“For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death. In the less than two decades of their use, the synthetic pesticides have been so thoroughly distributed throughout the animate and inanimate world that they occur virtually everywhere.”
Detoxification seems to be a buzz word these days. Just google detoxification. You will find everything from water detoxification to colon cleanses.
So what is detoxification? The official definition of detoxification is this: the chemical changes of a xenobiotic, a phytochemical, or an endogenous (one your own body makes) compound that renders it less toxic and ready to be excreted. In layman’s terms, detoxification is the way our body protects us from things that we take in that could damage our body.
The ideal situation is toxins in and toxins out, right? If the body is working as designed, then it should be toxins in and toxins out. And how does the body get toxins out? There are many organs that detoxify: the skin (through sweating), kidneys (through urination), and the liver – the most important detox organ. The liver detoxification mechanism involves 2 main processes: Phase I and Phase II detoxification.
Phase I detoxification involves the cytochrome P-450 system in the liver. This is the first line of defense against all toxins. Toxins are tagged and altered for further detoxification, which then occurs in Phase II. Any break down in this process will result in increased toxin load on the body.
We are what we eat, drink, breath, and touch. But did you ever think that we are what we don’t eliminate? Without elimination of the toxic chemicals we take in and produce every day, our bodies swim in a sludge pool of toxins.
This increased toxic load on the body leads to inflammation, the balance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory substances. The balance between Omega 6, a pro-inflammatory subtance, and Omega 3, an anti-inflammatory substance, is the perfect example.
It is the chronic imbalance of pro-inflammatory substances that then leads to disease.
Shouldn’t the aim of all health care be to prevent inflammation and, therefore, disease? It is in fact, one of the main focuses of the Seasons approach to health and wellness.
Ever wonder if you need to detoxify? My first recommendation is look at and listen to your body. The body will tell you if it is in trouble or imbalanced. How? Physical signs or symptoms are our body’s message that all is not right. Here’s how to know if you body’s signs and symptoms are saying that you might be suffering from toxic build up.
- Muscle aches and pains
- Skin disorders
- Chronic infections
- Altered mood
- Altered cognition
- Weight gain
- Altered stress tolerance
- Altered libido
Where do toxins in our bodies come from? Toxins are everywhere. The sources can range from toxins like Dioxins to prescription medication. Adverse reactions to prescription drugs have been ranked as the 4th to 6th leading cause of death in the US according to the Journal of American Medical Association. This amounts to over 100,000 deaths per year. The cause of adverse drug reactions is an overloaded pathway in Phase I of detoxification (CYP3A4), the pathway that detoxifies over 50% of all drugs in your system. The costs associated with adverse drug reactions has been estimated at up to $4 billion. With the rising costs of health care, treating the cause of these adverse drug reactions in addition to decreasing prescription drugs are two excellent ways to prevent complications and lower costs.
The most dangerous sources of toxins are environmental. Organochlorine pesticides, industrial chemicals, and unintended chemical byproducts surround us everyday and expose us to unwanted toxins. Widespread production of pesticides began less than 80 years ago. Recently, the EPA estimated that more than 4 billion pounds of chemicals were released into the grounds natural water sources in the year 2000.
In addition to pesticides and chemicals, the average American eats, unknowingly I might add, 124 pounds of additives per year. Frightening to think of it, isn’t it? And over 2.5 billion pounds of pesticides are used on crop lands, forests, lawns, and fields. The unfortunate fact is this: we live in a toxic world.
How can you decrease your daily exposure to toxins? Here are some great ways.
- Avoid processed foods
- Avoid fats
- Avoid tap water — use filtered water
- Avoid excess caffeine
- Avoid excess alcohol
- NO tobacco
- Limit chronic medicine, if possible
- Daily exercise
- Avoid exposure in your workplace
- Avoid living near industrial plants
- Avoid liver dysfunction
- Avoid kidney problems
- Avoid intestinal dysfunction
The first ten suggestions are steps you and I can take every day to decrease our toxin exposure. But the last three require a bigger step: detoxification. By detoxifying your body, the liver, kidney, and intestines can operate more efficiently and effectively.
So, the question is not who needs detoxification, but who does NOT need detoxification? The answer? EVERYONE will benefit from a periodic detoxification program. For more information on how to detoxify, contact our office at 865-675-WELL(9355).
Perspective. It affects everything. Take, for example, the beauty of the earth. Some might look at the magnificence of the earth and think of Darwinian theory. But as I stand in my back yard, I am amazed by God’s creation. When I look out of the window on my many plane flights, I am amazed by God’s creation. And when I see the perspective from space as seen by astronauts, I am still amazed at God’s creation.
