Alternative Health Care is Under Attack by a Hidden Standard - The Unfortunate Case of Dr. Shortt

A recent case in the news highlights an alarming trend in "alternative" health care-how difficult it is becoming to both obtain and provide alternative care in the United States. Dr. James Michael Shortt (an M.D.) practicing longevity medicine in Greenville, South Carolina, has been sued by the relatives of a patient who died under his care, and may be indicted for murder. (AP/LA Times 1-09-05.)

The information in the media concerning this unfortunate case is very instructive if read with a discerning eye. Dr. Shortt is being sued because he administered a therapy that is outside "the standards of care of the medical profession." This phrase is key. Another cause of action in the lawsuit was that Dr. Shortt had told the patient that her multiple sclerosis was caused by a bacteria or virus and that the organism(s) could be killed by hydrogen peroxide infusions. Finally, the coroner and pathologist who examined the patient attributed her death to "complications caused by the hydrogen peroxide infusion, which the pathologist said 'had no legitimate use . . . in the medical literature.' "

The missing data in this homicide ruling is that the patient was taking two prescriptions prescribed by her mainstream physician-Tegretol and Copaxone. If you read the Physician's Desk Reference, there are warnings that both of these substances may cause exactly the kinds of side effects that she died from. Hydrogen Peroxide does not cause these effects. Even more disturbing, is that one of these drugs is not approved for use with Multiple Sclerosis. So who is truly at fault here? (If you want the technical details, please contact Dr. Richards directly.)

Dr. Shortt consulted with the International Oxidative Medicine Association, which developed the regimens he used. The group found that Dr. Shortt had followed its "well-established" protocols. These protocols are clinically established in thousands of patients. Dr. Shortt himself has treated over 1,800 patients with this protocol.

The issues here that are highlighted within this unfortunate set of circumstances are:

1) The legal establishment makes the assumption that the medical profession has proven treatments and, more importantly, the only legal treatments for conditions of human health.

If you've been following the news, you know how fallacious this is. Vioxx is only the latest example of a substance, approved for use, that has proven to be life-threatening. Where was "the medical literature" when this drug was approved for use? How did it achieve acceptance without better scrutiny? I predict that we will soon have another scandal in the news ? statins and the way in which they cause heart failure.

2) The medical profession uses its peer review process to decide what information and research enters the public realm and becomes part of the accepted "medical literature".

Any information that is outside the medical paradigm (read alternative therapies) is systematically shut out by peer review and never gets published in medically accepted journals. I can give you hundreds of references documenting the link between Lyme disease and over 350 chronic health conditions. But, the medical profession chooses to selectively ignore them.

3) Most of the research in the United States is funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Natural remedies, which cannot be patented, provide no profit incentive to the pharmaceutical houses and are, therefore, ignored ? even though they are safer in many cases than the approved drugs. There is a large body of research work in Europe and in Asia on the efficacy of many "natural" remedies that simply do not show up here in the U.S.

4) There are a wide variety of conditions for which the medical profession has no etiology. MS is one. There is research showing that many of these conditions are linked to the Lyme disease parasite; however, the medical profession is busy pretending that wide spread Lyme disease doesn't exist, despite massive amounts of evidence to the contrary. MS has been specifically linked to the Lyme organism (for example, Fallon BA, Kochevar JM, Gaito A., Nields JA, "The Underdiagnosis of neuropsychiatric Lyme disease in children and adults," Psych Clin North Am., 1998, Sep;21(3):693-703. From the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York. The abstract specifically references the connection between Lyme Disease and multiple sclerosis.)

I personally believe that the medical profession is fighting for its credibility, because there are so many conditions for which they have no effective treatment. Whenever possible, the full weight of the medical board and the legal system is brought to bear on any medical practitioner who dares to buck the system. Dr. Shortt is only the latest in a long line of distinguished predecessors.

The only solution that I can see to this dilemma is that the public become informed about what is going on and start a grass roots movement to oppose this entrenched power grab. Your health and your health care freedom depend upon it.

-Dr. N. Rowan Richards, D.C., D.A.B.C.I., F.I.A.C.A.

Dr. Richards is a Diplomate of the American Board of Chiropractic Internists, a certified herbalist, and a Fellow of the International Academy of Clinical Acupuncture. She was recently awarded the distinction of being invited to become a Fellow in the International College of Chiropractors. Dr. Richards has been in practice for over eighteen years, teaches professionals, lectures, and is currently working on several books. Her website is

Dr. Richards can be reached at Richards Family Health Center (626) 963-1678.

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