’s amusing to watch the whole field being invented by universities, as if it never existed,” Wright said, adding, he believes greater acceptance of alternative medicine is a result of HMO frustration.

This may well be true. The Washington State Insurance Commissioner regulated that all medical insurers operating within the State had to cover certain natural medicine treatments. And, King County, which includes Seattle and Kent, legislated a Natural Medicine Health Clinic as part of its community health centers, a first in the United States.

But Wright and his colleagues at the Tahoma Clinic know it didn’t happen overnight.

Write to Alexandria Berger, c/o The Virginia-Pilot,
150 W. Brambleton Avenue, Norfolk, Va., 23510

E-mail her at

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