Functional Medicine – The Beginning and the Answer to Your Health Problems

Treat the root, not the branches.

That’s a given with quality healthcare. At least, it should be. Treat the cause, not just cover up symptoms. Yes, it’s important to provide symptomatic relief – people grow weary with chronic pain and discomfort, and there is great value in alleviating symptom. People need to be functional. But if you step on a tack, popping pills will only get you so far in the day before the pain cries out again. You need to remove the tack and heal the wound. That is the solution. That is the cure.

Sometimes, it’s truly as simple as removing a single thing in order to activate the body’s healing. Removing eggs and dairy was what I needed to resolve my severe allergies that had troubled me for 20 years (an Allergix hidden food sensitivity test confirmed this – we offer it here at Oasis Healing Arts). And when my older son, Nahoa, would have sneezing fits, itchy eyes, a runny, stuffy nose, and all the classic signs of hay fever (allergic rhinitis) when he was 5, I knew exactly what to do: run the Allergix test on him. Get the results. Execute the treatment plan. For him, too, the solution was eliminate eggs and dairy. After several months of diligent avoidance of these foods, my son was symptom-free. We are even able to “challenge” his body once a month or so with a bit of cheese (if he’s at a birthday party and just wants to have a slice of pizza alongside his friends) and pasture-raised eggs. We keep it a rare but special “treat” to eat eggs to keep him allergy free. He understands and is happy with the discipline. I, too, am thrilled to be cured. Our health and the quality of our lives have significantly improved – permanently.

So avoiding dairy and eggs is an example. Simple enough fix. But often times, it’s much more complex and layered. The symptoms can be widespread, and the root cause is often buried deep. And as we dig deeper, we typically find not just one root, but multiple roots going back years or decades.

Where is a patient to begin? And where is a medical doctor who has only 15 minutes with a patient to begin? Of course there is diet – a bad one can cause countless ailments, but a good diet can heal the most stubborn of conditions. This is why Type 2 diabetes is so incredibly disheartening – it is a completely avoidable disease, caused entirely by oneself (or arguably one’s parents) because of one’s own food choices. It causes such suffering and disruption not just in a person’s body systems, but in the family unit.  No one wants to have to check their blood sugar daily, take meds daily, or remove a digit or limb. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” declared Hippocrates. This should be put at the entrances of every hospital cafeteria, grocery store, and restaurant! (ok, maybe not restaurants – but you get my point).

But what if it’s deeper than diet? Or what if it’s diet AND other issues? What if there’s a breakdown of the immune system from a childhood trauma? Or a complete shutdown of the female hormone cycle causing abnormal tissue growth as found in fibroids and endometriosis because of assault or abuse decades ago? What if toxins are causing neuronal dysfunction in the brain and a decrease in serotonin and dopamine levels, and that’s why you’re depressed or anxious? What if you got a parasite while on vacation 5 years ago and that’s the actual cause of your fatigue? What if your recurrent yeast infections are due to dysbiosis in your gut microbiome and a leaky gut issue? What if your migraines could be resolved by a simple rebalancing of your progesterone to estrogen ratio? What if severe stress is breaking down your tissues (catabolism) and that’s why you’re achy and inflamed?

The “what ifs” are literally endless. Every single one of us has a unique and entirely different genetic makeup, life story and health history from every other person on the planet. The “one size fits all” approach of conventional medicine is doomed to fail in preventing and treating chronic disease. We all see it. We all experience the shortcomings of our current medical system. Never have I heard a patient say they were happy to get more medication or undergo another surgery (unless the surgery is truly the best option, as it can be when there is acute and pronounced injury). You need to take control of your health before your health is no longer under your control. We doctors know all too well that we can’t help a patient who isn’t first willing to help themselves.

So let’s say you’re here. You’re ready to help yourself. You’re wanting to take control, to get well, to do whatever it takes to get your health and your life back. Now we’re back to the original question: Where to begin?

I believe the beginning and the answer lies in Functional Medicine (FM). FM practitioners look specifically for the root causes of your problems. How do we look? We use specialized tests to assess your body’s functionality. We connect the dots of your test results with your symptoms, your history, and your lifestyle. We create customized supplement programs to fill nutritional gaps, rebalance hormones, correct metabolic issues, restore detox pathways, and reset your stress response. We are looking to restore function and wholeness. We are patient-centered, not disease-centered. We advocate natural as much as possible. We believe in the body’s innate, God-given healing abilities. In my own practice, I recognize that my job is not to play God, but to respect God’s design. We can get as spiritual or as scientific as you like. The intersections of faith and scientific reason abound. I’ll do my best to speak your language. I love Functional Medicine because the scientific evidence from these tests are so compelling and directional. If you aren’t sure where to begin, FM testing will definitively point you in the right direction so you’re not just guessing and experimenting. On top of that, the Functional Medicine model recognizes that spiritual health (connection with God, purpose, hope, faith) matter greatly in our physical health and sense of wellness.

True wellness. Being truly well, inside and out, spirit and body, mind and heart. Are you TRULY WELL? This was the opening sentence in my book that I wrote about a decade ago. It’s still a poignant question to ask yourself. I believe God’s desire is for us to be well and to know His peace, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. No blame. No guilt. No despair. No excuses. We can’t escape the sufferings of this world, but we can continually seek healing and be instruments of His peace.