Eric Baumgartner L.Ac.

Functional Medicine
Acupuncture
East/West Herbalism
Nutrition

Eric Baumgartner is a father and a pilgrim, and has spent the last 20 years in the study and practice of medicine traditions from around the world. His father and grandfather were both physicians, and though he grew up knowing he would be a doctor someday, he had no idea that his path would lead to Chinese medicine. He currently holds a Master's degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Emperor's College and practices functional medicine, acupuncture, herbalism, and nutrition in Ojai, and at Alchemy Spa and Wellness in Santa Barbara, California, where he served for the last 4 years as Clinical Wellness Director.

Eric is currently a Doctoral Fellow in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine with a specialty in Family Medicine at Pacific College in San Diego, with specialization in Women's Health, Pediatrics, Mental Health, Neurology, and Orthopedics. He studied Functional Medicine under the mentorship of Dr. Daniel Kalish of the Kalish Institute, and continues to study transpersonal psychology, alchemy, and comparative theology within the Pneuma System.

In his spare time, by heritage and by grace, he is an organic tree gardener and wildcrafter, aspiring solar artist, kitchen alchemist, and backcountry naturalist, prone to sudden bouts of singing and absurd voice impersonations, usually to be found digging, writing, playing with his kids, adoring his wife, or concocting some nutritious if not always delicious potion, smoothie or salsa.

 

About Essential Medicina

 
Eric Baumgartner

Growing up I always knew I’d be a doctor someday. My father was a rheumatologist, my grandfather a pediatrician, and most of our family friends for many years were also doctors. At the same time, I was always surrounded by teachers, my mom, my aunts, later my sisters, uncles and friends, everywhere I turned someone was teaching something. So really it comes as no surprise that my road would lead to medicine, and education, and that I’d still be a student all these years later.

What I did not expect was that my road would lead me far away from the medicine I knew for several years. While deep in Pre-Med I realized that the narrow tunnel before me was slowly eliminating many of the things I loved and longed for in my life, travel, language, philosophy, art, spirituality. Looking forward to hours, weeks, years in a lab, in science classes that did not invite thinking, but simply memorization, and faced with professors that were not so much teaching as weeding out the unworthy, I decided to take the road less traveled.

I remember calling my father that night, and telling him I was considering changing my major. What he told me that day still amazes me, and has been a constant reminder along my journey: He said something like this: “Medicine has changed, and being a doctor is not what it used to be, not a guarantee of a good salary, nor even a guarantee that you can help the people you want to help. Too often the way we practice is dictated by insurance companies, and we are not able to provide the care we once could. My advice would be: If you don’t love it, don’t do it. Follow your heart and do what you love, and what is going to make you happy.”

In many ways the world opened up to me at that moment. I changed my major to Spanish, with a minor in Philosophy, and started planning for a semester abroad in Mexico. I spent the next several years traveling and living abroad, learning languages, deepening my spiritual path, and awakening to a more global awareness.

Surprisingly, everywhere I went I bumped into medicine. But it was not the medicine I knew. First, it was plants. I had a life changing experience in the desert of central Mexico with a dangerously high fever and nothing but a handful of herbs to save me. Then I had a Greek grandmother who picked and cooked the weeds in our garden…and they were delicious. Soon I was seeking out local herbal and natural medicines wherever I went, or maybe it was they who were seeking me out!

When I landed back in the US, el gabacho, I studied with several herb teachers including Christopher Hobbes, took classes on various massage modalities, and finally got licensed at an LMT. Ultimately I landed in Chinese Medicine school, mostly because I wanted to be a licensed herbalist, but also because I had developed a profound respect for the power of acu-points, and my A-Z Acupressure Handbook had saved my life and many a friend from suffering as it traveled around the world with me for 3-4 years.

Acupuncture school was a bit like opening a can of worms, as they say. I was the kid in the candy store, trying to learn about medicine from every possible angle, but realizing it was an impossibly enormous task. I did take on a concurrent 2 year training program in Peruvian shamanism, which helped me to deepen my understanding of the shamanic roots of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and gave me a lens to comprehend the deeply spiritual and emotional origin of many if not all disease patterns.

