What is Functional Medicine?
So many patients come into Bennett Acupuncture and functional medicine because they’ve heard of an amazing story from a friend. Still, they ask: What is functional medicine?
Dr. Bennett references Institute for functional medicine: “One condition, many causes. One cause, many conditions.”
Functional medicine is evidence-based healthcare that targets the root cause behind your symptoms, rather than merely suppressing them. That’s why Dr. Bennett will find how and why your illness developed before restoring your health by addressing its root cause. This is the goal of our Functional Medicine program.
To work on this deeper level, a functional medicine doctor must be a medical detective – searching for connections and dysfunctions. Between symptoms that appear at first glance to seem unrelated, but that turns out to share the same root causes. Dr. Stefanie Bennett meets one on one with each patient and does a thorough review of medical history, exam, genetics, and environmental factors. Next comes organ analysis with highly sensitive state of the art labs using blood or urine, all leading to a treatment plan. It requires crafting whole-body treatments for your unique internal biology– not a surgery or drug cookbook.
Dr. Bennett has been a functional medicine doctor for 20 years – long before it was trendy. Over10+ years of experience working side by side with Internal medicine doctors within a medical group. Through this practice, Dr. Bennett learned the importance of co-managing your care with your MD. She believes keeping an open dialogue with your primary care provider or your specialist is the best way to ensure you receive the treatment that best benefits you. Internists, pain management specialists, neurologists, gastroenterologists, and other types of MDs regularly refer their patients to Dr. Bennett or seek care.
“By Simply treating chronic symptoms, it is a superficial way of addressing the problem, In Functional Medicine, I dig deeper to identify the root causes, the key organ dysfunctions and the underlying reason for the disease.” – Dr. Stefanie M. Bennett, LA.c, Ph.D.
She also consults with Dr. David Bennett on advanced lab studies, certified by Kalish Institut of functional medicine.
My experience shows that with an individualized diet plan, a scientifically based supplement program, stress reduction and exercise, a person’s health can improve dramatically – not only physically, but emotionally. With an ongoing wellness plan many health problems can be avoided, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and female hormone imbalances. All this works very well with acupuncture and oriental medicine.
Why is Functional Medicine so important to YOU?
It’s the best chance we got against chronic disease. Conventional medicine (MD care) isn’t really healthcare—it’s disease management. Traditional medicine has its emphasis on managing illness once the disease(s) appear and treat through suppressing symptoms with prescription drugs.
Dr. Bennett’s approach to Functional Medicine focuses on preventing disease(s) from starting or progressing. Dr. Bennett goes after the root cause, seeking to reverse it by investigating and then treating its underlying body dysfunction.
What is involved with functional Medicine workup?
We do take a history and exam, just like any other doctor. We will look at your diseases, syndromes, symptoms, AND THEN start evaluating genes, environment, diet, lifestyle, air and water quality, and so on. Advanced lab testing further isolates the extent of root causes and guides treatment. Functional Medicine has established that our modern diet, lifestyle, and environment change the expression of our genes—changes that give rise to diseases and syndromes.
I base my health programs on lab tests which assess the function of four basic body systems: hormonal, immune, digestive and detoxification.
Hormones act as the command and control system of the body and regulate energy production, fat burning and mood. Hormonal imbalances are common among people suffering from weight issues, fatigue and depression.
The immune system regulates the body’s ability to fight chronic or recurrent infections and the ability to repair cells (e.g., the immune system is addressed when an athlete wants to speed repair of muscle tissue to improve performance, and also when a person desires to prevent cancer, heart disease or diabetes.)
The digestive tract is responsible for our vitality via the breakdown and absorption of every nutrient that fuels our trillions of cells. Problems with the digestive system are typically experienced as bloating, indigestion, gas, constipation or diarrhea. Many people have experienced gastrointestinal discomfort for so long that they have adjusted to it and think that their system’s poor function is normal. With healthy digestive function a person will feel energized and revitalized after a meal for 4-6 hours and will not experience any cravings for sweets.
