Doctor Karen Tan Naturopathic Doctor and Acupuncturist HonoluluI grew up with Chinese medicine, herbs specifically. It was part of daily life and also used in the treatment of various ailments. I had asthma as a child and knew that certain foods aggravated my condition. When ailments were more serious, we went to the medical doctor whose medicines tasted better and made our symptoms go away. As a teenager, I rebelled, refused Chinese medicine and turned completely to conventional western medicine instead. This continued through college.

One day, while moving out of my apartment after graduating from college, I got into a bad car accident. I decided to try chiropractic care and felt a lot of relief from the treatments. Shortly after, I was able to resume the activities that I loved, hiking, swimming, diving etc

A couple months later, when I was at the chiropractor’s office, he heard that I had a bad cough and cold that wasn’t getting better after a few rounds of antibiotics. He suggested going to Chinatown for herbs and also made some recommendations for supplements for my cold and cough.

Being in the Chinese herbalist shop reminded me of my childhood. It felt comforting and I knew I was going to to be ok. I started feeling better within days and fully recovered within a short period of time.

After that experience, I decided that I wanted to become a chiropractor so I can learn more about natural medicines for health and healing. At that time, I didn’t know Naturopathic Physicians even existed!

I started taking pre-med classes. One day, while I was studying for a test, an acquaintance came up to ask what I was doing. Excitedly, I told him I was in pre-med classes so that I can go to chiropractic school. He said “Nah, you don’t want to do that. You want to go to Naturopathic school.” Turns out he was a Naturopathic Physician who practices primarily homeopathy. He went on to suggest I meet with a couple of new Naturopathic Physicians in town who had just set up their clinic.

Once I learnt about the philosophy of Naturopathic Medicine, I was sold! It was the common sense medicine that I had been looking for that had the scope of practice that I wanted and never knew existed!

The results I got in my own healing journey with natural medicines inspired me to go to Naturopathic medical school and Acupuncture school. I feel very lucky to have found my calling.

Now after years of studying with different mentors and keeping up with the latest in treatments, I have found that combining the wisdom of ancient traditional medicine with the latest tech innovations is the most effective way of resolving health issues. By removing toxicity and blockages to healing, we can restore health. I accomplish this by utilizing European drainage remedies to detoxify and balance the organ systems, new technology in the treatment and resolution of allergies and food sensitivities, regenerative injection therapies, contact regulation thermography and biofeedback testing to determine organ stress.

I love helping women and men resolve their health issues that cause daily struggles so that they can live their lives to the fullest potential. People who believe in natural medicines. Those who want natural alternatives to their medications and those, especially women who were told by their doctors that “its all in their heads”.


Our healthcare system is focused on disease care. People are not educated on how to be proactive in taking care of themselves and often rely on their primary care doctors to run the standard annual blood tests only to be told “everything’s fine and we’ll just keep an eye on it” (whatever IT may be). Primary care doctors have no time to get the full picture of someone’s health when they only have a few minutes to listen to their patients. When something in the blood is a little outside the reference range, they get referred for more tests or get put on medications without knowing the patient’s story. (eg statins for cholesterol) Laboratory tests are designed to identify conditions when they become an issue. The problem with that is when it shows up in blood tests, it can sometimes be too late.

People tend to lose touch with their bodies and don’t pay attention to how they feel. I believe this is the number one contributor to their health condition. When they feel crappy, they attribute it to age or think their symptoms will go away. Or when they eat something that makes them feel bad, they ignore it or don’t make the connection. It is important NOT to brush things off as they are often the first signs that something is awry, whether or not it shows up in the blood or other diagnostic tests.

I had a wake up call in August while I was out kayak surfing. There was hardly any waves that morning and when one came along, I decided to go for it. I paddled as hard as I could. I caught the wave, rode it for a few seconds before it flipped me over and I felt my body get twisted violently. Searing pain on my left hip. It was so bad, I could barely move. I had to stay still in the water for what seemed like eternity. I feared the impact of the kayak had fractured my hip. When the searing pain finally calmed down, I paddled in. I could barely walk back to my car.

It was the worse injury I have ever sustained. I was in so much pain I couldn’t even get stuff out of the fridge. Getting in and out of bed and my car was plain torture. It’s a good thing I’m healthy and fit or I wouldn’t have been able to do that.

I was angry, sad and scared. Angry that it happened. Sad that I wasn’t able to do the things that kept me sane. I was really scared that I wouldn’t be able to resume surfing, diving and other adventures for a long time if at all. I knew that if I sought out conventional medical care, I would be given drugs (that would mask the pain) and surgery might even be suggested later on. Healing by natural modalities was the only option for me. A couple of my colleagues suggested I get an x-ray and MRI. I didn’t think there was any point in doing that since I wasn’t going to have surgery and I knew that no drugs would be able to assist me in healing the injury.

Fortunately because of my understanding of the different modalities, I was able to get treatments right away and I was pain free and playing in the ocean again in a month. In addition, I believe my speedy recovery from being barely able to walk to surfing and diving in a month can be attributed to my healthy and active lifestyle.

When I talk to my patients about their chronic pain or health issues, they often say they think the pain “will go away” or they believe their issue is age related and they can’t do anything about it.

I’m at a different stage of my life. I’m getting older and I want to continue maintaining my health and physical fitness. I’m passionate about surfing, diving, hiking and staying active and want to continue that for as long as I can. I believe we need to spend a little more effort to get back to balance. We need to spend time and energy on self care, perhaps make radical lifestyle changes. My motto is “why suffer”. So why not take some steps now towards health so that we can live our life to our maximum potential? After all we don’t wait for our cars to break down before we do maintenance do we?

Please call (808) 591-8778 to set up your appointment if you want to think out of the box and start your journey to realizing your full health potential.


Innovative Medicine Honolulu

Innovative Medicine Honolulu