Functional Medicine Services
Conventional medicine remains a critical approach for treating acute symptoms, but to achieve long-term sustained wellness, a root-cause approach, such as that offered by functional medicine is crucial. The two branches of medicine should ideally work hand-in-hand.
I regularly consult with medical doctors who are open to this integrative approach and see the benefits of addressing the causes of health issues, rather than on limiting treatment to the myopic focus of conventional western practice.
I work with patients and their doctor(s) as a team, thoroughly evaluating each person's case, based on their unique set of health circumstances. It is this "team” approach that differentiates me from many other practitioners.
The following section provides a short overview of many common ailments people suffer from, along with an explanation of why they exist and what Functional Medicine can do to help.
Acid reflux/heartburn is due to a dysfunction of the lower esophagus valve (LES). 85%-90% of cases are due to low stomach acid NOT high stomach acid. Download the free eBook on the home page to learn more.
An allergy is a reflection of immune system dysfunction rather than the consequence of allergen exposure and absorption. Oversimplifying an allergy leads to over-simplistic drug treatments for allergies without any regard for the overactive immune system. People with allergies have a “leaky gut” that is exacerbated by eating allergenic foods. The cause of leaky gut and the body’s hyperactive immune system starts in the stomach with hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid) or achlorhydria (no stomach acid). Undigested protein gain access to the small intestine, get into the bloodstream through the leaky gut and then sets off the immune system cascade. Treating hypochlorhydria/achlorhydria, healing the leaky gut and regulating the immune system should be a top priority in the treatment of allergies.
A hypersensitivity disorder or the airways which lead to bronchospasm. Rates of asthma, especially in children, are constantly on the rise with increased stress on the immune system. Immune system regulation is key to asthma due to the upregulation of the Th2 side of the immune system. Other causes include; environmental influence on genes, history of atopic disease, fungus overgrowth, heavy metal toxicity, insufficient cortisol levels, aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), yellow dye #5, imbalanced nervous system and nutrient deficiencies such as Vitamin D, B12, and magnesium.
Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
AD is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder characterized by skin barrier dysfunction and mutations in genes coding for surface proteins. Dysregulation of the immune system plays a significant role in eczema due to a Th1 to Th2 shift which further impairs the skin barrier. Staphylococcus aureus (bacteria) is heavily involved in the inflammation process. Food allergies, intestinal permeability (leaky gut), and an overgrowth of Candida albicans must be investigated before specific therapeutic protocols are implemented.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
BPH is the 4rth most common diagnosis in older men. Symptoms involve urinary retention, urinary frequency, and urgency, reduced force of urine flow, incomplete bladder emptying and intermittent stream. The most common causes are; sedentary lifestyle, obesity, poor diet, and DHT (a potent form of testosterone on the prostate). Nutrient deficiencies such as Vitamin D, Zinc, and essential fatty acids play a role in the pathogenesis of BPH.
Celiac Disease (CD)
CD is characterized by malabsorption and small intestinal villi destruction which is reversible upon elimination of the protein gluten. CD symptoms appear in the first three years of life after the introduction of cereals and then in the 3rd decade of life. More diagnosis is made in adults than in children. There’s a very high probability that CD individuals also have thyroid antibodies. A full thyroid panel with anti-TPO & anti-TG antibodies is highly recommended. CD individuals are also at an increased risk of any other autoimmune disease, and this should be thoroughly investigated by a skilled clinician.
The use of antidepressants, such as SSRIs and MAOIs, may be warranted in severely depressed people (suicide threats) but have not been shown to be any more effective than placebo (sugar pill) in mild to moderate case studies. 25% of people taking antidepressants haven’t even been diagnosed with depression. Depression has been shown to be the result of many different factors such as nutritional, environmental, social, physiological, hormonal and microbial as well as heavy metal toxicity. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), Comprehensive Biochemical Testing, lifestyle factors and nutritional modification using diet and appropriate supplemental nutrients have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression significantly and in many cases, reverse depression.
Diabetes Mellitus-Type 2
T2DM is a disorder of blood sugar regulation where blood sugar levels elevate due to insulin resistance on a cellular level. Dietary modification is mandatory for T2DM individuals to retain control of glucose levels. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are now known as a major causative factor because these molecules block insulin receptor sites. If all causative factors have been addressed but failed, running a biochemical test for toxic elements is highly recommended.
FM is characterized by SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), fatigue, pain, stiffness, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), exercise intolerance, depression, anxiety, headaches, sleep disturbances, mitochondrial dysfunction (significant reduction in the ability to make energy). Biochemical testing and testing for bacterial overgrowth (see SIBO testing) is paramount in FM patients. How does SIBO cause FM? Bacteria secrete toxins such as; lipopolysaccharide (LPS) which stimulates the immune system causing inflammation; D-lactic acid which causes muscle pain, fatigue, and brain fog; hydrogen sulfide (H2S) which poisons the mitochondria (energy-producing factories in the cells), kills brain cells, muscle fatigue, and brain fog; tryptophanase which leads to tryptophan deficiency causing serotonin deficiency (depression) and melatonin deficiency (insomnia).
