Federal agents raid 'natural healing' office
The practitioner claims the title of doctor on his Web site along with
a medical degree under a charter from the governments of Liberia and
Saturday, January 8, 2005
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BY FELICE J. FREYER
Providence Journal Medical Writer
PROVIDENCE -- Federal agents yesterday raided the office of John E.
Curran, a practitioner of "natural healing" who does not have a
medical license, after the state medical board received a complaint
that Curran was "posing as a doctor."
Jason Simonian, a special agent of the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration's office of criminal investigations, who was among
those conducting the raid, said that the Internal Revenue Service and
the U.S. Postal Service were also involved in the investigation.
But Simonian declined to answer questions about what the agents were
Thomas Connell, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Robert Clark Corrente,
said: "I am not in a position to explain why they were there. There is
no documentation that is on the public record. There were agents of
the Food and Drug Administration and the Internal Revenue Service
participating in a law-enforcement initiative."
Yesterday, about a dozen agents were searching the office, on the
third floor of One Richmond Square, and loading boxes full of bottles
and canisters, along with some equipment, into a van. One batch of
canisters contained "chocolate almond protein supplement" and another
was labeled "BeneFin", with Curran's name printed on the label.
Curran's lawyer, Artin H. Coloian, said, "A lot of this stuff is
vitamin C. . . . regular stuff, ginger, Juicy-Fruit C, the same stuff
you see at Whole Foods. I don't know what the big deal is. . . .
"I think this is a disappointing attempt by the government to restrict
what people do for their own health."
Coloian said Curran had not been charged and that his lawyers had
advised him not to comment.
Dr. Robert S. Crausman, chief administrative officer of the state
Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline, said that he contacted
federal authorities after the medical board "received complaints from
patients that this person was holding himself out to be a physician."
He declined to comment further on Curran, but he urged Curran's
patients to seek medical evaluation by an appropriately credentialed
In advertisements, Curran describes himself as a "naturopathic"
doctor, but none of the degrees he lists are from schools accredited
by the American Association of Naturopathic Medical Colleges. Nor is
he a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians,
the main professional group for naturopaths. Coloian said that Curran
is a member of many professional associations.
Naturopaths are practitioners who offer "natural" and "nontoxic"
therapies and seek to marshal the body's ability to heal itself. They
are permitted to practice in Rhode Island, but this state does not
Crausman said that, in general, people should not call themselves
"doctor" in a clinical setting unless they are a licensed medical
professional, such as a medical doctor, an acupuncturist, or a
chiropractor. Practicing medicine without a license can be a felony,
Coloian, Curran's lawyer, said that practicing medicine without a
license was not among the allegations against Curran. He also said
that Curran displays on his office wall a disclaimer saying that he is
not a medical doctor, and that patients also sign a form with the same
But on his Web site, www.drcurran.com, Curran repeatedly refers to
himself as "Dr. Curran" and "the doctor." He offers therapies that he
says will increase energy, strengthen immune function, relieve chronic
pain and heal catastrophic disease.
Curran's Web site says that he has a doctor of medicine degree from
the St. Luke School of Medicine, which is not an accredited American
medical school. The St. Luke Web site says its degrees are awarded
"under the academic Charter from the governments of Liberia & Ghana,
Curran also lists degrees in naturopathy and alternative medicine from
the Southern Graduate Institute, which is a division of the same St.
Little information could be found on the two other schools from which
he says he holds doctorate degrees in naturopathy. A person answering
the phone at one of them, the American Institute of Natural Healing,
said that the school offers massage classes and doesn't give out
On his Web site, Curran says he sells nutritional supplements and
conducts laboratory tests, at his office, for an array of conditions,
including pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV, kidney disease and cancer
of the colon or prostate. His four-hour "complete body assessment"
The therapies offered include "SpectraColor Spa System," which
"combines full-spectrum, alpha/theta light, dry heat sauna, back and
thigh heat and vibratory massage, aromatheraphy and a stereo sound
system for music therapy"; a heat chamber using oxygen and
"transdermal ozone for the intention of stimulating the immune system
into healing the body"; "Rife Light Beam Therapy" that targets the
"vibrations" in cells; "Mineral Infrared Frequency Therapy"; a
"light-beam generator" that is supposed to restore proper lymph
function; and "Ion Cleanse Electronic Detoxification," which is a
Asked about these therapies, Coloian said, "They're fancy words for
what I think is a pretty simple and old science. I do know that M.D.s
have referred to him."
In an interview posted on his Web site, Curran describes the case of a
47-year-old man diagnosed with head and neck cancer who chose Curran's
"alternative medicine" instead of chemotherapy and radiation. In three
months, according to Curran, he was found to be cancer-free. He
doesn't describe the therapy.
Curran's Web site also says he is "certified" by the Harvard, Brown
and Duke medical schools. A Brown spokeswoman said, "Brown Medical
School doesn't certify anybody in anything."
In a full-page advertisement in the current Rhode Island Monthly,
Curran describes himself as a "board-certified and licensed general
practitioner of naturopathic medicine" who specializes in "the
treatment of individuals with chronic, terminal and recurrent
Coloian said that Curran's office is currently closed, but "he's under
no order to stay closed. . . . It may not be practical for it to be
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