Right around the time I was preparing to graduate, my twin girls were born. The blessing of children, and even moreso with twins, is so immense that it shakes every foundation to it’s core, and tests every fiber of your being. Fortunately, compared to the task of being a father to 3 under 3, finishing school and passing the boards was peanuts.

I spent my first few years in practice in Venice, CA, helping to develop a global organic herb pharmacy: Chinese herbs, western herbs, ayurvedic and Amazonian herbs, and everything we could find in between. It was a magical opportunity, in many ways too good to be true, but certainly where some of the seeds of Essential Medicina were born.

Concurrently, I opened LA’s first Community Acupuncture experiment, Urban Remedy, where an eclectic team of acupuncturists and healers came together to bring Good Medicine to the people at an affordable price…in an Abbot Kinney penthouse suite. Ironic, beautiful, tribal, altruistic, and maybe a little too much fun…

Right around the time I was preparing to graduate, my twin girls were born. The blessing of children, and even moreso with twins, is so immense that it shakes every foundation to it’s core, and tests every fiber of your being. Fortunately, compared to the task of being a father to 3 under 3, finishing school and passing the boards was peanuts.

I spent my first few years in practice in Venice, CA, helping to develop a global organic herb pharmacy: Chinese herbs, western herbs, ayurvedic and Amazonian herbs, and everything we could find in between. It was a magical opportunity, in many ways too good to be true, but certainly where some of the seeds of Essential Medicina were born.

Concurrently, I opened LA’s first Community Acupuncture experiment, Urban Remedy, where an eclectic team of acupuncturists and healers came together to bring Good Medicine to the people at an affordable price…in an Abbot Kinney penthouse suite. Ironic, beautiful, tribal, altruistic, and maybe a little too much fun…

With the birth of my girls and the growth of my son came a renewed longing to be closer to nature, to live in a more sustainable environment, and eventually, the opportunity arose.   Yet moving to Ojai unexpectedly began my pendulum swing back toward the medical, scientific, practical, and ultimately functional side of my personality and practice. I started a small local practice, and took on a position as Clinical Director at Alchemy Wellness in Santa Barbara. Surrounded by the esoteric, the shamanic, the energetic that I had so longed for living in the city, I found myself craving the clinical, being the voice for the medical, and advocating for the integrative.

I found functional medicine at a time when my personal life was falling apart, and despite the many tools I had in my bag I could not seem to understand what was happening to me. The first lecture I heard was one of those mystical moments when bells ring and dots connect inside you and a panoramic picture is revealed. For me it was the meeting place of Eastern and Western medicine: the system based and holistic understanding of Chinese medicine informed by the advances in modern medical laboratory testing and language in a way that the scientific western mind can understand and value. Nothing short of miraculous.

One of the best discoveries was that I was in severe adrenal fatigue, and so I spent the next year studying with Dr. Dan Kalish of the Kalish Institute, using myself as a guinea pig, and rebuilding my health, my practice, my life from the ground up starting with my adrenals.

During this same time I also deepened my studies of mysticism, psychology, comparative theology, ancient philosophy and the study of self. “Know thyself,” as the oracle of Delpi advised, turns out to be the cornerstone of true healing, and has rekindled the deep knowing that at the heart of medicine is the search for truth and the love of the divine within us.

Currently I am finishing my Doctorate in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, with a specialty in Family Medicine (yes, as I said, I am a glutton for learning). My research focus is on mercury toxicity, and I look forward to continuing this work well beyond the completion of my degree. I also continue my studies of spirituality and psychology with the Pneuma System and hope to become a facilitator for this immense and revolutionary body of work.

My favorite things are camping, hiking, playing, swimming with my kids, and watching them become the extraordinary humans that they are, spending time with plants, and with my beautiful and tremendously inspiring wife, praying, meditating, learning about myself and God, and honing my craft as an alchemist, healer, medicine man, and doctor. I also love teaching, speaking to groups of curious and motivated folks, and sharing the poetic and practical magic that is medicine.

Projects in the works include new formulae for Essential Medicina, a book about my journey and a very unique kind of prescription, and the resurgence of a long term vision for an entirely new kind of integrative, functional, east-west medical hospital.