Dr. Mark – Evolution of Medicine summit – interview excerpt

James: Great to have you here on the line. Dr. Menolascino and I have known each other for a few years. We met at the Heal Thy Practice Conference in 2011, and I’ve had an opportunity to go out and see the work that he’s doing in Jackson Hole. I just had to have him on this summit because we’ve been in conversation for the last few years about topics related to the evolution of medicine. I really wanted an opportunity to share with the world some of what Mark shared with me, because it’s been very formative in my understanding of things. Mark, 1 classic theme that’s gone through all of these talks has been that everyone really has a really good reason why they’re doing what they’re doing, and I know that your reason for getting into medicine goes back at least a generation. Do you just want to just start by sharing everyone why you’re doing this and your journey to getting here?

Dr. Mark: My pleasure, James. You’re absolutely right. As you go to the conferences, and you talk to your peers, everyone came to this type of medicine either as a transition from what they were doing in traditional medicine, or they started this from day 1, which I was fortunate to do. My father was a psychiatrist that really believed the way we treated the developmentally disabled as inappropriate in this country. He led the charge to develop all of the social service programs we use for the developmentally disabled. I’m the fourth doctor in my family. One of my brothers was a chiropractor, then became an internist. He works at the VA. My sister went to China for 2 years, and now she’s a psychiatrist in Manhattan. My other brother’s a mainstream internist, works downstairs. We’re best friends. We share ideas.

But when I was a senior in high school, Dean Ornish showed up in Omaha and said, “I’m going to take 100 men who’ve had heart attacks, that are scheduled for bypass surgery, and I’m going to talk them out of it, put them in a lifestyle,nutrition, meditation, exercise program, and I bet they do better.” That was a game changer for me. I was a researcher technician with him. He’s now one of my mentors and a good friend. It showed me at the very beginning that you have to do good medicine, which is why I think internal medicine was good training to be a good diagnostician, but along the way I developed this training and skills for homeopathy, naturopathics, Ayurvedic, Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

I think it’s a toolbox. So when someone comes to see you it’s not a one-size-fits-all, or a pill for the ill, or a potion and lotion. It’s, you have a toolbox of tools, and you have a repertoire to discuss alternative therapies that they’re doing with other practitioners in a way that doesn’t alienate you from either your patient or from their practitioner. I think this whole idea of functional medicine is really where this is headed towards.