David Gordon, M.D. is an integrative medicine specialist and the founder of 4 Pillars Health and Wellness. He began his career in medicine nearly 20 years ago after graduating from medical school at the University of Colorado.
Early in his career, Dr. Dave (as his patients refer to him) followed his training closely and began to realize he was not helping his patients truly heal. Instead, it seemed the treatments he was taught to implement for chronic ailments were keeping his patients in a state of general poor health.
Frustrated with the fact he had spent several years studying medicine that didn’t seem to be working, Dr. Dave began taking a different approach to healing. He started studying chiropractors, acupuncturists, psychologists and other non-medical practitioners. After a few years, Dr. Dave began to implement other treatment options that intuitively felt right and had the science to support them — and patients started feeling better.
Dr. Dave now focuses his practice on creating health, rather than managing disease. He teaches his patients about what he believes to be the four pillars of health — food, movement, relaxation and community. Dr. Dave says these pillars “are the bedrock of controlling your own destiny, understanding root causes of illness, and not relying on a dysfunctional system that stresses drugs and procedures at the expense of true health.”
We asked Dr. Dave a few questions about how he runs his practice and incorporates plant-based medicine into his medical treatment plans for patients. Check out the interview below:
Gofire: How did plant-based medicine become a part of your treatment plan for your patients?
Dr. Dave: Many people have a personal story of how they started working with plant-based medicine. For me however, it was the stories of my patients that led me down this path. It started back in 2009 when access to plant-based medicine increased in Colorado. My patients were coming to me saying they’d been using this treatment for a variety of conditions. After so many patients came to me talking about its value and I saw the positive results they were having, I decided to look into the science behind it. I was blown away by how much was already known and the extensive research already behind the use of plant-based therapies. From that point forward, it became a regular in my toolbox of treatment options for patients. As I used plant medicine more with patients, I was able to see its beneficial effects first-hand and learned how to optimize its safety and efficacy with patients.
Gofire: Do you bring up plant-based medicine as a possible treatment option to patients or do you wait for them to express interest in using it first?
Dr. Dave: Many years ago when I first started using plant-based medicine, the patients were bringing it up. They came to me saying they were using it with great benefit and wanted authorization to do so legally. After delving into the sciences and seeing the benefits clinically for patients, I began initiating the conversation. During my time as an integrative primary care physician, it was just one of many tools I would use. I’d bring it into our conversation when I thought it would be a valuable therapy. Currently, I’m mostly seeing patients specifically for cannabis education and recommendations so it’s often on the table right from the get go. So many patients have received misinformation about plant-based medicine over the years, that there is often fear and misconceptions to overcome. Much of what I do, especially for those that haven’t yet used this medicine, is to educate them on the truth of what we know and don’t know, which gives them confidence they’ll be able to use it safely and effectively.
Gofire: How involved are you in the process? Do you recommend certain products, dosages, ways of consumption, etc.?
Dr. Dave: It runs the gamut. For some patients, I recommend a very specific product, route of administration, and dose with instructions on how to make adjustments. One thing that is crucially important to me is that patients become self-empowered. Thus, even if I’m giving very specific recommendations, I make sure the patient hears why we’re using this product and what other options might be. They need to be able to make adjustments based on their clinical response. If they only know one way of taking the medicine, they won’t be able to adapt as their symptoms and circumstances change. Other patients, I’m simply authorizing their medicinal use and making quick suggestions or recommendations on how they might use it in a better fashion. I tailor my recommendations to what the patient needs and is willing to hear. For these patients that already have extensive experience with plant-based medicine, I try to find just one or two aspects of treatment that might be unfamiliar to them but extremely valuable — and hope they are willing to try my suggestions.
Gofire: What advice would you give to a patient and/or doctor that wants to begin incorporating plant-based medicine into their treatment plan?
Dr. Dave: First, it’s extremely important for a patient to have a good understanding of why they want to try plant-based medicine. Maybe it’s because they are still struggling with a chronic symptom/condition despite receiving conventional treatments. Maybe it’s because another treatment is causing new problems or side effects. Maybe they’ve already tried it and found it to be better than anything else. Adding plant-based medicine just because it’s popular or friends/family recommend it isn’t necessarily a great reason. It should be based on their wish to improve their health and quality of life. I think if patients approach their physician with that clear understanding, and stress that “my quality of life is suffering with our current plan and I’d like to see if this can help,” it’s hard for a physician to argue. I also think it’s great if patients’ educate themselves about plant-based medicine prior to the visit. Since most doctors have zero education about plant-based therapies, they often just reiterate false stereotypes they’ve heard over the years. When patients are educated, they can move the discussion in a more meaningful way, and also gauge the willingness of their doctor to learn new things. In a nutshell, if a patient comes to their doctor and says, “I’m suffering despite many therapies we’ve already tried; I’ve researched the pros and cons of plant-based medicine and based on my research, I think this is worth trying,” a good doctor should be supportive and work with the patient, even if they don’t know much about the medicine. If a doctor dismisses them despite that argument, then I think it’s time to find a new doctor.
Gofire: Anything else you’d like to add on the topic of plant-based medicine?
Dr. Dave: So much of patients’ success with plant-based medicine involves proper education and breaking down decades of false propaganda they’ve heard. Many people don’t realize that you can successfully use plant-based medicine without any feelings of intoxication or impairment. For others, mild intoxication is quite safe and actually contributes to the beneficial effects of therapy. Finding the optimal dose and methods of administration can almost always be achieved when patients take a proactive role, monitor their reasons for use, and their responses to treatment. This becomes self-empowering and also helps teach them what other aspects in their lifestyle are either helping or hurting their quality of life and allows them to optimize health outside of their plant-based therapy.
Dr. Dave is a strong supporter of the Gofire Health Suite. He encourages his patients to feel empowered by tracking their plant-based medicine intake on the Gofire App, so that they can work together to come up with a regimen that helps his patients find relief. In addition, he recommends that patients use the Gofire Inhaler to ensure a reliable and safe dose every time. If you or a loved one would like to speak with a doctor about incorporating plant-medicine into your routine, you can make an appointment with Dr. Dave at his practice, 4 Pillars Health and Wellness, in Denver.