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Why Functional Medicine

By Dr. Michael Veselak, D.C.


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 in treating these chronic, degenerative conditions such as neuropathy, fibromyalgia and even Alzheimer’s. To give you a little bit of background, I’ve been a chiropractor for approximately 35 years now, and my practice has trended towards more of the functional medicine, functional neurology route. I’m board certified in integrative medicine, and I am a functional medicine practitioner. Approximately a year ago, I wrote this book, it’s called, “Understanding, Managing and Improving your Peripheral Neuropathy”, and fortunately it has been one of the top sellers on Amazon ever since it’s been published, for the past year

Anyway, today we’re going to talk about, Why Functional Medicine? To start with, I really want to go over three major objectives. First, I want to teach you the fundamentals of functional medicine. Second, I want to talk about common conditions that can benefit from functional medicine. And third, I want to share with you how I address my chronic health patients. We probably know that chronic disease in the US is just skyrocketing. We hear about all these cases of Autoimmunity, Neuropathy, Alzheimer’s, Anxiety, Depression, and Diabetes. Conventional medicine is fantastic for acute care, but it falls way short in chronic care.

If you’ve been to a doctor recently, it’s just sometimes hard to get the tests that we want. It’s actually hard to find the time to even talk about your problems. The main focus is really on symptoms, not causes. The treatment is driven, mainly by pharmaceuticals, and it’s more of a model now that’s reacts more to symptoms. It’s not really a proactive model; it’s a reactive model. So, on the other hand, functional medicine is more of an individualized approach. They focus on addressing the underlying cause, not just treating the symptoms. They look at the whole body, which is a must when you treat any of these chronic conditions, and mainly the recommendations are through diet and lifestyle changes. So in my opinion, this is the medicine of the 21st century.

So, it looks at not only symptoms, but it looks at things like genetics, your environmental factors, did you have any toxic or chemical exposure, where do you live? Do you have mold in your house? Are you subject to heavy metal toxicity? And then lifestyle, I mean, it’s important to look at, how you sleep and do you exercise and what are you actually eating? And then of course, like I just said, proper nutrition, you have to eat right. So, we all should be taught in the first grade, or even kindergarten, every grade thereafter, the right way to eat, the right way to exercise, all about decreasing stress and about, the things that are actually really important to us, and actually invest in our future. So, the best diet really, is we should eat just whole foods, not processed foods.

We probably know that, but it’s so hard to do because you go through the market, and there is no good food, except on the perimeter of the market. The whole food no processed diet is the best diet, especially if you do have a chronic health condition.

Some of the reasons why we prefer functional medicine is, as I said, it’s a whole body approach. The goal is to support the body’s natural ability to heal itself, which it will do to maintain homeostasis. The focus is to, it’s supposed to treat the person, not the disease. I always say labels are for cans and not for people. So, I really don’t even pay attention to diagnosis. I care about my findings, I care about my exam, I care about the labs, I care about the person’s health traits, and things that they’re doing to take care of themselves, like the diet and lifestyle, things we talked about. And that’s how I address my patients.

I always wondered why people consider the things I do alternative therapy. Why? Why is diet and lifestyle considered alternative? It’s ridiculous actually. This should be mainstream, and medicine should be the alternative therapy. Medicine should be the last resort. But now, many of you reading this, are in so much pain, you’re depending on the medicines to get you through the day. There was no Doctor that really took the time to teach you how to fundamentally take care of yourself. It is way too easy to prescribe medications. Once you get on the meds it’s really hard to get off them, and I get it. Sometimes patients come in, and they hand me a page and half of the medicines they’re taking. I just think, how in the heck can they ever get better taking all these medicines? It’s just not possible.

Functional medicine can treat a lot of different conditions like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, digestive issues, acid reflux, IBS, anxiety depression, psoriasis, eczema and autoimmune issues.

The goal in our office is to personalize the plan to that person. So, we want to look at which part of the body is affected, what are the symptoms, how much inflammation there is, if there is tissue damage, that actually means there’s an autoimmune issue. Autoimmune means your body is attacking its own self, it’s tissue. And then, what are the potential causes? We address every patient from a metabolic, neurological, genetic and then a structural standpoint. So, my treatment model basically comes down to, we want to try to find the underlying cause, figure out which body systems are affected, is it the GI system, is it the thyroid, is it the brain, is it the skin? And then we look to see, is there any physiological damage? So, is the body starting to break itself down, like throughout catabolic type physiology, or is it building itself up, anabolic physiology? And then of course we have to address the symptoms and correlate it to, what’s the underlying cause, the body system, the physiological damage? That’s basically how I approach every patient.

And then my care plans, of course, are going to consist of different lifestyle changes, that I mentioned before, such as diet and exercise. We will give stress management tools, such as meditation, or maybe Tai chi or belly breathing, different things that we can do to try to get the stress levels down. Frequently, we will recommend detoxification programs and various nutrients and supplementation for that particular person. So, it drives me crazy when I see these neuropathy protocols, the one size fits all approach. They think everybody fits under this box. Take this one supplement and all your neuropathy symptoms will be gone. This will never work every person is different and the underlying cause is different. The symptoms might sound the same when people discuss them, burning, tingling and numbness but the cause for the most part is different.

There are so many different causes of neuropathy, and chronic degenerative issues, that you just can’t give one plan and hope that everybody fits under that plan. So if you’re under a plan like that, and you haven’t seen results, change. It’s not the right one for you. So, the goal is to restore the imbalances that caused the specific condition in the first place. So, if it’s part of a liver problem, you need to support the liver. If it’s kidney, yes, support the kidney. If it’s just nerves, support the nerves. Oftentimes, it’s gut, it’s brain, it’s nerves, and every person, like I said, is different and they must be personalized and individualized.

What does the research have to say? This is interesting. So in a journal of internal medicine, they said if you make four lifestyle changes, you don’t smoke, you exercise for three and a half hours per week, you eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight, then this is what happens, 93% diabetes prevention, 81% heart attack prevention, 50% stroke and 36% cancer prevention So they did this study again, 30000 people. They came up with the exact same data. So, only four changes in behavior can have significant impact on your health.

When I evaluate a patient I generally run some tests to uncover the underlying cause tests I like to run are Organic Acids, Dutch Hormone, the GI Map Test.

I look at genetics through, and then upload it to another site to evaluate methylation and detoxification as well as possible issues with neurotransmitter.

If indicated I will order a hair analysis looking for heavy metal toxicity.

Our goals, when a patient comes in, are to evaluate their condition thoroughly and set goals. We discuss various lifestyle changes like dietary habits, sleep, exercise ,meditation and stress reduction. Then piece together a program, that’s therapeutic, in the beginning, and then transition through time to more of a maintenance regimen. Overall, our care plans are from 3 months to six months.

Anyway, thank you for listening. I hope you got some insight into functional medicine, and if you haven’t been exposed to it and you have these chronic health issues, you’d need to really find a functional medicine practitioner near you. Or you can contact me and I’m more than happy to help. I do these Skype and Zoom evaluations all the time online. We treat a lot of distance patients, so if that interests you, you can contact my office. The phone number Is (805) 482-0723, and we will be able to set up an in office consult or an online evaluation.


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