Functional Medicine is patient-centered medical healing at its best. Instead of looking at and treating health problems as isolated diseases, it treats individuals who may have bodily symptoms, imbalances and dysfunctions.
As the following graphic of an iceberg shows, a named disease such as diabetes, cancer, or fibromyalgia might be visible above the surface, but according to Functional Medicine, the cause lies in the altered physiology below the surface. Almost always, the cause of the disease and its symptoms is an underlying dysfunction and/or an imbalance of bodily systems.
If health care treats just the tip of the iceberg, it rarely leads to long-term relief and vibrancy. Identifying and treating the underlying root cause or causes, as Functional Medicine does, has a much better chance to successfully resolve a patient's health challenge.
Using scientific principles, advanced diagnostic testing and treatments other than drugs or surgery, Functional Medicine restores balance in the body's primary physiological processes. The goal: the patient's lifelong optimal health.
Today's health care system is in trouble because it applies a medical management model that works well for acute health problems to chronic health problems, where it is much less successful.
If you have a heart attack, accident or sudden lung infection such as pneumonia, you certainly want a quick-thinking doctor to use all the quick-acting resources of modern medicine, such as life-saving technology, surgery and antibiotics. We are all grateful about such interventions.
However, jumping in with drugs, surgery and other acute care treatments too often does not succeed in helping those with chronic, debilitating ailments, such as diabetes, heart disease or arthritis. Another approach is needed.
To battle chronic health conditions, Functional Medicine uses two scientifically grounded principles:
Plainly put, your body naturally wants to be healthy. But things needed by the body to function at its best might be missing, or something might be standing in the way of its best functioning. Functional Medicine first identifies the factors responsible for the malfunctioning. Then it deals with those factors in a way appropriate to the patient's particular situation.
Very often Functional Medicine practitioners use advanced laboratory testing to identify the root cause or causes of the patient's health problem. Old-fashioned medical diagnosis helps too, in the form of listening carefully to the patient's history of symptoms and asking questions about his or her activities and lifestyle.
For treatment, Functional Medicine practitioners use a combination of natural agents (supplements, herbs, nutraceuticals and homeopathics), nutritional and lifestyle changes, spiritual/emotional counseling, and pharmaceuticals, if necessary to prod a patient's physiology back to an optimal state. In addition, educating the patient about their condition empowers them to take charge of their own health, ultimately leading to greater success in treatment.
In the dominant health care model today, medication is used to get rid of people's symptoms. If the patient stops taking the medication, symptoms generally return.
Functional Medicine approaches health problems differently. Instead of masking the problem, it aims at restoring the body's natural functioning. Although Functional Medicine practitioners may prescribe pharmaceuticals, they are used to gently nudge the patient's physiology in a positive direction so the patient will no longer need them.
For example, conventional doctors would normally prescribe pharmaceuticals like Prilosec, Prevacid or Aciphex to treat acid reflux or heartburn. When the patient stops taking such drugs, the heartburn symptoms come back. In contrast, a Functional Medicine practitioner might find that a patient's acid reflux is caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Eradicating the Helicobacter pylori might very well lead to the end of heartburn symptoms, permanently.
It's also important to note that in Functional Medicine, treatment for similar symptoms might vary tremendously for different patients, according to their medical history and results of laboratory tests. Factors that can come into play in producing the same symptoms include toxic chemicals, pathogenic bacteria, parasites, chronic viral pathogens, emotional poisons like anger, greed or envy, and structural factors such as tumors or cysts.
You may be surprised to learn that Functional Medicine isn't new. It actually represents a return to the roots of modern scientific medicine, captured in this statement by Sir William Osler, one of the first professors at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and later its Physician-in-Chief: "The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease."
Another important saying by Osler is "If you listen carefully to the patient, they will tell you the diagnosis." This encapsulates the importance placed in Functional Medicine on taking a thorough history from the patient.
The preceding was written by Dr. Ron Grisanti of www.functionalmedicine.net
Dr. Olson offers the following services to support healing of chronic disease and to promote wellness:
For a complete list of diseases/dysfunctions that are treatable with this approach please visit:
Through targeted lab testing that you can do in the privacy of your own home for each of these systems, Dr. Olson is able to assess how each system is working and design an individualized program to rebalance your body.
