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Family doctor joins Upstate promoting 'integrative medicine'

enviromental portraitKaushal Nanavati MD has a simple way of looking at his role in family medicine: He helps people learn what will bring them peace and works with them to achieve it. And, he recognizes those answers may sometimes reside outside of allopathic medicine.

Nanavati is new to the staff of Upstate Medical University. He is an assistant professor in family medicine, combining core principles of that specialty with integrative medicine. He also dreams of building an integrative medicine program at the academic institution that would involve teaching and research in addition to patient care.

Meet him in person from Saturday, Oct. 22 at the first "Pathways to Wellness: Complementary Health & Healing Fair" at Crouse Hospital's Marley Education Building, corner of Irving and Waverly avenues in Syracuse. The event goes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with Nanavati scheduled to speak at 11 a.m.

You can also listen to Nanavati on Health Link on Air radio, at 9 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, on Newsradio 570 106.9 WSYR.

“In an allopathic standard of medicine, there are times when therapeutic options are limited,” he says. “That‘s what got me into exploring integrative medicine.”

Integrative holistic medicine encompasses a variety of treatment modalities including nutrition, herbal therapy, tai chi, acupuncture, meditation, Chinese medicine, homeopathy, Reiki, nutritional and Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical system.

Medical doctors who want to offer holistic care “have to be open to accepting the fact that they might not have every answer,” Nanavati says, “to be open to learning not only from other systems and other providers, but also from the patients.”

He says that is not such a leap for most physicians trained in family medicine, who learn how to treat people of all ages, with multiple concerns.

Nanavati was born in India, to a father who was a homeopathic physician and a mother who was a teacher. He was 7 when his uncle got the opportunity to do a psychiatric residency in Rochester. The Nanavati family tagged along, and an extended family of 11 shared a home.

“My Dad gave up his career as a physician to come here. He gave up his medical career so I could have the potential for education,” Nanavati says. His father took work as a nurse‘s aid in a state psychiatric hospital, and his mother got a job in a bank.

Nanavati attended Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, and then St. George‘s University School of Medicine in the Caribbean. He did residencies in England, New York City and Newark, N.J. He came to Syracuse in 1996 as part of the first family medicine residency class in Lafayette. Early in his practice he worked at the PHP Health Center in Central Square, serving as chair of family and internal medicine in 2002 and 2003. In 2004, he opened a private practice with two other primary care physicians in Baldwinsville.

He has always been open to therapies he was not taught in medical school. For example, Nanavati has referred patients to acupuncture for migraine relief, and prescribed vitamin D for muscles aches and pains. He is quick to point out that both treatments are backed by scientific research showing their safety and effectiveness.

Nanavati predicts that health care over the next century will become more global, and more accepting of therapies that may seem unconventional to western-trained physicians. That, he says, will be to the benefit of patient care. “The goal is that the patients are happy and they‘re healthy. If they‘re at peace, then I think we have achieved something.”

Listen to Dr. Nanavati's interview on Health Link on Air.

Details about "Pathways to Wellness" Fair.

Visit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.