Patients of Eric Braverman, MD, should expect to go back to the future at his luxe office on Park Avenue South. The integrated medicine specialist is equal parts ancient healer and high-tech physician. He uses an arsenal of computers to scan and probe deep into patients’ brains before invoking nature’s power to cure what ails them. At his PATH medical practice (Place for Achieving Total Health), no nerve or node goes unexamined and services average $3,000 to $10,000, but patients who can sleep soundly, move painlessly, and age without adding pounds believe in Dr. Braverman’s brainpower.
To put it lightly and crudely, Dr. Braverman is obsessed with the brain — the focus of his signature brand of anti-aging medicine for over 30 years. In 1979, he developed a thesis on folic acid and metabolism at Harvard Medical School. “[Harvard] told me that nutrition had no role in healthcare, and that American children would never get fat. That was the opinion of medical geniuses back then. My mother, with a high school education, knew more about health than doctors who trained me.”
But he continued to pursue integrative brain health, joining Princeton Brain Bio-Center’s team to study BEAM (Brain Electrical Activity Map), and subsequently training under Dr. Atkins, the revolutionary diet doctor. In 1998, Dr. Braverman founded PATH New York and translated his theories into practice. Employing a team of seven medical specialists, he created a state-of-the-art facility. With hotel-like patient suites and VIP rooms, PATH feels more like a high-end brain spa than a doctor’s office.
Since establishing PATH, Dr. Braverman has engaged the public in an ongoing dialogue about brain-body health, dramatically broadening his sphere of influence. He’s appeared on a stream of TV and radio shows, and his seventh book, Braverman’s Brain Advantage (Rodale, Inc.), is due out in January 2012. The books are user-friendly but factually explosive tomes of total health that examine how the brain impacts aging, weight, heart disease, and sexual function, among other common afflictions.
Sometimes Dr. Braverman condenses his designer diagnostics into catchy slogans, lending his confident cadence an air of a traveling salesman. Whether people speak in rising stocks or Bible verses, Dr. Eric Braverman can translate his message into their native tongues. This time, he compares the brain to a company’s CEO — maybe the chief executive organ. Just as a CEO is crucial to a company’s welfare, the brain is the diagnostic doorway to the body. To heal a failing Fortune 500, start with the boss. To heal an ailing body, start with the brain.
While Dr. Braverman and his PATH team treat existing conditions, they also encourage healthy adults to solicit PATH’s services, since aging starts silently from the inside out, usually around 30. “You’re only as young as your oldest body part,” quoth Dr. Braverman, reciting his anti-aging apothegm. “You can have [old parts] at 25 or 35. Twenty-five-year-old women can have 40-year-old faces from too much sun, and 35-year-olds can have 20-year-old brains but lousy knees and hips.”
He emphasizes the extent to which debilitating diseases go undetected. “You have to recognize that, at 40, people are half-dead, such that, just like old homes, they have 10 hidden illnesses and require more repair.” The rule has no exceptions, as Dr. Braverman notes, “everyone knows people [with] great wealth and success who wake up with surprise illnesses. They die of old body parts in [their] age prints,” a depiction of overall health as a cooperative of vital organs that work in concert and on their own. Celebrities may suffer disproportionately from old body parts or, more in line with Dr. Braverman’s assessment, just suffer the fate of living and dying in the limelight. “Tim Russert died from an old heart and blood vessels, and [Christopher Reeve’s wife] Dana Reeve died from an old lung,” he points out.
The PATH team excavates the brain to protect against such potentially fatal surprises. “We find the disease before it finds you and reverse virtually every [one],” Dr. Braverman explained. He identifies core health problems that plague his patients and the greater healthcare-consuming public: obesity, fatigue, pain, mental disease, and cognitive loss, all of which impact quality of life and life expectancy. “Thin and fit, meaning not just thin but low body fat, is worth 15 years…sleeping well is worth 15 years,” he said. To regain the lost years, patients receive customized treatment regimens comprised of nutrients, hormones, diet guidelines, exercise, and, when necessary, conventional prescription medicine.
Dr. Braverman has proven his unconventional medical approach through lauded research and published work, patient testimonials, and impressive collaborations — he published research and submitted a paper on obesity with the current head of the NY State Department of Health, Commissioner Nirav Shah. Still, a puzzling question lingers: Why are everyone’s bodies so damaged? His patients, for the most part, have access to the best resources available; why aren’t they healthier?
According to Dr. Braverman, a “new culture of health” would require systemic upheaval. “We need enormous, multi-level environmental changes and a huge dietary shift,” explained Dr. Braverman. “There has to be better air quality, and toxic metal and pesticide removal. The government needs to subsidize cheap fish and vegetables, not cheap sugar and white flour.”
In Dr. Braverman’s opinion, the government needs to pay the brain more mind, contending that “brain health problems are the dominating cause of obesity, dementia, insomnia, addiction, depression, and heart disease. Without a [government-sanctioned] brain-health overhaul, society can’t get healthy at another level.” But even if he can’t change the system, he can fight it: “By making brain health the focus, and recognizing what a patient’s up against, [PATH] takes corrective measures to heal the brain, i.e., through natural hormones, nutrients, medicine, and toxic metal removal,” he proffered. “Basically, I think our medical approach is the antidote to cultural errors that have caused nationwide diseases — obesity, high cancer rates, mental illness, and general unhappiness.”