It is said that we teach best that which we most need to know, and it is true that the medicine that I’ve practiced and taught over these past twenty plus years has paralleled the needs I’ve encountered in my own personal journey.
I’ve been involved in Women’s Health from as early as 1976, when, as a University of Hawaii East West Center graduate student pursuing a Masters in Public Health, I was a member of the Honolulu Women’s Health Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. After a year and a half of exploring natural birth control from both Catholic and decidedly not Catholic perspectives, I submitted a thesis entitled “Kohemalamalama, The Use and Misuse of Birth Control in America.” Kohemalamalama is the name of a small and sacred Hawaiian Island that, at the time, the U.S. government was injudiciously using for bombing practice. Kohemalamalama translates into “glistening vagina,” and the thesis was a tribute to the power inherent in the knowledge the ancient Hawaiian women had of the fertility cycles of their own bodies.
Years later, living in Japan, I had a thriving fertility awareness consulting service. My husband Marcel and I published a magazine called Hikari, which was a networking journal for health and personal growth services in the greater Tokyo area. We had the opportunity to interview healers from diverse traditions, and to experience their healing modalities. I was also involved with my friend Lynette Lees in a project she called Wellness Japan, which was intended to teach alternative health perspectives to corporations such as Sony. We had great fun with it, and determined we needed to hire a naturopathic doctor. We couldn’t find one, so I decided to be one.
Months after having made this decision, and having not yet acted on it, my husband and I were vacationing on a little island off Lombok Island in Indonesia. Circling the Mudlung island beaches on foot, I encountered a mysterious stranger, a young woman with red hair, who gazed into my eyes and inquired, “When are you going to do it?” “Do what?” I responded. “Go to naturopathic medical school” was the answer. And so I did.
At some point my interest in fertility awareness had morphed into an interest in infertility, as my husband and I, after almost ten years of unprotected sex, several years of trying to conceive, and visits ranging from infertility specialists in Tokyo to psychic surgeons in the Philippines, had nothing to show for our efforts. Partly because it didn’t seem right for us to be in naturopathic school and not avail ourselves of naturopathic therapies, we consulted with Dr. Joe Pizzorno, then president of Bastyr University, and a brilliant naturopathic doctor. After all those years, success was too much to hope for. Yet, two months into Dr. Pizzorno’s prescribed protocol, during which he had asked us to abstain (the only part of the protocol with which we did not comply), we conceived our son Gabriel. Gabriel, a miraculous result of naturopathic medicine, was a kind of a trophy baby for our class, the first born into a class that produced many more babies in the 5 years we studied at Bastyr. I now, through my own irrevocable experience, believed in naturopathic medicine.
My husband specialized in pediatrics, and I continued to care for women. In Seattle, where there was a generous naturopathic law, I practiced primary care, and preceptored in women’s clinics. We moved to Vermont when we graduated and founded Brattleboro Naturopathic Clinic. The state of Vermont, though not licensed at the time, allowed us to continue to practice to the full extent of our training.
The practice was good, but the weather wasn’t (my husband Marcel is Cuban born, and Vermont winter was survival in unfavorable circumstances to him). We were lured to California by an insurance company that hired Marcel to develop a wellness based insurance plan, and me to offer naturopathic wellness consults via phone line as a benefit to wellness plan enrollees. We founded Pacific Naturopathic in Palo Alto in 1993. Marcel spent endless hours working towards naturopathic licensing, and I continued to care for women, but on more of a consulting basis, as practicing naturopathy at that time in California was considered practicing medicine without a license.
As I became older and menopausal, my interests evolved along with my body. Although naturopathy has now been legalized in California, I find myself less interested in primary care. I have two wonderful young associates eager to offer physical exams and to treat routine acute cases. I have a special interest in evaluating and balancing hormones, and understanding the role they play in our moods, our vitality, our health and our life transitions. As every woman who has been through menopause knows, they don’t call it the change for nothing.
Co-incident with my interest in hormones is an interest in the role that hormones play in certain cancers, and in adjunctive cancer care, particularly for breast cancer. Using our breast thermography equipment, we are able to assess hormonal effects on the breast tissue itself, and track the efficacy of treatment regimes. Prostate cancer is also a special interest as I’ve worked together with my husband Dr. Marcel on his healing journey.
Just as my interests have evolved over time, so have my methods of practice. I love functional endocrinology, and all the science underlying the diagnostic tests and nutrients and botanicals we use. I also love the vitalistic viewpoints of the old time naturopaths, and am so grateful to have the opportunity to grow and process medicinal herbs and provide hydrotherapy to our patients at our own Pacific Naturopathic Retreat Center in Hawaii. Vix medicatrix naturae, the healing power of nature, a fundamental naturopathic tenet, is nowhere more apparent.
One last piece is my overriding interest in bioenergetic medicine. The details of that journey are for another time. Suffice it to say that I believe that some form of vibrational or energy medicine is fundamental to the effective practice of medicine. The scientific understandings and practical applications of bioenergetic medicine are without a doubt the future of medicine. As we have entered an age in which energy is trumping matter, our practice of medicine must reflect the more powerful reality.
I find the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, as put forth in the book Divine Will Healing, to be the most useful and inspirational teaching I have ever encountered on the subject of vibrational healing. His teachings are inspired naturopathy, and describe the standards of insight and service to which I aspire in the treatment of my patients.
2570 W. El Camino Real,Suite 111
Mountain View, CA 94040
Voice: 650-917-1121 Fax: 650-917-1127
Pacific Naturopathic Retreat Center
47-4628 Waipio Road • Honokaa, HI 96727
Voice & Fax: 808-775-1505