For Dr. Raphael Kellman, interconnectivity is the answer.
The integrative doctor, former cancer researcher and author of three books including, most recently, The Microbiome Diet, is changing the face of medicine with his philosophy on the importance of bacteria and the impact of internal and external influences on health. As the founder of The Kellman Center in New York City, he uses the latest innovations and an understanding of restorative natural systems to dig deeper and identify the origin of unconventional health issues.
Here, Rachel Goldstein talk to the passionate healer about how suffering can be alleviated by understanding the root causes of disease:
Rachel Goldstein: You're known as “the microbiome doctor.” What does that title mean to you?
Dr. Raphael Kellman: It means a lot, but perhaps, most importantly, it means that I’m committed to getting to the root causes of disease, disorder and dysfunction.
All too often conventional medicine addresses the symptom of the problem, not the problem itself, and creates ineffectual layers of treatment. However, if the microbiome is your medical beacon—and it is definitely mine—you’re forced to look deeper and view the body as a connected system, not a series of functions and flaws.
With guidance from the microbiome, I can see what other practitioners can’t and, as a result, can support patients who have been told for far too long that there is no help for them. From cancer to hyperthyroidism to chronic illness to everyday well-being, the microbiome has implications that can radically change the way we see and treat our bodies and minds. And, as a doctor, let alone “the microbiome doctor,” that means everything to me.
RG: How did you come to hold your unique vision for the future of health, wellness and medicine?
RK: Simply put, the greatest ideological change we’ve made in health and medicine in the last 150 years is the way we view bacteria. As it turns out, the overwhelming majority of bacteria within our bodies is helpful, not harmful, and this shift in philosophy, treatment and research has already proven to have powerful implications for the individual and our society as a whole.
I’ve integrated this approach into my work for many years and, with its support, I’ve helped patients transform their lives—mind, body and spirit. By allowing the microbiome to guide my work, I’ve discovered how interconnected our systems are, how human biology reflects the nature around it and found an accessible means for addressing the root causes of disease and illness.
This is more than just my unique vision; this is a new paradigm for medicine that I firmly believe will help us take more control of our personal health and collective wellness. Understanding the microbiome and its implications has not only made me a more dynamic doctor and healer, but also a more openminded person.
If the whole world had the wrong idea about bacteria for centuries, what else are we not getting right? That’s how I got to where I am; that’s how I’m going to be the change I always wished to see.
RG: What inspired you to found The Kellman Center, and what makes it unique?
RK: In today’s medical model there is a doctor for every organ, each one fixating on a specific piece of the body, but not seeing it as connected to the whole. This fragmented understanding of systems has led to tremendous problems in individual and public health, including inadequate treatment and a high incidence of chronic disease.
I founded The Kellman Center to combat this antiquated approach with a more integrative one. We assess each person’s medical history, genetics, nutrition, lifestyle and environment to create a complete picture that illuminates the deeper causes of deficiency, toxins, stress, inflammation and disease.
Knowing that chronic diseases can be poorly treated by conventional medicine alone, my team and I activate healing by addressing multiple causes and various systems. We are committed to achieving a “synergy of systems” and do so by merging our deep understanding of how nature works and restores with the latest technological innovations.
RG: Your most recent book, The Microbiome Diet, is all about healing from the inside out. Why do you think this philosophy is so important?
RK: Let me start by saying that this isn’t a new philosophy; it’s just one that we’re expanding on as we learn more about biology and the connection between our internal existence and our external lives. As a microbiome specialist, I understand the importance of this inner ecology and its critical role in balancing and supporting overall health. So intricately interconnected to every function in our bodies, the microbiome may be our most important ally in achieving optimal wellness, especially in the face of Lyme disease, autoimmune disease, unexplained fatigue and obesity.
With far-reaching benefits, care for the microbiome also supports digestive health, metabolic control, heart health, mental sharpness and much more. In fact, new research has proven a direct and strong link between anxiety and depression and the production of antibodies in the brain. And I’m not the only one who thinks this approach to health and medicine is important: Deepak Chopra’s Big Idea 2015 was titled, “Medicine, Wellbeing, and the Microbiome” and Fortune magazine declared 2015 “The Year of the Microbiome.”
As someone who has been working with the microbiome for more than a decade, I’m thrilled to see this important philosophy being integrated into conventional medicine and mainstream communication.
RG: What are some of your own personal daily wellness practices?
RK: I certainly have my wellness routine—infrared sauna, gyrotonics, meditation—but my most important practice is something more reparative than each of those. Every morning I wake up with a sense of meaning, a positive orientation, a deep recognition and awareness for the new day given to me. Waking up to a purpose everyday and filling my first moments of thought with awe, belief and faith has helped me cultivate new reflexes in the ways I think, feel and engage.
I don’t believe that health can be bought in a store. It’s broader than that, more vibrant and alive than that. It starts with how we view ourselves and the world.
RG: What does “Live The Process” mean to you, and how do you do that every day?
RK: To “Live The Process” is to pursue one’s purpose, and that means so many things in relation to our health and wellness today: Our purpose as superorganisms is to thrive, connect, complement, explore, restore and heal. I believe that by getting to the root cause of our physical, mental and emotional problems, we will flourish as individuals and societies. Everyday I am driven by the recognition that I have the ability to help someone, and everyday I strive to do just that. I aim to Live The Process so that my patients, my colleagues, my family, the world surrounding me will be inspired to do just the same.