Laughter is not always the best medicine. In the case of serious diseases, the best medicine is usually…well, medicine. And perhaps surgeries. No one understands this better than Olga Ivanov, a medical doctor and cancer scientist who has saved thousands of patients over the past two decades. But rather than continuing practicing the conventional medical approach to healing the sick, Ivanov decided on a new career path, a road less traveled by medical doctors. Ivanov is now focused on preventing people from getting sick in the first place. It’s a complementary medical practice called “Pro-Active Health.”

Pro-Active Health (PAH) should not be confused with preventative medicine, a scope of practice that includes annual physicals and cancer screenings. Although these diagnostic methods are valuable, they are not meant to help people achieve and maintain optimal health. PAH doesn’t address the question, “How should sick people treat their illness?” but asks, “How can those who are not sick stay healthy?”

“When you come out of medical school with your clean and neatly-press white lab coat, all you have is theoretical knowledge,” says Ivanov. Then you meet your first patient, your 10th patient, and then your one-thousandth patient. Your knowledge grows, transforms into experience, and eventually you become a skilled clinician. Along the way you realize, as I did, that medical school taught you a one-sided way of looking at and treating a patient. You realize that medical school could not help those in their 30s, 40s, and older who were free of disease and wanted to achieve optimal health and live longer.”

Although she has enjoyed a rewarding medical career, saving thousands of cancer patients with her knowledge of the disease and her surgical skills, Ivanov gradually recognized a flaw in conventional medicine. “Often, those who have a serious disease are only motivated to just get over the crisis, after which they fall back into their old, healthy habits. I believe part of the job of a physician should be to help you keep your health, and try to amplify it, for decades. Doctors don’t consider this perspective when they are in their 20s, but only when they start aging themselves.”

There is an argument that today’s doctors are overwhelmed with patients, a challenge that compromises their care. Ivanov acknowledges this problem but contends that the primary issue is education. “Yes, it only takes 30 seconds to write a prescription and tell a patient to call if they have any problems, but the solution is not just spending more time with a patient. I say this because often the complementary medical treatments that may help a patient’s condition with minimal or no side effects are often not covered in medical school.”

“It’s not until a doctor takes additional training and reads the literature do they realize that, for example, there are alternatives to statin drugs that have no side effects and may be just as effective for lowering the bad cholesterol,” says Dr. Ivanov. “I just read a wonderful article about a randomized, controlled study using David Jenkins’ Portfolio Diet. Researchers found this diet lowered the subjects’ lipid profiles to the same degree as statin drugs over four weeks.” Most physicians will not be exposed to this type of research in their pharmacology classes. Instead, what they will be taught is that the first line of defense for high cholesterol is statin drugs. They are not told there is a second line of defense, an alternative to the drugs. 

As part of her advanced education, last year she would spend two hours every morning studying to get board certified in a branch of medicine called Lifestyle Medicine. Lifestyle Medicine focuses on teaching new, evidence-based therapeutic approaches to prevent, treat, and often reverse chronic disease. She also collaborates with like-minded physicians and seeks out new, promising research “reading beyond just the standard medical journals such as Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Ivanov’s message to the general public is that Pro-Active Health is not “Alternative Medicine,” but focuses on treatments that complement conventional medicine. “Alternative medicine scares me because I’ve seen too many victims. One woman saw me in January with stage 1 cancer, which is curable, but elected to treat her disease with juicing instead. She came back to me in December with stage 4 cancer, which is incurable. If she would have been treated with conventional medicine she would still be alive, playing with her grandkids. Also, while she was going through conventional treatments, such as chemotherapy, she could have had complementary treatments such as Vitamin C IV drips. These drips would have accelerated her recovery and make the conventional treatments easier to tolerate.

One aspect of Ivanov’s Pro-Active Health practice that distinguishes it from conventional medicine is the belief that good health is not merely the absence of disease, but a state of total physical and mental wellbeing. “If you go to a doctor because you have chronic fatigue or brain fog, he or she might run labs and conclude that your results are not optimal, ‘but within normal limits.’ If they come to me, often with simple treatments such as an IV drip or a vitamin shot, they usually experience a dramatic difference in their cognitive ability or mood. I don’t have to sell them on the idea that they are better – they feel the difference!”

What’s in store for you when you first visit Dr. Olga Ivanov’s IV Lounge? Your journey starts with an advanced screening process where they dive deeper into why you may not be enjoying optimal health. If Ivanov’s staff determines that your condition is beyond their scope of practice, you will be referred to the appropriate healthcare professional. 

If, however, they find that perhaps IV drip treatments could resolve your condition, they might prescribe a series of treatments. “A typical IV drip series is one treatment a week for four weeks, then once or twice a month afterward. Most of our patients see dramatic improvement within the first month. If by the second month the condition you came to see us for has not improved, we take a deeper dive, evaluate, and change.

Another important aspect of Ivanov’s program is targeted nutrition. “When it comes to nutritional recommendations, we like to say, ‘We test – we do not guess!’ There are plenty of food sensitivity tests that are, to be honest, nonsense. We know what works and what doesn’t. We have a trained dietitian who starts your program with a basic medical panel and blood count. For example, we might find that dairy products may be detrimental to one person, but for another they could be considered a major food group. In other words, we are not committed to a single diet such as Keto or the Mediterranean, but will work with the patient to develop a personalized program.

Dr. Ivanov was born in Kiev, Ukraine. One Russian proverb that followed her to the US and is dear to her heart is, “A man alone is not a warrior.” As such, she built her Pro-Active Health practice by surrounding herself with highly-trained medical professionals, including registered nurses, advanced nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dietitians, and even paramedics. But there is one other factor that sets her and her staff apart at the IV Lounge: the patient.

“One of the best mentors for a doctor is their patients – you learn from them. We find that one group of patients might do well on one type of treatment, whereas another does not. It’s our job to find out why, looking at patient care as not just a science but as an art, and take a personal approach to help people live longer and enjoy optimal health.”