Mark C. Pettus MD




Dr. Mark Pettus is a triple-board certified Internist, Nephrologist, and Integrative Medicine physician practicing for over 25 years.  He received his A.B. from Boston University and his M.D. from the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  His postdoctoral training was at Harvard Medical School.  He completed his renal fellowship at The Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  Dr. Pettus is also an alumnus of The Advanced Program for Conflict Resolution, Negotiation, and Mediation at The Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Pettus currently serves as the Director of Medical Education, Wellness and Population Health at Berkshire Health Systems in western Massachusetts. In addition he serves as The Associate Dean of Medical Education at The University of Massachusetts Medical School.  In that capacity he oversees undergraduate and graduate medical education at Berkshire Health Systems, a major affiliate of the medical school.  He is the physician lead on population health initiatives for western Massachusetts. He is former Chief of Medicine at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, NY.  He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  He is the former the Medical Director of The Kripalu Institute for Integrated Healing.  He is the author of two books, The Savvy Patient: The Ultimate Advocate For Quality Health Care and It’s All in Your Head: Change Your Mind, Change Your Health. He serves on the teaching faculty at The Center for Mind-Body Medicine in D.C. and The Meditation Institute in Averill Park NY.

Dr. Pettus has appeared on numerous TV and Radio venues nationally including the 700 Club, Good Morning America, NPR and PBS.

Dr. Pettus is married to Lee Ann, an RN he met as a resident in Cambridge, MA. He has two awesome children Alex age 23 and Anna age 26 and his sweet dog Casey. He loves sports, reading, being outdoors, sunshine, the ocean, and rock n roll!

21 thoughts on “Mark C. Pettus MD

  1. Christen

    Hello! I met you on The Alabama sunset sail and wanted to say what a pleasure it was to talk to you and your wife. I don’t think it is an accident that we met. Especially considering my interest in that positive psychology course at kripalu and you knowing the instructor well!! 😉 I poked around a bit at what you offer there as well and look forward to reading your books. Enjoy the rest of your vacation.

    • Hi Christen,
      I was really great to meet you on The Alabama. I love the Vineyard and that sail was perfect. I do often wonder about the seemingly random events that seem to have a more purposeful meaning behind them. I do hope our paths cross again in the future.
      Warmest wishes,

  2. Peter

    Hello Mark, as I’ve posted, I’m incredibly grateful for what you guys are doing here. Your message has sunk home, I’m motivated and ready and have already started eliminating grains, sugar, carb-dense foods etc. I know it works.
    My dilemma is that I need more detailed, personalized guidance, are you accepting new patients? Or even a phone consult? I live in Camden ME (just missed being a client of John’s) in the summer and Jacksonville FL in the winter. MA is an easy drive from ME, I’d be happy to drive over for an appointment to establish a baseline and lifestyle intervention plan.
    If you or John are not available, perhaps you could recommend someone whose work follows your own basic principles and concepts.
    I will be 60 this month, and ready to turn this ship around!
    Thanks for the inspiration guys.

    • Hi Danny,
      Thanks for the great questions. The physician you reference is indeed passionate about his views on nutrition and health. There are many reasons, as you know, why an individual might choose a vegan lifestyle that transcend perspective on food alone. I inherently respect other’s personal views on this. I also suspect most people who switch from a Standard American Diet (SAD) to a vegan diet would notice, at for the short-term, significant improvements in overall health and well-being. When I am working with a vegan I point out areas at inevitable risk for deficiencies e.g. B12, O-3 essential fats, iron, zinc and try to assure they have a strategy for addressing that. The study noted, like most regarding meat, red meat is observational and meaningless with respect to establishing cause-effect. These studies as many have historically noted are riddled with interpretive shortcomings. Colin Campbell’s work has been thoroughly discredited. That said, I do think avoidance of “dogma” is prudent in reaching others where they are at. Personally, I felt poorly after more than a year as a vegan and many clients have shared the same with me. I cannot fully endorse, from a nutritional perspective, a program that is not nutrient complete nor can I reconcile a vegan nutritional program with any current or prior ancestral eating pattern. (for a thoughtful perspective:

      I really like Chris K’s work and his willingness to beyond established boundaries e.g. legumes or dairy in Paleo. natural sources of any essential nutrient would seem to be much better than that in a supplement or processed form e.g. vegetable oils vs almonds. The big uncertainty (for which no data exists to my knowledge) is whether an excess of O-6 EFAs, even from natural-healthy sources like nuts has a ‘ceiling” beyond which there might be a downside. Nuts are always better than a bagel and make a great refined carb snack substitute. In my view, these are evolving areas of interest without definitive answers…though they make for thought-provoking speculation! very best! Mark

  3. Sara

    Dear Dr. Pettus and Dr. Bagnulo,
    Thank you both for your knowledge and passion.
    I am a 35 year old female and can tell you that to this day, I have never felt the sensation of hunger. I have gone 3 days without eating and still nothing… Yes, my stomach may grumble and I may feel dizzy, but I don’t even know what to look for… For me eating is just finally giving into cravings and cessation of it (when I’m not paying attention) is when I can’t breathe or my clothes won’t stretch any more to fit my stomach… What can I do to remedy this? I love eating “!” and if I am not extremely cautious, put weight on very easily.
    I’m 5.6, 115 pounds. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2010 and have since had a thyroidectomy with an iatrogenic parathyroidectomy. I take Synthroid 0.175 and Calcitriol .25. I times I suffer with PMS and mood swings. I am modifying my life to follow all of your recommendations, and need some guidance in the matter.
    Thank you and all the best,

  4. Elisa

    Hello Mark. I am a registered dietitian and a long-time fan of the podcast! Thank you both for what you do. I have searched the site now but cannot find a contact link, so I thought I would put it here.
    I was wondering if you would consider a suggestion for a future podcast? I have recently been diagnosed with Lyme disease and would be interested to hear your and John’s perspective on treatment options regarding food, lifestyle, probiotics with antibiotics, etc. (or anything else, for that matter!) I know the incidence of Lyme is growing year by year, especially in the Northeast. It seems to be becoming a health crisis.
    There does not seem to be a whole lot of information out there regarding diet and Lyme. I would love to hear your perspectives some day. Kind regards!

  5. Lynn

    Dear Mark and John.. thank you for you time sharing your passion with us. You both are the best and was fortunate enough to meet you both at Kripalu and have lunch with you both. I just completed the year long Bulletproof coaching program which is aligned with all of your teachings. I so look forward to listening to your podcasts and share with many. Just wanted to take the time to thank you both for educating all of us on the best science out there. I truly hope to see you both at a conference soon!

  6. Lynn

    Hello again! Curious on thoughts Infrared Saunas, we are getting ready to purchase a small one and I was hoping you could guide me on thoughts between Near Infrared and Far Infrared saunas? Which one would you recommend? We are looking at a Far Infrared sauna by ClearLight, actually getting ready to buy one this week for our bathroom renovation which is long overdue. (this has been on my wish list for years!) I would love to hear your thoughts on this, as I heard you say in your Podcast you were looking into one for yourself.

    Thank you Mark, I have no doubt our paths will cross again, I am going to make sure of it. Happy New Year to you both!

    • Mark C Pettus

      Hi Lynn!
      I have had my IR sauna now for almost 1 month and absolutely love it! It has been a wonderful gift for my wife and I to share. I am not familiar with ClearLight and know there are many emerging reputable brands out there. I ended up going with Sunlighten Sauna. I like that they have a line of products that uses near, mid and far IR light in one product and also have negligible EMF “fallout”. I went with the mPulse, a nice two-person sauna that is tasteful and fits perfectly into the space we are using. While the light research is still emerging, I felt there was potential “synergy” in the range of IR frequencies they offer and the pre-entered programs that address a wide range of health-promoting features. Worth at least taking a look at….also great service.
      Warmest wishes to you! Mark

  7. MEDIA REQUEST for Experience Life magazine article
    Dear Mark and John, I’m a health and science writer who is working on a story for the Sept. issue of Experience Life magazine on essential fatty acids — nutritional importance, dietary deficiencies and appropriate ratios. I know you have covered this topic on the podcast and would very much like to have a short phone interview with one of you. If you can share some best times/best number at which to be reached, I can set us up with a calendar request. Thanks in advance! Best, Julie

    • Hi Julie,
      I’ll be out of the office today and will get back to you over the weekend with a few time options. Glad to assist. It’s an important topic.
      Thanks for thinking of us.
      Mark Pettus

  8. Mekenzie Smith

    Hi Dr. Pettus!
    I am a graduate student at BU pursuing my masters of science in nutrition. I love your podcast and truly believe you and John are onto something with your take on the benefits of higher fat and lower carb diets. Unfortunately, most professors and classmates are not yet convinced on this issue. I have an upcoming debate assignment and I am arguing that saturated fats are more harmless than hazardess. I’d love some help with tackling this topic and convincing my fellow nutrition piers that this new way of thinking may be worth paying more attention to! Get back to me if you get a chance!! Thanks for the awesome podcast!

