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Dr. Mosaraf Ali believes we can all benefit from his pioneering combination of conventional and traditional medicine.
A very special doctor
A very special doctor
Dr. Mosaraf Ali coined the phrase "Integrated Medicine" some 20 years ago. He describes a true holistic system of healthcare as resorting to conventional Western Medicine only if it's really needed - for example, in treating an accident victim.
Instead, Dr Ali wants us to cherish our health by focusing on complementary and alternative therapies - and, above all, by living well.
His interest in medicine was stimulated by his grandfather, whom he adored. From the age of nine he looked after his friends' health, dosing colds and coughs with his grandfather's homeopathic remedies. Even as a schoolboy, after meals at his Catholic boarding school at Asansol, near Calcutta, he recalls chivvying the other children to respect their digestions with "a rest after lunch and a stroll after supper".
In those days, Calcutta was, he says, "a very clean city, with beautiful colonial buildings. But amid the splendor was sickness. I grew up hearing the shouts of mentally ill patients with chains around their legs."
He helped the sisters at one of Mother Teresa's leprosy clinics, bandaging the hands and feet of the lepers. Those experiences had a direct effect; by the age of 12, Mosaraf was certain that he wanted to be a doctor.
"Tara Palmer-Tomkinson calls him 'the eighth wonder of tlre world'. Sir Richard Branson and Michael Caine are vociferous in their praise.
He helped Selina Scott to overcome exhaustion, Kate Moss to emerge from drug addiction, Geri Halliwell to conquer bulimia and re-frame her life, and even cured designer Nicole Farhi's frostbitten fingers."
He set out to study conventional medicine, first at the University of Delhi, then at the Faculty of Medicine in Moscow, where he had won a government scholarship. It was there where he discovered the concept of integrated medicine.
His tutor, an eminent cardiac surgeon, was also deeply interested in fasting therapy, tongue diagnosis and yoga. His imagination kindled, the young doctor went on to become not only an award-winning general physician - he was best student of the faculty for four years running - but also to investigate the potential of traditional therapies. He studied a seemingly endless array, from the more familiar systems such as acupuncture, homeopathy and naturopathy, to the more esoteric, including iridology (the science of the iris of the eye).
From Moscow, Dr Ali returned to Delhi in 1982 and set up a Centre for Integrated Medicine.
Two years in Hong Kong followed, then came the invitation to come to the Hale Clinic in London. He set up his current practice with 15 hand-picked doctors and therapists in 1998.
Central to Dr Ali's beliefs is the idea that traditional therapies are based on seeing human beings as a whole - body, mind and spirit - and as part of nature. "We are part of the universe," he insists, "governed by the same laws and the same cyclical patterns." His quiet tones become impassioned as he tells about the benefits to his patients - including Selina Scott and Camilla Parker Bowles - who have travelled with him on his regular spiritual trips to the Himalayas. "You are able to lose yourself in nature, and people feel they are elemental beings instead of machines."
Dr Ali's decades of experience have led him to believe that, in the vast majority of cases, the body can be encouraged to heal itself naturally. "Inside every body there is a healing power that is part of nature, do the right things and 80 per cent of diseases will be cured. The National Health Service," he claims, "is not so much about health but disease."
Dr Ali's gentle manner masks a steely expectation that if he is to free up a precious spot in his crowded diary, his patients must toe the line. If he asks them to cut something out of their diet he'll expect them to do just that, no matter how famous they are. "Otherwise, I'm not the doctor for them," he says firmly.
"I am wholly convinced that his approach has the power to really make an immense difference to many people's lives and to our society as a whole," HRH Prince of Wales
Not surprising then, that the Prince of Wales, known for his long-standing interest in both natural medicine and organic farming, has been enthusiastic in his support of Dr Ali. Not only has he entrusted his own and his family's health to Dr Ali, but the prince wrote the foreword to The Integrated Health Bible and the two men are also talking about establishing an integrated medicine hospital.
The Prince and the Doctor met in 1992 in a very crowded room. "lt was very, romantic! 3,000 people but our eyes met across the room and we ended up talking."
The prince asked Dr Ali to treat a member of his staff who had been suffering a chronic condition for four months without receiving any benefit from conventional treatment. "All I had to do was a little bit of Detox," says Dr Ali placidly. The patient followed my Lifestyle Programme and we gave him some special massage and the next time the Prince of Wales saw him, he had completely changed. He was up and about and doing his work. The prince couldn't believe it."
Dr Ali's modest aim is to put us in charge of our own health. He has, to use Prince Charles's words, revolutionised many people's lives. It could be yours next.
[special thanks to Sarah Stacey - You Magazine]