I’ve found over the years that a lot of people don’t know (including doctors themselves), that “doctor” means teacher. So when was the last time your doctor taught you something? I’ve also found that to be a good teacher, there are 3 important things:
Ask the right questions
Listen…really listen (when was the last time your doctor did that?!)
Explain things simply
So it may seem strange but that’s where a Functional Medicine approach properly begins… with us asking you a lot of detailed questions (See New Patient Forms), and then really listening to what YOU have to say and feel about your condition. If you’re near my office we’ll see you face-to-face, shake your hand, and sit down together. If distance to the office is prohibitive, NO PROBLEM! We can do everything (except shake hands) with our Remote Care option where after receiving and reviewing your New Patient Forms we’ll communicate via phone or video conference. Then of course, before we move to explaining things simply, we need to figure out exactly what’s going on by doing labs.
Lab evaluation is next. I’ll review your recent ones but because most doctors just don’t dig deep enough, I’ll probably need to have you get our comprehensive functional blood chemistry panel done. Working with our Remote Care option? No problem… we work with both LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics and can get the paperwork to you and guide you where to go…they’re all over the place! From there we’ll determine if any more specialized lab testing is needed such as:
Salivary Hormone: to check the adrenal and sex hormones, which are better measured in the saliva
Stool Microbial Analysis: This determines both the levels of “normal flora” in the gut as well as if there are any abnormal “bugs”, such as yeast, parasites, and/or abnormal bacteria.
Food Sensitivity: Many chronic health conditions have as a component an intolerance or sensitivity to certain foods.
Organic Acids: This test checks for 74 urinary metabolic markers and can give us information about possible nutritional and antioxidant deficiencies, energy production status (“Krebs cycle”), Fatty acid metabolism, and about neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).
* For those working via Remote Care, don’t worry… all of the above tests can still be done as the samples are collected by you at home. We simply mail you the needed collection kits and give you instructions!
Once we’ve identified the root causes (there is never only 1 thing going on), I develop an individualized treatment plan that will address all the involved body systems. This is a hallmark of Functional Medicine… a recognition of how intimately everything is connected and how with most all chronic health conditions there are multiple areas of organ/glandular dysfunction. The key elements of a treatment plan include:
Sometimes to “reboot” our systems, key dietary protocols (usually 3-4 weeks long), need to be followed. Some examples of when we need to do this are to: Detoxify the liver, heal a “leaky” gut, reduce systemic inflammation, or to jump start lowering the blood sugar levels. I’ve found over the years that any suggestion of a “dietary plan” makes people nervous, so it’s important to know a few things: 1. It doesn’t involve any special or packaged foods…this ISN’T some “Weight Watchers” program. It’s more of a very specific “avoid these foods” and “focus on these foods instead”… with everything available at any grocery store that has organic produce. 2. I have near 100% compliance. It’s not hard in part because…3. People start to feel better VERY quickly when a specific targeted dietary plan is implemented. In fact, a high percentage of the time patients will ask me after the 3-4 weeks is finished, “can I just keep eating this way”!
Then I’ll guide you going forward with more long-term dietary advice to avoid the chances of having any diet-related metabolic issues that we identified reoccur. My goal is to have you attain maximum health, and then teach you what to do going forward to maintain it. In essence what we’re doing with this aspect of the treatment plan…whether it be a 3-4 week protocol or more long-term dietary advice…is using “food as medicine”. Sometimes this “medicine” is short-term and more corrective. And other times it’s long-term “maintenance” therapy that I’m giving you. So as big a proponent as I am of the power of the right nutritional supplements…which for sure is also a very important component of my treatment plans…I feel it’s important to not fall into the trap…as some people do…of using them as a “crutch” by not incorporating the correct dietary interventions.
These will be:
Based off of labs! (No guessing)
Pharmaceutical grade..top of the line stuff. For example, I only work with supplement companies that: Manufacture their own products. Use modern, sophisticated technologies and validated analytical methods to test incoming raw materials (for things such as potency, biological activity, absence of toxins, heavy metals, pesticides etc.). Since we have a lot of patients who have food sensitivities all supplements are certified to be free of common allergens such as gluten and dairy. These companies monitor manufacturing processes and perform in-process testing and test ALL finished products to ensure that “what’s on the label is actually in the bottle”(most companies DON’T do this). These companies also put their products through disintegration and/or dissolution testing, and fat soluble nutrients are “emulsified”…all to ensure super high levels of absorption. Suffice it to say that I only use products from the best companies…I’m not “married” to only one as there are several really cutting-edge ones out there…but unfortunately, there is no shortage of products that are absolute junk and a waste of your time and money!
Most often very unique formulas: Although the supplements we use are non-prescription or natural, you will not find the vast majority of what we use on your own such as in a natural food store. This is because these are specific “formulas” developed by supplement companies that work directly with functional medicine doctors. These formulas have been developed to correct specific metabolic issues that we’ve identified through…you guessed it, the LABS!