Factors linked with hair loss in women are; antibodies to gluten, glucose dysregulation, hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid), hypothyroidism (inability to signal for increased energy production), deficient or insufficient nutrients such as Vitamin A, zinc, iron and essential fatty acids (dry skin), as well as abnormal hormonal levels and side effects of certain medications.
Classic symptoms of hypoglycemia include; a headache, depression, anxiety, irritability, blurred vision, brain fog, mental confusion, excessive sweating, convulsions. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is a roller coaster ride where the “fix” is the actual cause in the first place, in the majority of cases, blood sugar dysregulation.
Conventional medicine has many tools to assess fertility and miscarriages. If all of these have been exhausted and there are no physical impediments (reproductive problems), then genetic testing for specific methylation genes as well as nutrient deficiencies should be investigated. This route of investigation and proper supplement protocol intervention, in many cases, have resulted in successful outcomes.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder seen by gastroenterologists. Studies show that over 65% of people with IBS have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid), dysbiosis (imbalanced gut bacteria), food sensitivities and fermentable foods causing gas and bloating are the most common causes of IBS. Testing and eradication of SIBO should be a priority as well as those above.
Migraine headaches are caused by excessive dilation of blood vessels in the head. The most common cause include; inefficient digestion, food sensitivities, low-grade chronic infection, SIBO, dysbiosis (imbalance in gut bacteria), emotional instability and muscle tension. Nutrient insufficiencies need to be addressed. Nutrients that have shown to reduce the magnitude and frequency of migraines significantly include; CoQ10, B2, B6, magnesium, fish oil, 5-HTP, and serotonin.
OA is characterized by joint degeneration and loss of cartilage. OA is the most common form of arthritis primarily affecting the elderly but can start as early as age 30. Causes are mainly from wear and tear over time but limited to just the wear and tear. Many chronic inflammatory diseases can lead to the onset of OA. Treatment should focus on reducing inflammation and repair and regeneration of chondrocytes (collagen producers) with appropriate nutrients.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD)
Inflammation, loss of dopaminergic neurons (dopamine deficiency), excess manganese, heavy metal toxicity, cardiovascular risk, Vitamin D deficiency, detoxification problems, glutathione deficiency, persistent organic pollutants (POP’S), dopamine pathway dysfunction, (B6 deficiency), mitochondria (energy producers) dysfunction, folate, and B12 deficiency. Any or combination of these factors increases our risk for any disease and disorder. PD is no different. Getting on this early reduces the progression of this disease. Biochemical testing can unravel many of the unanswered questions, but even more importantly, it can provide answers to questions you never even thought existed.
Inflammatory disease of the gums (gingiva and periodontium). This is not the same as tooth loss. Best treated by experts (dentist or periodontist). However, guided by an expert on nutrition and anti-inflammatory diet will improve control and future prevention of inflammatory PD by strengthening and balancing the immune system. Ask me about liposomal Vitamin C in the prevention of PD.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Symptoms appear during the late stage (luteal phase) of the menstrual cycle and disappearing by the end of the full flow of menses. Symptoms do not appear during the first half of the cycle. Symptoms include; low energy, irritability, headache, depression, aches, bloating, food cravings, tension, and breast pain. Appropriate nutritional protocols can significantly reduce symptoms of PMS. Excessive estrogen has a detrimental impact on mood because it inactivates B6 which is needed for serotonin synthesis. Women with PMS have shown to have low serotonin levels, hence the cravings for sugar. Just a couple of nutrients shows excellent results in PMS women.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (AR)
RA is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the synovial membranes of the joints such as the hands, wrists, knees, feet, and ankles, but not limited to just those areas. Causes are much the same as psoriasis. Elimination of food allergens and sensitivities is critical to balancing immune function and healing of the GI Tract. Reducing the total inflammatory load by implementing an anti-inflammatory diet and appropriate anti-inflammatory supplements is necessary. Addressing nutrient deficiencies and correcting improper digestion is also crucial. Most RA patients have low-grade chronic pathogens (virus, bacteria, fungus, and parasites) infections which should be tested with a DNA Stool Analysis and eradication of any infection is paramount in alleviating RA symptoms. Comprehensive biochemical testing can give valuable information contributing to the development of a customized individual protocol for anybody with an autoimmune disease.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Winter depression and summer hypomania. Hormonal changes in melatonin and cortisol have been shown to play significant roles in SAD. Darkness encourages secretion of melatonin from the pineal gland which suppresses’ cortisol secretion from the adrenal glands. More light in the summer lowers melatonin secretion which allows for the increase in cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for waking us up in the morning while melatonin is our sleep chemical enabling us to sleep at night. Diurnal patterns of melatonin and cortisol are the opposite.
A multifactorial disease which requires a careful therapeutic approach. Treating causes such as diet (elimination of refined carbohydrates), nutrient deficiencies such as Vitamin A, Zinc, and Selenium as well as evaluating underlying hormonal imbalances are key before initiating specific therapies. Comprehensive biochemical testing such as the DUTCH and appropriate blood lab markers from your family physician can be beneficial in determining specific treatments.
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)
AD is a neurodegenerative disorder of progressive deterioration of cognition and memory. An increase in AD disease cases parallels the increase in type 2 diabetes (TTDM) and insulin resistance. Factors that may play a significant role in improvement in mental function in early stages of AD include; dietary strategies, antioxidant support, nutrient support such as B1, B12, L-Acetyl carnitine, phosphatidylserine (PC), melatonin and even DHEA (our body’s most abundant steroid hormone) and a Huperzine A (a very potent acetylcholinesterase used in China for many years).
The underlying pathogenesis of a group of disorders, namely; cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary artery disease (CAD), and infarctions (myocardial, cerebral, and pulmonary). Major risk factors are mostly modifiable, and these include; poor diet, smoking, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle and elevated homocysteine levels, essential fatty acids deficiencies, inflammation, and low antioxidant status and nutrient deficiencies.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is defined as developmentally inappropriate inattention and impulsivity with or without hyperactivity. ADHD expresses as learning and behavior difficulties, particularly in school. Dopamine (the neurotransmitter responsible for attentiveness, concentration, and motivation) is low in ADHD individuals and the error in this pathway can be identified and treated. Multiple nutrient deficiencies such as essential fatty acids, magnesium, zinc, and iron are widespread in ADHD children as well as adults. The use of optimal reference ranges in these cases is critical for effective treatment.
Characterized by the clouding or opacity in the crystalline lens of the eyeball and gradual loss of vision. The most common causes include; ocular disease, injury to the eyeball, diabetes, ultraviolet light and radiation exposure and oxidative stress/free radicals. People with sufficient levels of Vitamins A, C, and E are at much lower risk for cataracts. Treatment with appropriate diet, supplements, antioxidants, and botanicals has shown to be very effective in early-stage and prevention of cataracts.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
CFS is not new. This multifaceted phenomenon has been around since the 1860s and was recognized by many other names such as chronic Epstein Bar virus (EBV) syndrome, yuppie flu, post-viral fatigue syndrome, and low NK cell syndrome. Liver dysfunction, immune system dysfunction, mitochondrial dysfunction, a leaky gut, and some infectious agents are implicated in CFS. Depression, hypothyroidism, hypoadrenalism, hypoglycemia and food allergies can also lead to CFS.
Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH)
DH is described as Celiac disease of the skin. DH individuals have IgA antibodies against skin and tissue transglutaminase. Nutritional deficiencies can include calcium, iron, zinc, folate and fat-soluble vitamins. Therapies include eliminating all sources of gluten, assess for food allergies and treatment of nutrient deficiencies.
Epilepsy is a symptom of episodic changes in brain chemistry caused by the over stimulatory electrical activity of the brain, called a seizure. Although many factors can play a role in Epilepsy, proper diet and nutritional repletion can have a dramatic effect in reducing Epileptic events.
In primary gout, which is 90% of all cases, uric acid levels are elevated which may include genetic defects causing the rise in uric acid. In some cases, excessive destruction of DNA and cell death contribute to uric acid production. Biochemical testing for DNA damage and genetic testing for defective genes can certainly be beneficial for chronic gout patients.
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
The most common clinical diagnosis. Nutritional and lifestyle modifications are crucial for individuals with elevated blood pressure. Correction of Vitamin D deficiency has shown to reduce blood pressure and pain while improving mood significantly. Many high-quality nutrients have been shown to reduce HP in many studies including CoQ10 dramatically. Repletion of just one nutrient may, in fact, alleviate BP
The thyroid gland acts as the thermostat for all cells which turns the heat up or down in almost every cell in the body. Hypothyroidism is one of the most common health issues in today’s population and has endless possibilities as to why an individual is not producing a sufficient amount of thyroid hormone. Proper testing should include more than just TSH to measure thyroid function. Nutrient deficiencies such as iodine, tyrosine, Vitamin A, selenium, and zinc can inhibit thyroid hormone production.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are chronic inflammatory disorders of the bowel which make up IBD. If the cause is not identified, IBD can be a lifelong inflammatory disease. Managing symptoms of IBD may improve the quality of life for many people, but properly treating the real reason such as chronic low-grade infection, hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid), overactive immune system, history of antibiotic use and eliminating food allergens, we can start healing the intestinal tract and moving on with life. IBD doesn’t have to be a life sentence!
