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The Rise of Functional Medicine & How It Will Radically Change Your Life

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Modern medicine is in crisis. The reason: it’s just not working.

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Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, obesity, and allergies are increasing with no letup in sight and account for seven of the top ten causes of death as of 2010. Heart disease and cancer accounted for forty eight percent of all deaths. Modern medicine may be great at dealing with infectious disease and traumatic injuries, but has failed to stem the tide of chronic disease.

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In addition, surveys indicate that two-thirds of patients feel disrespected by their physicians, forty-four percent feel doctors don’t spend enough time with them and a quarter believe physicians don’t answer questions and don’t adequately involve them in treatment decisions, and use medical terms with no explanation.

Numerous health systems have gained prominence in the West as alternatives to what is known as mainstream or biomedicine. Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Chiropractic, Chinese medicine, Acupuncture, Massage Therapy and Reiki have arisen as popular alternative healing methods. The most recent National Health Interview Survey estimates that up to forty percent of Americans have tried one or more of these alternatives and are spending $34 billion annually on them.

Reform From Within

Change is also occurring within the medical profession itself. Functional Medicine (FM) is a relatively new approach that has arisen from within mainstream medicine and challenges its reductionism and method of care. FM is not an alternative to biomedicine. Rather, it is a reform movement that is calling for a paradigm shift toward a holistic model of disease prevention and treatment based on the new scientific field of systems biology. Systems biology holds that the sum is greater than its parts. Living organisms are complex, whole and interactive systems and not a conglomeration of separate parts. Systems biology provides an elegant and accurate understanding of who we are and how chronic disease needs to be treated and prevented. FM embraces this position.

What is Functional Medicine?

The idea of FM was created in 1990 by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, known as the father of FM, to meet the growing challenge of chronic diseases with advances in modern medical science and systems biology. In 1991, he and his wife Susan created the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) to implement FM within the health care sector of society.

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FM addresses the underlying causes of disease, not only its symptoms as mainstream medicine is prone to do. FM is a clinical application of systems biology that sees each person as an integration of mind, body and environment, a bio/psycho/social entity, if you will. FM is health rather than illness oriented. It treats the whole person and seeks to establish a dynamic equilibrium and resilience within each patient. In this way, it is holistic. A primary goal of FM is to promote each patient’s health and vitality. An FM practitioner is a medical doctor with special training through the FMI and typically looks at each patient’s:

  • Personal lifestyle
  • Unique biochemistry
  • Genetic predispositions
  • Environmental factors and toxicities

In the FM model, a disease may have multiple causes that include: sedentary and indoor lifestyle, chronic stress, genetics, poverty and lack of medical insurance, aging, fragmented families and community dysfunction, environmental toxicities, and nutritional deficiencies.

Disease Matrix

Regina Druz, MD, a practicing integrative cardiologist and FM practitioner in Mineola, NY, describes FM in very practical terms: “FM is root cause medicine. It relates disease symptoms and conditions to biochemical and genetic processes that govern states of health and disease.”

Practitioners often use the analogy of a tree and its roots to describe the FM model:

disease tree

The roots of the tree are the multiple causes out of which grow the myriad chronic diseases that are now at epidemic proportions. Mainstream medicine treats the leaves (symptoms) whereas FM treats the roots (causes). See the full comparison here. 

In the words of Mark Hyman, MD, chairman of the board of IFM, founder and CEO of the UltraWellnes Center, and NY Times bestselling author:

FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE is the future of conventional medicine–available now. It seeks to identify and address the root causes of disease, and views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties. It treats the whole system, not just the symptoms.

Dr. Hyman’s video offers a clear explanation of the differences between functional and conventional medicine.

Disease Prevention

As stated by the IFM:

A major premise of Functional Medicine is that, with science, clinical wisdom, and innovative tools, we can identify many of the underlying causes of chronic disease and intervene to remediate the clinical imbalances, even before overt disease is present.

Emphasis is placed on ascertaining individual biochemistry, lifestyle factors, toxicology, using advanced laboratory and genetic testing coupled with treatment plans of diet, exercise, herbal treatments, supplements, detoxification, stress management, and appropriate use of pharmaceuticals.

Public Health

Since disease prevention is a high priority for FM, efforts are made to partner with individuals and communities to advocate for social change. As Dr. Druz explains: “Public health plays a prominent role in the Functional Medicine domain as it focuses on prevention and early intervention of chronic diseases.”

The systems approach highlights the social origins of disease and demands moving beyond a purely in-the-clinic model and advocates for changes in such things as food policy (GMOs, industrial food production, etc.), poverty, and environmental degradation while supporting stable families. To be an effective medicine for the 21st century “Future clinicians, if they are to be integrative healers, need to be out where the people are and to participate in social and environmental policy change.”

