Dr. Rob Krochmalʼs inspiration to become a physician was influenced by his grandfather, Dr. Henry Krochmal, who was one of the last “general practitioners” of his time to make regular house calls. In the days after his death in the early 1990s, the local newspapers in Meriden, Connecticut swelled with letters written by his patients. Dr. Rob describes the emotion he felt when he read these letters and learned how deeply his grandfather had personally touched his patientsʼ lives. A native of Vienna, Austria, Dr. Henry Krochmal completed his medical degree there, studying under the likes of such teachers as Sigmund Freud. Before having the chance to practice his new profession in Europe, young Dr. Henry Krochmal and his family were forced to leave everything behind as they fled Nazi aggression in 1938. Arriving in New York City with nothing more than his Austrian medical degree in hand, Henry worked as a bus boy while earning his new countryʼs medical certifications, going on to build a practice where he treated his patients as holistic individuals for over 50 years.
Biology of Rainforest
Prior to medical school, and with his grandfatherʼs career as a traditional, house-calling American physician in the background, Dr. Rob accepted a position as a science teacher in Lima, Peru. There, he lived and worked for a year, traveling and exploring the country during breaks in the school year. These travel opportunities led Dr. Rob to the discovery of a different healing tradition- that of the Amazon rainforest. He began to learn about the fascinating–and delicate–biodiversity, culture, and healing traditions of the largest remaining tropical ecosystem on Earth. During this time, Dr. Rob led his biology students to the southern Amazon, where they learned about the ecology and medicinal potential of plants in the rainforest. Years later, as a medical student, Dr. Rob was able to return to the Sacred Valley of Cusco, Peru, where he assisted in the staffing of a small Andean medical clinic, helped to run a yellow fever vaccination program, teamed with Peruvian and American researchers from the CDC who were investigating a fatal outbreak of Bartonella bacilliformis, and participated in mentoring sessions with a local shaman in Ollantaytambo.
Passion for Integrative Medicine
Influenced by such experiences during medical school at UCLA, Dr. Rob worked to integrate a deeper understanding into his studies of Western medicine. During his training in family practice at White Memorial Medical Center in East Los Angeles, this integrative perspective towards medicine and healing was nurtured. Embedded in a community rich with elders steeped in knowledge of medicinal plants and traditional cures, yet plagued with burgeoning diseases–obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease– created an opportunity for Dr. Rob to deepen his passion for finding and treating the root causes of disease and suffering. This led him, despite the notoriously long hours during medical internship, on a quest to turn a vacant lot adjacent to the hospital into a community garden. This continuing endeavor–called Proyecto Jardín–has since brought together individuals from the hospital, surrounding community, and local schools for the purpose of transforming this space into an oasis for healing. The garden now includes fruit and vegetable plots, a medicinal herb section, solar panels, and a community area for gathering and exercise. Its mission is to reveal healing as a holistic and natural process. An example of nature thriving in the middle of the city, the garden connects a cutting edge medical center with the healing power of plants, conscious urban renewal, food security, education of children, and an empowered community.
Following the completion of his training in Family Medicine, Dr. Rob began a two-year fellowship at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. There, he researched the interplay between genetic and nutritional factors in health and disease and studied the effects of medicinal plants and phytonutrients on human health. During this time, he was able to study a broad range of medical literature documenting the healing properties and mechanisms of plant-based medicines and nutrients. Furthermore, he was trained in medical approaches to weight management and was introduced to principles of traditional healing systems from around the world. Specifically, Dr. Rob studied families of antioxidants, such as polyphenols in green tea, anthocyanidins in pomegranates, and other compounds from a variety of fruits and vegetables. In addition, he studied the effects of Cordyceps sinensis, a Chinese mushroom known to increase exercise capacity.
Currently residing in Topanga Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains, Dr. Rob cultivates his own organic vegetable garden, along with medicinal herbs and fruit trees. Assisting him in this endeavor are his young daughters. In the garden, Dr. Rob is inspired to make the connection between a healthy ecosystem and the health of individuals who inhabit it. His passion for integrative healing keeps him in the continual pursuit of the best strategies to help his patients achieve optimal well being.