Functional Medicine: How to Access the Future of Medicine Now

Functional Medicine: How to Access the Future of Medicine Now

WHERE CAN I FIND A DOCTOR who practices the type of medicine that you do? That was the question I was recently asked when giving a talk about UltraWellness and functional medicine to the top health writers and publishers in America, who deal with all the leading edge nutritional and medical advice. These were the key people from Reader’s Digest, Time-Life Books, Rodale, Healthy Directions , More Magazine, and Agora publishing. They’re the top thinkers, creative leaders, and very connected to the health world. Yet even they were asking for help finding a doctor!

Unfortunately this is a question that I hear over and over again, wherever I go to speak about the new paradigm in medicine that deals with the roots of illness, not just the symptoms. Everybody wants it. But nobody can find it.

I often send people to the Institute for Functional Medicine’s website, which lists practitioners who attended an intensive 6-day training course. But that doesn’t mean the clinician’s listed there have much experience — just an interest and some basic training.

I am on the chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating practitioners in this new medical paradigm. We are working on many exciting initiatives, such as the creation of a fellowship training program, and collaborating on key groundbreaking research initiatives on Functional Medicine at Harvard Medical School. We also publish the paradigm-shifting textbook, The Textbook of Functional Medicine (of which I wrote a few chapters).

I am also on the faculty and advisory board of the Food as Medicine Program of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. My long-time colleague, Kathie Swift, is co-director of the training program for healthcare practitioners.

So we’re making real strides. But it is still hard to find a qualified practitioner who truly understands how to apply this medical model. That’s because it is a radically new way of thinking about health and disease, not just another treatment method.

In fact, I recently spent some time with Jeffrey Bland, PhD, a nutritional biochemist and the father of Functional Medicine, and asked him just how many truly high-level, experienced practitioners there are in practice. He said there were but a few dozen! That’s hardly enough to help all the people who need help — the 125 million Americans with chronic disease.

I want to emphasize — this is NOT alternative or integrative medicine. This is a science-based, fundamental change in our way of thinking about health and disease.

I was lucky enough to be in the early development of Functional Medicine during my years at Canyon Ranch, where I had the luxury of working with people who were willing to explore this new medicine with me. It was there, through the visionary leadership of Kathie Swift, that I was first introduced to Functional Medicine. My patients at Canyon Ranch were willing to spend time — often 2 hours — to see the nutritionist and get nutritional and metabolic testing that allowed me to see deep into the roots of their illness. And they were willing to make the lifestyle changes needed to address the causes of disease.

I learned about Functional Medicine in a different way, too. I learned about it from the inside out — because I had to learn how to heal myself from chronic fatigue syndrome.

It is through these experiences that I gained the knowledge to help so many people for which diagnosis-based medicine fails. Let me tell you the story of one of them.

A Conventional Doctor Seeks Help

One of my recent patients was a doctor who ran a top government health agency. She had struggled for 30 years with chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, depression, psoriasis, arthritis, sinusitis, severe muscle pain, brain fog, and a 50-pound weight gain, which led to diabetes.

As a well-connected doctor, she had exhausted all the conventional channels for help as well as many alternative therapies, which didn’t work. They didn’t work because there was no organized thinking or model with which to navigate to the causes of the problems. So she resigned herself to being disabled in her early 50s — when she should have been the prime of her creative and work life.

But that isn’t what happened.

Instead, I showed her how to use functional medicine address the causes of her illness. We dealt with her gut dysfunction, detoxified her from mercury, fixed her mitochondria, and addressed the inflammation raging through her body. Now, just a year later, she is a new person.

Not only is she back to work full time, 50 pounds lighter, without diabetes, depression, pain, fatigue, and digestive and sinus problems, but she feels that she has her life back after 30 years.

I want to emphasize — this is NOT alternative or integrative medicine. This is a science-based, fundamental change in our way of thinking about health and disease. The treatments are grounded in nutrition and improved lifestyle, complemented by nutritional supplements, medications, and other treatments as needed.

As you might imagine, as my work is becoming more known, I have been trying to keep up with all the requests for appointments that come into my practice, The UltraWellness Center. Seeing patients and being a doctor is the heart and soul of my work, but I have to give myself a few days a week to work on changing the medical paradigm through research, professional education, and writing so I can help more people access this type of medicine. A couple of years ago after finding I was booked out for nearly a year without the ability to take on new patients, I realized I had to expand my medical practice and bring in other doctors and nutritionists and staff to help the people that needed care and couldn’t find it anywhere else.

Over 90 percent of my practice comes from all over the world. My patients include CEOs, presidents, billionaires, kings, rabbis, doctors, lawyers, plumbers, secretaries, firefighters, nurses, and more.

So I have worked very hard over the last few years to create a center of this new medicine. I have invested in a state-of-the-art electronic health record system and am completing a totally revised practice website to serve all the needs of our patients. And most importantly, I have found the right people to help support this work.

I have added two new physicians and another nutritionist who are highly experienced and skilled in functional medicine. We all work together, collaborate, and support each other to give our patients the best care by reviewing patients together and constantly updating ourselves on the latest research. We work closely as a team with the support of our nutritionists and nurse coaching staff to help everyone with their health transformation.

Vibrant good health is a universal objective, but few people have the opportunity to experience it. At The UltraWellness Center, we are committed to helping you reach optimal health by identifying underlying causes of disease and treating them. Diet and lifestyle modifications, in combination with nutritional and specialized testing, nutritional supplementation, and medications are used to address everyone’s needs, from creating wellness to treating complex chronic medical problems. At The UltraWellness Center, all our physicians are board-certified in Family Practice and are experienced in functional, integrative and nutritional medicine. Our nutritionists have specialized training in using food as a medical therapy. Our physicians, nutritionists, and nurses work together closely and utilize a comprehensive approach to health.

Our wish is to have everyone say, “I didn’t know I could feel this good!” Because we treat the person, not the disease, and deal with the core systems of the body, we can address any condition — either from a curative or supportive standpoint. Here is just a partial list of problems we specialize in:

  • Brain Wellness
  • Heart Health
  • Detoxification and Healing
  • Healthy Weight and Metabolism
  • Healthy Aging
  • Fatigue
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Elevated Cholesterol
  • Migraines and Headaches
  • Chronic Sinusitis
  • Asthma
  • Environmental and Food Allergies
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sleep/Insomnia
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Mercury and Heavy Metal Toxicity
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Thyroid and Adrenal Disorders
  • Female Disorders (PMS, Menopause, Infertility)
  • Eczema/Psoriasis
  • Acne
  • GERD/Reflux
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Osteoporosis

So if you are interested in getting help, or know of anyone else who might need help, you can give us a call at (413) 637-9991. Please read about How to Become a Patient before you call in.

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below—but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

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