New Year, New Medicine

© 2014 Dr. Sharon Norling

Are you still suffering from illness and symptoms after years of medical care and pharmaceutical drugs? Perhaps it is time for another assessment and to explore new evidenced-based options. You deserve to live your best life.

Today we are in the midst of an epidemic of chronic disease. Alarming projections published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggest future generations may have shorter, less healthy lives if the current trends continue.

So how are we to regain control of our health issues and what specialty in medicine is appropriate to accomplish this? The answer is Functional Medicine.

How is it different than just the conventional approach and how can it help you?

Functional Medicine is an advanced medical specialty which involves:

  • Understanding and finding the root cause of an illness
  • Evaluating the whole person….not just a body part
  • Using natural, effective, evidenced-based therapies whenever possible
  • Partnering with the patient

Twenty years ago Functional Medicine was a concept without a movement. Today it is a movement that is the single biggest change in health care. More than 100,000 practitioners from 73 countries have been introduced to and studied Functional Medicine. Functional Medicine is currently being taught in 17 medical schools and residency programs.

Faculty from one-fifth of all medical schools and practitioners from 46 countries have attended the foundational training course. The Institute of Functional Medicine conducts extensive comprehensive CME courses throughout the year and throughout the world. The National Council on Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health has an advisory group that includes leaders in Functional Medicine. Leading integrative medicine authorities, such as Mehmet Oz, MD, cite Functional Medicine as a major influence on their thinking.

Comprehensive assessment includes evaluating and testing as indicated:

  • Environmental factors: Toxins, trauma, quality of food, water, air, exercise
  • Genetic makeup: Genes can be influenced by everything in your environment, as well as experiences, attitudes and beliefs.
  • Immune function
  • How your body gets rid of toxins
  • Hormones and neurotransmitters
  • Digestive health
  • How you are producing energy
  • Mind-body elements
  • And more…..

Specifically, what can Functional Medicine offer you?

Heartburn or Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Instead of just ordering an antacid or another drug to get rid of the symptoms of heartburn or irritable bowel syndrome, a functional medicine practitioner would ask the question, what is causing these symptoms?  Research shows that routine stool tests can be 5-20 percent accurate. Using specific FDA approved labs testing the DNA of the bacteria, virus, yeasts or parasites is 99.99 percent accurate. These specialty tests can also determine how you are digesting your food and absorbing your nutrients. Your heartburn or GERD can also be due to hidden food allergies or gluten. Accurate gluten testing requires specialty labs. Routine labs often report results which in fact are false negatives.

Hormone Imbalance

Complete testing of thyroid hormone, adrenal function, including 4 cortisol tests in one day, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone is extremely important for your physical and mental health.

Neurotransmitters (NT)

Specific labs can test serotonin, GABA, norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, glutamate and cortisol. Psychiatrists are the only medical specialty that does not test the organ they are treating, the brain. They just prescribe in order to treat the symptoms.

Once the labs are done the patient can be treated with specific amino acids and nutrients that the body uses to make more of the individual NT. The patient feels better, repeat labs show the changes, and there are no side effects.

Toxins

We are flooded with toxins every day. Toxins from the air we breathe, the water we drink, food we eat, personal skin care products, dental work , mercury in vaccines and many other sources that fill our bodies and cause multiple illnesses and unexplained symptoms. Your body can easily be tested and the toxins can be removed.

Addictions

Assessing the addict in order to correct the bio-chemistry, remove toxins, support NT, and improve their overall health are important tools in their recovery and in sustaining recovery.

Avoiding addictions is an extremely important responsibility for physicians. The number one cause of addictions is pharmaceutical drugs.

Nutrient testing

Are you eating a healthy diet? Do you wonder if you need vitamins, minerals or supplements? Maybe you are taking some but not enough. Maybe you are taking too many. A simple blood test can determine your nutrient status. The only way we live is by the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food eat. Finding out what nutrients you need, what foods contain them, and what supplements you may need is critical to prevention, getting well, and staying healthy and energetic.

Additional tests available through John Hopkins University are helpful in assessing brain function. The list of available labs and other tests is extensive and are used as indicated for the individual patient.

Comprehensive Treatment

Most imbalances in the functions of systems can be addressed; some can be completely restored to optimum functions, and others can be substantially improved. Prevention is paramount. Virtually every complex, chronic disease is preceded by long-term disturbances in the body’s function. The Functional Medicine practitioner examines a wide-array of available interventions and customizes a treatment plan for the individual.

This form of advanced medicine expands our tool kit. It is an integrative, science-based healthcare approach. This practice looks “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness.

Treatments may include a combination of food changes, medical foods and nutritional supplements, medications if necessary, detoxification programs, counseling on lifestyle changes, exercise, or stress-management techniques like Reiki and hypnotherapy.

As a patient, you become an active partner with your doctor. This allows you to really be in charge of improving your own health and changing the outcome of your disease.

Thanks to the Institute of Functional Medicine for much of this content. A special thanks to the Institute for the education, inspiration, mentoring, and tools they have given me to help me care for my patients.

Functional Medicine offers answers, hope, resolutions and solutions to help you live your best life starting in 2013!

For more information www.functionalmedicine.org

Written by: Dr. Sharon Norling, MBA