For the last 40 years, I have been one of the pioneers progressively integrating holistic, complementary, and alternative medicine in my dermatology practice. 25 years ago, I limited my practice to integrative and holistic dermatology. My chapter, “Alternative and Complementary Medicine in Dermatology” in Fitzpatrick’s textbook1, is likely the first such chapter in a major dermatology textbook on that topic. My website, HolisticDermatology.com includes my philosophy, methods, advice, and achievements. Being a founding member of the AAD Task force on Evaluation of Complementary and Alternative Medicine headed by Ken Neldner in the late 1990’s, I participated in the presentation by that group at the AAD annual meeting. I then contributed chapters to the Archives of Dermatology issue devoted to CAM dermatology, and following that to the AAD CAM Workgroup, to develop an evidence-based report on complementary and alternative medicine in dermatology. I have written articles in the JAAD and other journals on my work, and chapters in books such as 4 editions of Rakel’s “Integrative Medicine”. I have lectured, spoken up, and informed residents and dermatologists on Holistic and Integrative Dermatology at the AAD and other dermatology and Integrative medicine meetings, nationally, especially in the Northeast, and in California, over the past 40 years. I have presented my work internationally at conferences in 3 other continents, in Paris, Europe, Buenos Aires, South America, Jerusalem in Israel, Manipal and Kasaragod in India, and in Asia.
There was no training in Integrative dermatology when I started practicing medicine, so I began studying with a seminal group of integrative physicians for 17 years, beginning in 1981. Over the past 4 decades, I attended herbal seminars with some of the leaders of the herbal world. The American Botanical Council chose me to be on their Advisory Board for Dermatology. For more than 40 years, I have attended progressively more forefront science-based meetings on alternative/integrative medicine including seminars with the founder of Functional Medicine, Jeff Bland. From the NIH I went to work at one of the first Holistic Clinics in the North East, under the auspices of the Integral Yoga Institute, and since then worked in several cutting-edge Integrative clinics besides my own practice. I translated all of these experiences into helping patients with skin diseases who had either failed or refused conventional treatment. Other dermatologists have contributed to the knowledge on alternative treatments in dermatology over the past several decades, notably Dr Haines Ely. In the recent past, numerous other dermatologists have written or spoken about the field of Integrative Dermatology. I salute all of those practitioners who are advancing the field.
Early on, the AAD referred me to lay press magazine authors as an expert in this field to answer questions on herbs, food, and supplements.2,3 Over a 22-year period, I revised and rewrote the book, “Radiant Skin from the Inside Out”,4 describing my methods of treating skin disease holistically for both the lay public and as a primer for physicians. Having laid a foundation with my work, lectures, and publications, Learn Skin has developed and brought Integrative Dermatology closer to the mainstream, bringing their information and Integrative Dermatology teaching program to the AAD meetings. When Dr Levis asked about me at the Summer AAD Conference, the founder and CEO of LearnSkin, Venita Sivamani, said Dr Dattner was the one who started all this (Holistic and Integrative Dermatology).
I started my quest searching for emotional, psychological, psychosomatic, and later for spiritual factors that led to disease. In the late 1960’s at the time of my internship in San Francisco, I heard that diet could cause or cure disease, but that did not fit well in the medical logic of the day. Eight years later, in my 6th cellular immunology lab at the Dermatology Branch of the NCI at the NIH as a Visiting Scientist, with Dr. William Levis, we studied the human in vitro cellular immune cross-reactive response, discovering for ourselves the HLA (Human Leukocyte