While in medical school you decided to take a break and study Ayurveda at the prestigious Ayurvedic Institute led by Vasant Lad, BAMs. What drew you to this ancient time-tested science?
It was actually a pure coincidence, or perhaps I should say destiny. My dear friend was completing her residency at the time and had run across Dr. Vasant Lad’s Institute. She suggested that my brother-in-law do panchakarma there as a last resort before getting surgery for a slipped disk in his neck that was causing numbness in her arm and fingers. After two weeks of panchakarma, he had regained 80% of his sensation and strength. Needless to say, this made an impression on me. We then decided to attend a seminar at the institute with Dr. Claudia Welch on women’s health, and I was even more floored. The material presented connected so many dots for me and just made so much sense— I was sold. Next thing I knew, I was packing my bags to spend a year in Albuquerque, NM!
How did Ayurveda change your perspective and your journey in becoming an allopathic physician?
I had a very spiritual upbringing, and I knew intuitively that the mind and body were connected. Ayurveda bridged the two worlds for me. I would say that that was the most powerful impact Ayurveda had on me and my career as a physician.
Further, Ayurveda simplified my outlook on health. It is easy in allopathic medicine to get bogged down with a plethora of lab testing or get overwhelmed with memorizing a set of symptoms that are seemingly unconnected. But by understanding the ten gunas (qualities) and the three doshas, everything made sense in the most basic, yet comprehensive, form.
How have integrating Ayurveda and allopathic medicine helped you better serve your patient?
By understanding Ayurveda, I see how health begins in the GI tract, with keeping a strong digestive fire and keeping the three doshas balance. I then see and appreciate how imbalance here leads to imbalances in the body, which leads to symptoms, which leads to syndromes, and then finally disease. So, it is not that we go from health directly to disease. There is a long chain and progression, and by understanding this Ayurvedic pathogenesis or samprapti, there are many pivotal opportunities for me to intervene and turn it back towards health.
In your experience, how do holistic medical systems like Ayurveda and/or Chinese Medicine bring value to gynecology?
In allopathic medicine, our big tools for gynecology are NSAID’s (Ibuprofen), hormones, and surgery. Ofcourse this is a simplification, but it is largely true. I found this slightly disappointing during my residency training, and I didn’t feel like it really helped me truly understand the root cause of disease. I have also found that there is a long progression of symptoms and discomfort prior to reaching the point of disease. Ayurveda has broadened my tool-set, and really given me an understanding to see where did the process begin. How can we bring healing at the most basic root level instead of putting a bandaid on it or, quite literally, cutting the problem out. In the end, I am grateful for both sciences and I think they both have their place. It is the combination of two that makes me feel like I have a complete tool set.
Is integrative medicine the future?
Absolutely. People want more and are not satisfied with bandaids. They want to be healthier. They want to feel better at the most basic level. They want more energy. They don’t believe their symptoms are all separate and intuitively know that there is a connection between their different organ systems. People know there is more and they are seeking it.
In addition to your medical practice, you also work with Banyan Botanicals a leading company providing herbs commonly used in Ayurveda. Including traditional and ayurvedic formulas developed by Banyan. Can you talk a little about your work with Banyan?
Banyan is a beautiful company that is committed to really spreading Ayurveda- not just through products but through education. We all believe in the Ayurvedic lifestyle. I have the pleasure of heading the department of product development as well as research. By bridging these two departments, we are supporting the making of amazing products that make living Ayurveda fun, effective, and easy. We also are able to support research, internally and externally, which I believe, is the key to opening the west to Ayurveda.
If you could develop a women’s health center of your dreams, what does it look like?
This isn’t an “if” for me. One day I will! But it will revolve around creating communities, providing support for all aspects of a woman’s life, including the most basic need— human touch.
Based on common health concerns amongst your patience, what self-care practices would you advise we should consider implementing?
Create a daily routine and stick with it. The anchors of the day are the time you wake, the three times you eat, and the time you sleep. These are rocks. Ensure that there is enough time to rest and sleep and have a practice, even if it is just a five-minute practice that becomes your anchor.
Who inspires you?
Individuals who dare to dream and dare to take chances on that dream. I love reading about amazing people and what charged them to not just allow a dream to remain in their mind, but have the courage to make it a reality. Bravery coupled with idealism inspires me.