After critiquing traditional medicine’s treatment of chronic disease and the unscientific and money wasting alternative medicine response, I’d like to give some examples of true functional medicine and then map out a way forward that everyone involved can participate in. If American medicine is the Titanic and the entire population is aboard, we must find a way to avoid that iceberg!
Acid reflux disease (GERD) provides a great example. It is defined as “symptoms or mucosal damage produced by the abnormal reflux of gastric contents into the esophagus“. This is experienced at least weekly by up to 20% of the population and occasionally by 40% and has been rapidly increasing. Does that sound like other familiar epidemics? (Hint: obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes i.e. lifestyle related disease.) Okay, so how do we treat it? By evidence based medicine of course. A review of the latest guidelines that have been revealed: Suggest lifestyle change – “weight loss, eat less fat, raise the head of your bed with bricks etc……” but don’t expect much benefit. Lowering stomach acid is the way to get rid of that nagging heartburn and protect the esophagus from damage and maybe even prevent esophageal cancer. Enter proton pump inhibitors aka “the purple pill“. Randomized controlled trials show 80% or better response compared to 60% for the next best medicine. Generic PPI’s are readily available and thus cost effective. These drugs are even OTC. What could be wrong with this picture and what does it have to do with “functional medicine”? It turns out a lot! More Wednesday.