Unlicensed Naturopath John E. Curran Ordered to Stop Practicing

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
April 15, 2008

The Rhode Island Department of Health has suspended the health care practice of John E. Curran for falsely portraying himself as a physician and naturopath. Curran has operated as the Rhode Island Health Aid in Cranston, Rhode Island and the Northeastern Institute for Advance Natural Healing in Providence, Rhode Island.

For several years, Curran’s now-defunct Web site stated that he has a Doctor of Naturopathy (ND) degree from the American Institute of Natural Healing; a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (NMD) degree from the Southern College of Naturopathic Medicine; Doctor of Medicine (Alternative Medicine) (ND, AM) from the Southern Graduate Institute; and a Doctor of Medicine (MD) from the St. Luke School of Medicine. The site also claimed that he is “certified” by Brown University Medical School, Duke University Medical School, and Harvard University Medical School. However: (a) none of his “degrees” come from accredited institutions; (b) medical schools do not “certify” people; and (c) none of his credentials provide a legal basis to treat patients. One of his diagnostic programs was a “Complete Body Assessment” that cost $950 and included “an in-depth consultation regarding your health history and nutritional diet, BioMeridian Stress Assessment, Food testing (250 foods), Iridology, Chinese Tongue and Nail Analysis, Urinalysis, Blood Oxygen Level Testing, Heart and Lung evaluations, and a Full Body Thermography Scan.” His “treatment” offerings included the use of several quack devices.

Rhode Island’s Unlicensed Health Care Practices Act (RIGL 23-74) authorizes the Director of Health to revoke, suspend, or limit the practice of any unlicensed practitioner who conducts practices that require licensure or that result in harm to a patient. Investigators found that Curran commonly drew blood samples from patients, conducted unnecessary and invalid tests, and provided false and misleading diagnoses. In addition, the Health Department learned that Curran prescribed an alcohol-based medication to a patient with liver disease—resulting in an exacerbation of the disease.

In 2005, an FDA criminal investigator summarized information from five of Curran’s former patients and two goverment agents who posed as patients. The investigator concluded:

  • Although Curran is not qualified to diagnose diseases, he frequently told patients that they had (a) live parasites in their blood stream, (b) a severely reduced number of blood cells, (c) certain deficient body functions, (d) worms in their blood, (e) holes in their blood, and (f) a life threatening disease.
  • Most of Curran’s diagnoses on live blood analyses and Bio-Meridian tests, neither of which has any genuine diagnostic value.
  • Upon providing a patient with the diagnoses, Curran offered treatment programs for prices ranging from approximately $200 to $10,000 [2,3].

Subsequently, the FDA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office raided, closed, and confiscated equipment and records from Curran’s office.

In 2006, Curran was convicted of mail fraud and money laundering. and was sentenced to 21/2 years in prison and ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution to 338 victims [4-5].

  1. Rhode Island Health Department suspends practice of John E. Curran; Cites harm to patient and false claims of professional degrees. Rhode Island Department of Health media release, June 7, 2005.
  2. Simonian JA. Application and affidavit for seizure warrant. In the matter of the seizure of Bank Account Number 1452-751-0, Citizens Bank of Rhode Island. January 6, 2005.
  3. Simonian JA. Affidavit. In the matter of the seizure of one hydrotherapy massage table; one Vitaeris 320 Hyperbaric Chamber; one Spectracolor Spa System; and one Thermal Imaging Unit Located at Whole Self Solutions, 110 Main St., East Greenwich, RI. United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island. Misc No. 1:05M69M, April 22, 2005.
  4. Fake doctor is sentenced to 121/2 years in prison for fraud, money laundering. USDOJ news release, Aug 25, 2006.
  5. Fake doctor is ordered to pay $1.4 million restitution to 338 clients he victimized with phony treatment programs. USDOJ news release, Nov, 16, 2006.

This page was revised on April 15, 2008.