Is Functional Medicine Here to Stay?
Is Functional Medicine Here to Stay? | GreenMedInfo | Blog Entry
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Not only is Functional Medicine here to stay, it is poised to be the centerpiece in one of the most significant shifts in the health and medical paradigm in the past one hundred years. For anyone who has been paying attention, there has been a virtual war going on between Conventional/Allopathic Medicine and Functional/Natural Medicine since the early 1900s. In fact, this virtual war often became a real war when the medical establishment would attack and try to discredit chiropractors, naturopaths, homeopathy practitioners and those who made or distributed nutritional supplements. 1
The main weapons in this war were the contentions by the medical establishment that they had scientific evidence to support what they were doing, and that the proponents of Functional Medicine did not, and thus were putting people’s health at risk. The natural practitioners were often branded as “quacks” and threatened with the loss of privileges to treat anyone, large fines, the seizure of products or equipment, or even jail time. 2
This situation has been changing gradually over the past 60 years, as Functional Medicine, and its natural allies, have been gathering information from in-office surveys of patients, clinical trials, and other academic and scientific studies. Linus Pauling was one of the early pioneers in this movement, along with Eric Hoffer, Roger Williams, Carl Pfeiffer, and others who began to examine the impact of food and supplements on brain-related conditions. This early study of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia was labeled “Orthomolecular Psychiatry,” which eventually transitioned to become “Orthomolecular Medicine.” Yes, even the two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling was often labeled a “quack” by the medical establishment. 3
As it turns out, Linus Pauling and his fellow Functional Medicine pioneers are on the brink of having the last laugh. In a cover story from Business Week magazine, May 29th, 2006, entitled “Medical Guesswork,” a medical researcher, Dr. David Eddy, examined everything that Conventional Medicine did and could only find scientific evidence for 20-25% of conventional medical practices, products, and procedures. 4 In an even more condemning study in the British medical journal The Journal of Clinical Evidence, it was found that only 11% of conventional medicine treatments produced a beneficial result or outcome. 5
At the same time, Functional/Natural Medicine has been gaining increasing scientific credibility, according to this sample of recent studies:
A study by the British medical journal Lancet Oncology found that Functional Medicine was able to stop and reverse hypertension, obesity, heart disease, and prostate cancer. 6
A study by the Institute of Medicine found that scientifically proven conventional treatments, combined with meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and herbal medicine, proved to be both medically and cost-effective. 7
The National Institutes of Health conducted a meta-analysis entitled “Health Cost Effectiveness of Natural Health Products: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinic Trials” and found positive health outcomes with cost savings up to 73% for natural products, compared to conventional treatments. 8
Why Is Functional Medicine Outperforming Allopathic Medicine?
The answer to this question is well known to those in the Functional Medicine community, but below is a quick summary for those who may not be following this subject closely.
Allopathic Medicine Shortcomings
Diagnoses and treatments are segregated according to various organs and systems without regard to their interconnected relationship within the whole body.
Some diagnostic procedures are actually harmful, such as radioactive mammograms, CT scans, and premature biopsies.
Many diagnostic tests can only identify illness or disease after it has already advanced to a dangerous level. Mammograms are the best example, as tumors do not show up on a scan unless at least four billion cells are present, and these scans still are only 65% accurate. This size tumor usually indicates Stage 2 or Stage 3 for breast cancer patients, and dangerous radiation exposure occurs with each scan. 9
Many treatments, especially prescription medications, are designed to interrupt and alter biochemical functions, instead of working with the body to use its natural disease-fighting capabilities.
The side effects of many prescription medications often create more health problems than they resolve, and this can include life-threatening situations.
The efficacy of many approved prescription medications is less than 1%. For example, in the case of statin drugs for the lowering of cholesterol, 150 people need to take this drug before the life of one person is extended.10
Allopathic doctors receive virtually no training in nutrition or other natural medicine disciplines, which seriously limits their ability to fully understand the root causes of most diseases. This forces them to treat the symptoms, which can be the same for many different conditions, leading to misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment.
Operations are often undertaken, even though they often produce limited benefit, or could have been avoided altogether by using an effective natural treatment. A good example is angioplasty, which consistently produces a meager 3% positive result, whereas EDTA Chelation Therapy could often produce much better outcomes. 11
In addition to these medical practice shortcomings, the entire health-care system is based on the treatment of symptoms, even though 80% of all disease is both preventable and reversible. There are very few incentives for getting people healthy, and until this is changed, it will be very difficult to change the way most doctors practice medicine.
The Benefits of Functional Medicine
Functional Medicine considers the whole body both in the diagnosis stage and the treatment stage.
Functional Medicine treats the root cause of an illness, not just the symptoms.
Functional Medicine uses treatments that are much safer and with fewer negative side effects.
Functional Medicine can combine scientifically proven allopathic treatments with functional medicine to produce an integrated medical solution.
Functional Medicine often utilizes diagnostic tests that are able to identify cells that are moving toward disease, but are not yet diseased. This often occurs five to ten years before conventional medicine diagnoses a problem.
Functional Medicine treatments are usually more effective, and are often able to reverse a condition, while Conventional Medicine can only manage an illness. Type 2 diabetes may be the best example of this.
