The difference between traditional medicine and functional medicine

In an effort to explain how traditional medicine is different I thought I would walk you through a patient case review.  Now I was trained as a traditional medicine PA, but what ended up getting me well was a holistic functional medicine approach!  I did this before I even really knew what I was doing or what was going on with me!  It was one of those happy accidental findings that people go through and that change your life.  

Once you see the other side of how your body works as a whole, and how the gut is a driving force behind health and healing, you can't really go back to the life you once had.  I knew I had to get out of traditional medicine and find something that I could share with others to help them.  I knew that what I was suffering with was a very common complaint amongst patients and other people I knew.  This is why when a job in a functional medicine clinic presented itself, I took it.  Not to mention it was part time!  

Recently I had a young patient come in to see me who was having multiple struggles.  She was reporting skin problems like acne, rashes and possibly psoriasis or eczema, fatigue, stress, anxiety, low mood, frequent sinus infections, elevate TSH on thyroid testing, focus issues, weight gain and trouble losing weight, and irregular menstrual cycles.  I had her do a test called a microscopy, which looks at your blood in real time and can check things like candida overgrowth, immune stress, liver stress, digestive issues or thyroid problems and more.  Based on her health history and symptoms though I knew her problems were stemming from poor gut health.  This actually made me excited because I knew that I could help her.


So If I had seen her in traditional medicine I may have put her on birth control pills to regulate her acne and hormones, and then would have put her on an antidepressant for the anxiety.  I probably would have mentioned some diet changes and exercise as well as some relaxation ideas and that would have been the basis. 

In  functional medicine we like to get to the root cause of why something is off.  This may require more work by the patient but it can be life changing and you are not relying on medication that can have other side effects.  You see most disease begins in the health of our gut.  The reality of trillions of bacteria living inside our gut is pretty amazing when you think about it.  They outnumber our human cells 10:1 and we really need to take care of them.  We can wipe out entire species of good bacteria pretty easily by our standard lifestyle and diet.  She did have quite a bit of candida that showed on her microscopy too, but ALL of her symptoms were gut related even though she had no digestive symptoms.  I started her on an anti-fungal to kill excess of candida, and started her on a candida diet which is no sugar, no dairy, no caffeine no alcohol, basically protein, good fats, non starchy veggies, as this will starve candida.  Then I had her start a probiotic to help reseed with good bacteria, and l glutamine which helps to seal gaps between our gut cell lining since that can become easily damaged.  I think that she had a gut imbalance due to antibiotics, stress,  and poor diet.  Just doing this 30 day treatment alone should provide lots of benefits.

for thyroid we discussed how nutrient deficiencies, and other compounds in food and water can interfere with our thyroid hormone production. Things like iron, zinc and selenium play a big role in thyroid conversions to our active hormone, so I had her start a good multivitamin and also iodine.  your thyroid glad concentrates iodine and flouride, chlorine and bromides(all halides) interfere.  Drinking water filtered from flouride, chlorine and not eating baked goods since they have bromides can really help, and using non flouridated toothpaste.  My favorite water filter is called a Berkey!  

For her stress, we discussed starting yoga once a week to help with mood, stress and relaxation, and to increase from there as tolerated.  We also discussed something I learned when I went through counseling for anxiety called progressive muscle relaxation.  You tighten different parts of your body in a contraction and then relax until you go through each part! We also discussed unplugging for 10-15 minutes a day, no electronics, just sitting or laying in stillness.  

I am excited to see her back and see her progress.  There is more to get in to but that is what we started with.  It is unfortunate that the world we live in is causing disease.  The stress, our fast foods and non food items in the grocery stores, our toxins and pesticides, and overuse of medication is causing more disease and weight gain and it is really scary!  I am just one person but I see this field growing.  One reason I became a holistic health coach in addition to all of this is so I could expand and help more people out there!

I hope this is of value to you, and if you want more information feel free to contact me!  




My StoryAlison Wensrich