After generations of obesity and diseases, I refuse to write the same story for my children.
I am in the third week of the Repair and Clear program and have been working with Dr. Caroline for two months now as a functional medicine patient....
The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his or her patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.— Thomas Edison, US inventor
Her mother, originally of German descent, was an advocate of holistic health practices common of the European wellness model. Rather than than taking medications as the first course to “treat” an illness, it was perfectly normal to boost the immune system with herbal teas, essential oils, wholesome soups, body work, and plenty of rest. While there is a place for medication in times of crisis, she learned at an early age to honor the intelligence of the body. When we nurture our mental and physical state of well-being, rather than suppress and ignore symptoms, we are better able to express our true health potential.
In 2001, without any warning signs and despite having lead an extremely healthy life, Dr. Caroline’s mom was diagnosed with stage three lymphoma at a routine physical. Six weeks later she passed away. Twelve years later, her father was diagnosed with CLL, a chronic form of leukemia. Despite a brave fight and many rounds of chemo, the disease won. Losing both parents to cancer served as fuel for Dr. Caroline’s need to understand health at a deeper level. Rather than placing the focus on fighting disease, her goal was to become an expert in wellness. Instead of fearing sickness, it was about embracing wholeness.
Despite a person’s healthy exterior, she realized people of all ages are suffering with conditions not addressed by the allopathic medical system. Being frustrated by impersonal doctor-patient relationships, sky rocketing insurance costs, and alarming drug side-effects, patients are seeking a safer and more logical approach to health care. The time to integrate health from the standpoint of Functional Medicine was only fitting.
It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional Medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual. Functional Medicine does not replace the need for patients to seek care from their medical doctor. Nutrition and lifestyle recommendations are not a substitute for prescription drugs. Functional Medicine does not cure or treat disease. Rather, its goal is to support the body in its ability to restore homeostasis naturally.
Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. The system of medicine practiced by most physicians is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as appendicitis or a broken leg. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.
Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic disease. In most cases it does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or factors such as environmental exposures to toxins and the aspects of today’s lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise in chronic disease in modern Western society.
There’s a huge gap between research and the way doctors practice. The gap between emerging research in basic sciences and integration into medical practice is enormous—as long as 50 years—particularly in the area of complex, chronic illness. Most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of complex, chronic disease and to apply strategies such as nutrition, diet, and exercise to both address and potentially prevent these illnesses in their patients.
|Functional Medicine||Conventional Medicine|
|Health oriented||Sickness and disease oriented|
|Care based on patient needs and goals||Care determined by medical management group, insurance limitations|
|Biochemical individuality||Everyone is treated the same, one size fits all|
|Holistic – encompasses entire body||Specialization by organ systems (ENT, ob/gyn, gastroenterologist)|
|Cost effective||Expensive and driven by insurance carriers|
|Looks at underlying cause of disease||Diagnosis based on symptoms or lack of symptoms|
|Correction and prevention||Early detection of disease, suppress symptoms|
|High touch + interpersonal + high tech||High tech, little personal interaction|
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”— World Health Organization