How to Heal From Chronic Disease With Functional Medicine

We currently face a global disease epidemic unlike the world has ever seen.

More and more of us are getting sicker and sicker every year, and our doctors are at a loss to help us.

How did a medical system evolve that is unable to meet the needs of the modern population?

It wasn’t always so…

The Problem with Healthcare Today

The medical system that most of us grew up with was designed to treat infectious diseases and heal acute trauma.

The model has been so successful that we no longer live in fear of our children dying from a common infection or our entire community being devastated by a plague. Even when we suffer horrific injuries, we trust that we’ll be put back together by talented professionals using state of the art technology.

The truth is, the conventional model of medicine excels in these scenarios.

But what about when we don’t have a contagious infection, and we’re not suffering from acute trauma, but we’re also just not… well?

What about when we don’t have the energy to take care of our responsibilities, pursue our passions and enjoy our families?

What about when our doctors insist that the tests say we’re fine, but we know something is wrong?

Even devoted and well meaning doctors often lack the resources to give their patients the help that they desperately need.

The problem is that acute trauma and infectious diseases are no longer the top threats to our wellbeing.

Health

Today, it is chronic and preventable diseases that cause 70% of all deaths worldwide.

Chronic diseases are defined as conditions that last at least a year, require ongoing medical attention and limit daily activities.

According to the CDC, 6 out of 10 Americans suffer from a chronic illness and 4 out of 10 have two or more.

The causes of these preventable conditions are: poor nutrition, unhealthy lifestyles and exposure to toxins.

These conditions cannot be remedied by drugs and surgery. In order to restore health, we must learn to nurture ourselves with an appropriate diet, adopt healthier lifestyles and reduce our exposure to harmful toxins.

Conventional doctors are simply not trained to guide us through these critical changes.

Over the next twenty years, chronic illnesses will kill twice as many people as all infectious diseases combined.

It is time for a new age in medicine, time for a medical paradigm that can help with the diseases that impact us most today…

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is a highly individualized, patient-centered, science-based approach to wellness. Patients are empowered and supported by their practitioners as together they collaborate to identify and address the underlying causes of disease.

According to the principles of functional medicine, diseases are the result of imbalance in one or more of the seven core physiological processes.

The seven core processes are assimilation and elimination, detoxification, defense, cellular communication, cellular transport, energy and structure.

Imbalances are caused by…

  • Environmental factors, like toxins and pesticides
  • Nutritional imbalances caused by poor diet and food allergies
  • Hormone imbalances that weaken the thyroid, adrenals and reproductive organs
  • Systemic inflammation which contributes to autoimmune conditions
  • Hidden infections like parasites, yeast and mold
  • Oxidative stress that damages cells
  • Impaired liver detoxification and gut function adds to total burden of toxins
  • Gastrointestinal dysfunction due to loss of probiotic bacteria and poor absorption compromises the immune system

Instead of using drugs to mask symptoms, functional doctors tireless seek to find the underlying cause so that balance can be restored.

When we seek conventional care for chronic diseases, we are given prescriptions to mitigate each of our symptoms, but the cause of the imbalance is not addressed.

This means that the disease progresses, symptoms get worse and more meds are needed to keep symptoms under control. Many patients end up with lifelong prescriptions of drugs that were only approved for short term use. As a result, the risk for adverse drug reactions and undesirable side effects increases.

Imbalances develop as a result of our unique individual genes interacting with our environment, diet and lifestyle.

Risk of chronic illness does not increase as we get older.

Although many people think it is natural to get sicker as we age, this could not be further from the truth.

Happy

Genes alone do not make us more susceptible to chronic disease.

It is the interaction of our genes, behavior and environment that determines the health that we enjoy in our senior years.

This is really exciting news!

It means that not only can we influence our gene expression to prevent or reverse illness, but we can also systematically maximize our individual genetic potential!

Our health outcomes are very much under our control.

By modifying our environment, diet and lifestyle, we can change the expression of our genes.

Our environment includes the personal care products we use, the fabrics we wear, our homes, where we get our food and how we prepare it. Diet is the kind, amounts and diversity of foods that we eat. Lifestyle factors are our habits, behavior and way of life.

How to Heal From Chronic Diseases With Functional Medicine

In the conventional model, specialists are trained to focus on one organ or group of organs. Their chief goal is to define the condition with a diagnosis and remedy the symptoms with drugs or surgery. This does not help people whose organs are compromised but not yet at the level of disease diagnosis.

Perhaps it will help with their symptoms, but meanwhile their real problems will only get worse.

Meanwhile, healthcare expenses are astronomical, yet little improvement is gained in quality of life.

Busy doctors, pressured by HMOs and Big Pharma to see and treat as many people as they can, typically spend just 6 minutes with each patient.

Functional doctors appreciate the uniqueness of each patient and diligently explore the individual interaction of their genes with their environment and behavior.

The first visit with a functional doctor may last several hours as they probe the patient’s personal, family, social and medical history to discover what caused the undesirable gene expression. It also gives the patient insights into their previous life events and motivates them to take responsibility for their future health.

Although many people are diagnosed with the same disease, each person’s path to healing will be unique, depending on the individual factors that led to the sickness.

The functional doctor takes into account the entire complex web of history, physiology and lifestyle to identify the factors that lead to disease and works with the patient to craft a plan to prevent or reverse illness.

The doctor will not stop looking if they find that none of the organs or systems is in an acute state and in need of immediate care. They will persist with the investigation to find out where the genetic expression has been altered by environmental factors.

How, exactly, do functional doctors solve these personal health mysteries?

In addition to the important clues revealed in the patient’s history, extensive testing is used to get an accurate picture of what is currently happening in the patient’s body.

Some helpful tests that functional doctors often recommend are:

  • 24-hour adrenal stress index: Did you know that dysfunction in your adrenals can cause fatigue, anxiety, depression, blood sugar imbalances, brain fog, weight gain, irritability, decreased sex drive and poor sleep? The adrenals produce cortisol in response to stress. This lab will reveal if your cortisol is low when it should be high, high when it should be low, always too low or always too high.

  • A complete thyroid panel: The thyroid influences even more systems than the adrenals and produces hormones that every single cell in the body requires. Conventional doctors typically only measure 2 out of the 8 thyroid hormones and antibodies that functional doctors use to discover if thyroid dysfunction is contributing to symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, hair loss and depression.

  • Gut permeability labs: All health truly begins in the gut. Our guts are damaged by triggers like stress, poor diet and medications. If the gut lining is compromised, undigested food particles and bacterial endotoxins can leak into the bloodstream. This leads to chronic inflammation and a wide range of symptoms, including autoimmune conditions.

  • Sex hormone labs: Both men and women must maintain balanced levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone to support health. If any one of them gets too high or too low, or even too high or too low relative to each other, we become susceptible to weigh gain, anxiety, depression, erectile dysfunction, mood problems, low sex drive, infertility and acne.

  • Inflammation labs: Chronic, bodywide inflammation is a cause or symptom of many of today’s health problems: autoimmune conditions, cancer, heart disease, brain fog, fatigue and weight gain. Inflammation helps us to heal from injuries and fight off infections. It becomes a problem when it persists after the injury or infection has passed.

  • Genetic testing: As we know, genetics are not the only factor in our health, but they’re still an important one! Tests can reveal genetic mutations that make us more susceptible to particular nutrient imbalances, drug interactions and health problems. By knowing what’s in our DNA, we can modify our environment, diet and lifestyles to balance our inherited risk factors.
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Although each patient’s route back to health is highly individual, the basic road map will follow these essential 7 steps:

  1. Identify Leaky Gut and compromised gastrointestinal function
  2. Identify food sensitivities and intolerances
  3. Identify immune system response to environmental toxin exposure 
  4. Identify and eradicate bacterial, parasite, Lyme, Candida and chronic viral infections 
  5. Optimize and balance hormones
  6. Calm the inflammatory response
  7. Identify individual nutrient deficiencies.

