Photo of Dr Oz: James Robinson
The US Democratic leadership
race is finally over. I know youre a Republican,
but did you have a favourite between Hillary Clinton
and Barack Obama? Senator Clinton is from New York
where I practise. Shes a very very smart woman.
Her healthcare plan was probably the best. I have confidence
that Senator Obama would also make a superb president.
I suspect that Senator Clinton would be more effective,
not because shes a better person, but because
she has more experience.
Do you agree with Senator Clinton
that Americans need mandatory health coverage? Yes.
I think we have to have everyone forced to be part of
the health plan, whether we give it to them for free
because they cant pay for it, or we subsidize
it or make them pay for it together with their employer.
We have to have affordable care for all.
What do you think of the healthcare
system we have here in Canada? Well, theres
good and bad. The good news is I think it works for
Canada, because Canadians are very different from Americans.
Canadians I think are much more willing to queue up
and wait in line, theyre also much more polite
about that process. America is about life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness, so people dont like
to wait. They dont like having limitations, they
want everything. So the Canadian system would feel very
restrictive to Americans, but it seems to be quite popular
among the Canadians especially the universal coverage
element. The part thats not popular with my Canadian
friends and physicians is that because of the way the
budgets are designed you end with limitations of services
at the end of the year. And physicians I think dont
thrive in that environment. They want to be able to
do what they have to do at any time. I think financial
issues limit the ability of the healer to do his job.
Oprahs a staunch Obama
supporter, youre a staunch Republican. Do you
two ever argue about politics? We dont talk
politics but I suspect wed be very close to each
other. Im a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. I have
a very firm belief in individual rights. I dont
like the government telling me what to do and I believe
that people should have free will to pursue their dreams.
Im not socially conservative. I dont believe
that we should be intruding into the private lives of
homosexuals and we should not be creating obstacles
during the difficult time that women have when trying
to terminate a pregnancy. I believe we should make it
as easy as possible for women to carry a child to term
and give it up for adoption. Todays climate makes
it difficult for women to do whats best for them
and their fetus.
John McCains the man for
your Repulicans, but who did you like for leader? There
were a couple of good candidates. Mitt Romney has proven
himself as a capable leader. Hes got some great
Ever thought about going into
politics yourself? Not now. Im spending a
lot of time working with Oprah, trying to help educate
Americans and Canadians about health. I think I have
a lot of work to do to help us in the Western World
realize that the only true salvation to our health care
system is for us as individuals to take charge of our
well-being. Once Im done that, well see.
I think politics might be the next option.
How did you land the Oprah gig?
I had done the show several times and I always enjoyed
it. Then I was asked to do whole separate show on CSI,
on how we discover bodies and murders. It was well-received
and Oprah has asked me back, because she believes that
America can learn a lot about their bodies and shes
the perfect person to teach it to them. Shes very
authentic leader. I kid her that shes my teacher
-- shes a very good teacher.
Is she your patient? I do
help her take care of herself, but I do it more as a
friend than as a doctor. Shell call me periodically
and ask advice, but I dont see her in my office
all the time.
Have you been a teensy bit afraid
of Oprah since she tore into fake memoirist James Frey
on her show? No. I felt very badly for him -- I
think hes done something that he didnt want
to do and he was too weak to stop it. Ive made
many mistakes myself. When I write things and the data
changes then I should be the first one to say Hey,
what Ive written is incorrect.
If Oprah asked you to have a
makeover on the show, would you do it? Oh yeah,
sure. To get better fitting scrubs, or a better haircut.
The scrubs are very popular...
Yes, they like the scrubs.
Do you and Dr Phil ever compete
for Oprahs attention? No. Shes a very
good person, she always gives you her full attention
when youre with her. Shes very caring. She
makes sure that the people in her life know that she
loves them, and she takes good care of them.
She took you to Africa to see
her school. How was that? It was spectacular. I
really understood her when we were in Africa, because
I saw how passionate she is about teaching those girls.
She said she now realized why she never had her own
children, because it gave her the ability to have all
these children instead. So I thought that was very elegant.
