So… what is Functional Medicine anyway?
Who’s heard of it?
What’s it good for?
Can my doctor use that on me?
SEE IF THIS SOUNDS FAMILIAR…
Here’s how modern medicine works these days. Someone calls their doctor because they have a problem – let’s say neck pain. The doctor visit lasts on average 6 minutes, during which time the person has about 90 seconds to explain the problem.
The doctor may order some tests or take some images (like x rays or MRI’s). Usually, the will come up with a diagnosis, say “degenerated disc”. The final treatment usually comes down to one or two things: prescription drugs and/or surgery.
So what’s wrong with that? Plenty!
First of all, many so-called problems that show up on MRI’s may have been there for years and caused no pain. The only way to tell is to compare an old pain-free image to the new one and look for changes. How often does that happen? Seldom, at best.
Secondly, the doctor slaps a label on the problem like “degenerated disc”. That label stays in the medical chart forever, so a misdiagnosis may mean the patient keeps getting the wrong treatment.
Thirdly, the pain or problem seldom gets taken care of. Pain pills merely mask the pain for a while and do nothing to stop the pain long term. Just think of the millions addicted to opioid painkillers and some 70,000 needless deaths from them yearly.
Fourthly, surgery should be a last resort. Too often these days, surgeons are too knife happy because that’s where the big bucks lie. Many patients experience little or no improvement (or like me actually were much worse off) after surgery. About 50% of neck surgeries fail, a term called “failed neck syndrome”. My surgeon fused C4 – C5 since I supposedly had degenerated disc disease. I lived in hellish pain for a week. When I called the surgeon to report the bad news, he prescribed Valium for me (a sedative). Evidently, he thought the pain was all in my head. It took me MONTHS to recover from that useless surgery.
THIS IS HOW FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE IS DIFFERENT…
Functional Medicine Practitioners never make a diagnosis. Huh?
How can that be helpful if the client doesn’t know what’s wrong?
Simple – Functional Medicine uses tests to find the underlying cause of the problem. These are not the same tests used in most doctors’ offices. In fact, most doctor’s I’ve talked to have never heard of these tests and are not trained how to perform them. Most doctors dismiss these tests as useless or unimportant. Not!
So, let’s take a brief look at the tests typically used:
- Stress hormones: no doubt we all have more stress in our lives than we should. The body is designed to deal with stress on a short term basis. When it goes on for months or years, the body wears down because it can’t handle the strain anymore. One of the first things that goes is adrenal function – where the anti-inflammatory pain relieving hormone called Cortisol is made. Lack of Cortisol leads to more pain.
Other important stress hormones to check include Estradiol, Estriol, Progesterone, Testosterone, Melatonin and DHEA. Some of these hormones sound like they’d be found only in guys or gals, but both sexes have these hormones – just in different amounts. The bottom line is that it’s impossible to feel well if these hormones are out of balance. Look for things like pain, poor energy, unable to concentrate, brain fog, lack of muscle development with proper exercise and overall just feeling like crap.
It’s a simple and easy test to do. Just spit into test tubes four times in one day and send it off to the lab.
- Digestion: the second test looks for Indican, which is a sign that the body is not digesting protein. When the body lacks protein, it can not make hormones – so again the result is feeling lousy. It also looks for Urinary Bile Acids (UBA’s), which means that the liver is not filtering out bile and it ends up in urine. Also, the test looks for Lipid Peroxidase… which measures if the body is building itself up (anabolic) or breaking itself down (catabolic). It’s a simple urine test.
- Leaky gut: is a common condition that means the lining of the small intestine is damaged and does not properly filter all the nasty chemicals in our food. The result is the immune system is constantly overtaxed and headaches develop, stomach problems occur, diarrhea, food sensitivities, fatigue, joint pain – and the list goes on and on.
