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What is Functional Medicine?

By Dr. Michael Veselak, D.C.

Almost every week a patient asks, “what led me to take this direction in my practice?”  “What changed to inspire me to study Functional Medicine, Functional Neurology, Neurofeedback, and Genetic Testing?”
Quite simply, on a daily basis, my patients and friends were struggling in a broken health care system.  They were applying acute care medicine to chronic conditions.  The focus was on symptom suppression rather than identifying the actual cause of the problem.

The magic bullet formula of taking a special little pill for a particular condition, despite serious potential side effects, was a system we all bought into.  Sure, some of us got great results. If we experienced a sinus infection, the headaches and symptoms were removed with antibiotics. But did we ever reflect on what caused the sinusitis? What effect are the antibiotics now going to have on the gut flora?  After all, the gut is where 70-80% of our immune resides – it is our primary defense system.

Statistically, 20% of Americans are taking 5 prescriptions for a lifetime.  The framework is based on clinical testing, we call it science (until we actually contract one of the side effects), and a trillion dollar pharmaceutical industry.

Functional Medicine is looking at each patient on an individual basis and assessing their health according to their personal health history, lifestyle, and genetic makeup.  Functional Medicine is exercising and accessing our right to new information. Functional Medicine is the framework that will help us as individuals and a nation get healthier.

There is not one disease nor is there a one-pill model. Our bodies are an interwoven system in a complex network. When one area is affected, another is affected.  The antibiotics we take for the sinus infection affects our gut flora, altering the balance we have between good and bad bacteria.  The battleground in the gut gradually changes with the influx of parasites, yeast, and bad bacteria.  This change creates an immune response, which our body so delicately and accurately deals with on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, some of these bacteria, specifically H. Pylori, are very keen to hide from our TH1 and TH2 immune response systems.  When the T-cells and B-cells are set out to find the invaders and tag them for future attacks, they at times can begin to attack our own tissue creating an autoimmune type reaction. Of course, this is a very simplistic explanation of how this occurs.

However, what is real and not so simplistic, is the number of patients that I see on a regular basis that now have an autoimmune disorder.  There is a common thread within every chronic issue, and that is oxidative stress due to inflammation or toxicity issues. The comorbidity of these chronic health syndromes is too great to ignore.

Often times we attribute our problems to age, genetics or stress.  The truth is, genetics play a small part of the bigger cause.  The genome project proved that 95% of our genes are affected by diet and lifestyle.  Age and stress are an excuse for our lack of interest in managing our health in a more intelligent manner.  Particularly, by removing the stressors that are causing our body to be in a state of inflammation.

So how do we find our way out of the web of physiological dysfunction?

It starts in the gut!  We have to get the gut healthy to have a healthy immune response. Research and data clearly state, when we remove lipopolysaccharides from the diet, depression is reduced; probiotics decrease anxiety; and fermented foods such as sauerkraut assist with the reduction of these maladies.
We need to acknowledge that we our poisoning our genome and change the relationship we have with our environment and the way we grow and process our foods.  Our daily nutritional choices of removing gluten, dairy, soy and sugar from the diet, saying no to over-the-counter analgesics such as advil, choosing grass-fed and hormone free beef and chicken, eating organic fruits and vegetables with no pesticides, and of course exercise on a regular basis, all has a profound effect on our immune response system.

These are informed choices that will provide healthier outcomes.  Functional medicine can help alter every patients’ way of approaching certain lifestyle choices. These diet and lifestyle changes are enhancing the lives of our autoimmune patients, allergy and migraine sufferers, and those struggling with gastric reflux, just to name a few.

Our thorough analysis of reviewing blood work and ordering specific testing to identify the CAUSE, and then implementing a nutritional program to support YOUR body on the path to good health, is the basis of Functional Medicine.

If you are interested in a Functional Medicine and Neurological Evaluation, call our office at (805) 482-0723 to schedule your appointment.

For distance patients, I also do Skype consults.  Visit our website to learn more and schedule an appointment.
In good health,

Dr. Michael Veselak, D.C, BCIM, CFMP

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Why Functional Medicine

Hello, my name is Dr. Michael Veselak, and today we’re going to talk about functional medicine and why it is important to utilize functional medicine

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