Physician Profile: Jonathan Wright, M.D.

Physician Profile: Jonathon Wright, M.D.

The first thing that you need to know about Jonathan Wright, M.D. is, when he decided to make the switch from traditional medicine to what we today call age management, he was moving into uncharted territory. There was no Age Management Medicine Group or any other support system in place back in 1973. But what Dr. Wright had was the determination to help his patients, the ability to research and find supporting documentation that had been overlooked or suppressed, and the conviction to follow the evidence wherever it led. Those qualities have allowed his Tahoma Clinic to endure for some 45 years.

Dr. Wright received an associate’s degree from Harvard University in 1965, and his medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1969. He then did an internship and residency in family practice in Seattle, and was a staff physician at a clinic. The story of his “a-ha” moment is instructive.

“I was working at one of the clinics for a so-called healthcare cooperative in the Seattle area,” he said. “Working in the clinic, I was told by the nurse I was going to have a patient come in and I wouldn’t be able to do much for him, because he’d been coming in for eight years for an ulcer on the ankle near his heel, and he’d had every known treatment—everything you could think of that they teach in medical school. He’d had a skin graft that lasted about six weeks, and then another skin graft, and that broke down again. Of course he was Type-2 diabetic, and not healing well goes together with that.”

“I decided to do a little research, to see what I could find, and I found a bunch of papers done by doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, no less—not a hotbed of alternative medicine—and they were finding that the mineral zinc improves wound healing. So I thought, ‘What the heck? They’ve tried everything else for this guy.’”

Dr. Wright looked up guidelines for using zinc, including the maximum dosage that would be safe to use, and suggested it when he saw the patient for the first time. “He said he came in every once in a while just to see if there was anything new. I said, why don’t you go to your local natural food store and get some zinc capsules? You’ve been coming here for eight years and nothing has helped—what have you got to lose?”

“He called in about three or four months later, and the ulcer had healed—it was gone.”

A couple of weeks later, Dr. Wright got called in by head of the clinic, demanding to know what he had done for the patient. “After I explained, he said, ‘But you weren’t using anything that we approve of here!’ I told him after eight years, his ulcer was healed—isn’t that what we went to medical school for? And he said, ‘It doesn’t matter! You’re not supposed to use anything that’s not approved of.’ So I brought him photocopies of the Cleveland Clinic papers, and told him, ‘Look, the ulcer is gone.’ And he said, ‘Alright, but you’re not to do anything like that again.’ At that point it became clear we weren’t there to do what we went to medical school for. We were there to follow the rules first, and heal our patients second.”

“That was when I decided it was time to open my own practice.”

Dr. Wright says the other thing that happened was, not long after his son’s first birthday in 1976, the boy developed a bad case of asthma. “I went to the library and started digging,” he said. “I collected a group of articles dating back to the 1930s, from respected medical journals, mostly in the UK, one in Finland. I had a stack of about 10 articles. They started with what caused asthma, and each built upon the other. It was like a jigsaw puzzle. I put it all together, figured out what to do, and my son’s asthma was gone in about a month and it never came back. I just had to put it all together. Since then, about 80% of the kids I work with, their asthma is gone in a month and it never comes back.”

Those two experiences, said Dr. Wright, “convinced me I was indaquately educated, and I’d better start looking stuff up.” He discovered there was a plethora of published research to which nobody ever pays any attention. “I spent a lot of time in the library, doing a lot of research. I found an article from a doctor, a dermatologist, who in 1926 had cured 150 cases of chronic hives, using only a thymus extract. And in our practice we haven’t had a case of hives that didn’t get better—all treated with thymus extract.”

Those being the pre-internet days, Dr. Wright spent a lot of time in the library, doing research the old-fashioned way, with a lot of photocopying. And he wound up with a large collection of studies dating back decades. He wrote a monthly column published in Prevention magazine from 1976 to 1985, and at the time, he said, Dr. Alan Gaby was following his own track, but read the column and was intrigued. “He came and did a residency with me,” said Dr. Wright, “and he was even more dedicated to research than I was. Whenever he wasn’t with patients he was in the library. We collected over 50,000 articles on natural therapies. Then computers came in, and now we have over 100,000.”

Dr. Wright’s list of accomplishments is quite extensive. He is called the “Father of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy” because, In the early 1980s, he was the first in the U.S. to prescribe comprehensive cyclical hormone replacement therapy (estrogens, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA), using bioidentical hormones—hormones identical to those found naturally in young humans (rather than hormones from pregnant horses and/or patentable pseudosteroids)—therapy that is now used nationwide by millions. But Dr. Wright is quick to point out that he didn’t discover it, he simply used it.

“One might say I put them together for the first time since they were used in China, but I didn’t invent it, it was invented in China,” said Dr. Wright. “Joseph Needham, the British scientist and explorer, got into China and found bioidentical hormone replacement had been practiced by the Emperor himself. Bioidentical hormones had died out in China in the 1850s. But a woman who came to see me insisted on not getting horse-derived hormones. The idea really spread from one woman to another.” Recognized as the developer and most experienced practitioner of BHRT, Dr. Wright is a sought-out lecturer, educating physicians in maximizing efficacy and safety in bioidentical hormone use.

Dr. Wright also developed a natural treatment to stop vision loss or improve vision in the majority of individuals with the “dry” form of macular degeneration.
 Building on the experimental animal research of Dennis R. Trune, Ph.D., he also pioneered the human use of the natural steroid metabolite aldosterone to reverse age-related hearing loss.
 Dr. Wright also discovered the effects of iodine on estrogen metabolism; the effects of cobalt chloride on steroid metabolism and excessive excretion of hormones; initiated in clinical practice (in the U.S.) the use of the natural sugar “D-mannose” for elimination of 85-90% of urinary tract infections; originated safe, effective, natural treatment for seborrheic dermatitis; originated safe, effective, natural treatment for allergic and viral conjunctivitis; originated safe, effective, natural treatment for Osgood-Schlatter’s disease; and originated natural treatment to improve bone density in the large majority of those with osteoporosis. In 2013, he resurrected forgotten research and treatment protocols for the application of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) to treat severe neurological problems.

“I don’t do that much that’s original,” said Dr. Wright. “I just copy like hell when I find something that’s good. But every once in a while I come up with something original.”

Dr. Wright will be presenting three sessions at the 25th Clinical Applications for Age Management Medicine Conference in November. As a Featured Speaker in a series of lectures on Breast Cancer on Friday, Nov. 2, he will present “Cobalt & Iodine: Effects on Estrogen Metabolism.” Then on Sunday, Nov. 4, he will present two consecutive sessions on “Neglected But Effective Therapies”—the first on General Issues, and the second on Women’s Health Issues. Because, unlike the days when Dr. Wright decided he needed to take a different path in medicine, practitioners today don’t have to do it all on their own.