About Dr. Merrell
Woodson Merrell, MD
Dr. Merrell's practice in Integrative Internal Medicine is on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He is frequently tapped by national media to lend commentary and context to stories on health, wellness and the future of medicine.
Founding Executive Director of the Center for Health and Healing in New York, the nation's largest and most comprehensive academic clinical center for Integrative Medicine
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, Icahn Mt Sinai School of Medicine
Immediate past Chairman, Department of Integrative Medicine, Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center
Associate Attending Physician, Department of Medicine, Mt Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center
Associate Attending Physician, Department of Medicine, Mt Sinai Roosevelt Hospital
Certified Physician Acupuncturist
Chair of the annual Integrative Healthcare Symposium in New York, annual CME conference for Integrative Medicine
Founding member, the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine
Founding member, Bravenet, a practiced-based Integrative Medicine research network of the Bravewell Collaborative
Medical Advisory Board, The Dr. Oz Show
Past board member, NYS Office of Professional Medical Conduct
An Interview with Dr. Merrell:
What is Integrative Medicine?
Integrative Medicine is the synthesis of the best of conventional Western bio-scientific medical practice with indigenous traditions--such as Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, and Ayurveda--and newer complementary practices including functional nutrition, Western botanical and nutraceutical approaches, mind-body techniques, and body work. The relationship between care-giver and patient is a partnership--looking for the safest, gentlest and most effective remedies from all traditions that will allow the patient to achieve optimal health. The process necessitates having time for the patient's story to unfold, and for the patient to enhance their ability to self-heal.
How did you get interested in Integrative Medicine?
I was fortunate--I was raised very healthy in Northern California: outdoors, eating clean balanced food with lots of Love. My three brothers and I were given homeopathy as first line treatments as children by our parents. In high school and college I studied (and later taught) yoga and meditation. I went to medical school to see if there could be a synthesis between Western biological and biochemical science, with (what the time was felt mainly to be ) Asian metaphysical practices. My practice has become a synthesis of all of these.
What do you think is the common thread for all of the things you do?
Compassion, love and respect for the other person. I feel deeply that the world's spiritual teachings and practices are our best guides. Having said that, there are many practical things we need to do to enhance our well-being: for most people these come from optimizing lifestyle practices.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
# 1 will always be being blessed to have a wonderful loving family. Professionally I am very proud that I have been able to help usher in the new era of more compassionate, more comprehensive, integrative healthcare. I feel fortunate that I have been in the right place at the right time to help create a model integrative medicine facility within a conventional healthcare system at the Center for Health and Healing (www.healthandhealingny.org).
How do you spend your free time?
Being with family. Reading. Spending time outdoors. Listening to music (jazz, blues, soul, world and classical). Traveling and exploring the world. Always learning--always the student.
Best anti-aging advice?
Lifestyle! Not pills or hormones. Incorporate the best practices of what I call the 6 fundamentals: stress management, proper diet/nutrition, exercise, rest, detoxing, and being connected. No pill or potion--natural or prescription--can approach the effectiveness of optimizing these.
Best diet advice?
Eat a plant-based rainbow diet. Minimize consumption of land animals and refined carbohydrates. Eat regularly and moderately to maintain normal body weight. Eat organic as much as possible. Eat food lovingly prepared and delicious that you enjoy--and savor. Eat mindfully.
What do you like most about practicing medicine?
Every day I feel blessed to be able to practice medicine. Having a deep knowledge base and being given license to work with others to help effect change in their lives is priceless. I love that there are so many different approaches that can be used synergistically with conventional medicine to facilitate healing. I love helping empower the patient to take more charge of changing their own health and lives.
Residency: Primary Care Internal Medicine, Roosevelt Hospital, 1976-1979
Medical School: Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, MD, 1976
Amherst College, AB cum laude, 1971
Clinical Fellow, Academies of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing & Shanghai, China, 1989
Clinical Fellow, Department of Tropical Medicine, University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, 1976
Continuing Education (Select)
Institute of Functional Medicine: Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice; and Detoxification
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine, Ted Kaptchuk, OMD, EastWest Institute, NY
Homeopathy and Clinical Ecology, Toronto, Dr. George Lewith
American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, annual conference (presenter)
Teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, India
Meditation and Psychotherapy, Deepening Mindfulness with Thich Nhat Hanh and Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA
Yoga and Meditation retreats: Kripalu Center, Lenox MA; Yoga Vedanta Center, Laurentians, Quebec; Oneness University with Tony Robbins, Fiji
Indigenous Traditions of the Americas, Washington DC, Conference Chair
First and Second International Congresses of Tibetan Medicine, Washington DC, Conference Director, Scientific Advisory Board
FutureMed, Singularity University NASA Ames Research Center, Moffit Field, CA ; Co-presenter with Dean Ornish, MD
Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, (former) Executive and Steering Committees
Chiropractic and Allopathic Medicine, Conference Co-Chair
Nutrition and Clinical Practice with Alan Gaby, MD, Conference Chair
Global Health Futures: Creating Integrated Solutions to the Epidemic of Long-Term Disease, Bangalore, India, November 2013, Presenter
Integrative Health Symposium, New York, NY, February 2014, 2015, 2016 Conference Chair.
Dr. Merrell's Books
The Detox Prescription (Rodale, 2013)
Dr. Merrell draws on extensive research to help readers assess their own toxic risk factors and health deficiencies, as a result of pollutants in the environment. In this authoritative work, he explores the evidence basis of detoxification, and outlines a comprehensive approach: including 3-, 7-, and 21-day cleanses with more than 100 delicious and nutritious recipes--all to jump-start your health. Read more.
Contact: (212) 535-1012
Power Up/The Source (Free Press, 2009)
Dr. Merrell presents his comprehensive plan for energy creation, a program that draws from both Eastern and Western medical knowledge. In this book, he focuses on the six fundamentals of optimum wellness: stress reduction, proper diet/nutrition, detoxification, exercise, adequate rest and being connected. Click here to order.
The Arginine Solution (Grand Central Publishing, 1999)
With Robert Fried, PhD, Dr. Merrell explains how Arginine helps the cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as enhances sexual performance. Click here to order.