“We excel at addressing the root causes of the issues, not just the symptoms.”—Dr. Brian Myers
Written By: Charlotte Farrell Palm Springs Naturopathic Doctor
In La Quinta, Dr. Brian Myers can usually be found at the Live Well Clinic, treating his patients and their various maladies and concerns with attention and care. He’s been there for four and a half years and shows no signs of slowing down or venturing away from the desert that he now proudly calls home. We sat down with Dr. Myers to gauge what naturopathic medicine is all about, and why those who are curious should give it a try—your gut will thank you!
Palm Springs Naturopathic Doctor
Q&A With Dr. Brian Myers
Q: What inspired you to pursue naturopathic medicine?
BM: My motivation towards medicine is two-fold. This is a long story short…I had a spinal cord injury that occurred at hockey practice, which left me paralyzed from the neck down and respirator dependent. During my recovery, I was fascinated by how my body was able to heal the severe damage that it sustained and that propelled me towards health and medicine. A ton of hard work later, I am an active human being who enjoys rock climbing, soccer, cycling and backpacking. My push towards naturopathic medicine came during my time teaching middle school in rural Montana, where I saw every day the long-term negative effects of how poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. I knew that lifestyle changes could reverse these easily preventable diseases and that naturopathic doctors would be the experts at leading this change.
Q: What aspect of naturopathic medicine do you feel is the most important when it comes to people’s health?
BM: Having been a patient myself from a young age, I greatly understand the importance of feeling heard and understood by your doctor. One of the core principles of naturopathic medicine is “Doctor as Teacher,” which places importance on educating our patients in the steps necessary to achieve and maintain health. I think it’s also important to teach about the mechanisms that are causing poor health—to empower patients by increasing their understanding of how actions impact health. Our visits are structured to create the time and a space needed for this vital exchange of information and to build a healing relationship between the doctor and patient.
Q: What are some services that you provide specifically that you feel are vital in the goal of achieving optimal health?
BM: I have wandered into various avenues of health from pediatrics to podiatry over the past few years—always expanding my world of knowledge to optimize my patient’s health. Gut health is central to everyone’s overall well-being and recently I have really enjoyed working with more complicated gut infections and functional disorders. Almost all of my patients have some type of gut issue like bloating, food sensitivities, IBS, or “leaky gut.” To help with more complicated GI issues, I use specialized lab testing, like Diagnostic Solutions’ GI-Map, which has proven to be far and away better at detecting hidden infections and sources of gut inflammation. Lab tests like that and others can be a game-changer for my patients and myself.
Q: Can you explain the importance of gut health and why the topic has gained so much momentum?
BM: There are so many reasons why gut health is important. For starters, the vast majority of your immune system resides in your gut and is called Gut Associated Lymph Tissue, or GALT for short. An unhealthy gut may lead to an unhealthy immune system and that may lead to more infections or even autoimmune diseases. Secondly, you literally are what you eat. We are assembled from the nutrients that our bodies absorb from our food. If there is any compromise in our ability to get all that we need from what we choose to ingest, then problems arise. Third, the gut is the second brain. Once again, you might be surprised to learn that the majority of your serotonin (your feel-good neurotransmitter) is actually made in your gut as compared to the amount in your brain. Further, those very nutrients we require are essential to the function of our neurotransmitters—think the gas pedals and brakes in your brain—and so much more. As such, mental health and gut health are absolutely tied to one another.
Q: In addition to general family practice, what other forms of medicine do you focus on? BM: Naturopathic doctors are the original functional medicine doctors. I see people for everything from well-child visits to hormone replacement therapy to autoimmune conditions to gut infections. I also do a lot of IV nutrition therapy and IV ozone therapy, especially for my patients who have difficulty absorbing their nutrients because of a GI issue, or they’re coming in for immune support during the cold/flu season.
Q: What would you say to someone who is nervous to try naturopathic medicine? What are some myths you can debunk about it all?
BM: Many people don’t know that we are primary care doctors trained in evidence-based conventional and traditional medicines at four-year accredited medical schools. I passed board exams and went through a residency program. I can prescribe anything from nutrition and lifestyle changes to botanical medicines and prescription drugs. If you are searching for a naturopathic doctor, make sure you know whom you’re asking for. Please don’t mistake “naturopaths” or “homeopaths” or “holistic practitioners” —all of which are not licensed doctors—for a naturopathic doctor. For more fun facts about naturopathic medicine, you can check out this link. Naturopathic doctors are excellent health detectives that have the flexibility to think outside of the box for solutions to complicated health issues. We excel at addressing the root causes of the issues, not just the symptoms. This medicine may not always have immediate results and it requires patient participation, but I prefer to see my patients take an active role in their health. I always tell my patients that they get out of their health what they put into it.
Q: What can a new patient expect from a visit?
BM: Our initial consultations are typically 60 minutes, creating the space for a more thorough health history with time for me to get to know you as a patient. I would typically order supportive blood work or other labs with a follow up in a few weeks. Every patient receives a personalized treatment protocol consisting of lifestyle changes and supportive supplements with the information I gain from specific lab testing. We have a patient portal for easy communication with the doctors and staff if you have any further questions or just need to reorder a supplement.
Q: What is your biggest goal you hope to achieve with naturopathic medicine in the future?
BM: It would be great to see awareness of and access to naturopathic medicine expand throughout this country, especially given the shortage of primary care physicians. This profession fulfills that need and preventative medicine has been shown time and again to be more cost-effective than the current sick-care model.
Live Well Clinic
78900 Avenue 47, Ste 102
La Quinta, CA 92253