The old Paradigm in Health Care
As someone dealing with a major chronic illness, you know the life and trials of a patient all too well. A slew of doctors, accusations of it being “all in your head”, years before a proper diagnosis and a treatment plan that can often seem more like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping that something sticks.
Unfortunately this is the case for all too many people suffering from lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, MS – and any number of chronic, debilitating diseases. There is the constant statement “We don’t know exactly why your body is experiencing these symptoms, but here – take these 5 potentially toxic medications, and let’s just wait and see shall we?”
There has to be a better way.
Why the Old Model is Not Working
One of the major problems with the current traditional medical model is that it looks at symptoms as something to be suppressed – instead of clues that indicate a deeper root-cause that needs to be assessed and addressed in order to restore balance. Also, the tendency to see each organ and body system as a separate entity (you go to a different specialist for 5 symptoms, but they could all have the same cause!), fails to acknowledge the amazing way that the body is interconnected and how understanding these vital connections can provide key insight into disease origin and treatment.
The school of thought of many traditional doctors and researchers when presented with a set of symptoms is to either:
a. Medicate the symptoms hoping to suppress them. However, this does nothing to correct the problem… merely turns down the gauge and internal notification system that is designed to let you know when something is very wrong. This can have dire consequences in some cases, because you could actually be getting worse and not know it. Not to mention the additional damage to the liver, kidneys, and intestinal track that often comes with long term medication use.
b. Cut out the problem. While surgery is sometimes very necessary and absolutely saves lives, there is a tendency to “jump the gun” in removing organs or engaging in invasive treatments, where a more integrative approach would be to try everything possible to restore function and only resort to surgery as a last resort.
c. Let you know that there is nothing more they can do for you, besides perhaps suggesting that you may slightly increase your life span (while often decreasing quality of life) if you take an expensive cocktail of experimental drugs for the remainder of your days.
There is a reason the modern medical establishment doesn’t like to hear anyone claim that they can “cure” an illness. This is because in comparison, their therapies – that don’t cure much of anything, but do create a slew of lifelong customers, looks less appealing.
Integrative and Functional Medicine – the Wave of the Future
In contrast, Integrative – or Functional Medicine looks at the body as an interconnected system, whose primary function is to maintain balance and health. When this doesn’t happen, a Functional Doctor knows that there is a problem somewhere in the system that needs to be addressed and may very well be causing multiple – seemingly unrelated symptoms.
The role of a Functional MD is to identify the root-cause of the symptoms (not just medicate and suppress them) and address the underlying imbalance, as well as support the body in healing. This may happen in the form of eliminating items from your diet due to allergies, correcting a nutrient or mineral deficiency through supplementation, or recommending a cleanse to remove harmful toxins or heavy metals from the body and support liver and kidney function. The main goal is to support the body in healing in as least invasive a manner as possible.
Some try to dismiss this approach, but the success that patients across a wide range of diseases and conditions have experienced, can no longer be denied. People with everything from autoimmune diseases to cancer, to neurological and mental health conditions have benefited from an integrative approach.
A New Partnership- The Cleveland Clinic Establishes a Functional Medical Center
To underscore just how powerful an integrative approach to healing is and how it can provide a revolutionary (what is old, has become “new”) way of treating patients, there is an exciting partnership happening. The world renowned Cleveland Clinic, well known for treating high profile cases and utilizing cutting-edge medicine, has partnered with the Chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine- Dr. Mark Hyman, to develop a Functional Medical Center in their facility.
This is a groundbreaking development and signals mainstream medicine’s acknowledgement that in order to really bring about long-term health in a patient, an integrative approach that takes into account the entire person, their lifestyle, diet and stressors is necessary. The center will employ an Integrative Doctor, a Nutritionist and also a Health Coach (like yours truly), in an effort to cover all the bases of patient care and lifestyle adjustment. You can read the announcement here.
Be Your Own Advocate
Often, when visiting the doctor for both routine and chronic issues, we can feel unheard and it’s not uncommon to be seen by the doctor for less than ten minutes. During this visit, the physician hurriedly writes out a prescription or orders a specific treatment – often without taking the time to really investigate and evaluate your condition on a deep and holistic level. Sadly, with low insurance reimbursements, managed care guidelines and a prevalence of “corporate healthcare”, many doctors have no choice but to work in this model – but YOU don’t have to.
Become empowered to demand more from your health care provider. If your doctor can’t or won’t take the time and energy – or doesn’t possess the expertise to truly identify the root cause of what’s ailing you, consider seeking out the advice of an Integrative, Functional, or Naturopathic Doctor. At your first appointment, they will likely sit with you for between a half hour and an hour, getting to know more about not only your health history – but your life overall, which can provide serious clues regarding your condition.
Again, any treatment plan will first and foremost seek to strengthen the body, eliminate toxins, restore imbalanced nutrient levels and identify the optimal diet- as well as other complimentary therapies that will help with healing. There are instances where an Integrative doctor will identify the need for shttp://thrivewithlupus.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=574&action=edit&message=1urgery or other traditional treatment. However, the difference is that they will try to make it as least invasive as possible, and devise a post-op treatment plan that supports the body in healing through nutrition, natural balms, meditation, and the use of healing supportive herbs and supplements. The ultimate goal is to support the body in what it was designed to do anyway – heal itself and maintain balance.
So let me ask you: Are you satisfied with your current level of care? Have you ever considered visiting an Integrative MD? What are your reservations? Share in the comments below.