Functional Medicine,  community are tools for good health

Functional Medicine, community are tools for good health

My clients call me the resort doctor, not because we live in Jackson Hole, one of the most beautiful places on the planet, but because before seeing me they have been to every doctor.

“You are my last resort,” they say, as they unload their records on my desk.

Grand Teton

The Grand Teton: For those who live here, a symbol of the good life and good health.

At my clinic we don’t believe in the curse of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome (which I had and figured out how to fix AFTER medical school). Clients who hurt all over, are amazingly fatigued, and have digestive issues yet they don’t have any mysterious syndrome need a Functional Medicine model, which addresses the underlying causes of disease and treats the whole person instead of using lotions and potions to treat just one specific ailment. And forget alternative medicine – it doesn’t work. You need someone who provides an integrative holistic approach to what ails YOU; a randomized controlled trial based on statistics shouldn’t dictate the decisions you make concerning your individual health; you want a treatment that works for only one person: YOU.

I wanted to be an internal medicine specialist, as it requires the best training to provide an opportunity to study the things that influence the body. I wanted to be able to quote the latest evidence-based double-blind placebo-controlled randomized-crossover multi-center trial to prove how smart I was.

Then the lead editor of a renowned journal showed me the light. Marcia Angell was the first woman to serve as chief editor of the New England Journal of Medicine – the bible for all of medicine. I asked her why she was still publishing articles on the wrong vitamin E: alpha isomer of vitamin E doesn’t work and blocks the action of the active gamma and delta isomers that do work. Why is America spending millions of dollars proving the ineffectiveness of the wrong vitamin E when we are taught the first day of training in Functional Medicine that this kind of vitamin E will never work?

She told me most of what I spend 30 hours a month reading in my medical journals is biased and may be flat out wrong. That bothered me and reassured me at the same time. This is why we are able to help with conditions that I was told in medical school can’t be fixed without dangerous medications – Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Heart Disease, Arthritis and Parkinsons.

In medical school we are given 20 minutes of nutrition education disguised as rickets and scurvy and they call it good. While on the way to give a talk on nutrition in New York City, I met Dr. Annie Fenn from Jackson the other day at the airport. She was surprised an internist would ever be allowed to talk about nutrition as most don’t know anything about it – she is an amazing gynecologist/obstetrician who is also a super class foodie – she gets it. She is of a new generation of physicians that practices classical medicine yet also understands the Functional Medicine model.

I hope more of my colleagues are adding a functional medicine element to their practices. Here is the problem: two out of three of our best friends will die of a heart attack, and we now have blood tests and a prevention model that makes it possible for almost none of your family or friends to have a heart attack or stroke.

The Health Fair measures four items for heart risk. In my clinic we measure 21. Why can’t we do far more to catch the hidden risk for disease. Let’s work together in our families and in our community to help those at risk and steer them toward better health.

One of three kids born today will be diabetic. And this is totally preventable. Let’s use this health care crisis as a call to arms to use all of the tools available to help each other. I have been working with small groups doing interactive health care and we know this works. Look at my friend Mark Hyman’s work with Saddle Back Church in California. He worked with Pastor Rick Warren to help the health of his church. They hoped a few hundred would participate; they got 20,000. They wanted better physical health to match their spiritual health. The beauty of this type of medicine is that it works. Let’s join all of our forces to make this happen for our families and our community.