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My Journey from Patient to Doctor

The following article appeared in the Winter 2015 edition of Health Science Magazine

I started my internship with TrueNorth Health Center in a bit of a backwards way. It was my final year at college and I was excited to become an electrical engineer; until I got some bad news. “There’s a lump in your neck,” my doctor said. After a few tests he told me that I had a tumor and that I would probably need surgery and chemotherapy if it was cancerous. “What’s the worst case scenario?” I asked him. He replied: “Five years.” I stopped and pondered this: “Five years? I’m only 20; aren’t I supposed to live forever?” I asked him a few questions and was surprised when he informed me that he did not know the cause of the tumor. Feeling stumped, I asked him, “If you don’t know the cause, won’t it come back after surgery? Why not just find the cause and remove it?” He replied, “It’s not that simple.” His answer didn’t make sense to me. Deep down I knew that it had to be that simple; at least, simpler than surgery. I was scared to death of being operated on and put on any drugs. It seemed that I would have to find my own path to health. And so began a journey that would change my life forever.

Learning To “Get Healthy”

Over the next few weeks, as I sifted through mountains of health information from libraries, bookstores, various conferences, and the internet, one thing was becoming apparent to me: health was the natural result of getting healthy. So my search became, “How does one get healthy?” I went on to try many products and systems that made health claims. I tried every cleanse, powder, potion, tea, decoction, supplement, elixir, and magic dust that I could find. As long as the label could convince me it could make me healthy, I bought it and I tried it.

Three months later, I was excited for my follow-up appointment to see if my efforts had paid off. I was stunned to learn that my tumor had doubled in size. “How was this possible?” I wondered. I did everything I could think of to get healthy, but to no avail. I was scared. To make matters worse, my doctor was furious at my stubbornness, and sent me a letter informing me that I might die if I did not follow his recommendations. Here I was, getting ready to graduate from college, and while my friends were stressing about their finals, jobs and careers, I was stressing about staying alive.

I increased my efforts and kept reading and experimenting with various cleanses and diets. And then I came across a few books on fasting and Natural Hygiene. They made some sense to me because they seemed simple and logical. The principles were based on having proper diet, sleep, exercise, sunshine, stress relief, laughter, and a loving social circle. This approach to health was much less extreme than anything else I had come across. And then I remembered my grandmother telling me about “some crazy water clinic” near San Francisco that I needed to look into. She had never been to TrueNorth Health Center, but she was an NHA (National Health Association) member, and had read about it in one of their magazines. I went online to do a little 'research', and after reading more books on water fasting, thoroughly reviewing the TrueNorth website, and having an uplifting conversation with one of the Center ’s founders, Dr. Alan Goldhamer, I set out for Penngrove, California to visit TrueNorth and begin my very first water fast. I had just graduated college a few weeks prior to arriving at TrueNorth, but my head was already wrapped around a potential career change. I thought if I could figure out a solution to my own health challenges, maybe I could help other people do the same. The plan was that I’d fast for four to six weeks. In reality, I only lasted five days because I was so miserable. I felt so bad that I actually snuck into the kitchen at midnight on day five to eat an apple, hoping that it might stop the unpleasant effects of the detoxification process. I completed my re-feeding at TrueNorth and headed home. All was not lost, though, because this time, I felt a little more confident. I was lucky enough to have heard lectures by Dr. Goldhamer and Dr. Doug Lisle while I was at the Center, and what they said made a lot of sense to me. I was interested in giving their recommendations a fair shot. What happened in the next month was unbelievable. My junk food cravings subsided, since my fast had sensitized my taste buds to natural food, and I was able to stick to a junk-food-free diet. Most importantly, however, was that my tumor shrunk to half of its original size. And over the next few months, it kept shrinking. The icing on the cake was that my autoimmune disease (called “Hashimoto’s thyroiditis”) and my hypothyroidism (both of which were brought on by the tumor) eventually reversed as well.

A New Career Path

I was learning firsthand about my body’s healing potential, and it was amazing to think that something so simple could have such a great impact. I decided that I wanted to change my career and help people. I didn’t know where to start, but it helped me to have visited TrueNorth and watched how hygienic doctors worked and interacted with patients. The seed had been planted. I wanted to be a hygienic doctor. And after taking some extra courses, I was accepted into chiropractic college in September 2008. I thought an internship at TrueNorth was still far off, as I needed the required coursework. But I threw the rulebook out the window when I called Dr. Goldhamer and asked if I could still come for a few weeks and observe, despite my lack of experience. To my delight, he agreed. Upon arriving at TrueNorth, I walked through the courtyard and greeted Dr. Goldhamer, who briskly shook my hand and ushered me into the dining room for breakfast. I thought to myself, “At last! A buffet where every bit of food is safe to eat!” After my orientation, my journey continued by meeting the patients and doctors, and getting up to speed on patient plans. In a few days I was up and running at full speed. The next few weeks were amazingly eye-opening, and I knew that I had found my path. As the saying goes, “the rest is history.” Over the next few years, I came back as an intern during my school breaks and continued learning from all the doctors and gained valuable clinical experience. I spent my last semester of school at TrueNorth and, after my graduation and licensure, I was invited to join the team as a staff doctor, to which I delightfully agreed. Besides supervising the patient fasts, I was able to see firsthand the body‘s ability to heal itself of almost anything if given the right conditions. The best part of my career now is identifying those conditions, whether they be fasting, eating a health-promoting diet, or helping someone get out of pain or discomfort.

Helping Patients Regain Their Health

I spent almost three years at TrueNorth Health Center, during which time I earned my professional certification for fasting supervision. My desire to move back to Southern California and continue my own practice ultimately led me to where I am now, in my own office since the beginning of 2014. I have enjoyed helping many patients regain their health so that they can be free of pain, suffering and disease. I look forward to continuing to help people and spread the message of good health.

Dr. Nathan Gershfeld, D.C. is currently in private practice in Southern California where he specializes in health promotion through nutrition and specific chiropractic. Dr. Gershfeld earned a degree in electrical engineering from California Polytechnic University, Pomona in 2006 before changing his career path in order to more directly help people with their health. This led him to health promotion through healthy living and the Blair Chiropractic Technique, a system of analyzing and adjusting the upper vertebrae of the spine. While an intern at TrueNorth Health Center in Santa Rosa, California, Dr. Gershfeld published a paper

“A Case of Non-Pharmacologic Conservative Management of Suspected Uncomplicated Sub-Acute Appendicitis in an Adult Male,” which appeared in the February 2011 edition of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. He currently serves on the board of the TrueNorth Health Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit foundation dedicated to research in the areas of health promotion and medically supervised, water-only fasting.

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