My new patients are often surprised when I don’t approach their health concerns in the way they expect.
For instance, I once had a 50-year-old woman visit my office with awful joint pain. She was morbidly obese with pain in her fingers, knuckles, wrists, shoulders, knees and hips.
A bone scan ordered by her conventional rheumatologist showed systemic inflammatory illness in her joints.
The lady was miserable. So her conventional doctor prescribed medication. But the side effects were so unpleasant that she had to stop taking them. (Even if she had been able to continue taking them, all they would have done is hide her symptoms, leaving the root cause of her disease untouched.)
As a functional medicine doctor, I was trained to go a different route.
Don’t “Control” Your Symptoms, Fix Them
After a deep discussion about her diet and lifestyle, we determined the issue was her gut health. She was consistently eating a lot of inflammatory foods – things like gluten filled bagels, sandwiches, pasta, sugary drinks and other refined carbs – that were causing her leaky gut.
When macromolecules of certain foods leak through your intestinal wall they end up in your bloodstream. And, as it is supposed to do, the body recognizes these partially digested food particles as invaders and attempts to destroy them.
Unfortunately, just like debris piling up in a river bend, these particles fall out of stream at bending joints and accumulate over time, causing pain as the body tries to defend itself.
To combat this issue, I recommended a dietary plan where she avoided grains and ate 85% plant-based foods. She also upped her intake of curcumin, switched to organic meats, and drank medical food shakes to heal her intestinal lining.
Eleven months later she came into my office a full 50 pounds lighter, free from pain, and absolutely thrilled because she could now fit into her daughter’s size six “little black dress.”
She looked great. And her bone scans were completely clear to boot!
Now, let’s contrast this story with what you’re probably more used to…
… a doctor that whisks into the room, listens briefly to your symptoms, and then pulls out a prescription pad to “solve” your problem.
That’s the dilemma with medicine today! Conventional doctors only hear your symptoms, but never actually address the root cause.
That’s because they have 20 or more patients scheduled that day, so they have to rush through your appointment. Then, they give you a quick diagnosis and hustle you out the door with a handful of meds you might be on for the rest of your life.
It’s the norm, and American patients have come to expect it. But it’s certainly not what you deserve.
How to Find a Functional Physician
Whatever your health concern, it’s important to find a doctor who isn’t going to pop in for a quick seven or 10-minute visit before sending you on your way. You want one who doesn’t just simply zero in on your symptoms… and is a “prescriptionist” who hands out five or more prescriptions at a time.
Instead, your best bet is to find a certified functional medicine doctor like myself. We are trained to widen our lens and take in every aspect of your health; sort of a 30,000-foot view.
This means we spend a lot of time talking to you. We dig deep into your history to find the underlying cause of your problem and actually correct it.
That’s because physical symptoms are almost always a consequence of an underlying imbalance of some sort.
Maybe you’re fatigued, have acid reflux or digestive symptoms. Perhaps your joints ache or you frequently get headaches. You might be forgetful, have diabetes or heart disease.
There’s nothing at your local pharmacy that will actually cure any of these problems. And remember, today’s meds don’t come without side effects. The stronger the drug, the stronger the side effects.
In the long run, they might debilitate you – and send you to your demise – much more quickly than your original problem ever would.
Just look at musician Glenn Frey of the Eagles. He died from pneumonia caused by a weakened immune system — a side effect of the meds they gave him to treat his rheumatoid arthritis.
So finding out what stressors, toxins, inflammatory levels, intestinal permeability issues, nutritional deficiencies and stressed endocrine organs are is a much better solutions than jumping right to the drugs.
At the same time, diet, food sensitivities, vitamin deficiencies and sleep problems have a heavy influence on your health.
The list is long, and your mainstream doctor doesn’t have the time or training to check any of these underlying factors off of a list. They were never on their list to start with.
They’re on mine.
That’s because I treat the whole person. And my patients really appreciate it when they find themselves living their lives with gusto instead of worrying about their health and setting alarms to remind them to take their meds.
Don’t fall into the trap of conventional medicine where docs are trained to “name it, blame it and tame it.” Find out what’s really causing your health problems… and nip it in the bud.
You can easily find a functional physician in your area at the Institute for Functional Medicine.
Look for one who is an MD or DO, and make sure he or she has the certification IFMCP. Call and talk to them before scheduling an appointment to make sure they’re really practicing functional medicine… and not just “trying it out.”