You also travelled to New Orleans
and worked with the medical teams in the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina. What was that like? It was life-changing.
I had never actually been in a situation like that in
this country, with people looking at death without dignity.
Weve always taken it for granted that were
going to die, but what people want in death is dignity.
They want to know that they wont be lonely, theyll
be in a comforted area in their community with people
that love them. And that broke down with Katrina. It
was really a tragedy from that perspective. The natural
disaster was compounded by the human disaster.
You contributed to former US
senator and fellow physician Bill Frists campaign.
He was roundly criticized for diagnosing Terri Schiavo
after watching some video footage of her. The Terri
Schiavo incident was a very embarrassing one for this
country. Most people feel that families should have
the right to make a decision about the death of a loved
one without everyone looking in -- and without Congress
creating a new session in order to legislate what should
be done. We violated their privacy and I think we missed
an opportunity to educate Americans about end of life
issues. We should not be trying to guess at someones
diagnosis, because its none of our business. The
husband was probably right in that case, and he had
his legal right to do whats best for the woman
he loved and loved him without people interfering from
You use scare tactics a lot
in your books and on TV. Is that the only way to get
people to shape up? I dont think the gentlemanly
approach always works. You have to shake some people
up. The reason for that is that our biggest enemy in
educating people about their bodies in Canada and in
America, is that they think they already know the answers.
And they dont. But they ignore the advice youre
trying to give. So I use the shock tactics as a wake-up
call. I say I know you think you have all the
answers, but just look at this, I want you to see you
the way I would see it and most of the time, people
say My goodness, I never knew.
Why should a doctor recommend
the Oz diet over the Atkins diet? The diet we have
in our book is the actual medical diet, we didnt
make this up. We basically say eat the food that we
have shown in medical practice to be good for you --
fruits, vegetables, grains -- based on the medical knowledge
we have. So its been rewarding to me to learn
not only how many patients have done it, but to hear
so many nurses and doctors saying this is exactly what
we do. This means I havent gone off too far on
a ledge. What we try to do with the books is to make
the diet understandable and accessible.
You prescribe yoga and massages
to your patients. Do your colleagues think its
flaky? Some of them think its flaky. But I
do these things myself. They work for me. When Im
tired at the end of the week, I get a massage. When
Im exhausted in the mornings, I do yoga. I know
it works for me, so why wouldnt work for my patients?
Why should I treat them any differently than I treat
I understand you play mystical
Islamic Sufi music for patients during operations. Are
you inspired by Sufism? Influenced by it. The biggest
influence for my alternative medicine interest are my
wife and her family. They are very insightful people.
My father-in-law is a very well-known heart surgeon,
Gerald Lemole. I saw how they were using it in their
own family and to create a healthy environment, and
I liked it. In Islam, of course, it makes you realize
that you have to have your own connection with the divine,
there should be no one between you and God, so it makes
you very autonomous, very free thinking. Organized religion
are the rules, Sufism and other mystic sects of Christianity
and Judaism allow us to transgress those rules and actually
begin to enjoy the game.
In a TV doctor dual, whod
win, you or Sanjay Gupta? Hes a good friend
of mine. I like him a lot. Hes come on my show
a bunch of times and Ive been on his show. Hes
a very, very good doctor, he does a superb job at CNN.
5 things you didn't
know about... Mehmet Oz
How one of People's Sexiest
Men Alive handles women hitting on him I'm
always flattered when it happens, but I don't
send out those vibes.
The weirdest alternative
medicine he's ever tried Energy medicine,
like therapeutic touch and reiki. This is very
foreign to me, because as a doctor, I'm used to
seeing the data. I'm still sceptical even though
my wife is a reiki master.
Turkish delight or doughnuts?
Fries or salad (if fries
were good for you)? Salad. The french fries
taste good to me, they taste good to most people,
but in the back of my mind when I'm having a french
fry I think, 'In half an hour, I'm not going to
He has Oprah's heart
She has a beautiful heart. It's pristine. It has
no blockages and functions very elegantly.
Interview conducted by Judah