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In my previous blog posts, I have talked about curing my allergies, fixing migraines, and curing a whole host of other issues without pharmacological medicines. Yes, actually curing these issues and not just managing or controlling the symptoms.

For the longest amount of time, I found it difficult to talk about to these things with my physicians or even lay people. I must admit it all sounded so much like woo doo even to me as I would talk about it. A common refrain from doctors was, “We only practice evidence based medicine.” I did not know what to believe or not believe, except that from my personal experience (evidence of n=1), I could prove that these things work.

All that changed, when last year Kimberly and I attended the Health and Wellness Conference 2013 at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine at the Center of Integrative Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. There we heard talks about yoga, Qi Gong, nutrition, meditation, detoxing, and many other so called “alternative” therapies in the setting of Evidence Based Medicine.

Key note speaker was Mark Hyman, MD. He has a private practice Ultra Wellness Center in Massachusetts. He wrote a book, The Blood Sugar Solution, which received endorsement from President Bill Clinton. He talked about the diagnosis and cure of Diabesity, a term he has coined as combination of diabetes and obesity. And, he talked about diabesity in the context of what he called Functional Medicine.

Since then I have studied up quite a bit on Functional Medicine and I do believe that many of my conversations in my blog posts fit in that framework. More I dig into this topic the more entranced I am getting with this topic. I feel that functional medicine is the key to the kingdom, when it comes to wellness, vitality and living the optimal health span and life span.

Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D. is considered “father” of this field. Mark Hyman calls him his mentor. Among Bland’s other accomplishments, he has founded Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute and The Institute for Functional Medicine. Recently, he has written a book, “The Disease Delusion, Conquering the Causes of Chronic Illness for a Healthier, Longer, and Happier Life.”

Institute for functional medicine describes functional medicine as follows:

“Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. 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.”

So, the basic idea of functional medicine is to take a systems approach to disease and wellness rather than either chasing symptoms or taking germ theory approach that generally focuses on single point of correction. In his book, Jeffrey Bland talks of seven different systems for our bodies:

  1. Assimilation and Elimination
  2. Detoxification
  3. Defense
  4. Cellular Communication
  5. Cellular Transport
  6. Energy
  7. Structure

So the objective in functional medicine is to investigate symptoms to pinpoint one or more of these seven systems that are not working properly and then to change diet, exercise and lifestyle to fix the system imbalance and thereby the diseases and the symptoms.

The end result is often pretty low tech, and may seem underwhelming. That is, implement changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle to redirect expression of certain genes to cure a disease.

However, approach to getting there can be fairly high-tech in identifying the true root cause, identifying the systems that are out of balance and gene expressions that may be responsible for the underlying imbalance. And, as you see from the stories, results can be very profound and almost magical.

If you know someone, who is being treated for certain symptoms of chronic diseases by meds. e.g., high blood pressure, obesity, brain fog, constant fatigue, high cholesterol, inflammation, muscle aches, etc..  The meds being used often lead to side effects that need to be treated by other meds, which in turn are causing other side effects etc.. Such a person is the perfect candidates for functional medicine.

Have you heard of functional medicine?

Do you have any experience with functional medicine?

I have been looking for good certified functional medicine practitioners in our area that we could consult and also recommend to our friends and family. We have access to some lists, but no personal experience yet. Do you know of such a practitioner?

I would love to learn if you know someone.