We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Dr. Farzam Afshar. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Dr. Farzam below.
Dr. Farzam, appreciate you joining us today. We’d love to hear about the things you feel your parents did right and how those things have impacted your career and life.
My parents dedicated their entire lives to the nurturing, growth, and well-being of me and my sister. Our journey as a family started when my parents decided to leave everything they had earned and accumulated in their homeland in the middle of a brutal 8-year long war for us to immigrate to the United States in search of stability and better opportunities. My parents are both highly educated and my father was even a high-ranking official in the air force as a U.S. trained fighter pilot. They left everything they knew, family, friends, culture, language, and more so that my sister and I could live in the free world. The many ups and downs we went through taught me to care for my health over anything else, especially over tangible materialistic things. I also learned from an early age that medicine was not only a chemical pill, but that natural remedies worked just as well. This is where I started to develop a love for medicine. Little did I know that there was a branch of medicine that learned evidence-based natural medicines in addition to conventional medicine. My love for nature and my connection to the natural world continued to develop as I helped my dad grow crops behind our home while my playtime was by the creek nearby our home. I learned from my parents that hard work is a good thing, being honest is a must, and consistently working on myself to be refined was non-negotiable to being a top citizen in our new homeland. I learned to love my country and do my best at everything I did to bring honor to the nation that opened its arms to us during the worst time in history. My father’s military background taught me punctuality, integrity, discipline, and how to be goal-oriented, while my mom’s background taught me to be hardworking, caring, loving, empathetic, and calm-natured. Their traditional background yet forward-thinking meant when we were sick we first tried natural remedies and in times where acute care was needed we used conventional pharmaceuticals. When I look back I realize my entire life prepared me to be a healer. I had seen trauma and change at an early age and I learned how family love and compassion helped heal the heart. I developed empathy and compassion and a yearning to help others when I realize they needed someone the most. I knew I wanted to be a doctor, but I did not know what type. Life’s twists and turns helped me go on my own healing journey which was encouraged by my family and on this journey I realized I want to become a Naturopathic Medical Doctor. I shared this with my loved ones and with their support I started my educational journey and have never looked back. No one is perfect, but I can say my family did everything with love in mind and it has impacted my life and career positively. It has given me the chance to help thousands and thousands of individuals and families heal over the years. It could never have happened without their boldness to leave all they knew to raise me, provide for me, nurture me, love me, and support me until I reached my current destination. I am indebted to them my entire life and will always love them for all they have done and do for me.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
I am an Environmental Mental Health Expert who has focused on passionately blending my education and training in Medicine, Health, and Psychology together in a holistic and harmonious way!
Let me tell you a little about myself! I have completed degrees in Leadership, Environmental Health, and Clinical Psychology with honors, a post-graduate diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy with honors and licensed in Washington state, and I’m a licensed Physician in the states of Arizona and Washington state.
As a child, I was always drawn to and had a deep appreciation for nature and its interconnectedness and found comfort and peace playing in the woods or walking down to the creeks behind the house.
Sadly, I grew up in a suburb of Houston, Texas where refineries encapsulated the town. All you could see was smokestacks of burned-off chemicals in the air, only to see it rain back down onto the land and water.
It seemed like it was daily that I heard someone was sick, got cancer, or had passed away. I knew the toxic environment had a huge impact on my town’s health.
The impact this had was not only physical or isolated to the person affected, but it impacted the person’s loved ones mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
I always tried to help console the people impacted which not only helped them but made me feel good inside knowing that I was being of service to them during a difficult time.
I was consistently told that I had a healing spirit and that I should become a doctor. They were not too far off because I always felt my heart and soul were destined to become a healer too. I just did not know which route I would take and what type of healer I would become.
As the years passed and I grew a bit older, I too developed some serious health concerns that altered the course of my entire life.
I relied on medications to manage my symptoms and over time more medications were added to manage the side effects of the prior medications I was already using!
This frustration went on for years as the root cause of my health issues were never addressed, but were only managed.
This led to the development of anxiety and with it times of depression which seemed to never go away.
I saw the deterioration in my health over time and saw how each health deterioration led to the next and so on. I had a deep feeling inside that I had to take charge and become an expert in my field to be able to help my community regain its health.
I went on to study Leadership and Environmental Health, hoping I would be able to make an impact in my community at a Public Health level.
I was active in giving speeches, consulting, advocating, and working tirelessly in community development projects to better the environment so that my community would be a clean and healthy place.
During this time, I struggled with my own health, and with each pharmaceutical given, my hopes in the conventional model dwindled and at that point, I decided that I needed to recenter myself and my life and decided to take a risk and go on a self-exploration and self-discovery journey to figure out how to regain my health.
