Chronic disease is on the rise and has become the largest driver of health care costs. 31.5% of Americans suffer from more than one chronic condition and it tends to go that the more conditions one has, the more expensive the prescriptions become. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are among the most common chronic diseases that are reported, which lead to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Among other common chronic disease is the rising prevalence of autoimmune disease, which is when the body attacks its own cells.

Conventional medicine will suppress chronic disease by giving a prescription medication to make symptoms go away.

Functional medicine will look at the root cause of those symptoms and use lifestyle changes and supplements to rebalance what is imbalanced.

 

Let’s look at a few common chronic conditions and compare the conventional versus functional approaches.

Heart Burn

High Blood Pressure

Conventional:

Acid blockers are generally prescribed, which reduces your stomach’s ability to produce acid that is present to digest food and reduce harmful bacteria. Long term use of acid blockers is linked with poor absorption of nutrients and bone loss.

Functional:

WHY are you experiencing reflux? Is it too much or too little acid? Or is the acid in the wrong place? This guides treatment suggestions, but generally involves comprehensive stool testing, digestive enzymes to SUPPORT not suppress stomach acid, calming herbs for the esophagus and often a dietary discussion, which entirely depends on the person.

Conventional:

MEDICATION forever!

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

 

Functional:

DIETARY changes! Addressing the diet can change cardiovascular health immensely, however it’s also imperative that stress reduction and management are addressed. There are also herbs that can help, but if nutrition and stress are both unhealthy, herbs likely won’t make a big enough dent.

High Cholesterol

Type 2 Diabetes

Conventional:

Statin MEDICATION! It has been shown that statins only decrease risk of heart attack by 2% and there are associations between statin use, nutrient deficiencies and higher risk factor for Type 2 diabetes

Functional:

Cholesterol will be assessed from a much deeper perspective, looking into the breakdown of all lipid particle size, number and ratios. However, we don’t stop there. It is also important to look into hormone levels, blood sugar levels and of course nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress, as each of these play a role in your cardiovascular health. Each of these considerations are discussed in detail and specific recommendations are made, such as increasing fiber and anti-inflammatory fats in your diet.

Conventional:

MEDICATION to lower blood sugars, however these prescriptions may have serious side effects.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Functional:

First and foremost nutrition and lifestyle must be addressed. While the presentation of diabetes has changed over the years, diabetes is still most often a result of poor lifestyle and/or genetics. Nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress relief will be first on the treatment plan. From there, herbs to support blood sugars will likely be an option, however if really needed, prescription medication can be utilized, but hopefully only for a short time while the other factors can be rebalanced and resolved.

 

 

Joint Pain

Conventional:

Depending on the cause of joint pain, whether it’s caused by arthritis, osteoporosis, gout, autoimmune disease, etc, the prescription recommendation may vary. The most basic recommendation will be NSAIDs, but as most of us know, they can cause ulcers and digestive problems. Some MDs may recommend exercise, which is a great start!

Functional:

First the cause of joint pain must be identified. This could be weight, hormone imbalance, nutrient deficiency, autoimmune disease, leaky gut, etc. Once the cause is identified, it will then be addressed accordingly, using diet and lifestyle modifications as well as supplementation. Oftentimes while the cause is being investigated, functional medicine doctors may suggest anti-inflammatories such as turmeric or omega 3’s, vitamin D for bone health or probiotics for gut health, all of which could be part of the picture.

As you can see, there is no one size fits all treatment plan. Even if two people have the same symptom, the cause could be completely different, therefore what the patient needs varies greatly by individual

Some of the common chronic conditions we treat at RHMC include autoimmune disease, anxiety, mood disorders, pain, digestive concerns, fatigue, thyroid disorders, allergies, among others.

If you’re looking to address your health from a root cause and more natural approach, functional medicine is for you! If you’re ready to start your healing journey or if you have more questions, call us! We’re here to empower you to live in your best health!

The above information is not intended to diagnose or treat a disease and is not a substitute for appropriate medical care.

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