Dr. Z’s Journey
As a young child, I was first introduced to the magical powers of healers by my grandmother. She functioned as an elder healer treating most common ailments through spiritual advice as well as herbs and other natural remedies. She also would seek help from other healers in more complex cases. One of my most vivid early childhood memories is holding my grandmother’s hand while going through unfamiliar narrow allies on the outskirts of my hometown, an ancient town nestled on the edge of a desert in Iran. She, lovingly, pushed me forward as we entered the small enclosed courtyard of an old clay and mud house and into a dark kitchen. A clay oven protruded from the back wall dominating the space. A thick beam of sunlight entered the kitchen from the hole on the ceiling functioning as a natural skylight, partially lighting this primitive kitchen. In the center of the mud kitchen, underneath the sunlight beam and hiding behind a small bonfire sat an old lady with most of her body and hair covered. In the dark, I could only make the outlines of an old wrinkled face framed by a large scarf. Her penetrating eyes and uninhibited compassionate energy scared me, but with my grandmother’s encouragement and reassurance, I hesitantly sat in front of her. I was brought to this Shaman by my grandmother in one of her many attempts to find a cure for my stuttering. These childhood experiences with healers fascinated me as a child and shaped my lifelong search for healing human disease and suffering, and have been my main motivation in becoming a physician. After I moved to the USA at 17 years of age I single-mindedly pursued the dream of becoming a physician and in 1988 graduated from a pediatric residency. During my training, I was fortunate to work with some of the best teachers in the field of mind-body medicine including the renowned Dr. Karen Olness. After graduation, I started working as a pediatrician and a general practitioner treating patients of all ages based on my conventional Western education. I worked in pediatric offices, urgent care, and family practice offices for several years and taught medical students at a major medical university. After several years of experience, I became more and more frustrated by major deficiencies in conventional medicine’s model of treating a growing list of ailments and diseases. In 1995, I opened my clinic to gain more control over the way my patients were being treated but my frustrations with the shortcomings of Western medicine’s model persisted. On a trip back home in the late 1990s, I fell ill and to my disappointment, the conventional medical treatments did not work. My grandmother came to my rescue one more time and her treatment of herbal mixtures and essences worked effectively without any side effects. The wisdom of her approach was hard to ignore. Upon my return to the US, I began an earnest effort to learn about alternative healing and treatment modalities. I took several workshops with Dr. Deepak Chopra on mind-body medicine and Ayurverdic system of healing. I followed my studies further to include other disciplines such as herbal medicine, nutrition and diet, environmental toxicology, cellular medicine, hormonal therapy, and functional medicine. In 2002, I opened a new primary care practice incorporating some of the above disciplines in my practice which included a series of mind-body workshops that I developed for stress reduction. I found out that I could be a much more effective medical doctor using an integrative approach with my patient’s ailments. The unmistakably repeated positive response from my patients confirmed my conclusion. Over the ensuing years, I have expanded my studies in the field of integrative medicine by attending conferences and workshops sponsored by ACAM and Duke Integrative Medicine amongst others.
In late 2008, in response to many requests from my old patients, I opened an integrative medicine clinic, one of a handful in our state, offering customized medical services to patients of all ages in our area. The overwhelming positive feedback and support from my patients have made this transition a worthwhile endeavor, despite an unfriendly medical board and the hassles of third-party payers. I hear daily testimonials from my patients regarding their genuine appreciation for the integrative approach to their health care.
I continuously strive to provide my patients with the best that Western, Eastern and other alternative health systems have to offer. I see each medical system and paradigm having its strengths and weaknesses and needing to be used prudently and correctly, not unlike different tools in a toolbox. A wise physician knows how to selectively integrate these various systems of healing to each patient’s individual needs and condition to promote optimal health and wellbeing of his patients.
Although I am many decades and thousands of miles removed from the healers and shamans of my childhood past but the emotional scent of their healing energy, compassion, and dedication lingers on in my memory.
L. Zaiim MD
To schedule an appointment please contact us
Carolina Integrative Clinic
254 Towne Village Dr, Cary, NC 27513, United States
Tel: (919) 869-6661
Fax: (919) 301-9349