I am a Boston, Massachusetts, educated and trained physician. Today, I devote my practice to mind-body medicine—at Health from Within, a practice I founded in Santa Fe New Mexico five years ago.
If you had told me twenty years ago that I would be practicing alternative medicine, I would have thought that was the most preposterous idea and replied that I believed any alternative therapy was quackery.
My years-long transformation began in 1996 with a mind-bending reaction to a simple comment made by Dr. Harley Haynes, who at the time was Chief of Dermatology at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Harley’s comment was a response to a question on how he treated recalcitrant warts. He said that if the condition worsened despite his best efforts over six or more months, he sent patients to “the psychologist down the street, and they were better in three months.” He then mentioned several studies published in the 70s by Hackett and others where patients who had failed medical therapy for years were cured of their warts within three months of seeing a psychologist.
How could that be? Here it was—scientific proof that unconventional therapy worked better than conventional medicine alone! Yet it was never mentioned in all my years of training, authoritative textbooks or mainstream medical journals.
This fact ignited a spark of light in me, because at the time I was struggling with chronic sinusitis, bronchiectasis and recurrent pneumonias, all complications of surgery a few years before.
This set me on a path toward many other intriguing discoveries and conclusions. I began a quest to learn all I could about alternative treatments—from ancient Eastern techniques to innovative, recent ones. I read scientific journals and studies. I talked to acupuncturists, orthomolecular physicians and healing-touch practitioners. I took trainings and attended conferences in hypnosis, Focusing, energy psychology, Qi Gong, and other alternative methods. I met people who had so-called miracle cures from metastatic kidney cancer, stage III esophageal cancer and many other morbid conditions.
I studied, I learned, I experienced healing and I felt better than I had in years. My health improved despite the dismal prognosis I had been given.
I was eager to apply what I learned with my patients.
And I successfully treated people with heart disease, phobias, depression, multiple sclerosis, allergies, anxiety, and other problems—lessening their need for medication and sometimes obviating their need for surgery. To them, and to me, the “miracle” was transforming their lives to heal what had caused the illness in the first place.
How could we as medical professionals call unexplained cures “miracles” or “magic”? Why not look at what actually healed the patient—even when counter to formal education? How in the world had we missed that in medical school? How could so many doctors and scholars turn their backs on lifesaving information or disbelieve such indisputable facts? Maybe it’s the same reason it took me ten years of scientific skepticism before I could accept the truth.
If we don’t ask questions and pursue the study of “bizarre” methods with curiosity and interest, we’ll never know the answers. If we don’t consider all life approaches to solving problems and leverage the advantage of our education here at Harvard and elsewhere—and apply that to our area of expertise to discover and innovate—we will have done a grave disservice to our patients, ourselves and our world.
So, fifteen years after my eureka moment, I was finally ready to proclaim that I practiced mind-body medicine with self-assurance and confidence.
In closing, I encourage each of you to examine the scientific methods you use in your professional life and to consider all approaches—including some that may be contrary to conventional thinking. Stretch the limits of your comfort zone to make the world a better place and create impactful changes in our world.