The detoxification system refers to the body’s pathways for eliminating harmful toxins such as mercury, various chemicals and the products that result from the breakdown of alcohol or medications. Our modern world is creating a level of chemical and heavy metal exposure that is taxing our detoxification system.
These four body systems all interact with one another. For example, if you eat a food you are reactive to it will cause inflammation in the GI tract which impacts normal digestion and absorption of nutrients. The inflammation generates a hormonal response and as the anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol rises, immune function lowers and your sex hormone levels drop. All this can happen simply because you had a pancake breakfast and a large glass of orange juice!
I believe that most depression, fatigue and weight gain (the three most common complaints in our clinic) can be relieved by exercise and diet changes and proper nutritional supplements based on lab assessments.
In helping thousands of women balance their hormones, I have discovered that in most cases hormonal imbalance is a secondary response to a primary stress, whether it is emotional stress, physiological stress due to pain and inflammation, or dietary stress. In general, if the stress can be addressed with diet changes, correction of chronic inflammatory conditions and support for emotional health, the need for continued hormonal support is eliminated.
The most common problem diagnosed in our clinic is infection – low grade, chronic infection caused by such things as parasites, bacterial infection and food intolerance – that over time wear people down physically and emotionally. In my experience, 90% of people bounce back health-wise within a year or so of starting treatment for chronic infections.
1.) Diet changes: What foods to eat and what foods you need to avoid, and when and how much to eat in order to maximize the efficiency of your unique biochemistry. Food allergy testing, hormone assessments and learning what your metabolic type is enable us to discern how to meet your unique needs.
2.) Supplement programs: What exact nutrients you are deficient in and what supplements will have a therapeutic benefit for you to promote your transition to a healthier body. Lab results for all body systems matched with your clinical presentation of symptoms enable us to discern what supplements will be supportive in this process.
3.) Exercise, lifestyle and stress management advice: I can direct you in establishing an appropriate exercise program drawing on strength training, stretching and cardiovascular exercise and may suggest lifestyle modifications such as changes to your sleep patterns, water intake or daily work schedule. Examples of stress management vary widely. Some people need more time with family, more sleep, more connection to their spiritual life. The chronic stressors we all experience are often a major source of our health complaints and need to be addressed as part of a comprehensive plan to restore health.
Natural therapies have advanced to the point where we can now use the perfect blend of science and nature to create lab guided, doctor recommended supplement programs. This can be done by using advanced clinical laboratory testing to create individualized nutrient programs. Lab testing results can be applied to a wide range of health concerns, from weight loss to hormone balancing. Using the latest technology, we can now accurately assess specific nutrient deficiencies, measure hormone levels and determine the best therapeutic protocol for correcting many chronic health conditions. This technology can also be used on a preventive basis, to maintain healthy functioning in those without any current health problems.
As part of your program I may recommend that you purchase nutritional supplements. These may include specific vitamins, minerals, herbs, natural plant based hormones and many other products. All of the supplements I recommend are from nutrition companies that only sell their products to physicians. These are the highest quality products available. They contain only the purest pharmaceutical grade nutrients (nutraceuticals) and the potency of each product is guaranteed. In the past when designing nutritional programs, in an effort to save clients money, many doctors have suggested that patients purchase products at local health food stores. While this seems to save people money in the short run, the results of these programs have been inconsistent and less than would be expected had we been using physician-only brands. Therefore, it is in many ways more sensible both financially and in terms of consistent results to use the highest quality products available.
You may purchase most of your products directly from our clinic. In so doing, you can be assured of consistent results – if a specific protocol is not working we will know it is not the quality or potency of the nutrients that is slowing the healing process. All of the supplements I carry have been proven clinically effective by hundreds of naturally oriented doctors. They have been shown to help resolve patients’ health concerns with predictable outcomes. In addition to proven clinical results, these products have also been carefully scrutinized for effectiveness based on lab testing. Over the last 19 years thousands of physicians have used laboratory tests to determine nutritional deficiencies. Through the use of follow-up testing doctors have determined which brands and which specific nutrients and herbs are consistently clinically effective. In fact, the vast majority of supplements on the market are not effective as evidenced by lack of patient improvement on follow-up lab testing.