Published on August 31st, 2016 | by Dr. Doug Pucci0
Choosing a Functional Medicine Doctor
When it comes to their health, patients want natural remedies. Whether medications aren’t working or because the side effects of taking them aren’t worth it, people now often seek solutions for their ailments that are outside the mainstream pharmacopeia and doctors are listening.
Doctors of all stripes – gynecologists, cardiologists, chiropractors and others are moving into the discipline of functional diagnostic medicine because it offers patients hope by combining natural remedies into a framework of healing that is at the core of patient care. Moreover, functional medicine doctors stop glossing over the fact that much of what is ailing us has been routinely ignored. Our health has less to do with genetic makeup, per se, as it does the functioning of our body’s systems (hormonal, immunological, neurological and so on) when autoimmune reactions and chronic inflammation occur.
An example of this change in thinking is occurring right now with the current news that immunotherapy is more effective than conventional methods for treating cancer. Studying the immune system, especially in the context of what restores a patient to health, is past due.
In finding a functional medicine doctor, for many it comes down to how well they communicate, starting with a basic affinity for each other. Illness can make a patient feel fragile, so finding a doctor that listens is important. There are some preliminary questions to ask that will help better understand whether this partnership is a right fit going forward.
The doctor’s philosophy on nutrition: For anyone that is not well, changes to lifestyle and diet are critical steps to healing. Even for patients that are not “sick” and might want to simply improve their well-being, learning to identify and remove any inflammatory culprits is the first step.
Regarding nutritional supplementation, whether hormones or heart disease, a doctor’s approach to supplements has to be thought of as more than a replacement for drugs. Nutrition is a tool for healing, and as healing takes place, the cache of products will lessen.
What kind of testing is used as a baseline: Typically, doctors will run tests in order to rule on a diagnosis. The result of the test becomes the basis for a treatment and is an important safety precaution in an acute scenario such as a hospital. A doctor might call for a CBC to test for infection or an MRI prior to surgery.
In functional medicine, the tests that are used are used less for pathology than they are for insight. When balancing hormones, for example, a doctor is looking for blood sugar response, adrenal function, steroidal hormone ratios, food sensitivities and many other indicators that are part of an overall pattern.
Which specific therapies will be used for a condition: At first blush, a condition such as vertigo presents very differently than a thyroid disorder. But in many instances, there are similar root causes, including blood sugar dysregulation, parasitic or viral infection, nutritional deficiencies, toxic overload, hormonal imbalances and so on.
Therapies should seek to remove any antigens and be supportive of healing and rejuvenation. Those that are best are noninvasive and lead to a restorative outcome in the patient’s ability to detoxify, increase metabolic capacity (more energy), recover brain/body balance and provide pain relief when needed.
Dr. Douglas J. Pucci, DC, FAAIM, provides nutrition, comprehensive testing for health biomarkers, brain and body care and more. For more information, call 201-261-5430 or visit GetWell-Now.com.