Nowadays you hear a lot of complaints about doctors, hospitals, and medicine in general. As a doctor myself, I am very sensitive to this. It pains me to know that conventional medicine now often has the reputation of being a business more about insurance and profit than relationships with patients.
How many patients can we see in a day, and how fast can we move them in and out of here?
That’s why I was drawn to functional medicine.
Unlike conventional medicine, which in many practices has devolved to a system of simply matching up a patient’s symptoms with a diagnosis or a medication to a disease, functional medicine focuses on what is causing the symptoms in the first place.
Sure, sometimes it’s easy, and reminds me of the old joke where the patients say, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this,” and the doctor says, “Then don’t do that.” (Insert reader laughter here!)
But often, it takes getting to know the individual patient, their lifestyle habits, family histories and environments to understand the underlying cause of their symptoms.
I call this treating the whole patient.
In the same way, the ankle bone’s connected to the shin bone, each of the systems comprising the human body affect the others. A particular patient’s environmental or mental stress can result in problems in the GI tract, the cardiovascular system and/or the skin. Food allergies or sensitivities can not only cause breakouts and rashes but brain fog, joint pain, and lethargy. Everything is connected, and unless a doctor is also connected to their patients as unique individuals, he or she is likely to merely treat the symptoms, possibly by prescribing a medicine for skin irritation and another for stomach cramping.
While these may be effective medicines for the symptoms, they don’t get to the root of the problem, meaning without the meds, the problems return. I want to know why the symptoms are there in the first place.
Rather than just prescribing a certain medication or treatment because most people with symptoms A, B and C have this condition or illness, I seek to understand the overall function, or dysfunction, of each individual patient’s body systems, and work in collaboration with them to treat the person vs. the disease.
Each patient is a genetically and biochemically unique individual, and while some will inevitably share the same symptoms, and even some of the same root causes, each must be approached differently, based on their own makeup, lifestyles, and environments.
Except in rare instances, the human body has the capacity to not only regulate the function of its own systems and heal itself of illness but fight off many of today’s most common chronic ailments, particularly those associated with aging. Shouldn’t this level of wellness be the goal?
Through a personalized, individual approach possible only through actual relationships with patients, doctors can determine the level of functionality of all of a patient’s body systems and restore it, as needed, in the most natural way possible.
True health and wellness is about much more than simply not being sick. It’s about living your life to the fullest and feeling as good as possible doing it.