    • Hi Danny,
      I have come to appreciate an important (and all too confusing) principle of our research enterprise. For for every MD-PhD their is an equal and opposite MD-PhD. Michael Greger is a proponent of vegan, low-fat (<10% daily Ornish, Campbell perspective) lifestyle and accordingly, will offer-select any slice of research that supports the harms of fat. We all tend to bias our point of view in the studies and interpretations we offer in support of those views. John and I as homo sapiens bring biases as well to our perspective. Given the oft polarizing and contradictory perspectives out there, by compassionate and passionate people with mostly good intentions, it is clear that one can make the case for many different points of view. The lens through which I attempt to reconcile this confusion focuses on a few questions:
      1. Is the food source, regardless of the context it is being framed in, whole, unprocessed and and "clean"?
      2. Does ancestral perspective (evolutionary biologic thinking) support the contention i.e., does the context make sense from what we know about how ancestral living evolved both past and present?
      3. Do the mechanisms fit with a broader understanding of complex systems biology

      Through that lens, I agree that plant-based foods should be the foundation of any modern diet. To examine endothelial hyperreactivity in a small # of people in response to macronutrient variability (in this case more fat) misses the impact fat may or may not have when combined with other varieties of foods like vegetables (Dr. Greger does note that in his comments on one of the videos). It is very hard to focus on just one aspect of a diet that is part of a much broader mosaic e.g. sleep quality, stress management, plant-based intake, microbiome diversity, etc...many of which cannot be accounted for in these small studies. In addition, we know that our ancestors ate a wide-variety of macronutrients e.g. the massai and innuit people consume much more fat and animal protein and do not demonstrate the prevalence of chronic-complex disease one would predict based on this data. We also know from epidemiologic studies that macronutrient quality seems much more important than quantity. There is little compelling evidence that healthy fat sources e.g. coconut oil (thank you Kitavins) full-fat dairy from organic sources, olive oil, etc. are both associated with healthy outcomes but also have mechanisms that may explain their values e.g. polyphenol content, no effect on insulin/mTOR, stability from oxidation, etc.

      Like you, I struggle to reconcile seemingly contradictory information. Some of the recommendations from Dr. Greger speak more to a passion-value for veganism (and there is surely a lot of great value there-I applaud his advocacy) with an exaggerated tendency to frame harm with any departure from that roadmap. Personally (and I have been vegan-vegetarean in the past)I cannot easily reconcile all of his interpretations from the perspective of nutrient-completeness (vegetarean-vegan will fall short on some nutrients), evolutionary biology, and our current understanding of the many complex variables not addressed by the studies noted e.g. lifestyle, diet quality-diversity- microbiome state, etc.

      I do think discernment (as you embrace) id key as one explores which context best fits for them, understanding this might change over time. In the meantime, for me anyway, healthy fat sources along with plant-based variety, good sourced animal foods, meditation, movement, loving relationships, and full spectrum light exposure have so far "trumped" any tendency-concern for impaired nitric oxide synthesis and transient post-prandial vascular hyper-reactivity from the fat I consume.

      Thanks as always for your inquiry.


  9. Danny

    Thank you so much Mark for taking the time to answer this. Always insightful, respectful (of how others do things) and concrete and strong with science in mind! So appreciate your wisdom!

  10. Kaitlyn

    Hello Dr. Pettus,
    I had the pleasure of meeting you at your weight loss hypnosis session back in November. Let me first say I can’t thank you enough, I know were our guide and any life changes that have occurred were our own doing but what you did was much more. It became my journey back in 2013 after seeing the person I had become and how unhealthy I felt, not only did I want to be able to play and run around after my son but I wanted to bring back the skinny person that once was me. Through many ups and downs and bumpy roads, diets that simply were the fad of the time and curve balls in my life I finally have reached my 1st goal I set for myself. I went from a 3xl to an xl-l scrubs, size 24 jeans to 16-14. Its truly an amazing feeling. But I really didn’t write to share my life story. I wanted to thank you, you’ve given me so many tools to work with and honestly since your session my confidence level has never been so high. I found you very knowledgeable and like a colleague of mine as opposed to a doctor I had just met. I hope to attend another of your sessions in the future, you are a life saver.

  11. Mark,

    As a functional medicine practitioner, I study a lot of health and nutrition and value the content of your podcasts above all others.

    You have mentioned salivary cortisol levels on several occasions. It looks to me like the DUTCH test has several advantages; you may want to check it out.

    • Thank you Robert! I’ll check this out. Cortisol testing is somewhat controversial e.g. source, free vs total, inherent variability, etc. though I have found it useful to stratify HPA axis status. The gold standard for adrenal insufficiency is the pre-post Cortrosyn stimulation measuring serum cortisol at 30″ and 1 – hour.

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