Family physician. Licensed Acupuncturist. Functional Medicine Practitioner. Osteopath. Nutritionist. Authorized Ashtanga Yoga Teacher. As an Integrative M.D., I'm all of these things together.
How I Got Here
I model myself after the traditional small town physician who really gets to know you and offers a personalized approach to wellness and health.
How I got here isn’t the traditional doctor story and my path plays an important role in how I work and what I offer. The details follow below.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
I come from a long line of Midwestern family physicians and one of my earliest memories is of poring over my grandfather’s medical books, but I got my start in health care as a licensed acupuncturist. Traditional Chinese Medicine attracted me because it is so effective at transforming health—from disease to wellness, from pain to ease, from fatigue to vitality—and does so naturally.
Built on centuries of study of the body as an integrated system that needs to strike a balance to remain healthy, it focuses on finding optimal health and wellness. When the body is depleted or disease is present, herbs, acupuncture, nutrition and lifestyle changes are enlisted to stimulate healing. It addresses the whole health of a person, not just symptoms. One of the things that had a strong influence on me is how it invites the patient to be a part of the conversation. It’s a beautiful, personalized and preventative approach and in my experience, very effective at treating chronic health issues such as digestive challenges, chronic pain and insomnia.
I’ve been practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine since 1999.
Ayurveda and Yoga
I discovered Ashtanga Yoga while working as an acupuncturist in New York City in 1999. I was quickly hooked not only by the effect the practice had on my body, but also by the quieting effect it had on my mind. Inspired to learn “from the source,” I began traveling to Mysore, India to study with the founder of Ashtanga Yoga, Pattabhi Jois, who ultimately authorized me to teach his system.
Ashtanga takes a very individualized approach, with each student working one-on-one with the teacher. A series of poses are taught according to the student’s abilities. I’ve made more than 10 trips to Mysore for intensive study of yoga and ayurveda, each time staying at least a month. These immersive experiences with master teachers gave me more experience of a very personalized approach to health and wellness.
I have maintained a daily yoga practice for more than 15 years now and have seen enormous personal health benefits, and Western Medical research backs up the value of regular physical exercise. Ashtanga Yoga isn’t for everyone, but I recommend my patients make a habit of some physical practice they enjoy, whether that’s Tai Chi, dance, or even walking.
Integrative Family Medicine: M.D.
As much as I love the Traditional Chinese Medicine focus on wellness and vitality, after a few years of practice as an acupuncturist I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of sickness, cellular biology and pharmacology. And that’s the great strength of Western medicine with its scientific, evidence-based approach. Medical School and the Residency process expanded my ability to diagnose illness, evaluate therapeutic options and deliver treatments, including medications and surgical procedures.
I earned my M.D. from the University of Arizona, which I chose because it’s the home base of holistic health pioneer, Dr. Andrew Weil who I first met in 1997. He convinced me that there was a home for me in the emerging field of Integrative Medicine and served as a mentor throughout Medical School. I moved to San Francisco for my medical residency training and have been practicing Integrative Family Medicine in the Bay Area since 2009.
I am a member of the Cranial Academy and studied Osteopathy with Stefan Hagopian. This traditional “hands-on” diagnostic and therapeutic science works with the spine and nervous system.
I have also trained in Functional Medicine, which treats and prevents chronic disease by addressing the whole person and underlying root causes, not just an isolated set of symptoms. It gives special focus to the digestive, endocrine and immune systems.
I am currently tracking the emerging field of Medical Cannabis, which is gaining clinical traction and offers promising new options for pain management.
In 2012, I established a medical practice for the Well Clinic, a mental wellness collective on Potrero Hill. I direct a team of four physicians and nurse practitioners who give patients one-on-one medical consultations to complement their psychotherapy. We prescribe, monitor and taper medications as appropriate as well as provide nutritional support, acupuncture, osteopathy and herbal supplements.
The founders of the San Francisco Acupuncture Clinic asked me to create a similar medical practice in 2014. They specialize in addressing chronic pain and many of their patients are seeking alternatives to painkillers and invasive procedures.
I serve as a clinical faculty member for the UCSF Medical School. I also mentor and teach medical residents at the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, which provides medical care to underserved populations.