By Dr. Mercola

Most of us will, at some point, go through personal health challenges, and it would be wise to have a personal physician you can trust who is grounded in natural medicine. Dr. Lee Cowden, who is my personal physician, has developed an excellent teaching program for licensed health professionals and laypeople alike.

Cowden is a board-certified interventional cardiologist who, after experiencing the limitations of the conventional model firsthand as a patient, came to realize there’s another approach.

“I was accepted to medical school in Houston … With all the grass, weeds, molds, fungus, pollens and everything in the air, I developed allergic rhinitis, then I developed allergic sinusitis, then infective sinusitis, [followed by] bronchitis and finally pneumonia.

I went to the chairman of different medical school departments to get help and I followed their instructions explicitly, and I got progressively worse. Thank goodness, my wife’s grandmother came to visit us in Houston. She saw me suffering and took pity on me.

She was a school teacher and a self-taught nutritionist. She took me to the health food store and got me some vitamins, minerals and herbs, and I got well.

I thought, ‘I need to learn what this woman knows and I need to take with a grain of salt everything I learned in the conventional allopathic training system after this.'”

From Crisis Intervention to Preventive Medicine

That was 1975. It took another decade before he decided to “come out of the closet,” as he puts it, and begin to incorporate the alternative methods he’d learned into his own medical practice.

By that time, he’d finished his cardiology and critical care medicine fellowships, and had practiced interventional cardiology and invasive medicine for a year.

“At the end of that year, I concluded three things: if I continued on that grueling path, I would kill myself and probably end up in divorce and wouldn’t know my children,” he says.

“The other thing I realized was that patients got well and got out of the hospital when they weren’t expected to because of the nutritional things I used while they were in the hospital.

But they were all coming back to the hospital two to three months later with the same condition, because they didn’t change their lifestyle.

They didn’t change their diet. They hadn’t done anything else. I realized at that point I was intervening way too far down the stream. I needed to get out of that crisis intervention mode.

I [started] thinking of getting into a more preventative medicine mode and start reversing diseases by identifying the causes and helping the patients to reverse those causes.”

Cowden now travels and teaches doctors about various preventive and integrative care strategies, including diet, detoxification, electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and much more.

I believe the model Cowden has developed, integrating many different modalities into a very comprehensive and integrative approach, is one of the best available for physicians who seek to learn and integrate this into their practice.

The Academy of Comprehensive Integrative Medicine

Cowden’s intention and goal is to create a large number of physicians and healthcare clinicians who understand integrative or alternative medicine principles and are able to apply them.

He’s developed a course to train clinicians that seems to be, from everything I’ve reviewed, the most cost-effective strategy available.

“The academy I work with, the Academy of Comprehensive Integrative Medicine (ACIM), is a Panamanian-based academy (because they still have freedom of speech) that has been at this since late 2008.

We’ve been filming valuable information, editing it and uploading it to the academy website. So there’s a lot of information on the academy website,”

ACIM connects practitioners to other practitioners through a mentoring process. It also connects practitioners with patients that want to seek their help, and connects patients with patients who need support and encouragement during their healing process.

The cost for this program is about one-quarter of the typical cost for similar programs, and by providing online training, you also save a lot of money by eliminating the need for travel and hotel stays.

Periodically, you may be required to go to a fixed location for hands-on instruction, but 80 to 90 percent of what you need to learn is done online at your own convenience.

Moreover, you do not have to be a licensed medical professional to participate. Even laypeople and patients can enroll in the program. If you complete the entire program, you will be certified as a comprehensive wellness coach who can work closely with a licensed practitioner. The two available paths in the academy are:

  1. The informal path: as a member (free membership is also available), you can look through the catalog and select the education courses that interest you. All courses are available as online videos.
  2. The formal path: practitioners who want to go to the next step can enter into the ACIM’s integrative medicine fellowship program, which includes 300 hours’ worth of integrative medicine educational training, much of which can be done online. There are also different levels within the fellowship program, from low to high.

Mark Your Calendar for ACIM’s Annual Conference

ACIM holds an annual conference in Florida. This year, I will be speaking at this event, which will be held in Orlando from September 22 through September 24.

