Here is an example of how functional medicine works in practice—
A 10 yr. old girl came to see me. She was 4’8”, 230 lbs., and had a BMI of 48.1. She was very active, played sports on a competitive team, but her asthma was acting up and it was difficult to keep up with her teammates. She had all the classic signs of metabolic syndrome, headaches, and also a rash that would break out over parts of her body including her neck. Her blood work was also out of range.
The obesity clinic told her to exercise more, and include more grains in her diet. –Yet she is an athlete and was exercising daily.
A primary care will offer pharmaceutical support for blood sugar and cholesterol. –The functional medicine approach is different.
After reviewing her diet, I realized she actually wasn’t eating much food at all. She needed more calories than she was used to. What I taught her to do was change the type of calories coming in, and pay attention to the timing of when she ate. I provided her with a functional medicine plan (to fit her nutritional needs/bloodwork), and took the time to help her understand why she was making these new changes, so that she would be successful at home. We had sent her for metabolic testing as well as her blood panel, and found she had an intolerance to gluten.
With the new food plan, functional medicine supplements, and removal of gluten she began to notice big changes in just a few weeks. The skin rashes were completely gone, she no longer needed her inhaler, headaches were gone, she was able to wake up on her own, and she was finally losing the weight. When she saw me on her follow-up she exclaimed; “I have a neck now!”
Her parents were so thankful, and noted how much faster she was running on her team. She was happy, and I was so proud of all their work to make a difference in her life.
This is what functional medicine does. It doesn’t treat symptoms or diagnose disease, but supports the underlying cause from within.