DR. FRANK LIPMAN
I practice what I call “good medicine”
I practice what I call ‘good medicine’, combining the best of modern contemporary medicine with the best of alternative and complementary medicines. It blends the knowledge we’ve gained from science with the wisdom of ancient healing traditions. I use and recommend conventional medicine (drugs and surgery) when appropriate, but I also embrace complementary approaches, e.g. acupuncture, nutrition, supplements, herbs, bodywork, stress reduction, yoga and meditation. In addition to using different therapeutic techniques, I always take into account the patient’s belief systems, attitudes, feelings, social relationships and environment. I also look at their patterns of eating, working, resting, sleeping and exercising and never lose sight of the body’s ability to heal itself. And finally, my role as a practitioner includes teaching my patients to get healthy and inspire them to stay healthy.
I believe in true health care
I believe that health is more than merely the absence of disease. It is a total state of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being. Western medicine is excellent for crisis care; for instance, when you break a bone, cannot breathe or are having a heart attack. But Western medicine is poor at preventing and treating chronic diseases like heart disease, arthritis or auto-immune diseases. It offers no tools to get and keep you healthy. We have the knowledge now to go beyond the current crisis care model and incorporate lifestyle medicine, nutrition, supplements and exercise to improve the functioning of organs as a means of preventing disease and creating vibrant, sustainable health.
My goal is sustainable wellness
My goal is to help patients achieve and maintain wellness. Together we examine what their needs are in order to achieve sustainable wellness.
I guide and teach them about diet, nutrition, movement, stress-reduction and appropriate supplements, all the elements needed to optimize organ and cellular function. I encourage my patients to be autonomous rather than impose my desires and decisions onto them because ultimately, each of us must take responsibility for our own health.
Good health requires one to be proactive
Becoming proactive in one’s health is essential but difficult because there are so many powerful social, economic, and political forces that work to undermine our ability to be truly healthy. From the processed food industries to the pharmaceutical companies, our culture has become susceptible to large scale, well-funded interests that make money by perpetuating an unhealthy system. This has created conditions in our society that support rather than prevent disease. As consumers, we cannot be passive anymore. We need to take responsibility for our own health, the health of our families, our society, and the world at large. The small choices we make on a daily basis affect our resilience, our health, and our quality of life.
We need to feed our genes good “information”
We now know, thanks to the science of Epigenetics, that how your genes are expressed is determined by what information you feed them. This means that what you eat, how you think, what supplements you take, how much toxicity you have been exposed to in your life, etc, have an enormous effect on your genes, and consequently your health. These factors all act as information which is read by your genes. They can influence whether certain genes get turned on or off and ultimately whether you develop certain diseases or not. For example, you may have a genetic predisposition for heart disease; whether or not you actually develop that disease is determined by what information you feed your genes, what environment you have “bathed” those genes in.
Everyone is unique
Just like we all have unique physical features and personalities, we also all have unique internal and biochemical make-ups. Every individual is distinct in how we digest food, which particular foods nourish us, which ones we are sensitive to, and how our bodies break down drugs or detoxtify pollutants. Our systems are as unique to each person as our fingerprints. This explains why some people react poorly to certain foods, or why some people get side effects from drugs while others don’t.
Mind, body and emotions are all connected
I believe there is no separation of mind, body, and emotions. Thoughts, attitudes, and belief systems have an enormous impact on your physical well-being. Conversely, if your body is ailing, your mental health will be compromised. All of our body parts are connected and influence each other.
I believe the body has an innate capacity to heal itself
Although we take it for granted, the body is engaged in self-healing all the time. When you cut yourself, your body heals the cut. When you get a cold, the body’s immune system usually fights it off after a few days. Your body is continually healing and repairing itself. My role as a practitioner is to help remove obstacles to healing, so the body can take care of itself.
The cause and treatment of most disease is usually multi-factorial
Due to the success of antibiotics in treating many infectious diseases, modern medicine has taken that model and extrapolated it, looking for the “magic bullet” to cure every disease. Yet most diseases are a result of multiple factors which are not addressed when we look for a magic bullet treatment. Think of yourself as a ship that’s sinking beneath the waves. Just as you can save a sinking ship by tossing some weight overboard, many people can feel better by “tossing overboard” one or two burdens that are weighing them down. These burdens all added together are called the Total Load.
The 2 questions I ask myself with any patient are:
- What factors need to be removed for healing to occur? and
- What needs of the patient are not being met that are preventing self-healing?
I look for the root causes of disease rather than suppress symptoms
In conventional medicine, doctors are trained to suppress (or eliminate) symptoms. Although treating symptoms makes patients feel better temporarily, looking for the underlying cause is preferable. When you’re driving your car and the oil light goes on, you don’t put a Band-Aid over the oil light and drive on. You go to the mechanic to see why the oil light went on. Symptoms should be seen the same way. When there is an imbalance in the system, your body sends you signals. Looking for the root cause, treating the underlying disturbance, and restoring balance are more important than simply treating the symptoms. When a plant is sick or not doing well, you don’t paint it green; you look at the soil, sun, water and nutrients. This is exactly how I see the body, and the new Functional Medicine model looks at disease and dysfunction the same way.
I try to identify sub-optimal functioning
There is a continuum between optimal health and disease where different grades of sub-optimal functioning can appear. For example, your car’s brake pads don’t just give in and fail out of nowhere. More than likely, they fail due to years of wear and tear that have been slowly eroding the pads. The same thing happens with our health. Before we develop a disease, there have usually been months or even years of progressive wearing down of optimal functioning. Although our body has a large reserve that it uses to maintain health, it can be depleted and worn down over time. Only then do we experience disease; it doesn’t just happen out of the blue. My role as a physician is to help improve and restore the body’s reserves and help it become more resilient. To use the car analogy, building the body’s reserve is like putting more layers of padding on the brake pads.
I believe in the extraordinary healing power of ordinary things
Music, movement, relaxation, food, plants, optimism, having meaning in one’s life, connection with others (ubuntu), pets and many other things we take for granted have extraordinary healing powers. For most of us, most of the time, it’s the simple, ordinary things we can do for our health that are more valuable than the high-tech, expensive options that are out there.
I believe our world reflects our health
Our health is affected by and closely connected to the health of our environment. We humans are a microcosm of the universe, the macrocosm. If our world is polluted, we become polluted; if our family around us is not happy, we are not happy.
I embrace Ubuntu
What makes us human is the humanity we show each other. Ubuntu is a Xhosa word which serves as the spiritual foundation of African societies. It articulates a basic understanding, caring, respect and compassion for others. Ubuntu is a belief in a universal bond of sharing that unites all of humanity – the conviction that no person can be truly full while his neighbor remains hungry. It represents a world view that sees humanity as a web of family, rather than a mass of individuals. This philosophy affirms that a person is a person through other people. This is similar to what we know as compassion, compassion for ourselves, our families, our community, the global community and the earth.