A Frank Account: Dr. Frank Lipman Is New York City’s Wellness Evangelist
Frank Lipman, MD, is New York City's hometown Andrew Weil. An integrative physician whose name is well known in celebrity circles—Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Bacon are patients—Lipman, a South African-born New Yorker, is just now stepping into the limelight as a passionate health advocate for the rest of us.
An appointment with Lipman at his pratice, Eleven-Eleven Wellness, begins like a visit to other doctors—if those doctors had a meditation poster and giant Buddha statues in the waiting room. In his office, you go over a thorough intake form. But where your internists’ may end with what diseases run in your family, Lipman is just getting started. He wants to know what you eat for breakfast, how you deal with stress, the number of signs you’re experiencing that suggest you’re burned out, a topic on which he’s written a book, plus five more pages of health-related material that Western docs typically disregard.
This isn’t to come up with a diagnosis, explains Lipman, but to understand, and then reduce, the "the total load” that taxes a person’s system. "The two questions I ask myself with any patient are: what factors need to be removed for healing to occur and what needs are not being met that may be preventing self healing," he says. For many of his patients, Lipman’s mode of “good medicine” kick-starts profound life change. “People recover their energy and zest for life,” he says. “That’s a true sign of health.”
To do this, Dr. Lipman mainly uses acupuncture, finding that it reaches the day-to-day health issues that many New Yorkers have. “Western medicine is very useful in a crisis, when a heart stops beating or an arm is broken and needs to be set. But it offers very little during the course of a life,” says Lipman. When the hair-thin needles are inserted, Lipman flips on a heat lamp to keep you warm and Buddhist chants to get you to an alpha state (those slower, low-stress brainwaves).
Another focus of Lipman’s work with patients is their diet: It’s not about the number of calories you’re getting, but how you’re getting them. “Food is information for the body,” says Lipman. “It can switch genes linked to disease on or off.” To that end, he prescribes a diet without sugar, dairy, or gluten for most patients.
Lipman’s also a huge fan of nutritional supplements, from Insomnitol (a blend of herbs for trouble sleeping) to licorice (for stress and adrenals), which he stocks in fairly substantial supply. Messengers fetching vitamin-laden parcels for celebrity clients come and go from his office on the hour. And a few months ago, Lipman launched a line of smoothies and supplements called Eleven Eleven Wellness by Dr. Frank Lipman to “make it easy for patients to follow my eating advice,” he says.
This year Lipman headed up a series at the Tibet House on the future of medicine. He contributes to the Huffington Post and Goop, and his active blog and steady stream of newsletters match his tireless fervor for explaining the what his integrative blend of good medicine can do. “I’m a health evangelist,” says Lipman. Hopefully more New York City doctors will follow his mission. —Melisse Gelula
Eleven-Eleven Wellness, 32 W 22nd St., btwn Fifth & Sixth Aves., 212-255-1800, www.elevenelevenwellness.com
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