Opinion: I mix Iranian traditional medicine with my Western training to help my patients heal

Bahmanpour is a board-certified family medicine doctor whose practice is in Pacific Beach. He is also affiliated with Sharp Community Medical Group, and lives in San Diego.

Iranian traditional medicine, also known as Persian medicine, is among the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. Its principles have been passed down through centuries, emphasizing the interplay between mind, body and environment. I’m pioneering a modern synthesis of Iranian traditional medicine and Western medicine, offering a comprehensive approach to health that resonates deeply with San Diego’s diverse patient base.

My medical journey began in Tehran, Iran, where I was born and nurtured in a culture steeped in the traditions of Persian medicine. After earning my medical degree from Tehran Azad University, I ventured to the United States, completing my residency in family medicine at Baylor University in Houston, followed by a fellowship in geriatric medicine in San Diego. Since 2011, I have been practicing in San Diego, where I have established a private practice in Pacific Beach and I am an integral part of Sharp Community Medical Group.

I share my knowledge of Iranian traditional medicine as an assistant clinical professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine, where I integrate Iranian traditional medicine principles into the broader curriculum, preparing future physicians to consider alternative medical philosophies in their practices.

The core philosophy behind Iranian traditional medicine is that true healing occurs from the inside out, starting at the core of the patient’s being and extending outward to their physical symptoms. My approach is to follow this natural pathway, encouraging my patients to explore nontraditional support alongside conventional Western treatments. This method has been particularly well-received in the community, as it offers a more personalized treatment plan that considers the patient’s entire lifestyle.

Iranian traditional medicine is centered around the belief that our inner energies are essential for healing. It emphasizes the importance of having long, insightful conversations with each patient, which guide physicians in uncovering the true source of the patient’s issues. I strongly believe that by listening carefully, patients themselves reveal the root of their problems.

Iranian traditional medicine adheres to six essential lifestyle principles known as “Setah Zaroriah,” encompassing nutrition, environment, physical activity, sleep patterns, emotional health and effective waste elimination. These principles are used to assess and understand patients’ temperaments — combining physical, emotional and mental characteristics — to tailor individual wellness strategies.

In my practice, I’ve noticed a trend towards reluctance among patients, particularly the older adults, to depend solely on medications. Many express a preference for initiating treatment with lifestyle adjustments and natural remedies to manage conditions such as anxiety and chronic pain. My patients often opt for natural remedies and lifestyle changes before considering additional prescriptions. This approach aligns with the Iranian traditional medicine philosophy of minimizing drug reliance and focusing on holistic health practices.

I advocate for minimal and precise use of pharmaceuticals, suggesting that small adjustments can significantly improve a patient’s quality of life. My consultations frequently cover broader aspects of daily life, from diet and exercise to family dynamics and personal interests, all of which contribute to a patient’s overall health profile.

My commitment to personalized care extends beyond the patient room. I work closely with my wife, Negar Fallah, a registered nurse who manages my private practice office and soon to be a family nurse practitioner. This partnership strengthens our ability to offer consistent, attentive care to our patients, many of whom appreciate the warm, family-like atmosphere of the practice.

Incorporating Iranian traditional medicine into contemporary medical practice exemplifies the potential of integrated health care systems. By blending ancient wisdom with modern techniques, I not only enhance the effectiveness of medical treatments but also enrich the therapeutic relationship between physician and patient. My work serves as a model for how traditional practices can be revitalized within modern health paradigms, offering valuable insights into the holistic nature of health that could shape the future of medicine.

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