Functional medicine saves woman's sight

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Functional medicine is a growing field within health care.

In fact, some of the top medical and research centers in the country, like Cleveland Clinic, have now established centers for functional medicine. It's a discipline that aims to treat the root cause of health problems and not just the symptoms.

One woman is blending traditional therapies and functional medicine to take control of some serious health problems.

Thirty-three-year-old Haley Miller cherishes every second she spends with daughter, Sienna. But almost two years ago, her health took a sudden nosedive.

"I actually got a really bad headache," Miller said. "The next morning, I was looking at my daughter's face and I noticed it was vibrating a bit."

Miller quickly began to lose her vision and at one point was almost blind.

"I had an emergency MRI that showed I had a lesion touching my optic nerve, and I had two older lesions," she recalled.

Doctors diagnosed Miller with multiple sclerosis, which caused her vision problems.

"Wow. I can't take care of my daughter. That was terrifying for me," she said.

Specialists treated the MS side effects with steroids, and Miller committed herself to exploring every option to fully restore her health.

Dr. Linda Matteoli is a family medicine doctor with a concentration in functional medicine. Practitioners look for ways to rebalance the body.

"Diet is first for most people because it is the quickest way to reduce inflammation immediately," she explained.

Matteoli recommends patients avoid what she calls the big five: gluten, dairy, corn, soy and sugar. Miller follows a strict diet and takes a counterful of supplements.

The lifestyle changes resulted in a 60-pound weight loss, and in a little more than two months, her eyesight returned.

"I was just purely motivated to get my eyesight back and be healthy for my daughter, and for myself and my family," she said.

Miller had been told by an MS specialist it would take six months to regain her sight.

Matteoli recommends people looking for functional medicine doctors seek out practitioners trained by the Institute for Functional Medicine. The IFM is considered the gold standard in the field.

REPORT #2714

BACKGROUND: Functional medicine is an individualized approach that empowers patients and doctors to work together to address the underlying causes of disease and promote wellness. It requires a detailed understanding of each patient's genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors and uses that data to direct personalized treatment plans. By addressing the root cause, rather than symptoms, doctors become concerned with identifying the complexity of disease. They may find one condition has many different causes and, likewise, one cause may result in many different conditions. For example, depression can be caused by many different factors, including inflammation. Likewise, inflammation may lead to several different diagnoses, including depression. The precise manifestation of each cause depends on the individual's genes, environment, and lifestyle. (Source:

HOW IT WORKS AND WHO IT'S FOR: Functional medicine doctors spend time with their patients and discuss medical symptoms, diet, exercise patterns, traumas, lifestyle and any exposures to toxins. Mark Hyman, MD, Director of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine says, "Functional medicine is the map, or GPS system, that we use to navigate the landscape of chronic disease." A disease can have more than one imbalance that needs to be treated. Patients with a wide variety of conditions can benefit from a functional medicine approach, including: diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease; depression, attention deficit disorder and migraines; irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, chronic pancreatitis, acid reflux and diverticulosis; rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and celiac disease; psoriasis, acne and eczema; and hormonal problems like thyroid conditions, chronic fatigue and menopause. Haley Miller, the patient in the story was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and had her breast implants removed to rid her body of potential toxins. She says, despite her chronic condition, she's confident she's doing the right thing for her health. (Source:

FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE SHOWS IMPROVEMENTS: Cleveland Clinic researchers found that functional medicine was associated with improvements in health-related quality of life. The two-year study examined 1,595 patients treated in Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine and 5,657 patients seen in primary care at a family health center. They assessed health-related quality of life using PROMIS, an NIH-validated questionnaire. PROMIS provides a measure of patients' global physical and mental health that can be monitored over time, measuring factors like fatigue, physical function, pain, gastrointestinal issues and emotional well-being. Researchers found that at 6 months, patients seen by the Center for Functional Medicine exhibited significantly larger improvements in PROMIS global physical health compared to those seen in a primary care setting. Approximately 31% of patients seen by the Center for Functional Medicine improved their PROMIS global physical health scores by 5 points or more, which is a clinically meaningful change and a noticeable effect on daily life. (Source: