1) What’s your educational background prior to Naturopathic Medical School?
I grew up in Gilbert, Arizona, and received my Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from Arizona State University. I didn’t come from a health background – I’m the first doctor in my family.
Backing up just a little bit, once I graduated high school, I went to community college before attending ASU. I took an elective health class in basic nutrition and was hooked. Now, even though this was a “standard” American nutrition class, I was still fascinated by the power of what we put into our bodies.
I grew up eating whatever and whenever I wanted, so sitting through this class had some eye-opening effects as to what I was putting into my mouth and how it affected my health. I’d classify it as groundbreaking for a 20-year-old male college student.
My one human nutrition elective fueled my passion for health and wellness, and led me towards pursuing a degree in nutrition.
2) What led you to pursue a career in Naturopathic Medicine?
As I progressed through my college career, I started to realize that the “dietetics’ route was not for me. It never appealed to me – I knew I could do something more. I wanted to make a broader, deeper impact, which is what led me to the medical route.
Even with my medical interest, I didn’t know I wanted to pursue the Naturopathic route until I attended a career fair at ASU. I started preparing to apply to medical schools. I was chatting with a few friends who had pursued the traditional MD career path, and learned that nutrition and the “food as medicine” belief system didn’t really exist (or at least, wasn’t a major focus) in traditional medical education.
After attending an SCNM career fair and speaking with a school’s representative, I was shocked that a school like this existed. I could practice medicine AND keep nutrition as a core component of my healing modalities. It blew my mind. I never stopped thinking about that conversation. I was sold on SCNM after I attended a “student for a day” at the school.
I once had this vision of being a doctor with a few dietitians on staff to educate my patients on nutrition, health, wellness and healthful eating. Now, I could do it all.
3) How were you as a child growing up? Did you care about health and nutrition?
I grew up with a pretty normal childhood. I ate the traditional foods that we all grew up on – cereal, bread, pasta, processed snacks. I was no different. My family didn’t have any major health problems, so I wasn’t exposed to the power of nutrition until later on in life.
Once I graduated from ASU, I worked in the emergency room (ER) as a Scribe. I would take notes as doctors saw patients. In this observational role, I got to take in the “big picture.”
I saw so many unmanaged chronic conditions that didn’t need to end up in the ER. There was a lot of abdominal pain and uncontrolled diabetes. I saw a real need for high-quality primary care.
I saw a real need for high-quality, basic primary care. Patients needed a resource from start to finish, and I wanted to provide this for them.
4) What was your personal health “aha” moment that got you started on a journey towards personal wellness?
After I started at SCNM, I had this shift in my body, mind and health. My wife and I had our daughter in November 2015, and I started at SCNM in January. Now that I am a father, and am in charge of another person’s health and life, I am more aware of everything I put into their body, in addition to the thousands of environmental toxins we are exposed to every single day.
It’s a double-edged sword – you want your child to eat healthfully, but you don’t want them to be the “weird kid” whose parents packed hippie food. When I’m packing my daughter’s school lunch, I have to think about what she will realistically eat, but also be sure to give her foods that will make her feel her best.
5) Have you had a mentor that’s helped you or inspired you as you strive to help and educate the public?
Dr. James Sensenig, ND practices in Connecticut, and was the keynote speaker at our white coat ceremony (I was the student speaker). He’s been in practice over 30 years, and I remember hearing him say that he has never prescribed antibiotics for a patient. He practices in a state that doesn’t allow Naturopath’s to prescribe medication, so he uses homeopathy and other gentle interventions to get to the root of the cause. To me, he is Naturopathic Medicine.
6) What are the top conditions that you see and treat on a regular basis?
Top 4 Conditions I See:
- Digestive Issues
- Insufficient Men’s Hormones
7) If you hadn’t decided to pursue Naturopathic Medicine, what would you be doing instead?
I love writing and would still like to write (I’m a contributor to the Living Wellness blog – Check it out!) I think I would’ve become a writer or a teacher.
8) What health-promoting recipe is a staple in your kitchen?
My wife and I love spaghetti squash, and even our kids like it. My kids are little carnivores – they love steak. This is a typical weeknight meal. Lots of good fats and veggies.
9) What’s your favorite supplement that we carry in the Medicinary and why?
I like the Activated B Complex w/SRT by Jigsaw Health. It’s a great source of B vitamins for the many patients I see suffering from fatigue, brain fog, mental exhaustion, those needing nervous system support. (Editor’s Note: Living Wellness is not recommending any supplements. Please check with your physician before purchasing and trying any on your own.)
10) What are the top 1-2 pieces of advice you would give to the average person, interested in bettering their health?
We live in a world that’s never shut off. We’re always connected to a device, whether it’s the TV, radio, our laptop or iPhones. We have a hard time disconnecting, and it’s contributing to a lot of anxiety and stress. There are some essential things I discuss with my patients to aid in this.
The importance of good sleep is underrated. I’m not just referring to getting enough sleep, but also high quality sleep. What time you go to sleep, what your sleep environment looks like and what your bedtime routine consists of plays a huge role, in addition to your lifestyle, including nutrition and supplement routine.
11) What are a few of your necessary self-care practices?
It’s certainly a challenge to be non-negotiable about self-care once you have kids, but I try my hardest to keep a consistent bedtime. I practice good sleep hygiene as well – we keep our bedroom dark through the use of blackout curtains. No television or electronics in the bedroom. No blue light keeps us up at night!
Another easy, yet important, piece of my health is making sure I drink purified water to avoid any unnecessary environmental toxins that are delivered through tap water.
12) What’s the biggest health “win” or “oh yeah!” moment you’ve encountered with a patient, that made you proud of pursuing Naturopathic Medicine?
I’ll share two patient success stories, although, I have many more:
One of my patients is diabetic. We did a brief, free consult awhile back to assess her current state of health. Although skeptical, she booked a new patient appointment with me to see if we could get her feeling better.
This patient had been diabetic for a while, and had been on prescription Metformin for years. Before anything else, we discussed her diet, and transitioned her onto a standard “diabetic-friendly” way of eating. She emailed me one week after her appointment, ecstatic, because she had never seen her blood sugar that low before.
It was so rewarding because we didn’t have to increase her Metformin, add another drug or place her on any supplements to see her health improve. We addressed the food and beverages she was putting into her body. Since then, we’ve started a few natural supplements tailored to her plan and she’s only getting better from there.
I had another a patient come in after falling on their knee and tweaking it pretty bad. He had a walking stick and a knee brace. We did four sessions of acupuncture in the three weeks he was in Arizona visiting family. After the 1st session, he came in without cane, and only his brace. After the 2nd session, his knee brace was gone. By the 4th session, he was walking on his own, without help and jumping up and down in excitement. It was truly amazing to see the power of natural medicine.
13) Is there anything we haven’t discussed thus far, that you would like to touch upon in regards to Naturopathic care?
I am frequently asked by patients “do you think I’m going to get better?”
I feel as though, many times, patients are looking for hope from a medical professional. People want confirmation that they’re going to heal or see progress in a certain health condition. In general, a lot of the news we receive from doctors is classified as “bad news.” – “You have X condition,” “You will be on X for the rest of your life,” or the worst: “You have X amount of time to live.” Our bodies have the capacity to heal and restore themselves, even if there have been years of damage. It’s refreshing for patients to work with a practitioner whose mindset is positive and encouraging. I don’t give false hope, but I can often restore hope in those where hope has been lost.