Perspective colors the way we see everything around us. For those, like myself, who believe in the God of creation, I view the world a certain way. And for those who choose to believe otherwise, they view the world a certain way.
Perspective is an important part of the medical world as well. As technology improves, the amount of information available to me as a physician changes the way I treat my patients because I now have more data than I’ve had in the past helping me make a better decision.
So, let’s talk about how perspective is an important part of evaluating hormones! (And you thought the only important perspective about hot flashes was “where’s the air conditioner”!)
If men were only about testosterone and women were only about estrogen, life would be easy and all would be symptom free. Unfortunately, that is, in a nutshell, the current perspective on treatment of hormone imbalance issues. It is not, however, an accurate perspective based on physiology. Just watch an hour of TV in the evening. The pharmaceutical companies are inundating us with ads about testosterone creams and the like. Regardless of clever marketing, looking at the reality of physiology based on the latest testing methods reveals that hormones are a lot more complicated than treating the level of just one hormone.
When it comes to hormones, there are four important components necessary for physiologic function and symptom-free living.
- Hormone levels need to be in the “normal” range. We don’t need the respective hormone levels too high or too low.
- Hormones need to be balanced. This is where many in the medical field get it wrong since all hormones work together to communicate to the body.
- Your body needs to effectively use the hormones present. Hormone metabolism is a key element in evaluating hormones in the body.
- Hormone receptors must appropriately respond to the signal sent by the hormone to your body.
The past (and current) perspective of the medical community is that the absolute levels of individual hormones are what is important and little attention is given to balance between hormones. Very little attention is given to the balance between hormones. For example, women, post-hysterectomy, are prescribed estrogen only. But we know that prior to the hysterectomy, all hormones are needed for a normal, functioning cycle, not just estrogen alone.
Some of the risks associated with estrogen therapy pertains to how the individual metabolizes or detoxifies the estrogen. Hormone metabolism can be affected by internal factors like genetic variations, or SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), located in the detoxification pathways. These are small genetic coding errors. Hormone metabolism can also be affected by external factors such as magnesium and zinc, co-factors in those same internal detoxification pathways of hormone production and metabolism. Just the presence of the detoxification pathways does not a functional detoxification pathway make.
Finally, and the purpose of this post, are the receptors. Hormone receptors determine how the hormone’s signal to the body is then interpreted. Here’s an analogy to help you understand hormone receptors. I have four beautiful children. As with any parent, getting them to clean their room is an ongoing battle. The signal I give them is a verbal instruction such as “Kids, it’s time to get your rooms cleaned.” How that signal is interpreted is quite different. That signal may be interpreted differently based on the environment or pre-existing conditions. If my children are in one of their “moods” (side note: all four of my kids are redheads), then they may just not clean their rooms out of defiance. There is a reason we call the youngest one “the spicy tomato.”
All this to illustrate one important fact — how the signal is interpreted is just as important as the signal that is to be interpreted.
Scientifically speaking, hormone receptors are defined as “a large family of ligand-activated nuclear transcription regulators, which are characterized by organization into different functional domains and are conserved, to differing degrees, between species and family members.”
Was that as clear as mud? In plain English, hormone receptors are how the external signal, hormones, provide to the internal genome a message to turn genes on or off. There is also non-genomic signaling, but a large portion of signaling is actually done with your DNA. This is what hormones do — interact and turn on and off the expression of your DNA. Pretty amazing, huh? And you just thought hormones floated through your blood causing hot flashes in women or ED in men. That is the way most, including physicians, see hormones. However, that just couldn’t be more further from the truth. There’s so much more to it than that.
Hormone receptors are being used in the medical vocabulary today. If you know someone with breast cancer, you might be familiar with the term ER/PR positive or negative. This is in reference to estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors. This evaluation occurs from an actual tissue sample from the tumor itself and allows the medical team to determine the best course of action for that particular individual. In ER/ PR positive tumors, hormone therapy is used in contrast with ER/PR negative tumors where no hormone therapy is used.
The medical community is addressing the realities of hormone receptors and the role they play in disease. But what about those individuals with hormone imbalance symptoms like hot flashes or erectile dysfunction? Stay tuned. This testing hasn’t made it to the clinical setting yet, but animal testing holds great promise in helping to complete the full picture and improve the perspective that we have on hormones and all their related issues and factors.
Hormone receptors are my current area of research, and I’m writing articles on estrogen, progesterone, and androgen (male hormones) receptors as part of that research. Visit the Seasons Wellness Clinic blog often in the upcoming months so that YOU can become more educated on the body’s communication system — hormone and their receptors.
Because Tennessee ranks 39th in overall health of its citizens [according to America’s Health Rankings], we are passionate about educating the community on how to improve their health. I spend time daily reviewing the latest findings from scientific studies related to health and wellness topics to insure that Seasons is always offering the latest and best solutions for pursuing wellness.
