Functional Medicine Medicine for the 21st Century
We are living in a very exciting time in medicine. It's a time of huge transformations where we are finally beginning to understand how the body works and how to use this information to treat illnesses, but also help people improve overall health. Healthcare is on the verge of a major paradigm shift! The world is on the brink of witnessing an important revolution in the history of modern medicine. Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, liver disease, mood disorders and chronic fatigue.
Presently the system of medicine practiced by most physicians is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as appendicitis or a broken leg. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.
Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic disease. In most cases it does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or factors such as environmental exposures to toxins and the aspects of today's lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise on chronic disease in modern Western society.
It's a system that is broken. Many discerning health consumers are ready & hungry for real answers to chronic diseases. Research shows 37% of Americans use 'alternative medicine' regularly. People are spending billions of dollars on Naturopathic Physicians, Chiropractic Physicians, and Acupuncturists. There is a willingness of the consumer to seek non-drug related solutions to improve their health.
Everywhere one looks you can read or view advertisements for the latest, greatest drug intervention that may provide symptomatic relief for XYZ diseases. If you have acid reflux, take Nexium. If you have high blood pressure, take a calcium channel blocker. If you have anxiety, take a Prozac. And the list goes on and on. The truth of the matter is that we are not suffering from a Prozac deficiency or a calcium channel blocker deficiency or any other prescription drug deficiency. The problem or imbalance lies deep in the body's natural physiology. Drugs interfere with the body's chemistry in one way or another and interfering on these delicate processes will have it's consequences over time. Just like the red warning light in your car flashes when there is a problem with your engine, he body gives a physical symptom as a signal telling you that an imbalance has occurred and a health problem is brewing and needs to be investigated and corrected. Treating a symptom without uncovering the cause is like placing a piece of black tape over the blinking red warning light. The consequence in the long run will you soon be paying for an expensive engine overhaul!
So what is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, Functional Medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional Medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, Functional Medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual. The focus of Functional Medicine is on patient-centered care, promoting health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease. By listening to the patient and learning his or her story, the practitioner brings the patient into the discovery process and tailors treatments that address the individual's unique needs.
Functional Medicine is a comprehensive and scientifically based approach treatment. Most imbalances in functionality can be addressed; some can completely restored to optimum function, and others can be substantially improved. Prevention is paramount. Virtually every complex, chronic disease is preceded by long-term disturbances in patient's health. The Functional Medicine practitioner examines a wide array of available interventions and customizes a treatment plan including those with the most impact on underling functionality. Functional Medicine expands the clinician's tool kit. Treatments may include combinations of drugs, botanical medicines, nutritional supplements, therapeutic diets, or detoxification programs. They may also include counseling on lifestyle, exercise or stress-management techniques. The patient becomes a partner. As a patient, you become an active partner with your Functional Medicine practitioner. Improving your own health and changing the outcome of disease is the ultimate outcome.
Exercise alters estrogen lowering risk of breast cancer
Multiple studies have shown that exercise reduces breast cancer. In a study of 212 premenopausal women who exercised for 30 minutes five days a week for 16 weeks, the participants had an increase in lean body mass and a decrease in fat mass when compared to controls. In addition, they had a decrease in esterone which is one of 3 types of estrogen produced by women and thought to carry a greater risk for breast cancer. And there was more 2-OH-esterone (a metabolite of esterone, which is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer) and less 16-OH-esterone (a metabolite of estrogen associated with a higher risk of breast cancer). The importance of this study is that it shows how exercise reduces breast cancer risk.
How is this important for you as a woman? Exercising regularly, if you aren’t already, will not only reduce your risk of breast cancer but also improve so many other aspects of your health. Have your hormones measured, including estrogen metabolites to see your level of esterone, estrogen to progesterone ratio, and 2-OH-esterone and 16-OH-esterone levels. And lastly, get BRCA testing for genetic predisposition if you have a family history for breast cancer. If esterone is elevated or the ratio of estrogen to progesterone is too high, or the ratio of 16-OH-esterone to 2-OH-esterone is too high, there are also other things to do to reduce your risk for breast cancer in addition to exercising regularly.
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