I went to California for a short time and then ended up in Hawaii. One day while walking down the beach in Hawaii, enjoying the smell of the Sakura blossoms from the homes nearby, and listening to the waves pummeling the shore and looking up into the stars, I realized since leaving my community in Texas and being in a cleaner environment in Hawaii, my health had improved mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually!
It hit me harder than the waves hitting the shore, I realized my mind and body are not just a vessel that becomes sick or get ill, but that the external and internal environments were not optimal and had provided a great opportunity for illness to take root. What a life-changing epiphany!
It was then and there that I decided I want to pursue my dreams of becoming a healer and so my journey into the healing sciences began, but I knew that if I wanted to help future clients heal, I had to focus on healing myself first!
I started to see a Naturopathic Physician who started asking me about where I grew up, if I meditated or prayed, how much sleep I was getting, what my family structure and social support looked like, and what I ate!
I was shocked and intrigued! The baffling part was that my doctors before never asked me about nutrition and the nutritionists I saw were relying on research that was often outdated. It was a huge shock, but also a wake-up call because I realized my dietary choices were an underlying cause of my health issues.
Once I started Medical School and Psychology Graduate School and progressed through, my inner scientist bloomed and I started experimenting until I found the foods which were causing many of my issues.
I continued this process with my friends and family with the same amazing results. This was coupled with my education in Medical School on how nutrition is correlated with cellular health and how cellular health is the cornerstone in reversing pathological states, while my education in Psychology Graduate School helped me see the link between proper nutrition and optimal mental health!
I finally realized the KEY to regaining health rather than patching up a disease. As I gained more education and training in my Medical Education, Psychology Education, and career, I realized the importance of striving for optimal health at a functional level and how this could help the ill regain their life back!
I also started to mesh my previous education in Environmental Health with my Medical Education and realized the importance of aiding the body in detoxification through the organs of elimination for optimal health and how to optimize external and internal environments to lead to optimal health!
My greatest epiphany took me back to that beach in Hawaii where I realized that health is not just about the absence of disease, but is about achieving optimal health and wellness holistically!
After spending years just patching up the disease, I healed through natural therapeutics, mental health therapeutics, diet, lifestyle changes, and environmental optimization which led me to regain my health and life back. I eventually came off the medications and reversed my health conditions by addressing the root causes!
With the idea that it is never too late to heal oneself and armed with the knowledge and training in the many modalities of Naturopathic Medicine, Clinical Psychology, Clinical Hypnotherapy, and Environmental Health, I have harmoniously blended what I have learned throughout my education and training into a truly holistic practice and have dedicated my life to empowering, recommending, and equipping my clients with the most up-to-date evidence-informed practices so that they too can reach optimal health and wellness!
Sakura, which thrives in Hawaii, means cherry blossom and often represents the fleeting nature and sweetness of life, renewal, friendship, peace, love, and hope!
I always hope that I can bring and share Sakura, with all of its beautiful representations into each session when I am with clients.
I continue to remain excited, motivated, and always looking forward to helping my clients become the healthiest version of themselves!
Do you think you’d choose a different profession or specialty if you were starting now?
I would absolutely choose the same profession a million times over. My traditional background, deep love of nature, coupled with my burning passion to consistently learn science was a perfect match for becoming a Naturopathic Medical Doctor. I cannot see medicine in any other way. My view is holistic and I rely on science to gather data in helping my patients with the right modality of medicine. This is often natural, but I do not hesitate to write a pharmaceutical prescription when acutely needed and I do not hesitate to utilize surgical procedures if needed as well. Being a Naturopathic Medical Doctor does not mean being a specialist in natural medicine. It is a WHOListic and well-rounded holistic doctor who happens to be well versed in evidence-based natural alternative and complementary medicines. We actually have much in common with counselors and are a beautiful mix of medicine and counseling and more. We provide a safe space where patients can express themselves so that we can help guide their bodies naturally back to homeostasis mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Any stories or insights that might help us understand how you’ve built such a strong reputation?
The cornerstone to reputation and success is honesty, communication, trust, and loyalty. These have been the basis upon which I have built a successful brand and business. I actually follow them in that order too. If you are not honest then it doesn’t matter how much you communicate and you will never gain trust and of course, loyalty is just an afterthought. Honesty is the key. Who would want to go to someone to heal if they cannot be open and honest with you? Conversely, which clinician would truly be successful in helping a patient who is not honest with them? Honesty helps build rapport and with effective and efficient communication trust is built and with that loyalty is developed. I consider loyalty having seen patients come back over the years for various health concerns. They have to have that trust to remain loyal. The loyalty of our patient base is the biggest compliment.