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Super Sleuth: Mind, Body, Medicine, Mpls St. Paul Magazine

March 8, 2016

Written by: Dara Moskowitz

Dr. Gregory Plotnikoff has the calm, patient, open demeanor of the more social sort of Buddhist monk. Patients come to him as a sort of last resort after visits to doctors, subspecialists, and hospitals have left them without answers. Plotnikoff—an internal medicine and pediatrics specialist who left Abbott Northwestern and will open his own clinic this spring—then starts his journey with the patient. He conducts lengthy in-person interviews with patients and reviews their thick stack of files, sometimes doing genetic workups or running new tests and spending hours in a medical library getting to the bottom of his hunches. If Gregory House’s medical process was a series of short, sharp shocks, Gregory Plotnikoff’s is a chain of slow interactions. But his results are just as remarkable.

There was the woman who had become so immobilized by muscle weakness with no identifiable cause that she’d run up tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills and had her children taken by state authorities because she could no longer care for them. Plotnikoff talked to her at length and developed a hunch that basic malnutrition might be at play. He discovered she lacked detectable vitamin D levels in her body. “So many doctors hate testing for vitamin D. Don’t ask me why,” he shrugs. “They think it’s for hippies, or they’ll say there are no double-blind studies. Who would fund a double-blind study? We already know vitamin D deficiency is a disease and that vitamin D is not patentable and practically free.” Five dollars worth of vitamins later, the woman eventually recovered and her family was reunited.

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