The FM Treatment Plan

Forging bonds with individual patents entails FM practitioners spend much more time with patients than conventional physicians. It is typical to take a full patient history while including the patient in determining treatment options. The GOTOIT approach is fundamental to accomplishing this. Jones and Quinn identify the GOTOIT process as a logical way of “eliciting the patent’s whole story and ensuring that assessment and treatment are in accord with that story.”

G = Gather Information

O = Organize Information

T = Tell the Complete Story Back to the Patient

O = Order and Prioritize

I = Initiate Treatment

T = Track Outcomes

The FM practitioner enters all of this information into a Functional Medicine Matrix which allows for all pertinent info to be followed and changed as need be over time. This process demands consistent interaction between patient and physician.

The Future

Many in the field of FM believe it is the future of medicine. Regina Druz asserts that FM “…is the way of the future. My prediction is that we will come to full force within the next 5-10 years.” She adds that FM will allow the “…prevention of chronic disease and cancer to start in-utero and continue throughout one’s lifetime…Our children and grandchildren will be the beneficiaries.” Druz believes this is possible as genomics, epigenetics, toxicology and biochemistry expand our capacities to understand how the body/mind works and contemplate new clinical interventions.

How to Find a Functional Medicine Physician

The best approach is to connect with a FM practitioner is through the Institute of Functional Medicine website. Click on Find a Functional Medicine Practitioner on the home page. Your life may change dramatically if you do.

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Autistic, Alzheimer’s & Multiple Sclerosis Brain Tissues Have Significant Amounts of Aluminum In Them

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CE Staff Writer 5 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A 2020 study found that the aluminum content in brain tissue of people with Alzheimer's disease, familial Alzheimer's disease, autism spectrum disorder and multiple sclerosis is significantly higher compared to tissues used in the study as controls.

  • Reflect On:

    Could aluminum be playing a role in these, as well as other diseases? How does it get into our brain?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

There is no shortage of studies demonstrating that aluminum is present in human brain tissue. This is a problem given the fact that aluminum is neurotoxic and wreaks nothing but havoc on biology. This is firmly established in scientific literature. There is no debate on whether or not aluminum exists within human brain tissue, the science is settled. The debate is now focused on how much aluminum is too much. How much aluminum does it take to impact the health of a human being in a negative way?

A study published in the journal Nature compared the aluminum content in human brain tissue of people with Alzheimer’s disease, familial Alzheimer’s disease, autism spectrum disorder and multiple sclerosis with healthy controls. According to the authors, “detailed statistical analyses showed that aluminum was significantly increased in each of these disease groups compared to control tissues.” They go on to mention that,

We have confirmed previous conclusions that the aluminum content of brain tissue in Alzheimer’s disease, autism spectrum disorder and multiple sclerosis is significantly elevated. Further research is required to understand the role played by high levels of aluminum in the aetiology of human neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disease.

The researchers used tissue from twenty control brains of healthy individuals to compare against the brain tissue of people who have had a diagnosis of the neurodegenerative conditions mentioned. The fact that all disease groups had significantly higher brain aluminum content than the control group is quite concerning. That being said, it’s not proof that aluminum actually plays a direct role in each of these diseases. The important takeaway from the study and what we know about aluminum toxicology is that there is absolutely no debate, at all, as to the neurotoxicity of aluminum in humans. It’s just not a good thing to have in your body.

The study emphasizes,

Animal models of aluminum intoxication reproduce the neuropathologies and neurodevelopmental effects of human neurodegenerative disease, if not the diseases per se. Cell models and in vitro studies demonstrate mechanisms of aluminum toxicity known to be involved in human neurodegenerative disease. Perhaps the information that is still missing from understanding of aluminum’s role in each of the diseases compared herein is how much aluminum is too much in human brain tissue. The comparison we have made herein between control brain tissue showing no signs of neurodegenerative disease and the disease groups…is beginning to answer this question. Only further measurements on more donor brains will enable a definitive conclusion to be reached on the role played by aluminum in human neurodegenerative disease.

The authors make it clear that aluminum and its presence in human brain tissue “cannot be without consequence” given everything that’s been discovered about aluminum toxicity. There is a great need for further study here and to determine how much aluminum the brain, and other organs for that matter, can tolerate before there are detrimental effects. These effects may be short term as well as long term, and they may play a role in neurodegenerative disease like the ones the study examine. It’s hard to think that the high aluminum content in the brain tissue of people with these diseases  is simply a coincidence, especially given the fact that the aluminum content in “normal” brains is significantly less.

Once you start to see these sort of data together, once you start to see the levels of a known neurotoxic metal accumulate to these levels, it is absolutely inevitable that they will contribute to disease. – Professor Christopher Exley, lead author of the study, taken from the interview below.

Exley is a Professor at Keele University, and arguably the world’s leading expert in aluminum toxicology. Exley and his work is supported by many scientists from around the world, yet he is facing a potential set back with regards to continuing his research on aluminum and disease. One hundred scientists came together and recently wrote a letter of support, stating,

We are writing to express our concern over the possible interruption of research on aluminum and disease conducted by Christopher Exley and his group in your (Keele) University. We feel that Christopher Exley’s work conducted for so many years in line with the previous research of late Pr Birchall at Keele University has been an important service to the scientific community, patients and society in Europe and globally. We firmly declare that Pr Exley has always defended rigorous research independent of commercial conflicts of interest, and has freely carried out his research without any control by any of his sponsors.

You can read more about what’s going on with regards to this situation, and access the correspondence that’s happened between Keele University (Exley’s employer), Exley, and the academics who support his work, here.

Below is a very informative interview with Exley if you’d like to learn more about aluminum and its accumulation within humans. On a side note, ask yourself, what products and substances may contain aluminum that could be contributing its accumulation in various human organs like the brain?

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Awareness

Lebanese Hospital Becomes The World’s First To Go 100 Percent Vegan (Food)

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CE Staff Writer 7 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A hospital in Lebanon has become the first in the world to adopt a completely vegan menu.

  • Reflect On:

    Are people aware of the physical and emotional torture the majority animals we eat go through? Are people aware that a diet free of animal products can be very beneficial for human health. Are people aware that animal agriculture is destroying Earth?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

At the beginning of March, Hayek Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon became the first hospital in the world to serve 100 percent vegan only meals. Prior to this change, patients had a choice between animal based meals and vegan meals, and included with that was information about the health benefits of choosing plant-based foods versus the dangers of consuming animal products. The hospital made the announcement via their Instagram page, stating that “Our patients will no longer wake up from surgery to be greeted with ham, cheese, milk, and eggs…the very food(s) that may have contributed to their health problems in the first place.”

When the World Health Organization classifies processed meat as a group 1A carcinogenic (causes cancer) same group as tobacco and red meat as group 2A carcinogenic, then serving meat in the hospital is like serving cigarettes in a hospital. When the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) declare that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious disease comes from animals. When adopting a plant based exclusive diet has been successfully proven not only to stop the evolution of certain diseases but it can also reverse them. We then, have the moral responsibility to act upon and align our beliefs with our actions. Taking the courage to look at the elephant in in the eye.

Their various statements also point to the role that animal agriculture plays in spawning infectious diseases, citing the Centers for Disease Control’s estimate that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious diseases come from animals. “We believe it’s well about time to tackle the root cause of diseases and pandemics, not just treat symptoms,” they note.

This was a great statement. The modern day medical industry only seems to be focused on medications, and only medications that can turn a hefty profit, to treat and cure disease instead of addressing root causes. It’s good to see things changing, but a big problem remains. If a plant that grows in abundance, for example, has the potential to cure a disease, will we ever hear about it? Will the medical industry be interested in it? Probably not, but when a drug is made and patented from that plant in a specific way, that’s when we will. This is not to say that modern day medicine is useless, but today now more than ever a big problem exists, and this problem may be killing more people than it’s helping.

Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), a Harvard professor of medicine and also a former Editor-in-Chief of NEMJ, was frustrated that “the medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.” (source)

According to Forks Over Knives,

While Hayek is the first hospital to completely purge animal products from its menu, a number of hospitals have begun offering more plant-based options in recent years. Both New York and California have enacted laws requiring hospitals to offer a plant-based option with every meal. In 2018 NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue launched the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program to help patients transition to a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle.

The American Medical Association passed a resolution in 2017 calling on U.S. hospitals to provide healthful plant-based meals to promote better health in patients, staff, and visitors. The American College of Cardiology has issued similar recommendations.

In my opinion, “veganism is a very fine form of nutrition” (Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, heart surgeon), and as mentioned above, there is plenty of science to back up that statement.  I’ve written about it many times before from a health perspective.

Here’s an article that goes into more detail and science if you’re interested, it also addresses history, and how our teeth and guts are designed and more. Here’s another one regarding a study that found a strong association between eating animal protein and a premature death from all causes, including multiple cancers and type 2 diabetes.

The studies cited in that article note that meat eating is strongly associated with up to a 75 percent increased chance of early mortality, and that protein from animals may cause harm, while protein from plants may help reverse disease and have a protective effect.

There are hundreds of these studies, and the ones I cite are just a few examples.

This is obviously a very controversial topic in the eyes of many, and it’s not hard at all to find conflicting information on the subject. I am no doubt bias in my beliefs and opinions here.

One thing is for certain, the way we treat animals on this planet is extremely heartbreaking and unnecessary. Animals are separated from their families, raised for slaughter and are kept in torturous conditions on a daily basis. It’s truly unbelievable and horrific. It’s the biggest genocide and example of both physical and emotional torture the world has ever seen. I don’t think anybody can witness what really goes on in most slaughterhouses can come out not being impacted.

On top of this, animal agriculture is one of, if not the greatest contributer to environmental degradation and pollution on our planet. Animal agriculture is actually the leading cause of deforestation. Every single day, close to 100 plant/animal/insect species are lost because of this practice.

Final Thoughts: At the end of the day it seems that, from a health perspective, processed meats, and other meats are no doubt harmful to human health. People can make the argument that other animal products may not be and that we are meant to consume them. People can also make the complete opposite argument. One thing that can’t be argued is, again, the torture, physical and emotional abuse that comprise the source of where animal products come from for the majority of people who eat them.

There is a big split, as with many other topics, amongst people on this issue. There are even vegan influencers who are creating splits within the ‘vegan community’ itself, which is unfortunate. I personally believe that, from a health perspective, animal products are not at all required for anybody and are again, overall, harmful to human health.

The more pressing issue, again, is the treatment of our animal brothers and sisters, and how we are constantly using and abusing them. It’s indicative of world that lacks empathy, compassion, understanding and love, as well as our inability to see ourselves in another. This can be seen in many aspects of the current human experience, be it war, human trafficking and more. That being said, it’s great to see human consciousness shifting towards a more compassionate, empathetic type of awareness. This is evident by the “vegan” movement alone, as it’s become quite large over the past few years and will continue to grow. Some of the biggest animal food producers have already gone out of business, and it’s great to see more people in the health community as well recognize that it’s a win for health, a win for environment, and most importantly, a win for the very emotional, intelligent, animals, who are similar to us in so many ways. We have so much to learn from them.

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Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

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Awareness

Caloric Restriction vs. Fasting: Why One Can Result In Weight Gain While The Other Helps Burn Fat

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CE Staff Writer 3 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In the video below, Dr. Jason Fung explains the difference between caloric restriction and sending the body into "starvation" mode compared to fasting.

  • Reflect On:

    Fasting has been used as a health intervention for thousands of years, and is being used today by doctors who are educated on the topic. Why is it completely ignored by mainstream medicine? Is it because "big pharma" can't make any money off of it?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Some would say that the best solution to weight gain is eating right and exercising. I couldn’t agree more. Obesity is one of the deadliest problems humanity faces today, and just as important as diet and exercise is for addressing this issue, even more important are the emotional and personal reasons as to why so many people damage themselves and make themselves more prone to serious disease.

Apart from diet and exercise, initiating a proper fasting regimen can have tremendous health outcomes, especially for overweight people. It wasn’t but a decade ago when fasting to lose weight was considered unhealthy and dangerous. Today, we have a tremendous amount of science that’s been published clearly showing that fasting can be an effective health intervention for people of all body types, especially for people who are overweight and suffer from certain diseases. It’s an excellent way to help your body burn fat. Fasting has been used and is currently being used as an intervention for type two diabetes, cancer and more. Fasting has been shown to trigger stem cell regeneration, autophagy, which in turn can help clear out toxins and damaged cells, repair DNA, improve metabolism, lower blood sugar, boost brain function, reduce the risk of age related disease, lessen inflammation which improves a wide range of health issues from arthritic pain to asthma and more. It’s no wonder why so many ancient cultures from different parts of the world used fasting as medicine and as a health intervention.

As shown in the science, fasting is generally safe for everybody. This many not be true if you already have underlying health conditions or are taking certain medications. This is why it’s important to consult a health professional about it, but the issue is, the majority of health professionals are not well educated in fasting interventions. Those who have educated themselves have been treating their patients with fasting and are drawn to it due to its ability to provide so many benefits.

One of these doctors is Dr. Jason Fung, who on his blog and his YouTube channel, as well as the books he’s written provides a wealth of information and science regarding fasting. I often refer people to the work of Fung, or others like Dr. Valter Longo if they want to begin their own research about fasting. Again, there is a wealth of science and “scholarly” articles available on the subject for anybody who wants to search for it as well. It’s not heard to find.

In the video below, Fung explains why fasting is much different from caloric restriction or having your body go into “starvation mode.”  You can also check out his article, “The difference between calorie restriction and fasting” for some great information as well.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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