There’s also a post-conference on September 25, which will include the major laboratories that test blood or use other non-scanning techniques to find out whether a person has cancer and to what extent.

For example, by measuring Nagalase and ENOX2, Cowden says you can receive a “fairly certain” diagnosis of whether you have cancer, all in a matter of 48 hours.

It promises to be one of the best events of the year and I am very excited to be sharing my latest insights on the metabolic treatment of cancer. Many of the leading experts in the field will also be there, including Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D. author of the book “Cancer as a Metabolic Disease.”

If you have an interest in cancer, this is the go-to event of the year to get the latest insights on how to conquer cancer through diet and other means. You can get the details at this link.

“This topic of diet and cancer is absolutely crucial. Without [addressing your diet], most patients have very little hope of recovery, whether they go the allopathic route or the integrative medicine route,” Cowden says.

“We have Dr. Tsuneo Kobayashi coming from Japan. Twenty years ago, he started doing research for finding a blood chemistry panel that could determine whether a person was starting to develop cancer. If he found they were starting to develop cancer, he would intervene with natural means and turn that around, so that the cancer markers became normal again.

During that time, there should have been 300 full-blown cases of cancer in his group of patients, but there’s not been one. He’s going to tell us how he did all that. That’s going to be a fascinating presentation.

Dr. [Ioannis] Papasotiriou is coming to us from Greece. He’s developed a lab that’s just mind-boggling … He can actually make a remedy that can be used to treat a patient from the patient’s own blood. We have Dr. William LaValley … who has researched the literature, finding all the articles in the peer-reviewed literature showing how nutraceuticals effectively reverse cancer … “

Novel Tool to Improve Your Sleep Quality

While conventional medicine has only a limited number of tools at its disposal, there’s really no shortage of them in the integrative model. I’ve had some experience with a few that are really incredible. One tool I’m currently using is a fitness ring that assesses sleep quality, which is an important part of the health equation.

The ring essentially works like a mini sleep lab. It will tell you how long you were in light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep, your heart rate variability, what time you wake up and your total sleep time.

“We have thousands of tools,” Cowden says. “We could be here for days talking about all of them. The allopathic system unfortunately only has about three or four tools in their toolbox. When you get to the end of those few tools, the allopathic doctor says, ‘There is no more hope for your condition. Go home and suffer and die.’ 

That’s when you need to start looking in the integrative medicine realm. Years ago, somebody asked me, ‘What business are you in?’ I said, ‘I’m in the failure business. I treat the failures of the allopathic medical community.’ The human body has been created to regenerate as long as the allopathic doctors don’t get too much in the way. The pharmaceuticals block the healing process. The surgery removes body parts that you might have needed …

Anyway, the EEG Biofeedback is an extremely valuable tool in the integrative medicine toolbox … We measure the brain waves coming off the different parts of the brain, [which] tells us with great predictive accuracy what that person’s sleep is like, what their mood is like, what their memory is like, what their ability to do a mathematical calculation is like, whether they have anxiety … It’s amazing what we can learn.”

Herbal Medicine

Cowden uses products from a Florida-based herbal company called NutraMedix. Many of its products are potent mitochondrial regulators. Cowden estimates most all people have disease-causing microbes in their bodies. As long as your immune system is strong, they’re kept in check. But if your immune function falters, they can easily take over, and many pathogenic microorganisms produce biotoxins that are more toxic than man-made ones.

“Those add on to the pile that’s already in your body from the pesticides, the herbicides, the heavy metals and the radioactive elements we’re all getting exposed to every day just by living and breathing,” Cowden says. “You can become very ill [from] the combination of the bugs and the toxins. When we use these herbals, we’re shifting that balance. They’re very diverse in their effect.”

What’s unique about the NutraMedix products is that most of them are quantum physically imprinted. They’re high-quality herbal extracts from naturally raised plants in the jungle. They also act like homeopathics, because they can deal with a lot of things that the herbs themselves cannot address.

I’ve tried about a dozen different preparations from NutraMedix and have experienced profound benefits from them. Ideally, they’d be prescribed by someone who has the training and knowledge to select the most appropriate remedy, but they’re quite safe either way, so there’s no major downside to taking them.