Can Functional Medicine Help Me?

Functional medicine is a systematic, holistic paradigm for treating the person with the disease, not the disease of the person. It’s methods can be used to alleviate and reverse a broad range of chronic conditions, like…

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Peripheral Neuropathy and Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Restless Leg syndrome
  • Autoimmune Conditions
  • Thyroid problems (Hashimoto’s disease and Graves)
  • Gastrointestinal problems (IBS, SIBO, Leaky Gut, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis)
  • Cognitive problems (Parkinsons and Alzheimer’s Diseases)
  • Psychiatric problems (anxiety, depression, bipolar)
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Hormonal imbalances (PCOS, endometriosis, menopause, infertility fibroids)
  • Childhood developmental disorders

If you suffer from any of these conditions…or you don’t feel as well as you know you could, even though your doctor says everything is ok, you may find that a doctor of functional medicine can give you the help you need.

You can begin your search by visiting the Institute for Functional Medicine’s directory. You can also do a simple online search to find a practitioner in your area, though you’ll be glad to know that many functional doctors offer long distance care via Skype and phone.

By finding the root cause of what’s making you sick, you can prevent chronic health problems, restore balance to your system and realize your optimum genetic potential.

After all, health, as defined by the World Health Organization, “is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease.”

Are you as healthy as you deserve to be?

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Drop a comment and let me know about your experiences with chronic illness. Are you satisfied with the care you’re receiving? Is your doctor helping you get better, or just managing your symptoms?

Don’t let your loved ones become a statistic. Share this article with the people in your life who deserve better healthcare.

Goodness Lover

Goodness Lover

COMMENTS 62

    • Goodness Lover

      Hi, Todd! You’re in the right place! Stay tuned for more articles to inform your healthcare decisions and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get even more health tips. If you are looking for a doctor, the Institute for Functional Medicine is a good place to start. You can search their directory at https://www.ifm.org/find-a-practitioner/. Let me know if you have any questions!

  • Olga

    Hi, the functional medicine is not a magic solution for your chronic conditions either, it all sounds very right and promising but in reality is hit and miss long costly process. I personally do not have such a smooth experience with it, though have tried several times

    • Goodness Lover

      Hi, Olga! I’m sorry to hear you haven’t gotten the results you were after. It is unfortunate that insurance does not yet cover all forms of medicine, but instead only covers drugs and surgeries for relief of symptoms while we must come out of pocket to see doctors who seek and treat the root of the disease. I hope this changes in the near future!

  • Lucille grookett

    I found this very interesting I am inquiring for my son who is suffering tremendously his numbers are almost perfect yet he has , anxiety and depression problems. He breaks out in a rash , has problems sleeping
    But he tries to live a healthy life eats very healthy, excersices his physician says he doesn’t know what is wrong. His tester one is very low when he try’s to take tester one he breaks out in this itchy rash.
    He has no energy, I don’t know how to help him.

  • Pat

    Thank you for this blog post. I forwarded it to my sisters. The biggest problem we face is in finding functional medicine Doctors. Some lists only show those Doctors who have taken classes there, and no others. We need a better way to find out where these Doctors are.

    • Goodness Lover

      Hi, Pat! Thanks for passing on this important information! Did you try the Institute for Functional Medicine’s directory? (https://www.ifm.org/find-a-practitioner/) You may also have luck by searching for functional medicine, integrative medicine, naturopathic medicine or holistic medicine in a traditional internet search engine.

  • will silbert

    my 20 year old son suffers from Anxiety and social disorder. We live in Fairfield CT. do you have any recommendations of who would be best to see locally for this?

