WHAT IS INTEGRATIVE/FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE?
In integrative or functional medicine, our goal is to test for and treat the underlying causes of medical problems, so that they actually heal, rather than just covering up the symptoms with chronic medications. Integrative treatments rely on a foundation of improving diet and lifestyle, enhancing health through the use of nutritional supplements, optimizing natural hormone levels, treating underlying chronic infections, and detoxifying the human body. We specialize in addressing complex, multi-factorial chronic underlying health issues that have been either missed or mis-managed by other doctors. The important and basic aspects of integrative medicine – nutritional science, bioidentical hormones, detoxification, improving immune function and addressing stealth infections – are almost completely overlooked by traditional medical doctors, and are the causes of so much chronic suffering.
To improve your overall health, we do extensive testing, patient education, dietary interventions, optimization of body weight, nutraceutical-grade supplements, detoxification, enhancement of gut and immune-system health, and in adults the use of natural bioidentical hormones when needed. For many people, a low normal value on a blood test may not optimal for them and they may not feel well at that level, but their other doctor tells them that nothing is wrong. We attempt to achieve optimal values for all nutrients and hormones, placing a high priority on how the patient feels and not just a lab value.
Many patients have multi-system imbalances that require a comprehensive medical work-up to figure out where their problems lie. We order more advanced tests than many other doctors do when assessing health status. The principles of integrative medicine are learned in specialized medical conferences that like-minded physicians attend, and are not taught in medical school – so unless your other doctors have attended these conferences, they will not necessarily understand what we are doing and why. We strongly encourage our patients to read the book, “UltraMind Solution” by Dr. Mark Hyman for an excellent overview of integrative/functional medicine principles and practice.
When a trained integrative medicine doctor – such as Lynne Mielke, M.D. and Dr. Sandra Kreizenbeck D.N.P., F.N.P. of Optimal Health Spectrums – is armed with this data, a multi-faceted, individualized treatment plan can be implemented that in general improves the patient’s health and quality of life, and often prevents future illness.
One of the reasons that traditional medical treatment is different than integrative medical treatment is that traditional medical training is heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, which has a huge financial stake in the prescriptions being written by doctors. This bias toward drugs as the first-line treatment is reinforced by the insurance industry, which generally covers only drug-based treatments for diseases, and does not cover preventive or wellness-based treatments. Consequently, most doctors know little about diet or nutrients or other natural agents such as bioidentical hormones to enhance health. It is becoming more recognized that the side-effects of many drugs end up causing more problems in the long run than the disease.
As an example, a symptom like depression can be medically caused by many things – a chronic infection affecting the brain, a deficiency of many different hormones, a deficiency of many nutrients, or chronic low-level exposures to toxins such as lead and mercury. What does a typical doctor do to treat depression? Despite the fact that the brain never has a deficiency of an antidepressant, prescribing an antidepressant is the typical first response without even looking for these other issues. Our approach always strives to analyze the underlying issue and solve that problem using natural agents whenever possible, prescribing medication when it is needed, but as a last resort – not a first resort.
Out-of-pocket costs are typically higher when seeing an integrative medicine doctor than when seeing a traditional doctor because of the in-depth level of care that we provide. Integrative practices spend considerably more time with patients than traditional medical practices do. At our clinic, an intake appointment is usually 45-60 or even 120 minutes of face time with the doctor. A traditional doctor might see four or more patients in the time that we spend with one, and we do tests that they don’t even offer.
Check-outs at a regular doctor’s office may take less than five minutes. At an integrative health clinic, check-outs require more staff time, due to the extensive education needed on how to implement the practitioner’s instructions. Fewer patients can be seen in a day. Patients often have many questions about the new information that they are being given which also requires more staff and practitioner time, since teaching is a big part of what we do. Also, we are often treating many complex medical issues at the same time, whereas most doctors deal with one medical problem at a time.
We strive to provide comprehensive, personalized medical care, so that you will get the greatest benefit from us. Investing in your Optimal Health and well-being by working together with us is worth it as most of our patients attest. If you are not getting the help you need through traditional medical channels, give us a chance to help you.