MY BACKGROUND AND PHILOSOPHY
I was born and raised in El Salvador in Central America. Shortly after graduating from high school, as civil war broke out, I was fortunate to escape and enroll in university studies in the USA. I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and followed into medical school graduating with an MD in 1990. I subsequently did my specialty training in Family Practice at Natividad Medical Center- a county hospital in one of California's agricultural hubs. Over the next three decades I served people of all ages, races, walks of life and echelons of society in a variety of settings: emergency room, urgent care centres, rural community clinics, underserved population clinics, private practice, public health department and university student health. Concurrently, from the beginning, my own suffering and that of my children propelled me to explore and learn a variety of “alternative” healing systems and techniques. Of those, the most influential body of knowledge that has shaped my outlook is functional medicine which I have studied since 1995. (See here for an incomplete list of my education).
Throughout my career I have witnessed- from up close and afar- so much trauma, tragedy and suffering and have observed how some manage to recover and create a symphony of their lives while others limp along in cacophonous, self-destructive loops that perpetuate suffering in themselves and others. Moreover, as the seminal research paper published in 1998* showed, most of the people who have had adverse childhood experiences have a higher incidence of physical illnesses in adulthood as well. So, again, most- but not all- of those who have traumatic experiences in childhood are plagued by addiction, self-destructive patterns and psychological and physical illnesses. So what makes the difference??? Can you choose how to manage those early (and sometimes, not so early) insults??? How do you change courses if you are on a trajectory of suffering??? What conceptual frameworks and tools actually work for this aim??? These questions drew my attention to the brain as master conductor of our lives… the lynch pin to our physical and emotional health and the fulcrum from which we can leverage the capacity to create lives that flourish- or not.
Through my own personal journey of struggle and transformation, and through supporting and working with my loved ones and patients, it became clear that most entrenched problems span more than one health dimension. Therefore, to really affect change, it's necessary to include all the involved dimensions in any successful plan: body, mind, heart, spirit and environment/planet.
Concretely, the approach is simple :
1. nourish the underlying supportive systems
2. remove blocks that stand in the way of healing
3. train new pathways to supersede dysfunctional ones
4. and allow nature and Spirit to do the rest
Knowing what factors have contributed to the present condition - physical insults (e.g. head injury, poor diet, toxic exposure, stroke), psychological insults (e.g. trauma, neglect, severe chronic stress), genetic predisposition, or a combination of these- is helpful in guiding those steps. But, at the end of the day, what counts is WHAT WE DO to expand our capacity to create a more deeply fulfilling life for ourselves and others in a sustainable way for our planet.
In my current work, I aim to provide services that focus on that central theme by supporting the brain to perform at its best.
*Felitti VJ, Anda RF, Nordenberg D, Williamson DF, Spitz AM, Edwards V, et al. . Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. Am J Prev Med. (1998) 14:245–58.