  • M. Szirtes

    A common thread I found with Integrative type Naturopaths or even Nurse Practitioners I found is that they are way too expensive, they do not read your 16-18 page personal history they ask you to write up beforehand, and then they spend the first two interviews of 2 hours at a cost of $280-300 each, not even looking at you, but hiding behind the computer screen that is placed between you, typing into their computer or laptop your answers to questions they are now asking again, They can’t even see your face from the computer screen. Why did you spend a whole day, writing up for them in the first place? Anything you write is only for their files, they don’t read it. It makes you angry, so you won’t go back to them, and you keep losing $280 to $560 precious dollars, and end up feeling cheated each time you go to another one. I think they do this to get your “statement” into the file so that if you leave them now, which they probably expect, you will likely come back to them 3 years from now and then they will have a record already in place in the computer, of what your condition was before; so you cannot change your story. Its a method the police use, getting a statement as soon as possible written down so the suspect will not have a chance to change his story later. They seem to do this routine no matter where you go, and use you as a subject for some current study they are involved with for publication, they way they are asking their questions, until you feel you were better off with you conventional doctor; he/she at least looked at you when you spoke, actually cared about you for 15 minutes, and that made you feel a lot better than these people who don’t ever bother to even read what you wrote, use you for their research, and charge you an arm and a leg to boot.

    • Goodness Lover

      I agree that affordability is the greatest obstacle to healthcare! Unfortunately, many people can only afford conventional care that is focused on masking symptoms. I’m excited to see more and more doctors embrace root cause medicine and I hope that lawmakers will catch up to our needs by allowing this care to be covered by insurance policies. I’m surprised and disappointed at your experience with “integrative type” practitioners! I have personally met with and interviewed over 100 doctors, all of whom focus on their patients and are committed to solving the riddle behind their symptoms so that health can be restored at last. I’d be happy to share recommendations with you if you are in need of a doc!

  • Lois

    I am in Edmonton, Canada. I believe we are behind also anywhere with this model. After all, we just have to go to Drs. It’s free for any sickness care. Disgusting. I don’t know how to get a good functional Dr. Please help. Lois

    • Goodness Lover

      Hi, Lois! Did you try the search engine at the Institute for Functional Medicine? It’s a great place to start. http://ifm.org/find-a-practioner. You can also use traditional search engines to look for functional practitioners in your area. Let me know what you come up with!

  • Alma Rucker

    Will you please send list of Functional Medicine practitioners in my area? I live in New Braunfels, Tx 78132 area code.
    Thank you!

  • This may be important to test for all these possibilities; but it must cost very high to get all these tests done for every patient. there must be a more practical way to request some tests, rather than all of them.. There must be a way to cut down cost, because it will be a great cause for reducing the attention to healthcare.
    Healthcare is supposed to be a humanitarian profession, not one to enrich oneself by, and this will lead to its downfall! The cost of medicine has gone up so much, that it will make the system obsolete, except for those who can afford it, a minority. It is why many sick people are still going to conventional doctors, because they cannot afford your approach on their own! At least the other is covered by health insurance!

    • Goodness Lover

      I totally agree with you, Anthony! The real question is, why doesn’t healthcare pay for care that actually gets people healthy?? I think the truth has to do with the corruption of governments and the greed of pharmaceutical companies. What do you think it will take for the average person to be able to afford the care they deserve?

  • Mike Grear

    I have Type II Diabetes I lost 80 lbs and the Dr. told me to stop my meds. Then a year later with a sinus infection Dr. gave me a nose spray with steroids and I had it again. The Dr is just treating the symtoms .

    • Goodness Lover

      Hi, Mike! I’m sorry to hear about your disappointing experience with doctors. I hope you find a provider that you can trust to meet your needs!

  • Christina

    My daughter needs a functional doctor in Northern New Jersey for endometriosis Is there a doctor?? She has been to many conventional doctors and they keep on telling her to go on birth control. Which she does not want to. Please help

  • PAUL JOHN CHARRON

    WE NEED THIS. WELL WRITTEN AND I WILL SHARE IT WITH MY FAMILY

    IF I DONT, I WOULD BE LIKE THE DOCTORS OF THE 6 MINUTE VISIT

    AND DONT HAVE A CLUE. WHATS GOING ON ….