“No. They’ve studied these at the University of Guayaquil in Ecuador in animals and given hundreds of times the human recommended dose, scaled down to animal bodyweight, for weeks on end without seeing any change in the behavior of the animals or any change in the histology of the organs … We know that these are extremely safe. In some cases, safer than water,” Cowden says.

Herbal Remedies for Lyme Disease

People with Lyme disease, for example, may benefit from these kinds of herbal formulas. Cowden has created a specific treatment program for Lyme patients who have failed to improve on antibiotic therapy. In initial tests, the improvement rate was around 80 percent.

Bionatus, located in Ecuador, has an educational website,, where you can learn more about this all-natural treatment program. The 11 herbs used in this program include Cumanda, Banderol and Samento.

Takuna is also an excellent product to help with seasonal health challenges. I recommend keeping Takuna in your home emergency medical kit.

“It’s a comprehensive program. You don’t really have to know what kind of creature you have in your body. It will address the vast majority of the creatures that are there,” Cowden says.

Integrative Medicine Can Help Just About Any Condition

According to doctors who have used the Cowden Support Program in their chronically-ill patients, this program has often produced “amazing results.” Other procedures developed by innovative integrative practitioners can also have amazing results in certain chronically-ill patients.

“We know you can reverse chronic diarrhea caused by Clostridium dificil and even ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease oftentimes with one procedure called human fecal transplant. We’re talking about permanent resolution. This treatment came out of Australia but it’s actually been studied at the Mayo Clinic and proven to be effective. Why are we still giving all the drugs for these conditions when we can effectively treat them and often cure them with one integrative treatment?” he says.

The Importance of Addressing Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities underlie many chronic health problems, and there are electronic tools that can comprehensively screen for hundreds, if not thousands, of different foods, giving you a list of foods you’re sensitive to within a matter of 15 minutes. Cowden recommends using electrodermal screening or galvanic skin response testing. By eliminating sensitizing foods, you may experience a significant improvement in your condition.

“When you’re dealing with an immune-related problem like cancer, for example, if you’re consuming a lot of food allergens every day, a lot of the immune energy is going to deal with that food allergy reaction rather than the immunity that’s taking care of the cancer. You’re cheating yourself out of combating the cancer when you have those unnecessary food allergy reactions,” Cowden says.

“In this type of medicine, we also teach practitioners how to do the Coca Pulse test, so that they can teach their patients how to do that at home. It’s a very simple process. Just take your pulse before the meal. Relax for a few minutes. Eat your meal without distress. No arguments at the table. No watching the news.

About 10 minutes after the meal, take your pulse again. If your pulse rate goes up, you know you’ve had an allergy reaction to that meal. We don’t have to know what type of allergy reaction; we just know there’s a problem in that meal. If they make an entire meal out of each one of those component foods over the next three days, they could figure out which ones [are problematic].”

Most heart rate variability tools come from Russia, where they’ve studied and perfected this technique over the last 45 years. Cowden likes a heart rate variability system called Heart Quest, which tells you not only what your autonomic nervous system is doing, but also what’s going on with your hormonal, psycho-emotional and cardiovascular systems.

From this, you can assess your brain’s toxic load and potential mineral or hormone deficiencies, for example. You can also assess the balance of your meridian system, used in Chinese medicine, acupuncture and the Ayurvedic system.

Remarkable Success Stories

Some of the more remarkable success stories using integrative medicine involve prospective transplant patients. Many have actually been on the roster list for an organ transplant, and implementing Cowden’s protocols made them well enough to not need that transplant. To me, that’s quite profound.

“I had a young fellow come to me from Israel years ago with kidney failure. He was on the verge of dialysis. He already had one kidney transplant and he was rejecting that kidney. In just a month’s time — with dietary changes, nutritional supplementation, some emotional work [and] some electromagnetic therapies — he went to perfectly normal kidney function …

The liver is one of the most regenerative organs in the body. For somebody to get a liver transplant is absolutely crazy, because all you have to do is get rid of the toxins in the liver … You can get the toxins out and stop putting more toxins in. Give the body just a few nutrients to help rebuild the liver back up, and it regenerates in every case,” Cowden says.

That may sound like a bold statement, but this is coming from a clinician who’s treated patients for 30 years and has seen these kinds of cases day in and day out.