Monoamine Transporter Optimization (MTO)
Low or normal but not adequate levels of serotonin and/or dopamine inside or outside of the brain may be associated with many different conditions such as depression, dementia/Alzheimers, ADHD/autism, IBD (Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome), fibromyalgia, Parkinson's, and many more! It can help resolve symptoms of over 100 different diseases.
When eating a normal diet with optimal L-tyrosine and/or L-tryptophan intake and there is not enough serotonin and/or dopamine available in your system a "relative nutritional deficiency (RND) exists." This leads to relative nutritional deficiency related symptoms or illness. Simply increasing your L-tryptophan and/or L-tyrosine may not address the problem since the system only makes limited amounts of serotonin and/or dopamine, from these amino acids. These amino acids are freely converted into serotonin and dopamine, but need to be given simultaneously in proper balance to prevent complications associated with depletion. Supplementation with improperly balanced amino acids may lead to further inadequacy of amino acids, neurotransmitters (serontonin/dopamine), and/or sulfur amino acids.
MTO is the ONLY method available which objectively balances and optimizesserotonin and dopamine based on analysis of information encoded in the serotonin and dopamine reuptake transporters.
A paper explaining this technology was initially published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2009 by the Chairman of the Research Committee on behalf of the University of Minnesota Medical School. Physicians who are not current with the recently published peer-reviewed literature may not have heard of this transporter-driven scientific breakthrough for optimal management of serotonin and dopamine, even though it is currently used in over 1,000 medical clinics.
Hormones act as the command and control system of the body and regulate energy production, fat burning and mood. Hormonal imbalances are common among people suffering from weight issues, fatigue and depression. Most cases of hormonal imbalance are a secondary response to a primary stress, whether it is emotional stress, physiological stress due to pain and inflammation, or dietary stress. In general, if the stress can be addressed with diet changes, correction of chronic inflammatory conditions and support for emotional health, the need for continued hormonal support is eliminated.
In your hormonal system, the adrenal glands produce and regulate your stress hormones. Normally, when the stress dissipates, the glands have time to rest and prepare for the next stressful event. However, if your stress levels remain chronically high, your body will remain locked in a state of stress. If your stress hormone levels remain elevated for extended periods of time, your body's ability to recover can be reduced, and the ability of your adrenals to make stress hormones can be compromised. Under chronic stress conditions, the adrenals eventually "burn out." At this point, the adrenals become fatigued and can no longer sustain an adequate response to stress. Once the glands have been depleted of their ability to produce stress hormones, it becomes more and more difficult for the body to recover. Constant fatigue and low-level depression can appear in otherwise emotionally healthy people.
Stress hormone depletion also impacts the female hormones progesterone and estrogen, as well as the predominant male hormone, testosterone. Since sex hormone levels drop as stress hormone levels drop, sex drive diminishes in both men and women. In both men and women, hormonal symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, sweet cravings and headaches can be related to the failure of the adrenals to adapt to stress. Female hormone symptoms such as menstrual cramping, infertility, night sweats and hot flashes can also be related to adrenal insufficiency. Many women feel they are on an emotional roller coaster with their female hormones, and testosterone levels in men also suffer as a result of weak adrenal output.
The digestive tract is responsible for our vitality via the breakdown and absorption of every nutrient that fuels our trillions of cells. Problems with the digestive system are typically experienced as bloating, indigestion, gas, constipation or diarrhea. Many people have experienced gastrointestinal discomfort for so long that they have adjusted to it and think that their system's poor function is normal. With healthy digestive function a person will feel energized and revitalized after a meal for several hours and will not experience any cravings for sweets.
The foundation of good health lies in proper digestive function. If you are not able to digest and absorb nutrients, your overall health will suffer. Assimilation of vitamins, minerals, proteins and essential fatty acids from the foods you eat is required to keep you healthy. Low stomach acid and low digestive enzymes are common problems due to poor diets and high stress levels. In addition, an imbalance in the healthy organisms that inhabit the intestinal tract can be caused by parasitic infections, bacterial overgrowth, or invasive yeast often referred to as candida. Hidden inflammatory conditions can also interfere with digestion. Did you know that the majority of your immune system lies within your intestinal lining? The lining of your gastrointestinal tract is your first line of defense from invading pathogens. If this lining is compromised from years of faulty digestive function, you will be more susceptible to invasion from pathogens, parasites, and infections.