Macular Degeneration (MD)
Major risk factors for MD include; genetic factors, smoking, aging, atherosclerosis, hypertension, poor diet and cell damage from free radicals. MD preventive measures using appropriate food and nutrients should be considered to reduce the risk of acquiring MD significantly. However, consulting first with your family physician as well as an ophthalmologist is necessary if you are already experiencing vision loss.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
MS is a central nervous system disease characterized by inflammatory destruction of the myelin sheaths (fatty insulation) of the nerves. The immune system plays an integrated role in the demyelination process due to the development of plaques. Regulating the immune system and reducing inflammation is of utmost importance in reducing damage. However, identifying the source of stimulation of the immune system maybe even more important. Comprehensive biochemical testing thrives in this area.
OP is the most common bone disease and a grave health threat for postmenopausal women. The bone modeling matrix consists of 2 types of cells, osteoclasts (break down bone) and osteoblasts (build bone). We need both in balance. As we age, osteoclasts become more active while osteoblasts become less active. There are many reasons why this happens. Slowing down osteoclast activity and speeding up osteoblast activity with a well-tailored protocol is critical. It all starts with proper digestion!
Peptic Ulcers (PU's)
Abdominal discomfort 45-60 minutes after meals or during the night. Symptoms are described as; burning, gnawing, aching, cramping or heartburn. Antacids and eating usually result in immediate relief. Damage to the protective lining of the stomach and duodenum is the cause. Common culprits are; H. Pylori infection, overuse of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), smoking, aspirin, stress, and food allergies such as milk allergy. Follow instructions by your doctor or gastroenterologist but also include intestinal repair nutrients to repair damage to this lining of the stomach and duodenum and much faster healing time.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a real phenomenon. It’s characterized by intense energy and hormonal shifts, leading to symptoms of PPD. However, there’s also a physical aspect to this event as well. Problems in structural integrity and tissue damage can play a significant role in PPD. Risks of bodily harm to the body during pregnancy, birth and after delivery has been shown to result in psychological and emotional instabilities, and physical pain. Nutrients (such as hyaluronic acid for collagen support) and lifestyle medicine for postpartum recovery are crucial for all women, but especially for women with symptoms of PPD.
A complex, multifaceted common disease involving high levels of oxidative stress (skin cell damage in this case) and a severely dysregulated immune system. The skin cells of psoriasis patients are hyperproliferative, whereas cells divide and multiply at approximately a thousand times faster than normal skin cells. Psoriasis is highly associated with Crohn’s and Celiac Diseases and is many regards; the pathophysiology is much the same; high level of inflammation and intestinal permeability (leaky gut). Factors contributing to psoriasis may include hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid), undigested protein, toxic bowel (SIBO), impaired detoxification, bile deficiency, nutritional deficiencies and stress (breaking down intestinal mucosa barrier). Supporting the body with topical treatments, proper diet and supplementation has shown to be very effective in alleviating psoriasis as well as prevention.
A chronic inflammatory skin disorder of the nose and cheeks, usually represented by redness and pimples similar to acne. Rosacea is more common in fair-skinned people. Common cause includes; hypochlorhydria, (low stomach acid), achlorhydria (no stomach acid), food allergies, food intolerances (migraine headaches in this case), H.pylori infection, and zinc deficiency. Testing for stomach acid status would be particularly beneficial as well as an appropriate diet and supplementation protocol.
The primary factor in sinusitis is a viral infection of the upper respiratory system such as the common cold. 85% of those with sinusitis have been shown to have allergies. Allergic rhinitis may be an interfering factor of protection against viral infections such as the common cold. Dental infection can precede sinusitis. Antihistamines can bring relief. However long term use is contraindicated. In chronic sinusitis, antibiotics are inefficacious. Natural relief methods are beneficial in the treatment of sinusitis. Food allergens must be eliminated from the diet, and an appropriate supplement protocol must be in place.
Urticaria is named after the plant called stinging nettle due to its histaminic acid. The mechanism of Urticaria is the release of inflammatory mediators from mast cells or other white blood cells of which have a high-affinity attraction for IgE (the immediate-reactive cells of the immune system which are directly involved in anaphylaxis. Urticaria appears like the shape of a wheel with raised borders on the skin and usually with a blanched center and may join with other “wheels” forming giant wheels. Causes of Urticaria can be pathogenic (Candida Albicans, H.pylori or hepatitis B), physical or emotional stress, environmental stimuli, drugs such as penicillin, NSAIDs or aspirin, autoimmune antibodies, and food-related. The best approach to controlling outbreaks is a proper diet (oligoantigenic diet), appropriate supplemental protocol and mental relaxation techniques.