Finding the Cure

Dr. Rishi Verma, medical director.

An advocate for healthy living, Dr. Rishi Verma believes he can help people achieve optimal health. His beliefs are so strong that he progressed from the practice of traditional medicine and founded Vancouver-based Balance Medical Center, a physician-run clinic that focuses on integrative and functional medicine. Balance Medical Center offers an individualized approach for each patient, addressing the root of their health concerns rather than reactively prescribing treatments. Dr. Verma’s passion for his practice has had a profound impact on patients.

My practice, Balance Medical Center, is founded on a unique idea that is relatively new to Canada—assess the body as a whole, discover the deficiencies, and then individualize a treatment plan based on the root cause of the problems. This approach, which is known as integrative medicine, is, at its core, a fundamentally different approach than traditional symptom-based Western medicine.

The other difference in our approach from a traditional medical practice is how our appointments are structured—we give patients time. Appointments are 30 minutes long, and patients pay an annual fee, which is surprisingly lower than you would think, for unlimited appointments. Our clinic staff is comprised of two medical doctors, a holistic nutritionist, and two naturopaths.

After working as a family practitioner for 10 years, I decided to open an integrative-medicine practice because I found myself becoming more and more disappointed with what medical school taught me. I felt the pharmaceutical companies had taken over medicine and, rather than looking at the cause of our illnesses and what we were putting in our bodies, the approach became: “Here’s a pill to treat this.”

A keen learner, I decided to take a year off, and took this time to investigate new styles of medicine. As part of this process, I began going to conferences, attending webinars, and reading journals, and I found there was so much science outside the medical system that focused on treating the disease rather than blocking the symptoms. Much of this science centres on the physiology of medicine—how the body works and how to make it work better. As a result of what I learned, I decided to train in integrative medicine, culminating in a fellowship in antiaging and regenerative medicine.

While our practice treats patients with advanced diagnoses, Balance Medical Center also serves those who want to stay healthy as well as become healthy. Our greatest accomplishment so far is the number of lives we have improved already. When I was practicing conventional medicine, I was always frustrated when I was unable to help someone get better. Now I am astounded at how little changes can make such an enormous impact on individual health.

One of the greatest success stories from the practice is a former football player in his late 40s who came in at 290 pounds with full-blown diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol, and who was taking seven different medications. After working with him for two years, he had lost 90 pounds, had normal blood pressure and blood sugar, and was off every medication.

I also worked with a very stressed female real-estate agent who was “wired and tired”—very stressed out with no energy. Her assessment showed a hormone deficiency, so I prescribed bioidentical hormones—a simple treatment—and a month later, she was at ease and rested.

Of course, we can prescribe traditional medications if needed, but medication should be viewed as a short-term solution, not a long-term treatment. Instead, we look at the other nutrients and prescribe supplements as needed to address deficiencies.

My current passion is the concept of whole-body detoxification. My research has found a huge amount of science behind it. Basically, toxicity blocks good health and is created by what we put in our bodies, and it affects everything from the liver and kidneys to the cells at a molecular-cell level.

While the practice is growing, we want to keep it manageable so we can always make sure our patients get the time they need. For us, long-term growth is less about numbers and more about growing our reputation.

We want to be known as the place where people can go and truly get better. I also am a better person because I live my cause—I eat better, exercise, and take personal time. This practice has given me my life back, as well.