Despite his traditional training as a heart surgeon, Dr. Mehmet Oz features segments on his long-running daytime talk show that would fall under the alternative medicine umbrella. Recent episodes, for example, have explored the health benefits of turmeric, an Indian herb, as well as how apple cider vinegar can improve skin.
Oz says one source of his willingness to explore alternative approaches to medicine came from his upbringing in a Turkish immigrant household.
“I learned medicine and I respected medicine, but at the same time, I could see that there were other ways of seeing the world,” he says. “It wasn’t just through the lens of a traditional Western-trained physician. So my openness to alternative medicine, my willingness to tackle topics that were unorthodox within Western medicine, was heightened because I grew up in that paradox.”
Lisa Oz, the doctor’s wife, has also had a strong influence on her husband’s openness to alternative medicine.
“When we first met, Lisa impressed me mostly because of her intellect,” Oz says. “She was so smart on things I was completely blind to, in particular the role of a spiritual life. And [she had] deep insights about the stories that govern our culture and our people.”
Lisa’s mother was a minister, and her father, Dr. Gerald Lemole—also a heart surgeon—was very open to non-traditional medical practices. Lemole was nicknamed “Rock Doc” by Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s for being the first surgeon to play rock music in the operating room.
“The fact that my dad was very science-based but was still open to alternative ways of healing gave it some credibility for Mehmet,” Lisa says.