ABOUT NATHAN KAEHLER
A convergence of interests..
My life experiences and long-standing interests brought me to the practice of classical Chinese medicine and my specialties--problems of mid or later years, psychoemotional challenges, dermatology and herbs for children and teens.
Early passion for plants and gardening…
My dad was an organic gardener long before it became fashionable. I grew up reading Organic Gardening magazine back when it was a half-inch thickness of newsprint. Asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, one of my hopes was "botanist." At age 12, I couldn't get enough gardening by helping out in my Dad's garden, so I talked an elderly neighbor woman who wasn't using her back yard into letting me plow it up. I mostly planted potatoes since my Dad's garden had the rest we needed, but I loved that garden. Those childhood experiences inspired joy and confidence about plants that has only grown and extends to my professional passion for herbal medicine.
Continued enthusiasm for plants
As an adult there have been many gardens. I grew a large share of my family's food for a number of years. When unable to have a garden of my own, I've enjoyed teaching others how to have truly amazing gardens. I was involved in the Seed Savers Exchange (which promotes exchange of heirloom seed varieties by backyard gardeners and farmers) in its formative years 30 years ago. When I began my years of schooling in traditional Chinese medicine, I was naturally drawn to the herbs and to the breadth and depth of the Chinese tradition of utilizing plants to heal.
Unusual preparation for acupuncture…
Sensing acupoints and placing needles happens for me with ease, though I credit early teachers and experiences with developing my motor skills and intuition. In grade school, my Mom helped me study piano and my Dad taught me wood carving. In high school I had an exceptional typing teacher. I continued carving--one required 400 hours with a 1 millimeter hand tool. As a young adult, I was fortunate to have been challenged to let go of some of my own emotional wounds. Fifteen years ago I began to find I could accurately sense pain or other feelings in a patient's body.
My sons, Garrett and Alex , have been treasures in my life and I very much enjoying treating children and teens with herbs (I treat children and teens of all ages, from 1 year on up, with herbs; I generally reserve acupuncture for children age 10 or older).
Previous career in home health care...
One of the strengths of Chinese Medicine which attracted me is its ability to treat the problems of midlife and later years with a focus on wellness. Before moving to Chinese medicine, I was for 15 years Executive Director of a home health agency which employed 100 older workers and served 700 older patients. So as a young adult I spent more time with older individuals than those my age, and I became intimately familiar with the problems that develop as we mature.
Mid-career fellowship in psychology...
I was fortunate after my home health career to receive a 2-year fellowship in psychology focusing on mind/body therapies for older adult health. My master's thesis was on the effect of combining meditation with psychotherapy for health problems. After the Master's in psychology (Antioch University) I enrolled in a Doctoral program in clinical psychology (The Fielding Institute).
A shift to medicine….
While studying body-centered psychotherapies, I found literature which helped me recognize that the diagnostic system integrating mind and body which I wished for in modern psychology had existed in Chinese medicine for 2000 years. I also found that classical Chinese medicine is predominantly herbal and could be a natural extensionof my lifelong intimate relationship with plants. After breaking my ankle, those two insights led me to undertake four more years of study, internship and licensing in classical Chinese medicine (Santa Barbara College of Oriental Medicine).
While interning in Chinese medicine I had several patients with severe skin
conditions which led to my interest in dermatology. This is one of several areas where Chinese herbal medicine excels and I enjoy it, in part because it is complex and challenging and in part because results are plainly visible.
Home is where the heart is...
I began my practice of classical Chinese medicine in Ojai in 2002 and have enjoyed getting to know the community. It's a great location not only because of the natural beauty, but because people here have a special appreciation for the healing power of plants and trees and the need to honor both tradition and science in medicine
I have since I was a child had a strong spiritual connection. It is often appropriate to assist my patients in understanding the emotional and spiritual issues associated with their physical problems. For those with a spiritual orientation, I enjoy working with all traditions and perspective
Medicines so rich there's always more…
One of my strengths is as a scholar. The complexity of composing herb and acupuncture formulas for patients requires continuous learning, so I have a large library on Asian medicines and herbal medicine and collect books and journals as a hobby. Patients and students are welcome to come in and share my library. My own book on medicinal herbs is in preparation. Recently I have begun a 3-year program of study of Tibetan Medicine.
I look forward to a lifetime of learning from the traditions of classical Chinese and Tibetan medicines, from modern research, and especially from the patients who trust me to assist in their journey.