Sabio’s Alt Med Background

Five Element TheoryThis is a reference post for anyone interested in a brief general history of my experiences in Alternative Medicine.   BTW, for the last twenty years I have practiced orthodox Western Medicine (Allopathic Medicine).

Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

I landed in Japan for a brief 3 weeks vacation on my way back from philosophy Ph.D. research in India and Pakistan.  I was enamored by Japan and saw no rush to return to the States and my 3-week vacation turned into 7 years and I never finished that Ph.D.   My first year and a half I spent much of my spare time at a Zen Temple practicing Shorin-ji Kempo (Shaolin Kungfu) and meditation.  We also acupressure methods to massage each other after 2-3 hours work-outs.  Finding that interesting, I then took two acupressure classes in town, then I also found a Scottish acupuncturist who then took me on as an apprentice.  After two  years in Japan I was able to pass the National Japanese language boards and was accepted into an acupuncture college.  After 3 years of intense acupuncture training (4 pm – 9 pm, 5 days a week), I graduated (the only non-asian foreigner that year in Western Japan to graduate from an acupuncture college).  I then passed the national board exams.  For the next year I did apprenticeships in 3 clinics (I will write on these later) and took a graduate diploma in Chinese Herbal medicine. Then for one year I opened my own clinic in my home town, Kyoto.  I was called several times to give presentations on Acupuncture to various foreign groups in Japan.

On returning to the States I only practice acupuncture occasionally, and now don’t practice it at all.  I do still do acupressure to help people with headaches and sore backs.


On returning to the USA after 7 years in Japan, I went to Duke Medical School’s 2-year Physician Assistant program ( a crammed version of a Physician’s 4-year program).  But during those years I also casually studied Homeopathy. After graduating from Duke, I got two jobs in Seattle Washington.  One in an Emergency Department for 30 hours per week and a second at a Family Practice Clinic with two MDs who only used Homeopathic medicine — again 30 hours per week.  During my first year at the homeopathic clinic, I also took a certificate program (180 hours) from the International Foundation of Homeopathy.  But I stopped practicing Homeopathy after only 2 intense years of practice.  I will write more later.


Diet is probably one of the most important forms of “medicines”.  I became a vegetarian after eating goat brain from the skull of a goat as a guest in a village in Pakistan when I was 19 years old (my first trip to South Asia).  I remained a vegetarian for about 7 years.  Part of that time I did a raw food diet for 6 months but became weak and stopped it.  I stopped being a vegetarian when I reached Japan and decided to start eating fish.  But fish proved to be “gateway” flesh and soon I was eating almost anything (whale, raw horse, live fish …).

During my stay in Japan I became sick, probably due to stress, and then started a Macrobiotic diet which drove me into worse health until I gave it up about 1 year later.  For the next 10 years I would eat largely vegetarian with 1-2 meat meals a week, buying food at coops and always striving for whole grains and unprocessed foods.  Oh yes, alcohol always remained a vice on each diet.

About six years ago I became much more lazy in my diet and started eating a lot of sweets.  I gained wt, developed high blood pressure and GERD.  A year and a half ago I started a low-carb (Paleo Diet)– more later.  Since then I have lost all my excess weight, was able to stop all my medications and am probably the healthiest I have been since I was younger, but my old vegetarian friends would be deeply ashamed of my unabashed carnivore habits.


I have always exercised — with periods of lethargy, of course:  jog, martial arts, kayak …

Yoga & Meditation

I studied for two years to be a Yoga teacher  and have practiced various forms of meditation for many years- Yogic, Zen, Vipassana, Tibetan.  I am a very unskilled, lazy meditator.   Some consider these forms of alternative medicine.  More on this later.

Other related posts:


Filed under Health

10 responses to “Sabio’s Alt Med Background

  1. Ed

    Is the Paleo-Diet aka the “Pre-agricultural Diet”? As I understand it this diet consists of nothing that needs human organization (agriculture) to grow or be produced.
    So, anything you could gather, such as berries, nuts and roots are OK. But wheat, corn and dairy products are forbidden. There is lots of animal food in this diet because they can be hunted.
    I have heard that people get very nice results on this way of eating. My explanation for this is that in the 10,000 years since agricultural foods began to be consumed, the human digestive system has not had time to evolve or change enough to be able to handle processed and “unnatural” foods. Hence the current “wave” of humans responds well to this diet.

  2. CRL

    Was there anything (other than disgust at goat brain!) that led to you becoming a vegetarian? What led you to stop, and do you ever regret it?

    No relation to my previous question, but did you study Japanese at all before traveling to Japan?

  3. @CRL:
    (1) No, I did not know a word of Japanese before I landed at the airport in Tokyo. And I did not take lessons — taught myself. But remember, I had a few languages under my belt prior to that.

    (2) I had contemplated vegetarianism occ due to several reasons:
    (a) it was cool in the circles I traveled
    (b) I have a very experimental personality
    (c) somehow I thought it would be better for my health
    (d) I love animals

    Later, after becoming vegetarian, I read a lot and gathered LOTS of confirmatory bias — it was easy. And then I felt special too. All pathetic, eh? But that is my life story. Smile
    I have not regretted one day stopping vegetarian, if I did, I would re-start. I also don’t regret giving up trumpet — guitar is much more fun !

  4. Interesting stuff, I wait with anticipation. 🙂

  5. Jay

    Very interesting, Sabio. It’s one thing for me to write about things like homeopathy without having actually been “in”, but I’m sure it’s a different discussion being able to draw on your own experiences.

  6. LOVE it. Yoga and Acupuncture are where we intersect. i’m getting more intentional with my diet, after lent still having about 1 to 2 sodas a week which is great compared to the one a day, but not the best. acupuncture is the only thing that helps with my allergies and sinus issues. it’s freak’n great!

  7. Having read your recent collection of personal background posts, you’re an interesting dude. I’m looking forward to some of the blogs that you have brewing over there.


  8. Peter

    Wow! All of these areas of study would have required extremely rigorous and extensive study. I wonder if you were able to synthesise the knowledge you gained or if the different areas of study all required a kind of “silo” mentality since the principles and basic architecture of knowledge and belief systems (epistemology?) were incompatible.

    So interesting regardless.

  9. @ Peter,
    Yes, they were intense immersions without huge connection to other areas, because, as you said, their structure and epistemology was different.

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