I began my career in healthcare over a decade ago, as a Registered Nurse on an inpatient unit in a traditional pediatric hospital. I still work for the hospital in a small capacity, but as my eyes opened up to alternative ways of thinking about illness, I tend to spend more time focusing on that.
While I completely agree there is a time and a place for conventional medications and a time and place for conventional healthcare, I feel that model isn’t the answer to all the health problems our nation is currently facing. In defense of conventional medical providers, the current medical model isn’t set up to allow time for providers to spend time with their patients. That is why many health care teams are starting to employee Health Coaches to come in and help.
Couple of quick stories to start out
I just recently went to the ear doctor due to some odd symptoms I was having and within my 3-5 minute visit with the doctor, he went over two medications and a potential surgical option. The conventional medical model is quick to prescribe medications to suppress symptoms and shockingly suggest surgical ‘bandaids’ in some cases. This is the case, in my opinion, with many kids who are getting ear tubes today (at no fault to the parents because they don’t know of other options).
Additionally, my dad was telling me a story of a friend of his that had a hip surgery in the past but was still not finding relief. Due to some other underlying issues, he was not eligible for another surgery and medications he was prescribed were also not helping. He decided to try acupuncture and his pain was gone within a day.
My point again is not that conventional health care doesn’t have a place – it is absolutely essential in trauma and emergency care, but maybe there are alternative ways of thinking about dealing with medical issues.
Another option to consider
Let me introduce you to Functional Medicine. As defined by the Institute of Functional Medicine, Functional Medicine “Is an individualized, patient-centered, science-based approach that empowers patients and practitioners to work together to address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness. By addressing root cause, rather than symptoms, practitioners become oriented to identifying the complexity of disease.” Chris Kresser, a Functional Medicine practitioner, describes this healthcare model as “focusing on preventing and reversing disease, instead of just suppressing symptoms with drugs.”
Basically, Functional Medicine looks at your entire body and tries to get to the root cause of illness instead of just treating symptoms with medications. One of its primary beliefs is your body is interconnected and often the root cause can be found in your gut health. I think if we can begin to focus on the root cause of people’s illness and work to make behavioral changes, we can drastically decrease the rate of chronic illnesses. That is where I come in! I want to help you make those small mindful changes that will lead to a bigger impact in your health.
**To note, Functional Medicine will not help with acute and emergent care. These medical professionals are great at helping with chronic illness. With that said, they also often times can help you work through acute issues with a different perspective then prescribing a pill or cream.
There is a fine line between embracing the advancing times and technology and also remembering the traditional ways of our ancestors.
I think a good goal we could all take on is getting back to eating nourishing whole food 85-95% of the time, treating our bodies including our brain like they did (by focusing on sleep, stress management, movement, mindset) and managing abnormal symptoms like they did (with plant based and natural substances, which oftentimes work better than pills + creams and provide little to no side effects or abnormal interactions).
Lets also focus on general environmental toxin reduction.
Am I saying you need to move to a farm and only eat food produced on your land, no! (Although I secretly want some chickens :)!
Am I saying if you focus on all of these things, you won’t ever get sick, no.
You will still get sick some, and quite frankly our littles need to get sick to build an immune system, but hopefully the illnesses are acute (short lived) and not happening often. When you do get sick, maybe thinking about ways to manage those symptoms with more alternative methods that have been around for centuries, long before the pharmaceutical industry was around. Lets make a reverse in the chronic illness epidemic we are facing!
Where can you start?
I am not a Functional Medicine Practitioner, although would love to be one one day. I am though a Registered Nurse and Integrative Health Coach who fully believes in the Functional Medicine Methodology and loves to learn! I am also someone that practices what I preach.
One of the main philosophies of Functional Medicine is the 4Rs for Gut (and Overall) Health. **Your gut health affects your entire body, so this applies to you even if you don’t have GI symptoms**
A general overview of the 4Rs includes:
Foods you are sensitive too and general inflammatory foods
Stress (can’t fully eliminate so working on managing)
Potential benefits from adding in digestive enzymes and / or hydrochloric acid?
Consuming fermented foods and drinks, prebiotics and probiotics.
**This is the probiotic our family uses and you can get 15% off with code embrace)**
Evaluating the need for additional supplements
Ongoing dietary plans to keep inflammation down
Here are a few of the Functional Medicine Practitioners I learn from that I would encourage you to as well. They are a wealth of eye opening knowledge. If you have a medical issue, consider checking out their sites for articles.
- Chris Kresser, Co-Director of California Center for Functional Medicine
- Dr. Mark Hyman, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center of Functional Medicine
- Robin Berzin, Founder and CEO of Parsley Health
- Elisa Song, Integrative Holistic Pediatrician
Each of these providers have many different ways they offer educational content including a social media presence, blog articles, e-books, podcasts, etc.. Some have also written hard copy books that you can find on their website or where books are sold. Check out their websites, pick your method of learning and get started!
Then if you are interested in finding a Functional Medicine practitioner in your area, check that out here. (I will say this website isn’t all inclusive because I know of many others that aren’t even listed on this site).
Finally, I am also fully committed to helping share this word and am dedicated to helping support you in changing your course. We are on this wellness journey together!
I would love to help answer any questions you might have. You can comment below or email me a question for more privacy.