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From Alternative Medicine a Definitive Guide to the Wellness Inventory - An Interview with Pioneering Entrepreneur Jim Strohecker

© John Weeks

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Integrator Blog by John Weeks . View all columns in series

Strohecker: When we started working on the book in 1991, the public as a whole was still very skeptical of “alternative medicine”, the medical establishment was overly hostile and actively targeting “alternative” practitioners, and the media tended to belittle, ridicule, and marginalize anything outside of mainstream medicine. In short, it was a very challenging time and environment for those practitioners who had the courage to follow their convictions as to what constituted “best practices”.

Nearly 400 practitioners and organizations contributed
Our intent in creating the book was fourfold: to define, clarify, and legitimize alternative medicine by synthesizing, in one volume, knowledge from nearly 400 experts, dozens of professional associations, and the leading available research; to provide consumers with direct access to this knowledge as well as referral to practitioners; to create a bridge for health professionals to be introduced to the field; and to provide a substantive resource for policy makers who could no longer dismiss alternative medicine as a fringe phenomenon.

On Developing

Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide
600,000 copies of the 1100 page book sold

"It was an adventure with plenty of drama
with many participating practitioners being
harassed by their state medical boards and
even losing their licenses during
the book’s creation."

The creation of the book was a passionate, collaborative journey with the participating health practitioners and associations, to promote medical freedom and to give the various systems of medicine and modalities comprising alternative medicine a seat at the healthcare table. Practitioners were grateful and happy to participate in a project that sought to give them a voice in a potentially historic project. And, it was an adventure with plenty of drama with many participating practitioners being harassed by their state medical boards and even losing their licenses during the book’s creation. Some doctors chose to speak off the record as they didn’t want to be on the radar screen of the FDA or state medical boards.

The most famous raid, the FDA raid of Dr. Jonathan Wright’s clinic in Kent, Washington, on May 6, 1992, when FDA agents and 10 police officers, broke down the clinic’s door and entered with flak jackets and guns drawn, to the horror of the staff and patients, futher galvanized our mission. The opening chapter, “Medical Freeom and the Politics of Health Care” profiled Dr. Wright’s case, and other abuses by the FDA, and ended with an open letter to President Clinton and the First Lady about including forms of effective, low-cost alternative medicine and promoting medical freedom in their health reform package.

By the time the book was completed it had grown to nearly 1100 pages, and with the challenges of its’ interactive layout, it was clear that it wouldn’t possible to go through a conventional publisher, so created our own publishing company, Future Medicine Publishing. The last major hurdle was creating the book’s title. This was my first experience with the challenges of attempting to name this great collection of traditional systems of medicine and therapies and self-care practices, both ancient and modern. After considering Holistic Medicine, Complementary Medicine (this term was really only being used in the UK in the early 1990s), and other names, we chose “Alternative Medicine”, as is the title best represented its relation to prevailing mainstream medicine, and how to best position it with the public – as an alternative. The Office of Alternative Medicine had also named its first director the previous year.
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About The Author
Resumes are useful in employment decisions. I provide this background so that you may understand what informs the work which you may employ in your own. I have been involved as an organizer-writer in the emerging fields of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine since 1983. Happily, I have learned some things. I was once called an "expert in alternative medicine" by......more
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