Contrary to the belief of many, good health is not something that can be mandated from government or given to you by a physician. Health is a personal journey acheived only through education and self-awareness. At Seasons, our goal is to provide you with the resources you need to improve the health of you and your family.
Here are five books that are easy reads and are rich in good information for your health journey.
Inflammation Nation by Floyd H. Chilton, PhD
Inflammation Nation was written by Dr. Floyd H. Chilton in 2005. While the book goes back a few years, it is still incredibly relevant. Inflammation is one of the primary problems/obstacles to health today. Inflammation, in the short term, is a necessary part of the healing process. When you are cut, the “inflammation” present through redness, pain, and swelling works to protect the body from invasion and to start the process of healing. But the inflammation subsides quickly. However, in some, inflammation rages on and promotes disease.
It would make sense that if something, certain types of food for example, were causing inflammation in our body and ultimately leading to disease, we would want to eliminate the problem, reduce the inflammation and prevent disease, right? Dr. Chilton discusses the immune system and how our diet affects it. The old adage “you are what you eat” definitely applies here.
Inflammation Nation is an easy read and provides many easy recommendations to incorporate into your daily life.
The Wheat Belly by William Davis
The Wheat Belly is written by William Davis. Very rarely do I encounter clients that have not read or heard of this book. This book touches on a growing problem in America and the world today – an adulterated food supply. Not food supply that is adulterated with parasites or bacteria, but that is adulterated from within. What does that mean? In The Wheat Belly, Dr. Davis touches on the fact that the wheat of today is not the wheat our parents ate. Not only is the nutritional value present in wheat lost, but the genetic modification is likely contributing to inflammatory problems.
The problem with ￼genetically modified foods (GMO) is we have limited knowledge of their impact on the body. And the federal government and its agencies have never done a good job of investigating these items before rushing them to market. Just look at the history of environmental toxins such as phthalates, parabenes, and other volatile solvents, all brought to market labeled as safe only to be removed from the market when revealed as seriously dangerous toxins.
This book is also a very easy read and provides easy dietary recommendations to immediately bring positive changes to your health.
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer by John R. Lee, M.D., David Zava, Ph.D., and Virginia Hopkins
This was the very first integrative medicine book I read in 2006. This book goes back to several founding people in the integrative medicine movement like Dr. John Lee, an oncologist who led the movement in bioidentical hormones and saliva testing. Dr. Lee was ostracized by the medical community, but his commitment to his patients and to true scientific evidence is an example for all to follow. In fact, Dr. Zava believed in this movement so much that he started a saliva-testing company.
As it relates to breast cancer, there are few more published than Dr. Lee and Dr. Zava. I have met Dr. Zava personally on several occasions, and there are few that I would put above his in both scientific integrity and commitment to true science.
This book lays out a different approach to breast cancer, one focusing on prevention instead of early detection. Traditional medicine focuses instead on early detection and cancer treatment. Don’t get me wrong. We need that, but true prevention is where we should first focus.
The book is deep at points, but is a good discussion of biochemistry and physiology as it relates to breast cancer. Its focus on more natural ways to prevent breast cancer is based on the scientific research. The book clears up much of the misinformation about hormones and breast cancer and equips the reader to be advocate in the prevention of breast cancer.
The book’s authors were unafraid to take on traditional medicine, but do so with a good foundation of science.
The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman
Dr. Hyman is a great proponent of wellness and a pillar in the integrative medicine community. This book, published earlier this year, is an easy weekend read with numerous tools to incorporate into everyday life. The focus of this book is nutrition, sugar, in particular.
Obesity is at epidemic levels in the United States. According to CDC data, 13 states now have an obesity rate greater than 30 percent, while in the year 2000, NO states reported obesity rates greater than 30 percent. This book takes the major culprit head-on: diet.
The Blood Sugar Solution delves into diet, insulin, insulin resistance, and a host of other factors contribute to poor health. The book provides many tools to succeed in the “battle of the bulge,” and even includes recipes to help you succeed in your personal health journey.
￼What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Hypertension by Dr. Mark Houston
If you ever have the chance to meet Dr. Mark Houston, you will surely be impressed. Mark Houston, M.D., is Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Director of the Hypertension Institute and Vascular Biology, and Medical Director of the Division of Human Nutrition at Saint Thomas Medical Group, Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.
While his list of credentials are a mouth full, to hear him speak will fill your ear! As a cardiologist focused on an integrative approach, there are few that speak so eloquently on the deep biochemical disease found in cardiovascular disease.