The detoxification system refers to the body's pathways for eliminating harmful toxins such as mercury, various chemicals and the products that result from the breakdown of alcohol or medications. Our modern world is creating a level of chemical and heavy metal exposure that is taxing our detoxification system.
Your liver is at the center of your body's detoxification system. The liver is an amazing organ, responsible for filtering toxins out of your blood. Our bodies must handle and process toxins from many sources. One major source of toxic exposure is through the digestive tract. High fat diets, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, artificial sweetener consumption and the use of medications contribute to the total burden placed on the liver. Hormones and antibiotics fed to animals, preservatives and dyes used in foods you eat can all cause serious symptoms and side effects. Heavy metal toxicity from dental fillings, contaminated food and water, and other environmental exposure also add to the total toxic load on the body. In addition, everything you apply to your skin or expose yourself to in your environment must pass through your liver, where it is must be neutralized and excreted.
An overworked liver can become clogged, causing toxins to back up and recirculate into the bloodstream. Inadequate detoxification leads to allergies, asthma, joint pain, skin problems, headaches, inability to concentrate, and alcohol intolerance. Inadequate detoxification leads to accelerated aging and promotes the onset of degenerative diseases. Despite all the work it has to do everyday, the liver has an amazing ability to regenerate.
These three body systems all interact with one another. For example, if you eat a food you are reactive to it will cause inflammation in the GI tract which impacts normal digestion and absorption of nutrients. The inflammation generates a hormonal response and as the anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol rises, immune function lowers and your sex hormone levels drop. All this can happen simply because you had a pancake breakfast and a large glass of orange juice!
The Role of Diet and Exercise
"I believe that most depression, fatigue and weight gain (the three most common complaints in our clinic) can be relieved by exercise and diet changes and proper nutritional supplements based on lab assessments."
Chronic Health Problems
The most common problem diagnosed in our clinic is infection — low grade, chronic infection caused by parasites, bacterial infection and food intolerance - that over time wear people down physically and emotionally. 90 percent of people experience renewed health and vitality within a year or so of starting treatment for chronic infections.
The tools we use to create your wellness plan:
Natural therapies have advanced to the point where we can now use the perfect blend of science and nature to create lab guided, doctor recommended supplement programs. This is done by using advanced clinical laboratory testing to create individualized nutrient programs. Lab testing results can be applied to a wide range of health concerns, from weight loss to hormone balancing. Using the latest technologies, we can now accurately assess specific nutrient deficiencies, measure hormone levels and determine the best therapeutic protocol for correcting many chronic health conditions. This technology can also be used on a preventive basis, to maintain healthy functioning in those without any current health problems.
As part of your program, we usually recommend that you purchase nutritional supplements. These may include specific vitamins, minerals, herbs, natural plant-based hormones, and various other products. All of the supplements we recommend are sourced from nutrition companies that only sell their products to physicians. These are the highest quality products available. They contain only the purest pharmaceutical grade nutrients (nutraceuticals) and the potency of each product is guaranteed. In the past when designing nutritional programs, in an effort to save clients money, many doctors have suggested that patients purchase products at local health food stores. While this seems to save people money in the short run, the results of these programs have been inconsistent and less than would be expected had we been using physician-only brands. Therefore, it is in many ways more sensible both financially and in terms of consistent results to use the highest quality products available.
You may purchase most of your products directly from our clinic. In so doing, you can be assured of consistent results - if a specific protocol is not working we will know it is not the quality or potency of the nutrients that is slowing the healing process. All of the supplements I carry have been proven clinically effective by hundreds of naturally oriented doctors. They have been shown to help resolve patients' health concerns with predictable outcomes. In addition to proven clinical results, these products have also been carefully scrutinized for effectiveness based on lab testing. Thousands of physicians have used laboratory tests to determine nutritional deficiencies. Through the use of follow-up testing doctors have determined which brands and which specific nutrients and herbs are consistently clinically effective. In fact the vast majority of supplements on the market are not effective as evidenced by lack of patient improvement on follow-up lab testing.
Content courtesy of Dr. Daniel Kalish