    BE YOUR OWN DOCTOR.

  • Lana

    I purchased your best package, but I was not able to purchase the supplements you offered. Are you sold out. Also I need a doctor in Phoenix, AZ or surrounding area.
    Please Reply!!!!

  • Betty

    I have been following n listening to the webinars when I read about finding right holistic dr you are right l have been to multiple Drs for more than five yrs now with a lot of supplements am stuck with weight loss hair loss skin issues insomnia constipation extreme dry skin still on supplements but getting nowhere pls Sara is by the grace of God that l listened to your webinar it gives me hope but don’t know where to g anymore am in West Virginia if there is any dr you can recommend pls help even a long distance dr many thanks Betty

  • David Shep

    Thank you for educating the public. I was educated by conventional doctors who almost killed me. Hormones are a major player for so many diseases. Read Disease prevention and treatment by Life extension Best book on health.

    Only functional doctors are helpful for autoimmune diseases caused by conventionally taught doctors.

  • Mickie Stacy

    Finding a qualified functional medicine GI doctor that I can afford is not easy. Not sure the Internet is a good source because you don’t really know what their qualifications are. I live in the Sacramento CA area.

    • Goodness Lover

      Hi, Mickie! The best place to start looking for a provider is the Institute of Functional Medicine’s directory: https://www.ifm.org/find-a-practitioner/. From there you can visit each provider’s website to see what they specialize in and get a feel for their practice. Let me know what you come up with!

  • Mickie Stacy

    I have had a lot of trouble with diarrhea for the last six years after a two month round of antibiotics when my doctor thought I had Lyme Disease. Turned out I didn’t have Lyme but now I just can’t get rid of the diarrhea. Sometimes I can go for a month or two with no diarrhea but then out of the blue and for no obvious reason it comes back again. this time I have had it for over four months and my health is really suffering.

    • Goodness Lover

      Hi, Mickie! I’m so sorry to hear about your health problems! Many different underlying factors could be contributing to your diarrhea. Constructing a timeline of your symptoms can be helpful in determining the root cause. You may also wish to pursue gut health testing to find out what is going on in your digestive tract. You can learn more about that here: https://goodnesslover.com/guide-to-testing-for-gut-health/. I hope this helps!

  • R J Gunther

    Chronic fatigue
    Sleeping disorders**********
    Thyroid problems (Hashimoto’s disease and Graves)
    Gastrointestinal problems
    Cognitive problems
    Psychiatric problems (anxiety, depression, bipolar)******

    Where would I go for treatment

  • Karen Madera

    I had a hysterectomy 24 years ago and was put on estrogen. About 10 years ago I was told to go off of it. I’ve had hot flashes ever since, but the are getting worse and more often – – really often. I tried essential oils, melatonan (there are so many out there, I don’t know if I got a good one or not) and nothing works at all. Doctor didn’t have any other suggestions. Can you give me suggestions. I didn’t know if there is a special brand. I’m retired, so don’t have a lot of money for doctors, that don’t know how to treat me. Hot flashes are getting so bad that once I wake up at 3 or 4 or 5 am, I can’t go back to sleep. Lack of sleep is really starting to pay a toll on me. Any help for me? Thanks

