Expert Profile - Miriam Rahav
Dr. Miriam Rahav, MD
Functional Medicine Physician
Dr. Miriam Rahav‘s Bio:
Miriam Rahav, M.D. is a triple boarded physician in the fields of internal medicine, hospice and palliative medicine and functional medicine. Dr. Rahav is also certified in acupuncture through The Tristate School of Acupuncture. She is currently training in a diagnostic and treatment modality called autonomic response testing (ART) through the Klinghardt Academy.
She studied education and comparative literature at Brown University and completed Brown’s undergraduate teacher education program, formally certifying as a secondary school teacher of both English and Spanish. Immediately after her graduation from Brown University she took a job teaching high school, business college, community and corporate English classes in Tokyo, Japan. After two years of intense teaching work she took a small break to Thailand to learn how to scuba dive. However, the trip lasted a lot longer than she initially expected.
In Thailand, Dr. Rahav discovered a subculture of health seekers from around the world, committed to finding their own way back to health with seemingly radical practices of fasting and colon cleansing. Extended fasting and colon cleansing changed her own health trajectory and life forever.
Determined to learn more about how to tap into radical healing self-practices and Thai traditional medicine, she found a way to study with traditional healers. She found a Thai non-government organization that was identifying and networking local traditional healers to try and support the burgeoning population of humans living with HIV/AIDS in the Upper North of Thailand.
While writing grant proposals to fund the traditional healer network project, she met many people living with HIV/AIDS. The HIV+ community in Northern Thailand were her most powerful teachers. They shared from their intimate vantage point the journey of their illness and social isolation. They taught her what it was like to feel helpless, vulnerable, mortal and afraid. They taught her the depth of meaning of shared moments when time was finite, and they taught her how to be present and strong for them when their time came to pass. It was the depth of her connection to all those wonderful people that pushed her to study medicine—hoping to repay the debt of their friendship, and to empower herself as much as she could to integrate as many tools as possible to advocate for humans in need.
After a final year on a Fulbright scholarship studying the integration of allopathic and traditional healing modalities in the care of people living with HIV/AIDS in Northern Thailand, she headed to Columbia University for post baccalaureate premedicine studies.
She then attended The Medical School for International Health (MSIH) a medical school based out of Ben Gurion University, in Southern Israel. At MSIH medicine studies focused on growing generations of globally minded physicians, with a strong focus on epidemiology, community health, and serving underserved populations around the world. It was the only place she considered going.
Dr. Rahav completed her residency training in internal medicine at Montefiore Medical Center, the teaching hospital for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Her completed fellowship training in Hospice and Palliative Care at New York University Medical Center (NYU).
Immediately after fellowship training and prior to opening Rahav Wellness, she worked several years in two functional medicine practices where she was finally able to fully integrate years of study across the spectrum of healing arts.
Dr. Rahav’s vision for creating a supportive and collaborative integrative medical center finally manifested in Rahav Wellness | The Center for Collaborative Healing. Opening its doors in 2017, Rahav Wellness represents a groundbreaking model for collaborative community-oriented healthcare delivery. The Center’s multi-disciplinary team integrate the greatest of traditional medicine and functional medicine and strive to make their carefully curated menu of services as accessible to as many people as possible in one single location.
What life events or challenges that you’ve experienced (could be minor, could be major) – whether you’ve experienced them directly or via someone close to you, have had any type of impact on your desire to pursue a career in psychiatry?
My pathway into medicine began while I was living and working in Thailand. Thailand was reeling from the devastation of AIDS in the 1990’s the way my hometown NYC was devastated in the 80’s. I connected with a nurse in a district hospital in the North who shared how she saw certain people with a new diagnosis, get depressed, reckless, drown their grief in alcohol and die quickly. She noted those folks, mostly moms with kids, who strived to stay well, find community and eat right, to live as long as they could for their kids. It was a lesson I could never forget: how we cope and our mental state has a direct impact on our physical. The two pieces of the puzzle, the mind, and the body are inextricably intertwined, and to care for a whole human means to address these aspects of our vulnerability simultaneously.
How did those events impact you emotionally/morally? How, if at all did those events impact the way you view how our current system teaches us to treat patients with mental health challenges?
I have never met someone challenged with an illness that did not have mental health challenges, nor have I met folks with mental health challenges who do not require physiological support. My life and clinical experience have taught me to work with humans across the continuum of human experience and not to compartmentalize their challenges but to understand them and address them holistically, mind, body, and spirit. My experience of our current system is that it has been inadequate to address the depth of need of our fellow humans to be treated for their dis-ease holistically and comprehensively.
When and why did you decide to actually focus on working with patients dealing with mental health issues, specifically, and how was your decision shaped by the experiences above?
I started my clinical work through mentorship with a rural community nurse in a district hospital in Northern Thailand. We had no drugs, but she created a support group and programming based on community resources: spiritual training, nutrition, community and open conversations with folks in their darkest hour. We visited homes, and we sat bedside when they transitioned out of this life. My formal medical training was informed by this organic whole-person care commitment. I have since added tools and training, but my orientation to embrace fellow humans in as many ways as they should require has always been steadfast.
What methods or practices do you utilize to help individuals get/feel better?
Detailed history, detailed physical, biofeedback/kinesiology, functional medicine testing (varied but can include nutrition, infectious, microbiome, environmental, hormonal testing) as indicated. My experience of the work, is that the main tool is the sacred therapeutic connection, and from there the work in healing is an act of co-creation where we find the path together that feels safe and makes sense at any given moment in time, in the therapeutic relationship.
How do people react when you share this Integrative/Holistic approach with them – whether it be patients or other doctors?
I absolutely love my work. It fills my life with meaning and joy and I have experienced patients’ and colleagues’ appreciation and gratitude.