BirthLink talks to Chicago’s Dr. David W. Miller, M.D., L.Ac., about being a holistic pediatrician. He is one of the only physicians in the U.S. dually board certified in Pediatrics and Traditional Chinese Medicine (including Chinese herbalism).
BirthLink: How did you choose your present career?
“I have had a long-standing interest in alternative forms of healing and holistic approaches to health going back to the yoga classes I did with my mother in high school. During college I was very involved with the student health organizations, and during medical school I spent time working with children with HIV and was involved with the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) doing public health outreach and working to form the Committee on Disabilities. Through these activities it became clear to me that “Health” is a multidimensional experience and that physicians need to address the full person to help each achieve their maximum potential.
“During residency I began studying Reiki, and found that it added tremendous depth to my treatment approach and my interpretation of health and healing. It integrated smoothly with other care, and could be used with patients of any age and with any condition. After residency I worked for a year and half years as a hospitalist, being the in-house doctor for 24 hour shifts. I covered the outpatient clinic, general floors, PICU, deliveries, and answered calls from the ER.
“While I could do a great deal for my patients, I found over and over that there were many conditions that I did not have tools to treat. When the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine opened three blocks from my home, I jumped on the opportunity to take classes and further explore Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I found it complemented and dramatically enhanced my treatment tools and decided to dedicate myself to the full training.”
BirthLink: How do you blend eastern and western medicine?
“During a typical appointment, I spend time taking a thorough patient history including the standard medical questions about the chief complaint — then also approach dietary and lifestyle habits, family history, and the emotional status of the individual with whom I am working. For children, the pregnancy and birth histories are also very important, including the psychological and emotional experiences of the mother during the pregnancy. In the history as well, I do standard Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) questioning, and in the physical exam I use both Western and Eastern evaluation techniques.
“I then synthesize the information to arrive at both a Western and a TCM diagnosis. I give nutritional advice from both a Western and Eastern perspective appropriate to the patient’s condition, and work with acupuncture, massage, Chinese herbs, Reiki and Flower Essences to help restore balance and health. When treating children, I work to teach the parents massage techniques that they can use to treat their children at home.
“My approach is holistic in that I address issues at not only the physical level, but also the psycho-spiritual levels. I hope to empower parents to take a leading role in the care of their children, and help adult patients to do this for themselves as well. Should Western testing or pharmacologic treatment be needed, at this time I refer the patient back to their primary care physician for further discussion. Prior to referral back I work to educate and empower the patient to understand the issues they need to address with their PMD and why these may need to be addressed. Western medicine has many tools and intensive treatments that may in some cases be preferable over other approaches. Much of the time, however, I find my eastern and energetic tools to be of primary value.”
BirthLink: Talk about how you practice. What is your practice philosophy?
“Currently I am in solo practice and offer both holistic consultations and TCM/Energy Medicine treatment to both adults and children. While I love working with adults using TCM and other energy medicine, I am particularly excited to work with children. Through my training and work as a Western pediatrician I have seen thousands of children. Many of those children and their families were not finding relief and healing within the conventional American model. Now that my medicine bag has expanded, I am eager to offer these families a new array of possibilities that I have already seen to be of tremendous value. In addition to helping maintain general wellness, I am very interested in working with chronic conditions such as asthma, chronic pain, sickle cell disease, menstrual irregularities, attentional problems, and headaches.
“My practice philosophy is that we are beings with multi-dimensional lives and life experiences, and that we each have an innate potential for health. The field of Medicine should be dedicated to helping and empowering individuals to maximize this potential and maintain it. Disease comes when we become blocked, and health restores when our energy can flow freely.”
BirthLink: What else would you like to share with the birth community?
“I have had the privilege over the past two years to design the curriculum for and teach the Integrative Western/Eastern Pediatrics and Medical Communications courses at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Lakeview. I also am the area representative for the American Holistic Medical Association, a member of the Holistic Pediatrics Association, a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the AAP’s new Section on Complementary and Alternative Medicine. I graduated from Vassar College with a BA in Mathematics, went to medical school at Brown University and did my Pediatrics internship and residency at the University of Chicago.
“I enjoy working in collaboration with other health professionals and educators, and hope to add to the blossoming research in CAM therapies. I am one of the only Pediatricians in the United States with full, dual training and certification in Western and Chinese Medicine. I also am a Reiki teacher, and will be offering Reiki classes to parents.
“There is already over-whelming evidence that many alternative techniques are of value, and chief among these is Chinese medicine. The Western medical community is only slowly catching up to the research that has already been done, and hence is often still skeptical of treatment approaches that in 10 years or less will likely become widespread and accepted. I encourage the birth community to continue to hold the holistic vision, and would be honored to work with this community to enhance the health of both our children and our adults.”
Dr. David W. Miller, M.D., L.Ac., is a Board Certified Pediatrician, Acupuncturist and Herbalist. He practices at East West Integrated Medicine on the north side of Chicago. For more information, go to www.eastwestintmed.com, call 773-960-8901 or click here to email.