The Importance of Addressing Your Emotions

Quite often, emotional wounding is part of the disease spectrum. Cowden suggests it may be a contributing factor in nearly all disease, to some degree. In some patients, it may be 90 percent causative. In others, it may only contribute 10 or 20 percent. However, avoiding addressing any potential emotional issues will oftentimes stifle the healing process and/or prevent complete healing.

Michelle LaMasa-Schrader, Ph.D., who teaches one of ACIM’s fellowship training courses on emotional healing, will also be speaking at this year’s conference. She teaches Recall Healing, which involves asking the patient the right questions, the right way, so the patient has an “aha moment.” When they have the “aha moment,” the condition the question addresses often resolves spontaneously without any other therapy.

Dr. [Ryke] Geerd Hamer in Germany was the one who started this back in 1978,” Cowden says. “Many others have added on to the methodology system. It’s quite an extraordinary process. I learned the process originally from Gilbert Renaud [Ph.D.,] in Vancouver B.C., Canada. He now travels in Europe and Russia, and teaches at the University of Moscow. Recall Healing is now a required course for the psychology students at the university.”

Other tools include EVOX therapy, which involves speaking into a microphone that records the frequencies embedded in your voice. Each frequency in your voice corresponds to a specific emotion attached to the person or event you’re speaking about. In 15 seconds, all the specific emotions surrounding the issue talked about are displayed on a computer screen. The device then takes these voice frequencies and makes them into a homeopathic energy that it delivers back into you.

“It shakes those memories loose, so the patient becomes free from them,” Cowden explains. I realize this may sound like hocus pocus, science fiction or both, but I’ve experienced a few EVOX therapy sessions and can attest to its effectiveness. The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is another tool that can be quite useful, and there are many others. New techniques are also cropping up at a fairly rapid clip.

“They say allopathic medical knowledge is doubling every three to four years; integrative medicine knowledge is doubling every two years. Unless you’re continually learning, you’re going to fall behind and something that’s valuable will not be used,” Cowden says.

More Information

The take-home message here is that, no matter what health issue you’re trying to address, there is likely a wide array of tools and treatment strategies that can help. My goal is to catalyze the transformation of the healing system in the world. I can provide information on this website, but ultimately we need clinicians trained in these alternative and integrative methods, so that patients can get expert guidance.

The ACIM program is, in my view, the best training tool out there for health practitioners and laypeople alike. Especially if you’re a practicing clinician, I couldn’t encourage you more strongly to participate. You can get more information and enroll on

“I think each listener, no matter what their background, can go to the academy website and learn things that will be valuable for their own health, the health of their family members and close friends. If they choose to, they can even apply that to others. They can do that, if they’re not a practitioner, as a wellness coach.

We want to try to hook up wellness coaches with well-trained integrative practitioners, so they can work together. Integrative practitioners need the help of the wellness coach to handle the patients … Creating that team is the best scenario for the practitioner, the wellness coach and the patient,” Cowden says.

The program also teaches you how to legally practice as a wellness coach, so you don’t run the risk of going to jail for practicing medicine without a license. That’s a big part of the equation. It’s important to have the appropriate legal structure in place. Cowden is also working on a tertiary care system, where severely ill patients can have access to guidance and care for days or weeks at a time.

“Some people might have far advanced cancer. They might have to spend a few weeks in a tertiary care location to get the integrative care they need. Then once they are improved significantly, they go back into the setting around their home where there’s a wellness coach or an integrative practitioner that can do the follow through and keep them moving in the right direction.

You need to have that balance of ‘the best of the best’ on call all the time, if you need him, but also the person that’s going to be close to you, the primary care practitioner [and] the wellness coach that’s going to do the follow-through.”

Attend the ACIM Conquering Cancer Conference

If you have an interest in or passion for learning more about cancer, be sure to attend the ACIM Conquering Cancer Conference in Orlando, September 22 through September 24. Cowden and I will both be there, along with a long list of other excellent speakers, including my mentor in nutrition, Dr. Ron Rosedale. You’ll learn how to implement a ketogenic diet, for example, and much more.

Perhaps more importantly, get your clinician to participate in the ACIM Connect training program, so they can get certified and become aware of all these great tools. A practitioner can begin the fellowship program with just 30 hours of training, which is one level.