Motivated to explore tools beyond pharmacy and surgery
In 2004, nine years after an Ob/Gyn residency at Georgetown, I left a cushy private practice job in Washington DC to join a non-profit under the Bill Gates Foundation, providing education and reproductive services to underserved women worldwide. This journey led me to places where I became keenly aware of the limitations of the medical toolbox that I had been working with for almost a decade. For example, witnessing Traditional Birth Attendants and Midwives use manual therapies and herbs to stop hemorrhage, made me realize that the practice of medicine extends beyond prescription drugs and surgery. On returning home to the United States, I realized that what I saw in remote villages was starting to enter the world of peer review medicine. For example, the effectiveness of acupuncture to turn a breech baby had been published as a randomized controlled trial.
I also discovered that the driving force behind a different, broader approach to medicine was from everyday people who were demanding a better discussion of options for their medical care. As I got back to my practice in Washington DC, I had women asking me about nutrition, detoxification, pH, yoga and exercise. They asked me how they could increase their bone density, lower cholesterol, correct insomnia and fatigue without the use of drugs. I was ill-prepared for this, and motivated to figure it out.
A five-point Restorative Model evolved
The first thing I realized was that I was not the only physician who was looking for new approaches: Columbia University had started a Division of Complementary Medicine. Harvard University had opened the Mind-Body Institute. In 1999, the NIH had founded the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine with the stated mission of defining, “through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and alternative medicine interventions and their roles in improving health and health care”. Progressively the way I practiced medicine started to change, and I embraced a Restorative Approach to the body. The basic premise of a Restorative Approach is that the body can restore itself, if it has optimal levels of 1) hormones and 2) nutrients, 3) minimal toxins, 4) a healthy mind and 5) an optimum physical body. When I saw patients, as part of my medical evaluation I also looked for underlying imbalances in these 5 areas. I measured blood levels of hormones and nutrients and optimized them to the 75% percentile. The number of women needing surgery for bleeding dropped by over 80%. Eventually the local radiologist started reporting that women were building bone! As I learned how to reduce toxic loads and correct mind-body imbalances, I started to see the reversal of conditions I would never have been able to affect without this approach. Optimizing thyroid, omega-3 levels and liver function corrected high cholesterol. Optimizing progesterone, magnesium and omega-3 levels corrected anxiety. Teaching patients to address the sub-conscious mind allowed the correction of long-standing conditions. Combinations of these interventions corrected the fatigue that we are seeing in epidemic proportions. The practice rapidly attracted men and women of all ages, including doctors and nurses (15% of our patients). In 2013, the most rapidly growing segment was youth, under the age of 20 and sicker than we ever were.
Over the past decade, as the Restorative Model has evolved. We have seen over 10,000 patients, most of whom are able to discontinue medications for gastric conditions, anxiety, depression, sleep, pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, ADHD and high cholesterol. The model that my team and I developed over the last decade incorporates the use of bio-identical hormones, nutritional supplementation, as well as acupuncture, homeopathy and energetic medicine. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to lecture worldwide to thousands of doctors and to personally train hundreds of doctors who have come to my training center. I have watched them successfully apply the 5-point model in their practices.
It saved me
In 2012, I got a taste of my own medicine. I had the opportunity to test the model out on myself when I acquired a serious parasite. I had been running at the usual pace we doctors do. I was excited by my journey and oblivious to my own needs for restoration, sleep and nutrition. I was run down when I broke out in a severe rash, which progressed over months. As I sought consults from dermatologists, infectious disease and internists, the diagnosis remained elusive. I was finally placed on cortisone and rapidly deteriorated to lose 14 pounds of weight in 10 days. My body temperature remained below 96 degrees. I had no energy to move. I had cardiac arrhythmias. In the end, my recovery came from following the same principles that I was recommending to my patients but that I had failed to observe.
As I continue my journey in medicine, I am inspired to follow the guidance of Carl Sagan: “Science requires a strange mating of two contradictory tendencies: a willingness to consider even the most bizarre ideas, and at the same time, a harsh skepticism requiring hard evidence to back up every claim”
Sangeeta Pati MD, FACOG
President & Medical Director
SaJune Institute for Restorative and Regenerative Medicine