In 1983 there was not much available for integrative doctors to work with to share information. There was no internet, no journals or magazines dedicated to natural medicine, and very few naturopathic medical meetings. Some doctors put together local reading groups where doctors could share information from mainstream medical journals that related to nutrition and supplementation. But for the most part there was nothing. Integrative physicians were like islands separated by many miles with no docs similar in thinking or philosophy. Worse the local medical society did not particularly like associating with preventive physicians. Use of diet and supplements and alternative treatments like acupuncture and energy medicine was disdained and criticized. Those physicians that broadcasted their methods and practice frequently found themselves in the cross-hairs of antagonistic medical boards and insurance companies. Not a friendly workplace.
I decided that I could create a newsletter dedicated to connecting integrative MDs and NDs. It started in 1983 with a small readership and was just 8 pages formatted with a typewriter and printed by photographing it. We did get a few advertisers. But it did grow incrementally. By 1984 it was 32 pages, something between a newsletter and a magazine. Many more doctors and consumers subscribed and more advertisers participated. The naysayers who thought there would be no publication in a year were wrong. Each year the Townsend Letter for Doctors, now just Townsend Letter, drew a larger reading audience and more advertisers. The writing covered the spectrum of natural medicine, diagnosis, treatment, herbology, homeopathy, vitamins and nutraceuticals, energy medicine, acupuncture, and alternative treatment practices. We covered the politics of natural medicine as well as the ins-and-out of how doctors practice day-to-day.
Of course, in the 1990s other journals began to appear and in the late part of the 1990s the internet began to be active in publishing at first on websites and then searchable on Google. The Townsend Letter has matured and our publication is no longer unrefereed writing; we require our authors to provide evidence-based reports documenting integrative medicine. However, we still give the reader a birds-eye view of how doctors practice “in the trenches.” We serve as a forum for doctors who want to share their insights into how to diagnose and treat. I review the article content of the Townsend Letter to be sure authors are providing legitimate and substantiated content. That doesn’t mean that I offer everything in my clinical practice that is published in the magazine. But I do keep an eye out for authors who misrepresent the intent of work by other doctors and researchers.
You can enjoy the writing of the Townsend Letter as a print magazine, e-magazine, or sample some of the content that is published each month on the website: www.townsendletter.com. And if you do become my patient you will have the opportunity to read current and past issues at each visit.
Jonathan Collin, MD