Sickcare or Healthcare? Understanding Conventional Medicine Versus Functional Medicine
Hi everyone, Dr. Connie here. I hope you’re having a great week so far!
There’s been lots of anticipation regarding the upcoming American Solar Eclipse, expected on 8/21/2017.
Please make sure to get certified glasses, as the exposure can cause blindness.
The eclipse is supposed to be a once in a lifetime event. My kids’ schools are allowing an “excused” absence for this day, which I thought was interesting.
To change the topic, I’ve been thinking about the differences between conventional medicine and holistic or functional medicine lately.
Conventional medicine and functional medicine are two fundamentally different ways to assess and treat a patient’s disease.
For those of you who are not familiar, I’ll go over the differences between these two types of medicine.
Conventional medicine is a system in which medical doctors and various healthcare professionals (nurses, pharmacists, and various therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery.
It’s also referred to as “allopathic” medicine, mainstream medicine, or Western medicine.
Conventional medicine is very much needed in dealing with acute and chronic illnesses, as well as life and death situations.
It has become highly “specialized”. Therefore, after completing medical education, medical doctors do further training in rheumatology, neurology, cardiology, nephrology, pulmonology, etc., depending on their interest.
We regard medical doctors very highly because of their extensive training.
In some cases, some of you hang on their every word when in their offices for a visit. I used to be that patient when I was first diagnosed.
One thing you have to remember is that they mostly focus on treating the disease, not the patient.
Additionally, treatment mostly involves medications and interventions designed to pull the patient out of the acute dangers related to the disease.
The main focus is on “SICK” care, where they focus on treating the symptoms that keep the patient sick.
Holistic or Functional Medicine
The functional medicine approach aims towards getting to the root cause of the symptoms. It focuses on the PATIENT who has the disease, rather than focusing on the DISEASE itself.
It’s a solution oriented approach aimed to move the patient from a “sick” state to a “healthy” state.
The treatment of the whole person, including mental, spiritual, behavioral, and social factors, characterizes the functional approach.
I would include traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine as alternative-holistic solutions. They strive to create “balance” within, to heal the WHOLE patient rather than in parts.
I have family members, friends, and colleagues who are in medicine and I understand intimately their trainings and their perspective.
But through my years as a professional patient, I’ve experienced a gap in our current medical system when integrating the concept of “whole body” healing after the patient’s different parts are addressed.
Once doctors address the acute dangers of the disease, they fail to do anything more.
The patient needs much more than prescription medications for the rest of their lives if they wish to get better from their illness.
For years, my medications stayed the same. Even though my biomarkers (labs) were stable, my rheumatologist was very adamant on maintaining the same dose to keep me in remission.
His definition of remission was very different from mine.
I wanted to be FREE from disease and felt that the medications were keeping me sick.
This all brings me to the topic for today.
Taking Back Control of Your Health
At what point do you take responsibility for your illness or disease? Do you succumb to your disease and embrace it by relying on those meds to keep you at status quo?
I began to ask such questions. So began my journey away from the conventional practices of medicine, seeking to find solutions to my problems.
9 years ago I found the Institute of Functional Medicine. This is when I learned about different ways to solve my problems, as well as my patient’s problems.
My problem was that Lupus affected every facet of who I was and who I was to become.
It affected me as a friend, daughter, student, doctor, mom, and wife.
I was perpetuating my Lupus because of underlying stress, genetic mutations, eating the wrong foods, hormonal imbalances, sleep deprivation, and malnutrition due to a leaky gut.
This made sense to me, as prior to my training in Functional Medicine, I “assumed” I had stomach and digestive issues because of Lupus.
I was also so tired, and I discovered I had a SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) due to a genetic defect preventing me from metabolizing B vitamins. This also perpetuated my chronic fatigue and irritability.
Conventional medicine doesn’t assess me as a whole being.
Instead, I shuffled from a nephrologist who treated my kidneys, an ophthalmologist who had to assess my eyes due to the meds that I had to take, and a cardiologist who screened my heart for potential issues related to Lupus.
And after all of them had taken care of their “part” for me, they referred me back to my rheumatologist.
I wasn’t happy with this system. This meant I had to focus on getting better on my own, fighting for my energy, and reducing the pain, weakness, and foggy mind that tried to keep me in the dark.
Don’t Be A Patient Forever
When I talk to most of you who come into my office or reach out to me on social media, most of you complain of symptoms as a result of Lupus, or other potential symptoms you know intuitively that the doctors will not really help to resolve.
Those symptoms are and can be managed, no doubt, with medications, but I think most of you understand that’s really not the long term answer.
So for me, from my experience of being on both sides of the equation, I’d much rather be providing care than to be a recipient of it. I don’t want to be at the mercy of a system that is failing, in my opinion.
Every year my deductibles for my insurance have gone up and the language of those insurance adjustors are ever more confusing.
From a provider perspective, it’s ludicrous how broken the system is. And as a patient, my plan coverage changes from visit to visit.
And those insurance representatives? Forget it, I think they are trained to confuse you.
So with the current state of the health care system, I think it’s in your best interest to start taking up for yourself.
Get detailed assessments, take supplements that help you, visit a functional medicine doctor, and ask questions to your current doctor. You have to protect your own health and to do that, you need to be empowered with information.
Do you need help with your condition, or specifically Lupus? We’ve got specific solutions for you, and we offer our services all over the world now through the web portal.
Thanks for joining me again, and I’ll see you next week.
About the Author
Dr. Connie has suffered from Lupus for the last 16 years. As a result, she discovered that a holistic minded approach to health was most beneficial for herself in battling Lupus and for her patients, who battle everything from Autoimmune Disease to Weight Loss. Dr. Connie holds a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and a Masters in Public Health (Nutrition) from the renowned Loma Linda University School of Allied Health Professions. She is also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian in the State of Georgia. Additionally, Dr. Connie is a Functional Medicine Practitioner (Certification Pending 2017), a Registered RYT-200 Yoga Teacher & School (Yoga Alliance) and Certified Pilates Teacher (Pilates Method Alliance).