Our clinic was founded on the simple basis that recognizes the body has an innate built in system to repair itself. There are no silver bullet drugs or magical herbs that will "cure" an illness. Functional Medicine is science based on the principle that the body or a specific area of the body does not malfunction in isolation; rather it malfunctions due to stressors placed upon the body. These stressors can be emotional, nutritional or environmental (pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, etc. and hidden inflammation. When these stressors continue for extended periods of time we begin to experience the "stress response system" being activated long term. The human body was not designed for this system to work in that way, and when it does we begin to experience all kinds of body systems begin to dysfunction. The first signs of this occurring are "symptoms" that you are feeling from fatigue to digestive disorders to central nervous system disorders. We as humans are capable of our thoughts, experiences and memories to drive this response system for months to years causing an enormous amount of damage to the mind and body. Most every debilitating disease is caused or made worse by a stressor to the body.
The area of Functional Medicine that I focus on is the brain. As it is the control and command center for the entire body. As we begin to turn on the stress response system long term there are biochemical and biological changes that occur. Disconnecting circuits in the hippocampus and pre frontal cortex dealing with mood, emotions, cognition, motivation, brain fog, dementia and fatigue. Then there are neural circuits in the amygdala that expand, controlling fear and anxiety. Through laboratory based assessments, nutritional and lifestyle changes, lab based supplemental programs designed to each individual’s biochemical needs and exercise a person’s health can dramatically improve.
We focus on three core body systems, and the immune system being tied directly to the neurotransmitter or central nervous system:
Hormones act like traffic signals, they control and regulate what goes on in the body, specifically, energy production, mood, weight control through fat burning, inflammation, bone turnover, mucosal surface integrity, thyroid production, etc. Hormonal imbalances are very common amongst most people. The number one complaint we see in people is being worn down and tired; energy drinks and caffeine have become the norm for most people.
Neurotransmitters are traffic signals in the brain. As the body becomes stressed excess glucocorticoids start to endanger neurons and neurotransmitters. They leave them dangling on the edge of a cliff. Are bodies were hard wired to endure a short term physical or mental crisis, this is the built in stress response system, it is life saving. However we as humans turn on the stress response system with memories, with emotions, with thoughts....and that's not what is was designed for. Do it long enough and you've now set urself up for every stress response related disease....cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, ADHD, OCD, PTSD, Alzheimer's, restless leg syndrome, Parkinson's, etc, etc, etc.
The digestive system is like a car engine, it needs the fuel that it was designed to burn. You wouldn't put kerosene or jet fuel in your cars gas tank and expect the engine to run smoothly on the contrary it will clog the entire engine. Likewise we should not be putting phony foods into our digestive system and expecting it to digest, absorb and burn that fuel properly without gumming up the works. Antacids are the largest over the counter meds sold. Most people experience gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain at various times. Some just adjust to it or think it is normal, as we get older. A thriving digestive tract is paramount to your wellbeing, it acts as a warehouse, distributing the body with all the essential nutrients it needs to function, from protein to rebuild to vitamins and minerals to act as cofactors to make all these processes work. It provides us with energy to function to amino acids that fuel are brain and neurotransmitters.
The key here to nutrition is energy. The brain is the most energy dependent organ in the body, using 25% of the total energy demands. When we are constantly relying on glucose as the brains main source of fuel and we are under prolonged stress this is where we get into trouble. The brain needs energy to run what's called re-uptake receptors to repair the brain and bring down an allostatic load back to normal basal levels. As you will learn when we are under stress the body starts to store glucose away just what you don't want to happen. But ketones are a more stable fuel and the brain thrives on them.
Infections and leaky gut play a major role in regaining our optimal health. More than half the patients I see are asymptomatic yet when we test they have an active infection. This is the most overlooked issue in conventional medicine because these infections are the result from an overstressed hormonal/neurotransmitter system increasing glucocorticoids and thus driving down secretory IgA (are immune system for mucosal tissue, i.e. the gut lining). As these infections rage on, the body is under a constant stress from hidden inflammation. Irregardless of how well you eat, exercise or sleep without removing this stressor the body continues to wear down, there is no way to get off this merry-go-round until you restore the gut lining. Once the gut is cleaned up and healthy it is amazing the turn around in health the majority of the people I work with experience.
This system is where we break down toxins and eliminate them. Through the liver, the kidneys, the lungs and skin. Our bodies are in constant contact with toxins everyday, from medications, alcohol, foods, cleaning chemicals, lawn chemicals, fumes and many more. Many of these are neurotoxins to the brain. Our main antioxidant is glutathione found in phase one of the liver. Most people under chronic stress will also find that they have glutathione collapse. However glutathione is poorly absorbed. There are very specific amino acids and cofactors that drive the thiol system to reduce toxins and more importantly free radicals. It is free radicals that change the coding in the cells and turns them into a dysfunctional state.
Our immune system fights infections and repairs cells. When operating at peak performance we rarely get sick and recover from an incident very quickly. We also produce lots of energy when this system is not taxed. Our body systems are all interconnected like everything in our body, nothing functions alone in isolation, we are built in a cascading effect. When the immune system is ramped up too long we experience autoimmune issues, when too low infections. However when it is out of balance we get inflammation.
When we have a stress response whether it is acute or chronic , glucocorticoids affect and change the immune system. If we recover normally then the immune system regulates properly. But if we recover slow or sluggishly or keep pounding away with the stress then this system turns from protective to damaging.
This is where Functional Medicine shines; it looks at the body and its systems as connections. The brain is the control and command center for everything that happens in the body. This is our main focus. Optimize the brain and the other body systems will regulate themselves normally. Put an allostatic load on the brain and it starts to shift from a balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic to sympathetic dominance.
The work we do, based on the past 35-40 years of research in this field is a fundamental paradigm shift from what we see in the main stream medical community today, which is based on treating a symptom with medications, drugs or surgery which focuses on symptom elimination. However, the problem remains and the symptoms return becoming more severe and chronic all the while the cause continues to wear the body and mind further into dysfunction.