During this interview I’ll be speaking with a medical doctor who has been thinking outside the box for over 20 years. Dr. Robert McLean is a graduate of Howard University’s College of Medicine with an undergraduate degree majoring in Physics from Dartmouth College.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, he has been practicing complimentary and alternative medicine for the past twenty years and has formed The Preventive Medical Center in Newport News VA.
I like to think I was fated to meet Dr. McLean. You see I had an appointment with a completely inside-the-box internist who I’d been seeing, but fortunately for me, he had a conference to attend. Dr. McLean saw his patients that day. I was so sick my husband had to drive me to my appointment. When I explained my symptoms, Dr. McLean asked me if I took any vitamins. And my husband laughed and said, “Doctor, you’re speaking her language.”
Well as it turned out, we both spoke the same language. Although Dr. McLean spoke it with the authority of a traditionally trained doctor who actually knew the science behind the supplements that I intuitively believed in. But this doctor is not opposed to prescribing a drug if he feels you need one. Dr. McLean has been my doctor ever since that day over fourteen years ago.
Now for the interview:
Sornberger: How long have you been interested in preventative medicine?
Dr. Mclean: I have been an advocate of health promotion & disease prevention since I began practicing medicine in the 1980s. However, it was not until I set up my own practice in 1998 that I was able to more fully put it in to practice.
Sornberger: What special nutritional training have you had?
Dr. McLean: Since the time allotted in medical school to areas such as nutrition is very minimal, most physicians who practice complementary and alternative medicine have had to acquire their expertise through self study.
There are a few medical programs which have been developed more recently to train physicians in preventive, complementary, and alternative medicine, but by and large the emphasis of mainstream allopathic [traditional medical method or treatment] medicine remains pharmaceutical and surgical treatment.
Many complementary and alternative physicians get special training through medical societies such as the one I belong to, ACAM (American College for Advancement in Medicine).
Sornberger: Have you had training in prescribing supplements and herbs?
Dr. McLean: Again, there is very little formal training available in this country. There is also limited research done in this country on natural products, since there is not much profit to be made on natural substances which cannot be patented. There is considerable research which has been done on herbal supplements in other countries such as Germany.
Sornberger: What supplements would you prescribe to the anorexic or bulimic that has been prescribed Prozac or other antidepressants?
Dr. McLean: Prozac and other SSRI drugs have become a mainstay of pharmaceutical prescribing for mood and behavioral disorders, yet studies have shown that they are not necessarily more effective than older classes of antidepressants, and in fact are sometimes not much more effective than placebo.
Dr. Mclean will continue to speak about the use of antidepressant and supplements in the treatment of anorexia and bulimia in part two of this interview.