What is Functional Medicine?
It is well known that the majority of patients seen by primary care practitioners for common complaints have received no diagnoses to explain their symptoms. We therefore see a need for evaluating patients from the standpoint of chronic illness, especially the patients that have slipped through the large-gauge filter of conventional medical diagnoses and treatment. We believe in the emphasis of thorough assessment and early intervention into the proven physiological, cognitive/emotional, and physical functioning. But most important in this context is the idea that nutritional pharmacology is indeed a very effective biological response modifier to restore full functionality to individuals with chronic complex and unidentified illnesses.
These strategies can best be described as upstream, upscale medicine: We address imbalances in cofactors and nutrients, hormones, oxidative stress (free radicals), digestion, metabolism, and brain function while improving the ruffled external packaging (cosmetic blemishes) as well so that the conditions that led to the signs of aging will not recur.
We therefore achieve both beauty and function that is buttressed by vigorous physiology, organ reserve, and spiritual resolve for each individual patient.
A board certified internist is a specialist who is well versed and respected by others as one who can arrive at difficult diagnoses after thorough deliberation and investigations. We can indeed diagnose rare and exotic illnesses and provide diagnostic labels. But, we focus not only on extending the lifespan by an early diagnosis of a disease, but rather by recognizing the multitude of factors involved in chronic illnesses (where no diagnosis label may exist), we are actually also enhancing the health span itself.
Since we consider that disease arises out of the sum total of a patient’s life experiences as they interact with their material and spiritual environment, with their genetic predispositions, we therefore focus on that very predisposition or diathesis to illness in the entire context of factors: congenital, biologic, and social that could set the stage for an illness to manifest and disease to progress.
In our institution, our core functional diagnostic and treatment processes revolve around the following:
- Gastrointestinal function and absorption. Improper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract can lead to immune dysfunction and microbial imbalances.
- Liver function and detoxification capacity. This addresses the possible potential cancer-causing and toxic substances that come into our system and lead to a long-term dysfunctional illness without a label.
- Alteration in glucose metabolism. Incorrect dieting could lead to toxic products being accumulated through elevation of blood sugar and insulin and eventually lead to high risk for other serious diseases such as early coronary disease and hypertension.
- Oxidative stress. This pertains to the dynamic of free radical production and free radical quenching which results from environmental exposure, as well as our own life process of metabolism. If our nutrient and other protective nourishing factors are not in balance, it will lead to oxidative stress (accumulation of toxins and free radicals) and rapid aging.
- Hormonal disregulation. We address all aspects of an individual’s hormone imbalance which may start as early as the reproductive years, as well as declining organ function beyond middle age. We offer patients a wide range of choices from pharmaceutical supplementation and nutraceutical repletion, as well as bioidentical hormone replenishment.
- Evaluation of amino acids and neurotransmitters. An imbalance of nutrients as it concerns amino acid nutrition can lead to an imbalance of chemicals called neurotransmitters that have to do with brain function and regulation of the entire body. We thoroughly test for these deficiencies and imbalances.
- Environmental factors. We assess individuals from the standpoint of pollution in the environment and implanted chemicals that were not meant to be in the human body. We thoroughly assess blood, saliva, and urine for these chemicals including heavy metal toxicity and implement appropriate measures.
- Proactive consultation in nutrition. We recognize that even though a diagnosis may not exist, some individuals by virtue of their genetic constitution may be in need of specific and very individual nutraceuticals, vitamins, and other supplements that can be easily tested before and after treatment and are within the economic reach of most patients. We also emphasize the avoidance of hidden toxics and other influences such as the pervasiveness of plastic materials and electromagnetic frequencies in our lives, even through daily lifestyle enhancing tools such as a cellular phone.