Dr Iggy Soosay
MBBS, FACNEM (Fellow of the Australasian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine)
Learn more about how I started in medicine and integrative practices, and how I work on a recent podcast episode I was a guest on with the Uncommon podcast.
In this video, I discuss gut health, IBS, SIBO, the gut microbiome, and what can be done to improve it, in a free NIIM public lecture.
I have been practicing Integrative Medicine (or Functional Medicine) for over 35 years and many of the patients ask how I got into this so long ago.
So here’s my story.
“I have just come for my blood pressure pills Doc”
“I have run out of my pain killers” – and “my arthritis is killing me. Can you give me a prescription for my regular pills?”
“I ran out of my ulcer pills and the gut pain is back. I need more of these pills”
I asked myself after a year or 2 of this being a regular scenario in my practice – “Did I go to medical school for 6 years and train for 2 years in hospitals just to write repeat prescriptions?”
I happened to set up practice in a geriatric (older people) area so I mostly saw chronic illnesses.
Looking around and talking to colleagues they were not very different. Most conditions doctors saw ended up in a prescription for some sort of drug. Be it an antibiotic, painkiller, anti-inflammatory, blood pressure pill and so on. Sure there were problems that had to be newly diagnosed – tummy pains that needed investigation that needed surgery or pills, headaches, asthma, infections etc.
But overall my frustration was that I was not making any sort of significant impact on my patients’ health. There had to be a better way. I looked around and there was not much of an alternative. Mind you this was in the late 1970s.
“Diet” was a word that was foreign to a doctor’s vocabulary in those days (it still is with a lot of doctors) – we had a couple of lectures on diet in the 6 years of medical school – so it could not have been important – could it?
In my search I started to look for something better. There is a saying, “When the student is ready the teacher appears”.
Well, my teacher appeared in an unusual form! I had to be ready to pick it.
They were my patients!
The odd one would tell me they had tried cod liver oil for their repeated colds, or had tried vitamin E for their eczema, or vitamin B for their fatigue or brewers yeast (remember this was in the 1970s) and they got better. I asked them how they knew to try this. Many of pointed to books by Adele Davis – a dietician who was a trail blazer in those days in nutritional medicine. So I got these books and started using some of her treatments – with moderate success.
The fire had been lit and there was no turning back.
Soon after I came across colleagues who were also a similar quest – trying to learn more about nutritional medicine. How changing the diet, taking some specific vitamins could help some conditions. There was not much information. There were no scientific studies published so we had to rely on our clinical practice. So a small group of doctors met regularly and exchanged our cases, discussed success and our failures. So we learnt what worked and what didn’t. Our reassurance was that what did not work did not do harm. We were not using toxic substances but low dose vitamins and changing our patients’ diets.
There were some teachers in USA also pioneering in this field of nutritional medicine and we followed them. Some research was starting and we followed these. We accumulated studies and clinical data. From that start we set up in the 1980s the Australasian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine and started educating doctors on the safe use of diet and nutritional supplements.
Listed below you will see my past positions held.
I have a particular interest in gut related issues and after years of treating a wide variety of conditions, have decided to focus on IBS and related conditions. The study of the Microbiome and its effect on health is a passion of mine and this website will feature research findings of the gut bacteria on health and illness.
- Chairman and past senior lecturer at the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine
- Founding and past president of Australasian College of Herbal Medicine
- Part time lecturer to medical students at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
- Part time lecturer to Registrars at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
- Part time lecturer at the Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, Swinburne University, Melbourne.
- Member of the RACGP-AIMA Working party on Complementary Medicine
- Served on Editorial Boards of:
- Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (International)
- Journal of the Australasian Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine
- Journal of Complementary Medicine
Selvaratnam, Peter (Ed). Headache, Orofacial Pain and Bruxism. Elsevier 2009.
Contributed chapter titled: Integrative Medicine Approach. pages 225-235.