While the subject matter might sound intimidating, this book, is a very easy read and focuses on the underlying dynamics of hypertension and associated complications. Dr. Houston defines the problem and lays out solutions with his wildly successful program for treatment of hypertension using an integrative medicine approach.
Dr. Houston also provides a health discussion of hypertension medications, when needed, and the mode of action and side effects of each. This a definite must-read for anyone on hypertension medications. You might just become more informed than your own physician!
While this book is a self-help guide to natural treatments of hypertension, it is based on sound science and the approach has been extremely successful. This book is also heavily referenced, allowing you the option of pursuing deeper learning if desired. This book removes every obstacle to reducing hypertension except you. It’s your job to act on what you read.
The Naturally Healthy Woman: Whole Health for the Whole Woman by Shonda Parker
Yes, I know I said five and this is number six! But this is a very good manual for women and their health. As an OB/Gyn, my first passion was women’s health. The author, Shonda Parker, whom I have met, is a true blessing to know. There are few who have a passion for health that exceeds hers, and she has an ever better spirit. Shonda is a nurse midwife, has authored many books, and speaks nationally on health and other related topics. This book highlights many of the health issues facing women today, and I predict that the edges of this book will become tethered due to your repetitive use after reading it.
As a nurse midwife, the author’s first passion is pregnancy. This book begins by touching and then builds into many other health issues affecting women. The author provides many natural remedies at the end of each section for the different health issues discussed. The book not only provides natural therapies for the mother/wife, but also for the rest of the household.
Every pathway to health is different. Every journey to wellness is unique. At Seasons, our desire for wellness for all begins with education and knowledge for you. I hope that these books will become additions to your library and provide you with the knowledge you need in your personal journey toward wellness.
“I just don’t feel right.” These are frequently the first words I hear a patient say. “I’m so hormonal…I know I’m not balanced. I’m tired, cranky….” and so goes the list of symptoms, all of which indicate hormone imbalance.
It’s amazing to me that most patients know intuitively that they don’t feel good and it has something to do with hormones, but they’ve had a blood test by their physician and everything checked out “okay.” That blood test, however, didn’t change the fact that they still feel terrible.
There is a lot of debate these days regarding the different methods of evaluating hormones: blood, saliva, and urine (oh my). In a few short weeks, school will start. So to get back in the swing of things, today school is “in session” and a science lesson is the order of the day. The topic? How are hormones evaluated and which is the best test for you?
Hormone Delivery and FedEx?
Understanding complicated topics is often made simple with a great analogy. My good friend, Dr. Eldred Taylor, uses the analogy of FedEx trucks to explain hormones and their delivery to the cells of the body. And I especially like this analogy because my dad has been a pilot for FedEx for many years!
FedEx trucks are everywhere during the month of December. It wouldn’t be unusual for a lot of trucks to pass your house during that month. But, if the FedEx trucks don’t stop at your house, it doesn’t really matter how many trucks have driven by your house or how many packages each truck contained. The fact remains that none stopped for delivery. It only takes one FedEx truck to stop at your house and the Christmas tree is full.
I’ll take it one step further. The day after Christmas, the boxes and wrapping paper are piled up at the road-side for pickup. You might comment as you drive by your neighbor’s house “It looks like the Jones’ had a good Christmas” based on the curbside aftermath. You can even make out what the gifts were based on the leftover boxes and debris on the curb.
What does it all mean? The FedEx trucks symbolize hormones in transport in the blood. It doesn’t matter how many hormones are transported through the blood (FedEx trucks), they are inactive (the truck didn’t stop at your house). When the FedEx truck stops at your house, it symbolizes when hormones are dropped off for action inside the cell. One truck can drop off 100 packages or 100 trucks can drive by, dropping off no packages. Finally, the post-Christmas driveway debris represents the hormones after the body has broken them down into metabolites.
Hormones can be evaluated through three different testing methods: blood, saliva and urine. Blood testing evaluates the number of FedEx trucks in your neighborhood. Saliva testing evaluates the number of packages delivered at your house. And urine testing evaluates the post-Christmas driveway debris to identify what packages were delivered and opened.
So what does the science say about the hormone testing methods of blood, saliva, and urine?
Testing hormones present in the blood has been used to develop the current reference norms that we use in the diagnosis and management of many diseases. It has been around a long time. This kind of testing is effective in the disease model of medicine. However, in the wellness model of medicine, we are looking for dysfunction, not just disease. And this is where the effectiveness of blood testing breaks down. By identifying physiologic dysfunction, we hope to prevent disease. It is the move into true preventative medicine, not just early detection, the wellness model of medicine has found the blood testing of hormones to be lacking.
There are three main problems with blood hormone testing.
- First, is the whole idea of a needle. If we can evaluate hormone levels without puncturing the skin, then we should.
