Moving on from being sick requires well care.
Suppose you or someone you love has one of the many chronic health problems that people suffer from, such as heart disease, fibromyalgia, ulcers, chronic fatigue, and autoimmune disease. In that case, you will likely be given a drug to manage your symptoms and not much else. However, the key to successfully treating these conditions is addressing their underlying cause and concurrently following the treatment by medical providers. This is the promise of Chinese medicine (acupuncture and herbal medicine) and functional medicine, treating the underlying elements. Providers like myself and medical providers need to work together; I do it here every day at our office.
Most patients are told that the causes of their condition are unknown and will be prescribed drugs to manage the symptoms. But is it true that we don’t know what causes chronic illness? Indeed, there are particulars related to each specific illness that we don’t yet understand. But I would argue that we have a solid grasp of the most critical factors that contribute to virtually all chronic diseases. Hence, it’s within our body’s innate ability and power to prevent, stop the progress, and in some cases, reverse many of these conditions.
Presently amid the most severe epidemic of chronic disease we have ever faced, 50% of US adults meet one or more chronic health conditions, and 25% have two or more. (1) 7 of the top 10 causes of death in 2010 were chronic diseases, and two of them—heart disease and cancer—together accounted for almost half of all deaths. (2)
The Functional Medicine With Acupuncture Model
In conventional medicine, the focus is on diseases and the symptoms; it works “from the outside in.” For example, you undergo a physical exam, and your blood tests reveal that you have “high cholesterol.” The most likely outcome in this situation is that you’ll be prescribed a statin and, in some cases, be told to exercise more and eat better. There is rarely any serious investigation into what “caused” the high cholesterol in the first place. Many times an assumption is made that it is your diet.
However, in acupuncture functional medicine, we work “from the inside out.” As a result, we pay less attention to the symptoms and attention to the pathology that produces those symptoms. High cholesterol is a symptom, not a pathology. The underlying problems that can lead to high cholesterol include a combination of the following. Imbalanced QI (acupuncture term for energy), poor thyroid function, intestinal permeability, disrupted gut microbiome, chronic viral or bacterial infections, insulin, leptin resistance, and few nutrient imbalances.
Whether you have one or more conditions, I will focus on the underline causes with acupuncture and functional medicine. Of course, I will pursue MD’s approval and work as a team. Most medical providers are receptive to my co-management, especially since I have an extensive medical clinical background.
As you can see, this is a fundamentally different approach than what is typically done in the conventional setting.
Unfortunately, the acupuncture and functional medicine approaches are not entirely embraced within the conventional health care model. But I believe that is changing. For example, the prestigious Cleveland Clinic just launched a Center for Functional Medicine.