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Dr. Mark: Functional Medicine, community are tools for good health
My clients call me the resort doctor, not because we live in the most beautiful place 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.
At my clinic we don’t believe in 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 shouldn’t dictate the decisions you make concerning your health.
I wanted to be an internal medicine specialist, as it requires the best training – 36 hours every third day – to provide an opportunity to see all things the body can be bothered with. 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 I gave a talk and the lead editor of a renowned journal confronted me and 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 something we are taught the first day in Functional Medicine 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, as we seem to fix things daily that I was told in medical school can’t be fixed without dangerous medications – Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Heart Disease, Arthritis, Parkinsons (have you read Grain Brain by my friend David Perlmutter?). 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 that is now a super class foodie – she gets it. She is of a new generation of physicians that practice good medicine yet understands the Functional Medicine model.
I wish more of my colleagues would get it. 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 none of your family or friends to have a heart attack or stroke. The Health Fair measures four items for heart risk. My panel does 21. Why can’t we do better for each other and catch the hidden risk? 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.