Functional medicine is the practice of evaluating a patient's health challenges by examining their history, symptoms and lab studies and formulating a non-pharmaceutical solution that addresses the underlying
problem, not just the symptoms. Basically, we try to find out what's wrong and help to fix it. For example, let's say you were in a lot of pain from a splinter that was lodged in your thumb. You could do several things for the pain: you could swallow a pain pill, or rub some pain-relieving cream on the splinter, or maybe place an ice pack on your thumb. You might get some relief from the pain using one of these methods. But wouldn't it make more since to just remove the splinter? Of course.
Have you ever tried to fix a noise in your car by turning the radio up louder? Ever continue to mop up a wet floor caused by a leaky roof? If you're late for work have you ever just turned back your clock?
If these questions don't make sense to you, then maybe Functional Medicine is the right health care approach for you. Those examples may seem silly but don't we often do things like that all the time when it comes to our health?
For heartburn we take and antacid.
For a headache we take ibuprofen.
For diabetes we take metformin.
For high cholesterol we take a statin drug.
We do these things without ever asking "WHY?" Why do I have heartburn? Why is my cholesterol high? Why did I develop diabetes?
In Functional Medicine we try to find out the "why." Then we take steps to improve the problem. After that, the symptoms simply vanish.
How does it work?
Functional Medicine does not utilize pharmaceutical medicines. We instead use a specific regiment of plant-based nutraceuticals and supplements according to what you need. A thorough lab work up can tell the story about what's going on inside of you. You simply won't know if you don't test. We believe it's a mistake to swallow a handful of random vitamins in the hopes of covering all the bases. The question always comes back to "what do you actually need?" For example, if your lab work shows you are low on iron, it's a big mistake to simply take more iron. You may not need it. The problem might be that you're not absorbing the iron you already consume and if that's the case, why would you take more? You shouldn't. Actually, taking too much iron can cause abdominal distress, fatigue and heart problems.
In addition to nutraceuticals, certain lifestyle changes are often necessary including dietary changes, exercise and stress management. These are integral pieces to the health and wellness model.
So many people I talk to tell me they want to lose weight. It's a good goal to have and there are several ways to do it. One way is that you could get really sick. Most people that get the flu or contract mono lose several pounds. However, recommending people get sick intentionally in order to lose weight is not very popular. (Folks, I'm being facetious — don't go get sick in order to lose weight.) Please understand that when people say they want to "lose weight," I believe what they really are saying is they want to "be more healthy." I like that.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of "lose weight fast" programs out there. Sadly, most of them are just marketing. Being more healthy it is a process and a lifestyle and it takes time. There are no magic pills or newly discovered exercise that will burn that unwanted fat. In all fairness, some of those weight-loss programs do have some success — but it's only short-term! Statistics show that 83% of people who lose weight regain it right back — and more. That doesn't sound like a good solution to me!
We can all agree that your body is pretty smart, right? It knows what's going on and what to do about it. So if your labs are showing a high cholesterol level, we have to stop and ask "Why?" Why are your levels so
high? Is your body stressed? Is it not getting the nourishment it needs? Is there too much sugar in the blood? What's going on?
I believe it's a mistake to decide to take a pill that will artificially drag the lab number down. If you did that your cholesterol numbers might look better on paper, but do you really believe that you're any healthier? And if you stopped taking that pill will your lab numbers go back up? Have you considered how long do you need to be on that pill? I'm sure you would agree that it's more responsible to try and discover why your cholesterol is high and deal with that problem. Your body is crying out! What does it need? (By the way, if you or someone you know is taking a statin and wish to continue to do so, please take CoQ-10 supplement also. Studies show that statin usage depletes the body of CoQ-10 which could cause heart failure, high blood pressure, and chest pain according to the Mayo Clinic.)
Should I pursue Functional Medicine?
Let's find out. First, I highly recommend attending one of our "Stress, Hormones and Health" lectures. It's free for you and your spouse/significant other. Next, we'll schedule a time to meet and discuss your individual health challenges. If I decide our office is a fit for you then we can move
forward. Call our office for more information: 210-497-3100
I hope to meet you soon!
Dr. Jon Goff