Functional Medicine treatments are far less expensive than Conventional Medicine treatments, and they can benefit individuals, employers, and governments who are overburdened by the expense of Allopathic treatments that often do not work. 12
Examples of Better Diagnostic Tests
Functional Medicine practitioners use many diagnostic tools. Here are just a few examples that illustrate why Functional Medicine can find illness earlier, and then use less invasive treatments for better outcomes.
C-reactive Protein Test – This is a blood test that measures the amount of inflammation in the body. In many cases, inflammation is a better indicator of risk for heart disease than cholesterol. Cholesterol is important to our bodies for the repair of the epithelial lining of our arteries and for making vitamin D3, just to mention a few of its many functions. Over half of people who experience heart attacks have perfect levels of cholesterol, which calls into question its true value as an indicator of risk for heart disease. 13
Glucose Tolerance Test – This blood test requires patients to consume 75 grams of glucose and then be tested several times over a three-hour period to see how well their pancreas and the insulin receptors on their cells manage this ingestion of glucose. This test is far superior to fasting glucose tests, such as the AIC, because it can identify the early deterioration of insulin receptors, or pancreatic weakness, often five to seven years before other glucose tests. This translates into a very high probability that the Functional Medicine doctor can reverse this condition fairly quickly with changes in diet and exercise. The potential success rates for this reversal can exceed 90%. 14
Vitamin D3 Test – This blood test can detect low levels of vitamin D3, which is crucial for the prevention of many illnesses, including cancer. Vitamin D3 improves communication between cells, and actually kills cancer cells. Studies have shown a decreased risk of breast cancer of up to 77% and prostate cancer up to 86% for people with vitamin D3 levels between 50 and 90 ng/ml. Recovery from cancer is also impacted when patients begin taking proven therapeutic levels of this vitamin, with studies showing an increased survival rate of 47% for lung cancer and 50% for lymphoma cancer patients. 15
Thermography – Many Functional Medicine doctors utilize this test for more than 200 diseases, including early cellular changes that could lead to breast cancer. More than 800 studies have proven the value of this infrared heat-sensing test. When cells begin to move toward disease, they become stressed and/or develop new blood vessel growth. These changes produce increased heat, and in the case of breast cells, as few as 200 cells can be detected when this begins to happen. This is between eight and ten years before mammograms can see the four billion cells in a tumor, which often represents Stage 2 or Stage 3 cancer. This early detection of stressed cells allows Functional Medicine to utilize diet, exercise, stress reduction, or plant-based hormones to rebalance cells, causing them to return to normal function. Other benefits of this test include no pain and no radiation exposure. This test is approved by the FDA as an adjunct diagnostic tool, but most doctors only include mammograms or ultrasound if thermography identifies some cells that are misbehaving. 16
Early CTD Lung Test – This blood test identifies lung cells that are in the process of becoming cancerous, or are in the early stages of cancer. In either case, Functional Medicine doctors can utilize treatments that are much less invasive than chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery to encourage these cells to revert back to their normal, healthy status. This test can identify these cellular changes up to five years before CT scans or x-rays can see anything. Their rate of accuracy has been established at 91%, and there are no negative side effects for this test. 17
Examples of Functional Medicine Protocols
Functional Medicine practitioners have hundreds of highly effective treatment protocols available, and most have excellent evidence to support their use. The following examples are more nutritionally based, but it should be stated that there are many impressive treatment protocols from other natural disciplines, such as acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal medicine, and naturopathy, just to mention a few of the other natural medical categories.
Type 2 Diabetes – Patients are being advised to avoid processed sugar, processed flour, HFCS, starches, soft drinks, baked goods, fruit juices, artificial sweeteners, molasses, honey, maple syrup, animal and trans fats, wheat products and processed soy.
Foods to Include – Vegetables and fruits (especially those low on the glycemic index), beans, organic poultry, omega-3 fish, non-wheat whole grains, non-dairy milk (rice, almond, coconut), nuts, seeds, and sea vegetables.
Nutritional Supplements – Chromium, vanadium, magnesium, vitamin C, omega-3 oils, gymnema sylvestre, berberine, and alpha lipoic acid.
Exercise – At least 45 minutes each day of aerobic and weight-bearing exercise.
Weight Management – Doctors can utilize special diets that include balancing brain chemistry in order to reduce cravings for certain foods (i.e., eat foods rich in tryptophan and B vitamins).
Stress Management – At least 30 minutes each day for meditation, yoga, tai chi, or deep breathing.
Some patients are able to reverse their Type 2 diabetes in as little as three days using this, or a very similar protocol. 18
Breast Cancer – With the utilization of thermography, a vitamin D3 test, and other early warning tests, a Functional Medicine doctor can often prevent the initial breast cancer or its recurrence after it has been detected and treated. The following protocol is an example of some of the elements of such a prevention protocol: 19
Foods to Avoid – Basically the same foods should be avoided for most diseases (see the previous list for Type 2 diabetes).
Foods to Include – The good foods are also basically the same for each chronic illness with emphasis for breast cancer on the following foods: kale, cabbage, garlic, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, legumes, and fish with the highest levels of omega-3 fats and vitamin D3.
Nutritional Supplements – Vitamin D3, omega-3 fish oil, vitamin C, vitamin E, digestive enzymes, CoQ10, pomegranate, B vitamins, and chromium.