The test involves swallowing two kinds of sugars and collecting urine later that day
- Pathogens: including parasites, bacteria and yeasts. This includes little creepy crawlers with arms and legs that swim around in the small intestine. Symptoms range from bloody diarrhea to malnutrition, inability to eat dairy or certain sugars to severe neck or joint pain. The test involves collecting stool samples for 3 days in a row (which really is not as gross as it seems).
- Food sensitivities: each of us has different dietary needs. Some like carbs, others protein. And all of us react to certain foods. These reactions are not allergies – where someone’s face blows up like a balloon. It’s much more subtle. That is, a few hours after eating the food that the body doesn’t like, maybe pain or nausea starts. It usually takes time to figure out what the offending food is. Often, sufferers try an elimination diet to figure out the problem but this is difficult to do. This test looks at 170 different foods that could be a problem and easily signals the client which ones to avoid. It’s a simple blood test.
AFTER RUNNING THE TESTS, HERE’S WHAT COMES NEXT…
The person being treated is highly involved in the process of healing. The more effort the client puts in, the better the result. The Functional Medicine Practitioner is there as a guide and coach to keep the healing process going.
There are 5 aspects of the client’s lifestyle that are worked on simultaneously:
- Diet: eating the right type of food based on testing (Carbs, Fats and Protein). Trying to eat as much organic food as possible. Avoid sugars, alcohol and possibly dairy for a few weeks.
- Sleep: try to go to bed and awaken at the same time every night, ideally bedtime is 10 PM to 6 AM. It turns out that every hour slept before midnight is worth two hours after midnight. Read a book (not the phone) for a while prior to bed. Remove TV ’s and cellphones from the bedroom.
- Exercise: proper exercises are given based on on the condition of each person. That means, over-exercising is almost as bad as not exercising. If the client feels sore and tired after a workout and takes days to recover, their routine must be adjusted to better suit their ability to exercise.
- Stress Reduction: believe it or not, this is the most critical step to success. Why? Up to 80% of doctor visits and up to 50% of all illness is due to stress. Functional Medicine may use yoga, pilates, meditation, music and many other methods to help. We also look for toxic relationships and employment to see if changes need to be made.
- Supplements: the root problems that turn up in testing are treated with the selected use of supplements. Adrenal extracts, hormones, vitamins, minerals, gut bug killers and leaky gut healing botanicals are in the arsenal of the practitioner.
- Retesting: whatever issues show up during initial testing get rechecked to verify that the problems have been fixed. Most hormone issues are rechecked about 5 weeks after starting treatment. Gut pathogens retesting is typically 6 months or longer (sometimes it takes as long as two years to get rid of these nasty little bugs). Leaky gut typically is retested after 6 months.
HERE’S THE BEST PART: ALL THE TREATMENT IS DONE AT HOME
That’s right. No trips to scheduled doctors appointments. No waiting in line at the pharmacy. The tests are deliver to the front door as well as the supplements. Typically, the client will meet with the Functional Medicine Coach about every 2 weeks by phone or Skype. (Full disclosure: the food sensitivity test requires a blood draw so a lab is involved).
THIS MAKES FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE DIFFERENT…
The client’s best interests are put ahead of profit motives and money. Realize that “modern medicine” is big business these days and is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. Typically, the cost of a Functional Medicine Program is but a fraction of what traditional doctors and pharmacists charge.
And the last but very important thing: we get to the root cause of the health issue and fix it. Permanently. The client is taught how to lead a healthy lifestyle and avoid ever having that problem again.
Imagine that? No endless trips to the doctor. No outrageous medical bills. Health is restored for the rest of the client’s life.
Welcome to the world of Functional Medicine. Not so good for business (we depend on word of mouth and client satisfaction). Great for adults and kids that want to be happy, healthy and get on with life.
What could be better?
PS: I’m offering a free 30 minute no-obligation consultation to see if this is the right solution for each individual. Just go to www.stopneckpainnaturally.com and click on “Get One-On-One Help”.
See ya on the other side!