Functional medicine: New answers to good health

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A new kind of doctor is appearing in cities across the country. Instead of treating symptoms or illness, functional medicine doctors focus on the patient and individual reasons behind the problems.

Comprehensive personal and health screenings are followed by adjustments in nutrition, activity and lifestyle, instead of drugs.

One functional medicine doctor changed a woman's life.

"I'm in perfect health, according to the paperwork. What's wrong with me?"

That's what Jodi Allen asked her functional medicine doctor when her regular doctor had no answers.

It turns out her digestive system wasn't healthy. A food change is clearing things up.

"I stopped eating the gluten, and within three or four days, my pain in my rib cage was gone," Allen said.

Dr. Mark Menolascino spends a lot of time listening to find the cause of symptoms that could be rooted in many illnesses and may be misdiagnosed.

"The average doctor interrupts the patient within 11 seconds," Menolascino said. "The average visit lasts seven minutes. Our visits are an hour for a new person."

His blood panel tests for more than 300 markers, including five for thyroid and 27 cholesterol markers instead of the usual four. It can detect lipoprotein A, which causes inflammation and heart issues with women.

"It's a nasty, small, sticky particle with a nasty inflammatory tail on it," Menolascino said. "That's the big risk factor for women, and the cholesterol drugs don't touch it."

Adjusting food and adding supplements usually clears up problems in the gut, which he says are interconnected.

"We work as a partnership to look at your nutritional sensitivities, your nutritional deficiencies, what is it that works best for you. So, we develop this personalized nutrition plan, that's the core," he said.

"I feel I'm so much better. I feel like I'm on the way. I have a couple of tweaks to do," Allen said.

Menolascino has clinics in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Scottsdale, Arizona. Fees for the typical three-month program covers testing and follow-up and are between $300 and $2,500, depending how in depth the panel goes.

His book "Heart Solution for Women," discusses the connection between women's heart health and their overall health.

RESEARCH SUMMARY
FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE: NEW ANSWERS TO GOOD HEALTH REPORT #2677

BACKGROUND: Functional medicine matters because 50 percent of adults have at least one chronic health condition and 25 percent have two or more chronic health conditions. Chronic diseases account for 86 percent of all healthcare costs. The functional medicine model is an individualized, patient-centered, science-based approach that empowers patients and practitioners to work together. They search to address underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness. It requires a detailed understanding of each patient's genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors and directs that data to personalized treatment plans that lead to improved patient outcomes. By addressing the root cause rather than symptoms, practitioners become oriented to identifying the complexity of disease. They may find one condition has many different causes, or one cause may result in many different conditions. As a result, functional medicine treatment targets the specific manifestations of disease in each individual. (Source: https://www.ifm.org/functional-medicine/)

PROS AND CONS: Functional medicine treatments tend to have very few side effects making them less risky than drugs or surgery. Avoiding medications unless necessary prevents exposure to many dangerous side effects. Surgery can generate many complications in the recovery process such as infections and dangers in using antibiotics and how they impact the GI tract microbiome. Reality is most of the reasons we are all sick, tired, overweight and stressed are self-generated and no amount of medication is going to resolve the underlying problems. The main struggle people have with functional medicine is they don't like change. If it's a choice between eating broccoli every day to lower your cholesterol or taking one pill a day and still eat cheese, fried foods and sodas, why not go for the pill? Then, there's the lazy factor. Would you rather relax and watch TV or go on a vigorous bike ride? Another con of functional medicine is it's complicated. Taking an antidepressant pill once a day is simple, but taking supplements, initiating diet changes and the complexity of many functional medicine treatments turn people off. (Source: https://kalishinstitute.com/blog/pros-cons-functional-medicine/)

FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE IS THE FUTURE: Functional medicine focuses on what's causing your health problems, not what medicine a doctor can prescribe to mask your symptoms. Mark Hyman, MD, director of Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, explains, "Some physicians may not take a truly comprehensive approach to the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illness, or even be aware of the appropriate panel of tests. Others may not test you at all unless you have already progressed down the path of disease, and then test and interpret results quite differently. Many take a 'wait and see approach,' which can be dangerous and detrimental to your health." The problem is that the new millennium has brought a dramatic shift in the kind of disease experienced by the population, with chronic conditions like diabetes, thyroid disorders, and autoimmune dysfunctions on the rise. The traditional healthcare model is not equipped to treat these diseases because chronic illness is always the result of multiple factors, most of which cannot be addressed through pharmacological agents. Mark Menolascino, MD, MS, Meno Clinic Center for Functional Medicine says, "I spend 60-90 minutes with new patients and for the first time, patients feel like their story has been heard and they have been listened to by a doctor. I look for patterns that help find the true diagnosis." (Source: https://thenextweb.com/contributors/2017/10/25/functional-medicine-way-future/)