  • Susan Coker

    I’m being treated for leaky gut at Progressive Medical Center in Dunwoody, GA. They don’t take most insurance, so it’s expensive, but “pay for your health now or healthcare later”. The supplements are expensive. But I had been to regular doctors who only wanted me to use cortisone cream for the rest of my life to treat my awful all-over rash. Progressive ordered food sensitivity and stool tests, plus other necessary tests. They found it was yeast. I followed the diet and took the supplements, and 5 months later, the rash was gone. I’ve been back for further testing, for inflammation, hormones, etc. I’ve lost 30# by following their advice, not dieting, but eating the right foods. Now I’m also receiving prolozone injections for my back, and after the 3rd one, I went 30 days without pain, and might have gone more, but I made an appt. for the 4th. I’m so happy to have found a place within driving distance for me that gets to the root cause of my problems. I won’t be going back to regular doctors unless I break a bone! I just wish they took insurance, but generally, insurance doesn’t pay for these kinds of treatments anyway. I have read a lot and watched many health webinars online, and Progressive is right on target with the current thinking of functional medicine. I see a lot of negative reviews for this place, but many positive ones, and I’m one of those.
    I also am going to a chiropractor who is treating the neuropathy in my feet with low level light, shock-wave treatments, and lidocaine injections, plus more. I am getting some good results here, too. Hooray for functional medicine!!!

  • Maxine Linton

    Hi,

    I so need to find a doctor that can look at my big autoimmune problems, I am now 67 years old and had a brain tumour that effected my Pituatory Gland and has given me big problems with low antibodies, thyroid and gastro/reflux/hiatus hernia and systemic candida … I know sound like I am a hypochondriac … I have managed to cope (badly) however cope but now I am older I am really struggling with depression about how I feel, I have a beautiful 12 month old GSD that I adore but so want to be able to give him a good life … I don’t know if you only deal with doctors that could help me in the USA and I am in Australia … is there anyone you could possibly recommend .. I so, so need your help, ….. thanks.

  • Rita shapira

    Thank you so much for this important post, it explanes very good the idea of functional medicine. I myself feel than the convencional medicine is a waste of time for me , as i am considered ״healthy” but i still suffer from fatigue . This article emphasize to me the fact that i have to find myself a functional doctor.

  • Andre Dwayne McCoy

    Sarah Otto you are a give from God! What made you risk your life to do something like this? The Gut Solution has totally changed my mind set on the specifics of all illnesses. Ilove you! And keep on keepin on. You know what I mean by that.I will take your knowledge everywhere I go.I am going on the radio on Friday night to raise awarenes.”Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now, We’re On The Move!”One day we will dance in heaven!The Famous Dwayne Movement has just begun.God bless you for all you’ve been trying to do for us.Cheers mate!(Andre Dwayne McCoy!) A Goodness Lover!

  • veronica flett

    am looking for anything that can be done for some one who has started dialysis 3 months ago. Is this some thing that can not be reversed?

  • L McGuire

    I am not satisfied with my current healthcare. I have to fight to be a part of my own health & to not radiate my thyroid, take vaccines or detrimental & unnecessary prescriptions. However the cost just to walk into a functional doctor’s office would take half of my monthly income & I’m going without basics already. Not only that but the nearest one is over 150 miles away. I would love to see a functional Dr., as well as many of my associates but we have yet to find any workable solution.

    • Goodness Lover

      I understand your frustration! Have you considered functional practitioners that offer group coaching sessions? The care is exchanged online via video chat and is less expensive than one-on-one consultations, plus you get to learn from the experiences of other people who face similar challenges 🙂

  • Sharon DURDA

    love to receive a evaluation of my health issues from a functional med Dr but I am Canadian and don’t think I can afford the assessment
    If there are any functional med Dr in Canada, I would love to get names or references

  • Lucille grookett

    My on earn is for my son I believe he has most of those problems. He never got over the death of his father, followed by his sweetheart that passed away suddenly from cancer at a very young age. He sees a physiatrist which only continues to prescribe meds, which only make him worse meds were mixed that were not supposed to be taken together and almost completely shut down his thyroid.

    • Goodness Lover

      Hi, Lucille! Perhaps sharing this article with your son will encourage him to consider a new model of care. Trauma such as your son has experienced can have a lasting effect on the body and mind, but with the proper support, he may be able to get off the meds – if he wishes. All the best!

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