Functional Medicine is a personalized approach to healthcare that focuses on preventing and identifying the underlying causes of a patient’s physiological dysfunction as opposed to just treating their symptoms. Most chronic disease results when one or more organ systems, metabolic pathways or genetic predispositions are negatively impacted by poor nutrition, environmental toxins, pathogenic factors and ongoing psychosocial stressors. The aim is to correct and restore proper metabolic function and therefore restore health and prevent future illness by maintaining proper function through diet, nutritional and herbal medicine, detoxification and stress reduction.
Areas of examination include:
- Hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances
- Oxidative Stress
- Immune system dysfunction
- Inflammatory conditions
- Digestive dysfunction and microbial imbalances
Blood Nutrition Analysis
The cornerstone of an effective health plan is a nutritional and lifestyle plan that is based on your biochemistry. Accurate identification of nutritional imbalances are best assessed through analysis of a comprehensive blood test. By viewing conventional blood chemistry tests through the lens of functional medicine parameters, many metabolic imbalances will be revealed. Nutrients such as amino acids, enzymes, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes are the building blocks of the body providing energy, supporting metabolism and the basis for many biological processes. Key nutrients may be deficient due to poor nutrition, disease processes and physical and psychological stressors. The body tries to compensate for such imbalances but if prolonged they may contribute to hormonal changes, increased toxic loads, oxidative stress, organ stress and the development of metabolic disorders. Nutritional analysis of the blood chemistry may indicate specific patterns that have developed and direction for nutritional support.
After implementing a dietary and nutritional supplementation plan for 30-60 days it is important to order follow up testing to track a patient’s progress as blood chemistry will often show improvement before a patient subjectively notices improvement. Retesting provides objective feedback for adjustments in care and ensures the patient of their progress.
The orchestration of hormones in the body is complex and exerts incredible influence over the way our bodies function and how we feel. Many people think of the hormones primarily as the sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone but the cast of hormones includes a long list of players including thyroid hormones, insulin, cortisol, and DHEA. A patient’s endocrine system can be evaluated and monitored through blood and sensitive saliva testing that can identify glitches in signaling and imbalances of hormone levels.
Nutritional and individual metabolic factors interplay with the hormones and have a great influence in how the endocrine system functions. For example, healthy blood sugar maintenance is often the foundation of normal adrenal and sex hormone function. Likewise, healthy adrenal function can ensure an easier transition for men and women at the onset of menopause and andropause. Because of the intricate workings and interconnectedness of the endocrine system, a holistic approach to addressing good metabolic function is important as opposed to looking only at one or two hormones as independent entities.
The endocrine system is extremely fine-tuned and capable of self-correction if provided with the proper foundations. One model of approach to care is to correct metabolic pathways, clear endocrine disrupting factors from the body whether already stored in the tissues or from exogenous sources in the environment and diet, provide proper nutrition and then allow the endocrine system to self-correct. Only a small percentage of patients find that hormone replacement is still necessary once the body’s signaling and metabolic functions have been restored and most find that nutritional and botanical supplementation provides the necessary support. Patients are also advised to consult with their primary care physicians.
Gastrointestinal Health Assessment and Testing
The prevalence of gastrointestinal complaints is high in our modern society. Many people choose to live with ongoing gastrointestinal symptoms and may consider constipation or loose stools, excess gas, bloating and heartburn to be just a fact of life. However the long term consequences of such complaints can result in impaired nutritional assimilation, reduced regenerative capacity, inflammatory conditions and an increased rate of aging.
Comprehensive stool and saliva testing can uncover some of the hidden causes of gastrointestinal distress. Parasites, pathogenic bacterial overgrowths, enzyme deficiencies, allergens, food sensitivities and stress can all be contributing factors to loss of function in the digestive system. Uncovering the causes and working to restore G.I health is a primary foundation for the overall health of the body and its importance cannot be overstated.
Once these factors are properly identified for the patient a treatment plan can be devised to eliminate pathogenic factors, restore healthy flora and enzyme balance incorporating dietary recommendations, nutritional and herbal supplementation and in some cases if necessary patients are referred to their physician for antimicrobial medications.