Every patient complaint is a drug side effect until proven otherwise.” – Dr. G
What happens when the body is not functioning? How do we deal with weight gain, poor digestion, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, allergies, etc.? There are two ways to approach your health.
The first approach is the traditional model, often referred to as the disease-drug model. Traditional medicine is about treating disease once it shows up. It is the medicine of “what” (in other words, what do you have). When a patient presents with a problem, a traditional doctor determines what the patient and gives a diagnosis. Then, in referring to the disease-drug model, a prescription is usually given.
Unfortunately, these prescriptions often only mask the symptoms and can create more symptoms in the form of drug side effects. The underlying cause of the patient’s complaint may never be fully addressed.
Another problem with traditional medicine is the body is rarely considered as one interconnected unit. The cardiologist looks at the heart, the pulmonologist looks at the lungs, the gastroenterologist looks at the digestive tract, etc. Rarely is the body considered as one interconnected unit.
Luckily, there is another option. Functional medicine is the medicine of “why”. It looks to discover the root cause of your symptoms and uses natural treatments whenever possible. It looks at how all of the various organ systems relate to each other – keeping in mind the connection of mind, body, and spirit. A Functional medicine practitioner will ask "why" until the root cause of your ailments is discovered.
For example, I once had a patient who complained of heart palpitations. I put on my Medical Detective (MD) hat and asked questions. Turns out, the palpitations were a side effect of a medication she took to treat her Restless Leg Syndrome. She had Restless Leg Syndrome because she was deficient in iron. Her iron was low because she was on acid blocking medications for her heartburn. (You need stomach acid to absorb various minerals and nutrients including iron.) Her heartburn was caused by sensitivity to gluten. Ultimately, the root cause was gluten. After peeling back the layers of the onion, we discovered gluten was the root cause. She is now symptom-free on no prescription medications.
Functional medicine treats the whole patient, not just the disease. It is a logical approach that empowers patients to take charge of their own health. After all, why wouldn’t you look for the root cause of the problem? Granted, there are times when medications are absolutely necessary.