- Blood testing evaluates hormones in transport. This is typically reported as “total” hormone levels and the “free” active levels are calculated. Transported hormones are inactive. Hormones in the blood are bound to proteins (estimated at 95-99%) and inactive. Going back to the FedEx truck analogy, blood testing tells me how many FedEx trucks there are and how many packages they have to deliver. But it doesn’t tell me how many packages were delivered at your house. And that’s a very important piece of information. Are your hormones coming or going? And is your body utilizing the hormones you have?
- It is not the most accurate form of testing. Saliva testing is proving to be superior to blood testing for measuring hormones (see Saliva below).
The use of urine to evaluate cortisol has been present for awhile. And this is a valid method to test cortisol, one of your body’s hormones. The problem with this form of testing is that most people don’t want to carry a jug around collecting urine for 24 hours.
Currently, the interesting research on urinary testing of hormones is in the measurement of metabolites. Think back to our analogy. Urinary testing is best used for looking at the curbside debris to see what presents were opened at Christmas. By measuring metabolites, we can see how effectively your body is metabolizing hormones. If your body is ineffectively metabolizing hormones, the resulting symptoms and conditions can include Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, obesity, fatigue, and increased breast cancer and prostate cancer risk to name a few. These issues are all treatable at Seasons Wellness Clinic with a customized wellness plan based on your test results.
Saliva testing for hormones first appeared in the medical research literature in the early 1980′s. Saliva is becoming the testing method of choice for many different reasons. Going back to our analogy, saliva testing measures the number of packages that are delivered by the FedEx truck at your house.
- Saliva testing evaluates the “free” (active) hormone levels. A hormone has to be unbound to elicit a physiologic action. Saliva testing looks at the active hormone inside the cell, at the site of action. Saliva testing has been validated as a testing method for measuring the hormones cortisol, estradiol, progesterone, DHEA, and testosterone to name a few.
- Second, saliva testing requires no needles.
- Saliva testing has been shown to be well validated and superior than blood, with sensitivities and specificities exceeding 100% and 97.4% respectively. Other than perfection, you can’t get much better than that.
- According to the National Institute for Health, saliva testing is useful in “detecting various cancers, heart disease, diabetes, periodontal disease…”
- Saliva testing is also useful in disease evaluation. Saliva testing of cortisol has been recommended as the first-line test for Cushing’s syndrome due to “high diagnostic accuracy.”
Saliva testing gives me the information I need to diagnose what’s going in your body. And while that is my opinion based on my training, it’s also opinion based on scientific fact according to hundreds of research articles (see links to additional articles below). Saliva testing is now considered the “gold standard” for hormone evaluation.
Today you have learned about the three methods physicians use for evaluating hormones: blood, saliva and urine. You’ve also learned that each test is useful for measuring different things. We can evaluate hormones many different ways at Seasons and determine not only the amounts of a specific hormone in your body, but also how effectively your body is actually using (or not using) those hormones with saliva and urinary testing.
Most important is the clinical relevance of each test. Testing the hormones at the site of action provides the best physiologic approach (saliva testing). Testing the hormone metabolites provides the next best approach (urine testing). Through the evaluation of the body’s metabolism of hormones, the physiologic mechanisms of how the body removes hormones can be evaluated. The evaluation of hormones in transit (blood testing) provides the least physiologic assessment.
While each test provides an appropriate measure, the question is, does that measure provide insight into physiologic dysfunction? And, can an appropriate therapeutic intervention be undertaken to effect a change? At Seasons, we provide answers using those test results, creating a customized wellness plan that will put you on the road to a life with more energy, balance, and, ultimately, happiness.
Cheers to the pursuit of wellness.
I am always amazed at what people will say when they can remain anonymous. Recently we published a guest post on our website by Dr. Ron Grisanti entitled “What is Functional Medicine?” A well-written article, it resulted in three hateful comments (not published on our website) calling us names and comparing functional medicine to homeopathy.
I do practice Functional Medicine. And we do, on occasion, use homeopathy. But the two are very different. Functional medicine is not a symptom-based treatment paradigm. It is a solution-based treatment paradigm.
Sometimes, the best way to understand is via illustration. So, let’s discuss what functional medicine is by comparing the treatment strategies for a common complain among patients, fatigue.
The protocol in traditional medicine routinely addresses fatigue as depression. But in looking at fatigue in that light, the chicken or the egg scenario quickly comes into play. Is fatigue depression or are depressive symptoms the result of stress and fatigue?
The answer, which seems painfully obvious to me, is the latter. In my earlier post “It’s Not Depression…It’s Stress,” the symptoms of depressions are the results of stress. It seems like semantics, but determining cause and effect is a critical part of practicing medicine. Treating symptoms with anti-depressants does not actually treat the cause. In contrast, they create dependence. Anti-depressants become a very costly band-aid which causes physiologic disruption as well.
The traditional medical approach is linear, reactionary, and a “one-size fits all” approach. Let’s contrast this with a functional medicine approach.
Functional medicine is about biochemistry. Functional medicine is about physiology. Functional medicine is not an opinion, nor is it a standard of care. Functional medicine is the standard of biochemistry and physiology. Like death and taxes, biochemistry and physiology are constant.
Fatigue is the lack of energy. Lack of energy is the lack of ATP generation. What is ATP? ATP is energy.
What you see above is the biochemistry of energy production. It is the physiologic process that occurs within every cell of our body every second of every day.
Not only that, but this entire process of energy production can be evaluated through testing which we perform here at Seasons Wellness Clinic. Even better, individual treatments can be designed based on an individual’s specific biochemical dysfunction, true individualized therapy directed at the source of the problem.
So, when someone has symptoms of fatigue or poor energy production, doesn’t it make sense to look to the cell’s energy production mechanism? It seems like an obvious step. Yet, is rarely done. My fellowship training allows me to evaluate test results and see the energy-generation, or lack thereof, in your body’s biochemistry and to tailor a solution that will resolve your energy-production issues.
What concerns me is not that others have differing opinions. It is not the debate of ideas and research. I welcome that. My concern is when there is opposition to OPEN exchange and debate of ideas and research. There is a hostility that seems to be present everywhere in medicine. It is my opinion that when in debate, if you resort to name-calling, you have lost the intellectual high ground.
Conventional medicine is not the problem. Remember, I am a conventionally trained physician. But, as stated by Dana Ullman, MPH, the problem is the “conventional thought” in medicine today. Medicine should be about what is right, not about what everyone else is doing. Medicine, it seems to me, has become much more about preserving a way of life, rather than actually preserving life.
Functional medicine is not about a standard of care. It is not about an opinion. Functional medicine is about treating the individual, determining the biochemical dysfunction at its source.
For me, functional medicine is about giving credit and glory to our Creator. I look to evaluate and prescribe therapy based on the premise of returning proper function to His creation.
Want to read more about functional medicine? I’m currently enrolled at The University of South Florida’s Medical School, the third largest in the United States, in the Master’s Program for Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine. You can read more about that program here. I’ve also listed a few additional articles that might be of interest. Happy reading!
- Innovative Master’s Degree Program Launched by The A4M Fellowship in Anti-Aging Medicine and University of South Florida (prweb.com)
- What Is Functional Medicine? (a4m.com)
Inadequate sunlight exposure has been linked to many cancers. (Click here for article.)
- Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
Recent research suggests that vitamin D therapy can prevent cancer. Another article suggested that Vitamin D levels greater than 55 ng/ml would prevent 60,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 85,000 cases of breast cancer in North America. The same article projected that 250,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer world wide would be prevented each year. In fact, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently showed a 77% reduction in breast, ovarian, colorectal cancers as well as lymphoma and leukemia just by normalizing the amount of Vitamin D in a patient’s body.
Vitamin D Therapy Another Cog In The Wheel of Wellness.
I practice Integrative and Functional Medicine and this research supports my approach. By replacing exactly what the body needs, in this case Vitamin D, my patients can improve their bone health, improve symptoms in a myriad of other conditions, and possibly even prevent cancer in their bodies. No anti-depressants, no relaxants, no harmful medications, and no side effects. Our focus is treating the cause of symptoms and, as a result, providing true health and wellness.
Related articles by Zemanta and others:
- How Much Vitamin D Should You Be Taking? (health.usnews.com)
- Why Black People Need More Vitamin D
- 5 Ways Vitamin D Could Save Your Life (abcnews.go.com)
John 8:32 says, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” As a Christian, I wholeheartedly believe that scripture. In that case, John was quoting Jesus Christ, and the truth of which he spoke was the truth of Jesus’ purpose for his life, death, and resurrection on this earth.
We hear that phrase thrown around in the everyday vernacular because it rings true for worldly topics, not just the heavenly. A good decision can only be made about a matter when the truth of opposing sides is known. Otherwise, any decision seems tainted in some way. Truth makes things clear and eliminates the gray in the black and white of the decision-making process.
So where is the gray in the world of healthcare? You don’t have to look far. In modern healthcare, physicians depend on the latest prescription drug to solve the problems of a symptomatic patient rather than delving deeper into the underlying physical chemistry. Having my practice dictated by which pharmaceuticals to dispense didn’t seem right in my soul. Where was the preventative care for the body? Was there a way to prevent disease and return the body to optimal health?
Truth in health and wellness is found in physiology and biochemistry. I, often begrudgingly, waded my way through the classes of organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physiology, not knowing that one day I would return to those roots as the fundamentals of my medical practice.
In returning to these fundamentals, I now spend time analyzing the body’s current function and, as naturally as possible, returning the body to optimal health.
Can I prevent disease? Well, not entirely. The overwhelmingly toxicity of our environment and the unique genetics of each person have a factor in disease, too. But the idea behind anti-aging and functional medicine is to provide my patients with the best quality of life possible for as long as they live instead of being debilitated by disease for years. It’s all about HEALTHY LIVING.
As I continue to practice medicine, I realize how important it is to EDUCATE. Health and wellness education is one of our primary missions at Seasons. It is the lack of wellness in north Louisiana which led me to seek further education in functional medicine (I am now board certified and fellowship trained in Functional Medicine) giving me the tools that I need to solve the health problems my patients deal with every day.
You see, I became a physician to help people get better and feel better. And because that wasn’t happening with the protocols currently being used by the American College of Gynecology, I sought a better way of doing things. But in doing so, I have also found that educating my patients, the community, the state of Louisiana, and even my fellow physicians is required. How to do that is the question!
Allow me to introduce you to DIIGO. Notice on the front page of our website in the column on the right there is a box labeled Seasons Diigo Updates. Diigo is a “cloud-based information management service that enables users to collect, highlight, access and share a variety of information, on a variety of devices,” according to their blog. That’s a fancy definition. For you non-tech types, Diigo allows me to bookmark what I’m reading and share it with YOU.
From the Seasons Diigo list, you can see what I’m reading — the latest developments and research in health and wellness — and what I recommend that YOU read in order to educate yourself. I use this tool to organize scientific research available on the world wide web that will help YOU understand the Seasons Five Points of Wellness (nutrition, exercise, hormone balance, reducing inflammation, and detoxification).
The abstracts (brief synopsis of studies) and articles you find on our Diigo list represent the latest discussions by physicians and scientists from around the world whose research contributes to your understanding of health and wellness TRUTHS. This is not information regurgitated and twisted by a news report. This is the real, actual science.
If you have questions about our preventative approach to healthcare, then read, and learn for yourself what the latest research indicates about the Seasons approach to wellness. I update our Diigo list almost daily, so check back often. Or better yet, subscribe to our list so that you receive daily updates of new wellness research.
With the world wide web at your fingertips, information is so readily available. You are not limited by the resources on your street, in your town, in your region, or even in your state. You have a whole world of information available at your fingertips. At Seasons, we’re trying to get the right information into the hands of those who are truly passionate about taking charge of their own wellness. And if you are reading this, then THAT IS YOU!
Happy reading. And cheers to the pursuit of wellness.
How do I keep up with the Seasons Diigo List?
- Visit our website regularly. You can click on any of the links in the Seasons Diigo Updates box and go directly to the article.
- Visit Diigo regularly. Visit http://groups.diigo.com/group/seasonswc and see the list there.
- Have summary emails sent to you daily/weekly. To do this, you’ll need to create a diigo account at http://diigo.com. Once you’ve created an account, you can join the Seasons Wellness group. Depending on the notification setting you choose when you create your account, you’ll receive a summary email with all the articles I’ve bookmarked that day or that week.
- Wellness: Do Doctors Know What To Look For? (time.com)
- Healthy Medicine: A New Model for Cancer Care (truthonmedecine.wordpress.com)
- Seasons Diigo Updates
- Integrative, Functional Medicine Comes to Hawaii (prweb.com)
- Wellness: Do Doctors Know What To Look For? (time.com)
- Wellness: Do Doctors Know What To Look For? (time.com)
- Talking with your doctor about COPD: NetWellness (cleveland.com)
- Why Become a Naturopathic Doctor? (brighthub.com)
The following guest post was written by Dr. Ron Grisanti, a board certified chiropractic orthopedist with a master’s degree in nutritional science from the University of Bridgeport. You can read more of Dr. Grisanti’s posts at www.FunctionalMedicineUniversity.com and www.Clinical-Rounds.com.
It’s a science-based, natural way to become healthy again
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.
Named diseases are just the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface, according to Functional Medicine, are the real causes of a patient’s health problems.
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.
How Functional Medicine Heals a Key Health Care Gap
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.
The Two-Pronged Healing Approach to Functional Medicine
To battle chronic health conditions, Functional Medicine uses two scientifically grounded principles:
- Add what’s lacking in the body to nudge its physiology back to a state of optimal functioning.
- Remove anything that impedes the body from moving toward this optimal state of physiology.
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.
Treating Symptoms Versus Treating the Person
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.
The Roots of Functional Medicine
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.
Your Experience of Functional Medicine
We have titled this web site, “Your Medical Detective,” because patients often feel their Functional Medicine practitioner is leaving no stone unturned in their relentless research to pinpoint the causes of a particular patient’s symptoms.
When you consult a Functional Medicine practitioner, the first step is always your history. Practitioners are trained on how to unravel and make sense of a complicated story. Often clues in the story lead to the identification of key imbalances.
The next set of clues comes from a comprehensive physical examination, which includes many nearly forgotten examination procedures used by famous diagnosticians (both living and long gone), such as chapman reflex points, ankle brachial reflex and nail inspection.
The final set of clues comes from advanced laboratory testing. Innovative, cutting-edge lab tests help the practitioner look deeply into a patient’s physiology to identify how it has been compromised and how physiological balance can be restored.
After diagnosis and treatment, a Functional Medicine patient can expect his or her symptoms to diminish in severity, with a renewed sense of well-being and significant increase in health and vitality.
While there is no substitute for face-to-face treatment from a trained Functional Medicine practitioner, this site educates you on the Functional Medicine perspective and on the kinds of clues and treatments that may be key to restoring you to optimal health.
Health can best be defined as the absence of disease. Wellness is best defined as the existence of positive health. So health and wellness can be best defined as the absence of disease in the presence of positive health.
Why the focus on health and wellness these days? I think modern medicine gets a failing grade. Obesity is epidemic in the American culture today. One of my patients knew that her weight was not healthy. However, her previous physician told her that she should learn to live with her new heavier weight and maybe the weight would level out. That statement haunted her and led her to find a physician who offered her more hope and solutions.
Health and wellness cannot be achieved through a traditional, allopathic (Western modern medicine) medical approach. Why? Western modern medicine (we’ll call it traditional for our purposes) uses a disease-focused model utilizing pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals block biochemical reactions, produce mitochondrial toxins, and deplete important nutrients. There is no positive health there.
In fact, the 4th – 6th leading cause of death is from prescription drugs (Mol Aspects Med. 2005 Aug-Oct;26(4-5):363-78). In contrast, functional medicine is a health and wellness model utilizing natural substances found in the body to enhance cellular processes. A health and wellness model looks to work with the body, to facilitate metabolic reactions and optimize physiologic function (The principles of metabolic therapy for heart disease. Heart, Lung and Circulation 2003; 12:S55-S62).
In some ways, the two are complementary; but in many ways, the two are not. I am not advocating a boycott of traditional medicine. In fact, I still practice some traditional medicine when disease exists.
The key is this — does disease exist or not? If disease doesn’t exist, and health and wellness or health restoration is your goal, then a functional or integrative approach is the way to go to facilitate and optimize physiologic function.
So, what is a functional medicine approach? To help define functional medicine, let’s look at a few examples.
The traditional medicine approach.
Metformin or Glucophage is a well-recognized drug used to treat diabetes. Metformin works to improve insulin sensitivity and thus facilitate glucose uptake inside the cells. Type II Diabetes is marked by very poor insulin sensitivity and thus blood sugar rises. Traditional medicine prescribes Metformin to provide a 13% improvement in insulin sensitivity.
Remember, pharmaceuticals block biochemical reactions. Metformin reduces folic acid and vitamin B12 and can elevate homocysteine. Elevated homocysteine levels increase blood clot risk (this is one of the ways that birth control pills increase blood clot risk). Diabetics and those with insulin resistance are already at an increased risk of blood clots. Can you see how the treatment is piling on in this situation?
The functional medicine approach.
Let’s contrast that with a functional medicine approach. Vitamin D deficiency is rampant today. Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in heart failure, myocardial dysfunction, sudden cardiac death, and is required for normal insulin release and glucose control. Remember the 13% for metformin? Higher vitamin D levels resulted in a 60% improvement in insulin sensitivity (Chiu K., et al., “hypovitaminosis D is associated with insulin resistance and beta cell dysfunction,” Amer Jour Clin Nutr 2004).
Remember, functional medicine works with and facilitates the body’s functions. Vitamin D does not block any biochemical reactions, nor does it interfere with any. Thus, there is no negative effect comparable to Metformin. Now, too much of a good thing can be a problem. Too much Vitamin D can elevate calcium. Because of this, Vitamin D should be prescribed under the watchful eye of a physician.
Why do I do what I do?
Amazing results — as naturally as possible. This is why I practice functional medicine. This is why I created Seasons. A health and wellness model, through functional medicine, works with the body to enhance and optimize physiologic function. Health and health restoration can only be achieved by working with the body. Let’s get out of the way and let the body heal itself.