Raj Patel, M.D.
This is part 6 of a series of articles to introduce each of the Shoemaker certified physicians.
By Patti Stilley Schmidt
SurvivingMold.com’s Health Coach
Raj Patel decided to become a physician when he was just 5 or 6 years old. “It’s a very clear memory,” he explains. “I was raised in India until I was 7, and my Dad was a general practitioner with a clinic that was joined to our house. I had free rein to run in and out, and I remember one day he had a patient with a huge abscess on his knee. I watched him take care of it, and the man was so appreciative and so grateful. I could see how much of a relief it was for him. Something inside of me said, ‘this is pretty cool.’ That was a turning point for me.”
Dr. Patel went to undergraduate school in Utah at Weber State University and studied Zoology, but he wasn’t accepted into medical school when he tried the first time, because he was just 19 years old. He decided to go to Rutgers University to get a Master’s in physiology. It was a chance for the shy student to just “live life,” he says.
He was then accepted to Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (formerly Rutgers Medical School). He finished a three-year residency in family practice, and subsequently earned his Board Certification in Family Medicine. “I was really drawn to family practice medicine,” he recalls. “It’s the most exciting, because you never know who’s going to walk into your office — you get to see everything.”
Dr. Patel subsequently worked in a large multispecialty medical group in San Diego, but about “three months into the work, I hit a wall,” he remembers. “It was a crisis, because I realized for the first time that I really wasn’t helping my patients on a deep level. If someone came in with a migraine, I gave them medication for a migraine, never stopping to ask the question, why do you have a migraine in the first place?”
He realized that allopathic medicine was based on addressing symptoms, and he wanted to address the cause of those symptoms. “I had gone into medicine to be a healer, and I had a license that actually kept me from being a healer.” He began to look into “all kinds of stuff — from nutrition to homeopathy.”
In 1993, those additional interests paid off. He moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to become the medical director of the Woodside Family Health Center, where he was able to integrate his knowledge of natural therapies into his treatment program. Drugs are prescribed alone or in combination with other alternative options.
“We prefer to seek and correct the underlying causes of potential problems rather than to just suppress symptoms of illness,” explains this physician.
Around 2004, he realized that he had been suffering from Lyme Disease for several years. “I was in a practice with other, like-minded physicians, and one of the new physicians specialized in Lyme Disease. I learned more from her and all of a sudden the light went on.”
Dr. Patel has extensive experience treating Lyme disease. Over the past few years, he’s found success by combining antibiotic treatment with hormonal support and Dr. Shoemaker’s protocol for removing biotoxins and repairing the damage from Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) so often seen in those with Lyme Disease. He’s an active member of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) and has completed advanced training in pediatric Lyme disease.
He believes his experience with Lyme Disease helped him become a better doctor for this patient population, as he’s experienced the symptoms himself. He tried everything from oral and IV antibiotics to numerous alternative modalities to treat his Lyme, and believes that experience taught him to “intelligently combine all these different modalities to help patients get well.”
Dr. Patel first began looking into Dr. Shoemaker’s work in 2010. He found many of his “Lyme patients” who’d experienced only partial improvement turned out to be simultaneously suffering from exposure to the toxins in water-damaged buildings. When they began responding dramatically to simply getting out of their homes and taking cholestyramine, Dr. Patel’s interest was piqued to learn more about Dr. Shoemaker’s treatment approach.
“I see patients making impressive recoveries from this debilitating illness every day,” he says.
The biggest challenge, he reports, is “learning how to tease it apart.” Like the other certified physicians, he inherits patients “who’ve been treated by other physicians but who haven’t made progress. They’ve been in treatment for years for Lyme but haven’t made any improvement at all. When I look closely, almost all of them are living in moldy places, and they have this inflammatory response that looks like Lyme Disease, and even though they’re testing positive for Lyme, their main issue is exposure to mold.”
Typically, he follows the first two steps of the Shoemaker protocol, getting his patients out of the moldy environment and beginning CSM. “Their C4a comes down, but not all the way, so then I’ll switch gears and go after the Lyme. Viruses are often also a problem because of the compromised immune system. Once the Lyme bugs and the viruses are gone, then I go back and do the rest of the Shoemaker Protocol.”
The hardest thing is helping his patients “find a safe place to land, because so many places are moldy and so many patients are hyper-reactive.”
Sometimes, he prescribes VIP temporarily 2 times a day to lessen reactivity until they can find a suitable place to live. Once they find a safe place, he stops the VIP, works on treating the Lyme, and then on the CIRS.
Dr. Raj Patel is also trained in, and has extensive experience with various natural therapies, including nutritional medicine, homeopathy, herbs and mind-body medicine. Integrating these diverse therapies with allopathic (Western) medicine, when appropriate, has enabled Dr. Patel to offer “a highly refined approach to healthcare that produces lasting results.”
He estimates that now, his practice is comprised of 10% children on the Autism spectrum, 30% of patients with CIRS from exposure to water damaged buildings, 30% patients with both CIRS and Lyme Disease, and 30% percent suffering from Lyme Disease alone.
In addition to his medical skills, Dr. Patel also has more than 20 years of experience in meditation and dream work. These and other tools of Mind-Body Medicine have helped his patients gain a deeper understanding of their health issues.
For more information, visit www.DrRajPatel.net.
Raj Patel, MD
Medical Options for Wellness
570 Price Ave. Suite 200
Redwood City, CA 94063
Patti Schmidt, MS, is a therapist and SurvingMold.com’s health coach. She has more than 30 years of experience improving the lives of chronic illness patients. She's been a peer counselor, support group leader, national advocacy organization board member, and has published dozens of articles, along with the book Mold Warriors with Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker.