September, 2007

Jeanne RustLetter From the Founder

Dear Friends,

Functional Medicine is a science-based healthcare approach that assesses and treats underlying causes of illness through individually tailored therapies to restore health and improve function. Its goal is to bring the body back into alignment by drawing on the combined knowledge of genetics, herbal medicine, nutrition, environmental toxicology, endocrinology, natural medicine of all types, gastroenterology, psychology, and immunology.

Functional Medicine

  • is patient-centered
  • is based on each person's unique needs
  • helps balance your biochemistry
  • integrates physical, mental and emotional
  • uses challenge tests rather than diagnostic tests
  • encourages you to take an active role in your program
  • is interested in outcomes rather than controlling symptoms
  • is used by all disciplines of medicine: medical, naturopathic, chiropractic, osteopathic, dentistry, nutrition, etc.

Many people today have health problems that don't fit into simple categories. Often people have complex health problems involving inflammatory responses, immune, nervous, digestive, energy, and/or cardiovascular systems. Very frequently they may have one or more of these conditions in conjunction with the eating disorder. These people are best helped by a functional approach.

In conventional medicine, making a diagnosis is often the endpoint of therapy. Functional medicine looks deeper to find the cause. When we have pain, discomfort, or reccurring health complaints, it's our body's way of trying to get us to pay attention.

Rather than taking a pain medication each time we get a headache or backache, maybe we should ask ourselves why we are experiencing the pain? For example, if you are depressed, perhaps an anti-depressant would help you to feel better. But wouldn't you really like to explore why you are depressed? Could it be a neurotransmitter problem? Or a relationship problem? Could you be reacting negatively to food you are eating? Or could it be the load of heavy metals or toxic chemicals you've accumulated? This approach obviously requires more work than just writing a prescription for an antidepressant, but it results in a much more satisfying answer.

In this issue of the Sunflower, Dr. Dawn Bantel, Mirasol's Medical Director, explains how we'll be using Functional Medicine at Mirasol to help our clients achieve optimal health and wellness.

Please feel free to write either myself or Dr. Dawn for more information on our new offering!!

Jeanne Rust, PhD

Functional Medicine:
The High-Tech Revolution in Holistic Health

By Dawn Bantel, NMD

Dawn BantelOne of my favorite things about Mirasol is the food. It not only tastes great, it's also the most effective medicine we can give our clients. It's amazing to see the changes that can result from even a few weeks of good nutrition. Every one of our clients has nutritional deficiencies. This is one of the unfortunate consequences of eating disorders. Of course, this can have a significant impact on one's physical, mental and emotional health.

Many of our clients restrict whole categories of foods. For example, anorexics may avoid fats, proteins or carbohydrates. Nutritional deficiencies can also result from the increased requirements of a medication or from the individual's biochemistry.

In a perfect world, we'd be able to pinpoint each client's exact nutritional deficiencies and design an individual treatment plan based on her needs. Fortunately, that ideal treatment model is now within reach thanks to functional diagnostic medical testing.

Functional Medicine is a giant step forward in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of chronic illness. It's a logical, cutting-edge extension of integrative medicine, made possible by new technology, nutritional research, and genetic tests that were unavailable even a decade ago.

At the root of Functional Medicine is an examination of core clinical imbalances that result from a variety of factors including diet, exercise and the way the body processes trauma.

The core clinical imbalances can include:

  • oxidative stress
  • nutritional imbalances
  • intestinal dysfunction
  • impaired detoxification
  • immune/inflammatory imbalances
  • endocrine imbalances

By comparing the individual's assessments with normal physiological ranges, practitioners of Functional Medicine can pinpoint abnormalities and contributing factors to health problems, often exposing the real causes of chronic illness and degenerative disease.

photoIndvidualized treatment plans can then be developed with the goal of restoring proper cellular metabolism by reducing cumulative toxic load and oxidative stress to the body, normalizing mitochodrial respiration and ultimately reducing the signs and symptoms of chronic disease.

I used to be surprised that even our sickest, most fragile clients would appear to be healthy according to conventional laboratory tests. By using more precise tests, we'll have a much better picture of each client's overall treatment requirements.

Beginning this month, we can now offer Mirasol clients an optional package of functional diagnostic tests known as as the ION Profile (individual, optimal, nutrition) through Metametrix Clinical Laboratory. ION includes a detailed analysis of more than 100 components in blood and urine for essential fatty acids, amino acids, B vitamins and antioxidants as well as toxic metals. Once the information is analyzed, we can create a customized nutritional and therapeutic plan to address not only the client's illness, but to help her achieve optimal health.

For more information, visit the Institute for Functional Medicine.