Neil Nathan, M.D.
I am a Board-Certified Family Physician, and I am also a Founding Diplomate of the American Board of Holistic Medicine (now called the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine). For many years I was certified in pain management by the American Academy of Pain Management as well.
From the time that I began medical school at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine, it has always been my passion to try to help as many of my patients as possible. I was never satisfied with sending patients home with the cliché: "Sorry, we just don't have any answers for me." For me, and for my patients, conventional medicine had many answers, but sometimes they weren't enough.
Starting my 42-year medical career as a family physician, I delivered babies, did some minor surgery and worked in the emergency room, providing the most comprehensive care that I could. Over the years, I found that other disciplines (some of which were already included in the scope of medical practice, and some of which were considered tangential) held the promise of providing useful answers for those patients who did not respond adequately to conventional medical care.
Slowly my practice evolved into something new, that did not really have a name, and I called it Complex Medical Problem Solving. Over time, I found myself working mostly with those unfortunate patients who had not received a clear diagnosis from conventional medicine and were suffering with persistent and debilitating illnesses. These included Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Lyme disease with its co-infections, Autism, and all varieties of Chronic Pain, amongst others.
Several years ago, I began to teach my colleagues what I had learned about working with chronically ill patients and I called this course "What Every Physician Should Know About Working With Complex Medical Illness." My patients asked me to provide this same information in a somewhat simplified form, and that is how my books, first "On Hope and Healing" and my new book, "Healing is Possible: New Hope for Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia , Persistent Pain, and Other Chronic Illnesses" came to be. My text, for those books, is derived from the distillation of countless patient visits. When I found a patient's eyes glazing over as I began to explain some details of biochemistry, I took note. When they sat up, alertly and asked cogent questions, I took note of that, too.
Since the publication of those books, my practice has continued to evolve. I am now primarily seeing referrals from physicians who have studied this new field of functional medicine, and who have tried many of the interventions discussed in these books. They are helping most of those patients, but the ones who are not responding, the outliers, are being referred to us in ever-increasing numbers. What distinguishes this group of patients is that over time, they have become increasingly sensitive, often exquisitely sensitive, to many of the treatments which had been so effective for others. Many have been formally diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), but others simply cannot take even miniscule doses of herbs, or homeopathic remedies without a profound reaction. While their physicians, who may never have seen such sensitivities, diagnose them as having depression and anxiety, these reactions are not psychogenic, but physical. We believe we are seeing the accumulation of massive amounts of toxin in those individuals. They cannot be treated until the toxins have been removed and they are biochemically strengthened, and only then can we even begin to start treatment.
While I had seen a few, rare individuals with these sensitivities in the past' this now comprises about 40% of my practice, and we are having to develop ever-new strategies and treatments to help these patients recover their health.
Despite my many years of clinical practice, I am still optimistic that I can help every single person who comes through my door. The truth is that I haven't been able to do this, but the truth is also that I have helped the vast majority of them to improve or heal. It is that experience that motivated me to write "Healing is Possible". There are, unfortunately, millions of suffering individuals who have not been able to be clearly diagnosed or helped by conventional medicine, and who are not aware that help is indeed possible. My book was intended to be a starting point for their journey into health, and it is my hope that it will reach as many patients as possible.