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Special Features > Gordon Alan Saxe, MD, PhD

 Q 

How did you start with macrobiotics?

 A 

I began macrobiotics in 1981 when my father was diagnosed with cancer. In looking for a way to help him, I found out about macrobiotics and began an adventure that dramatically changed my life.

In the course of investigating and finding out more about macrobiotics, I got pointed to and attended a summer conference where I had the chance to hear and meet with Dr. Anthony Sattilaro, a physician and hospital president in Philadelphia, who experienced a miraculous remission of widespread prostate cancer after beginning a macrobiotic diet.

I also met many other individuals who reported similar stories of recovery or remission. I was simultaneously absolutely fascinated and skeptical. This was, after all, big news: A possible natural method for reversing cancer and other intractable diseases.

I changed my diet at that time and noticed many changes - subtle and not so subtle: weight loss (without even trying), increased energy, clarity of thought, clear skin, etc. I also moved into Murray Snyder's macrobiotic study house in Baltimore where I took classes and read everything I could find on macrobiotics.

To satisfy my skeptical western mind, however, I began researching nutrition and macrobiotics in relation to cancer, scouring the medical library at Johns Hopkins University. Interestingly, what I uncovered seemed fully consistent with macrobiotic recommendations: increase whole grains, vegetable, and fruits; decrease dairy, meat, and saturated fat.

Later, I began graduate studies, spanning the fields of Public Health, Nutrition, and Cancer Epidemiology. I earned a Master' Degree in Public Health at Tulane University as well as a Ph.D. in Epidemiologic Science at the University of Michigan. I also carried out the first (and, to date, only) systematic research on macrobiotics and cancer - a survival analysis of patients with pancreatic cancer who adopted macrobiotic diets. I also carried out studies on diet as a predictor of breast cancer recurrence and survival.

A certifiable "professional student," I then went on to medical school, earning my M.D. degree at Michigan State University. While in med school, I started a student organization on alternative medicine and spent as much time as I could integrating macrobiotic and western medical concepts of health and healing. After med school, I completed an internship in Internal Medicine and residency in Preventive Medicine (the field in which I am Board-certified) at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.

While in residency training, I carried out one additional research project, a study of men who had developed recurrences of prostate cancer in spite of surgery. We enrolled these men in a four-month diet and stress-reduction intervention (modeled on macrobiotics) and observed its impact on the disease. In a small group of men, we found that the rate of cancer growth was reduced by 75% !! This was accompanied by healthy weight loss, improvements in cardiovascular risk factors, and enhanced quality of life.

I am now a faculty member at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine where I am carrying out a sequel study - a larger and longer intervention that has been funded by the American Cancer Society. I would also like to participate in other studies of macrobiotics and would enjoy sharing ideas with other interested individuals.

 Q 
How has macrobiotics helped you?
 A 

It has provided me with a sense of purpose in my life, confidence in my ability to deepen my own health, and optimism in my ability to help others - friends, family, and patients - improve their health. It has provided a fascinating counterpoint to the standard western perspectives on molecular biology and pathophysiology. And beyond this, it has helped me to see the unity in all creation and to understand the process of change. Not much, huh? (Just kidding!)

 Q 

What do you offer and specialise in?

 A 

In addition to the research I described above, I work with patients clinically. Many of them suffer from different forms of cancer or other difficult diseases. Many of them are trying to decide between whether to undergo conventional treatments or to practice macrobiotics instead.

I try to take what I believe is a truly macrobiotic approach - a large view of life - in which anything, even chemotherapy or surgery, can be healing. I am not limited by defined protocols - whether the Number 7 diet, the Standard Macrobiotic Diet, or standardized western treatment regimens. One size does not fit all! When I work with patients, I start where they are, try and understand their views and concerns, and tailor an approach that works best for them.

However, because I have personally observed miraculous outcomes in patients with a wide variety of conditions, I am extremely optimistic about the potential for healing and recovery in many cases that have essentially been given up by western medicine.

The trick is to know when and how to use macrobiotics alone, when necessary how to use western approaches in a well-timed and judicious manner, and how to combine these very different modalities in a way that optimizes outcome while minimizing harm. In other words, my focus is on how to help patients get well and stay as whole as possible - or even become healthier - in the process.

 Q 
What one piece of advice would you give to someone trying macrobiotics for the first time?
 A 

Deeply imagine what your life would look like if you were very, very happy - and then pour every ounce of your effort into making that dream your reality!

Gordon Alan Saxe, MD, PhD
Assistant Adjunct Professor
Department of Family and Preventive Medicine
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive, MS 0901
La Jolla, CA 92093-0901
Tel: (858) 622-1731, ext. 2233
Fax: (858) 622-1780
Email: gsaxe@ucsd.edugsaxe@ucsd.edu

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