What Is Functional Medicine (Part 2)?

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Last month, we discussed the differences and basics of true functional medicine/nutrition and what seems to be the popular trend in health care. “Holistic” and “wellness” can mean almost anything (I’ve seen a plastic surgery center referring to itself as a wellness center). In mainstream medicine, taking blood pressure medicine for high blood pressure is a step toward wellness, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Wellness is a dynamic process of optimizing the functions of the body and mind through creating ideal natural homeostasis or balance. This would ideally be without any drugs, or even supplements.

The body is designed to control all functions; for a variety of reasons (stress, trauma, toxins, etc.), it loses that control. But your body wants control and will do anything to have it. For example, our body will do everything possible to maintain our blood chemistries. It will take, steal and route all necessary compounds to ensure the blood is as normal as possible. This means taking minerals from our bones and organs, and changing the normal state of events.

Did you ever wonder since osteoporosis is so rampant and calcium supplements so ubiquitously recommended why taking our blood calcium levels are not used to access our calcium stores? Our blood calcium is an extremely tightly regulated system with a tight operating range. If blood calcium levels exit that range, extremely serious conditions generally result, like coma, or even death. The body will maintain the blood calcium levels by draining our bones, organs and tissues to keep the levels balanced. But that means certain areas of our body will see calcium deficiency and others not. So bones will demineralize, muscles will weaken, nerves will slow their functions and more—all functions requiring huge amounts of calcium.

So what would a true functional practitioner think about calcium? Your first guess might be vitamin D. In a sense that is correct and often utilized, but the bigger question is, Why does more than 90 percent of the population have this deficiency of this “hormone”? Did I just write hormone? Vitamin D is a hormone, not really a vitamin. A vitamin by definition is a compound the body requires for normal function but cannot make and must be acquired through food, and nowadays supplementation.

But vitamin D should be easily made by the body, right? Sunlight, some say? Remember, 90 percent or more of the population has low vitamin D, but many people work outside for a living. Vitamin D is really a steroid hormone (a good thing, not just for weightlifters)—part of a large family of hormones, including cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, vitamin D is responsible for controlling functions from cholesterol balance, blood pressure, sleep, sugar levels and more. In fact, all these hormones can convert back and forth into each other.

Comparatively, vitamin D is much less important than cortisol and the others, so the body if having trouble starts to deregulate its production. So vitamin D deficiency might really be a subtle sign of greater hormone deficiency. Manufacturing these hormones requires not just good fuel/food for their building blocks but that we digest and absorb those nutrients properly and efficiently—and that our liver, kidney, adrenal glands, skin and other hormone systems are functioning at their highest levels. All of these systems can lose their functional prowess as a result of stress, toxicity, poor diet and trauma, all weakening what our individual genes have deemed our “weak spots.” Genes do not cause our health, but they do dictate what will break, if something will break. Despite our heredity, we can have excellent health, and despite even the most complicated symptoms or illness, they can almost always be reversed. It takes some determination on finding the real roots of our problems. Just as medications can lose their effectiveness over time because they are not really treating the cause of the symptoms they treat, natural methods can also be just used on symptoms and lose effectiveness over time. Treating the cause often creates widespread improvements in one’s health that lasts.

Source: Dr. David Pollack, of Pollack Wellness Institute (66 Commack Rd., Ste. 204, Commack). For more information, call 631-462-0801 or visit PollackWellness.com.

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