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functional medicine: testing -vs- action steps


I remember back a number of years ago when Johnson & Johnson jumped on the “natural health” bandwagon and created the short-lived Herbal Tylenol.  Although that product is no longer around, it shows how desperate corporate America is to jump on any bandwagon that might make them some green. 

Take ACETAMINOPHEN, add some “herbs” (whatever that really means), slap a fancy label on, ratchet up the MARKETING MACHINERY, and you’re in business.  The same thing is true when it comes to FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE.  It seems like everyone is trying to jump on the functional medicine bandwagon (in the previous link, I referred to the protocol provided as “Functional Medicine Lite”). 

The question I want to ask today is whether those who are chronically ill need to start out with a bunch of “functional” testing, or could they possibly jump right in and attack their problems on their own?  DR. KEN SHARLIN, a medical doctor, neurologist, expert in Functional Medicine, and certified Wahls practitioner from Ozark, Missouri, helped answer this question in a recent blog post from his site.

The Wahls Protocol uses functional medicine principles and a specific Paleo diet to address autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.  But in reality anyone can use the principles of the Wahls Protocol to address their health regardless of their diagnosis.

DR. TERRY WAHLS is an Iowa physician who was diagnosed with MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS back in Y2K.  Her condition was so severe that by 2003 she needed a tilt / recline wheelchair to get around. After deciding she would attack this beast naturally; rather than taking lots of “iffy” and expensive nutritional supplements (HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE), she radically revamped her eating habits, consuming what could essentially be called a PALEO DIET.  The result? She all but totally cured her MS. 

The truth is, there are any number of similar protocols out there that will do essentially the same thing (MY SISTER USED THE “IT STARTS WITH FOOD” AUTOIMMUNE PROTOCOL after I told her she needed to go Paleo).  The point here is not exactly what Paleo Diet you use, but that you get started right away (be aware that your doctor might not be on board, and if this is the case, you might need to find another doctor).

Sure, you can go see a Functional Medicine specialist and get tested right off the bat.  The truth is, it’s not really a bad idea.  There are scores of really cool tests out there that can provide an almost unlimited amount of information about your health.  For instance, there are any number of inexpensive blood tests not typically done in routine panels. 

You can find several labs doing complete GI / stool exams that provide info on DYSBIOSIS, CANDIDA, PARASITES, SIBO, LEAKY GUT, etc, etc. There are tests for MOLD SENSITIVITY.  There are almost unfathomable numbers of food sensitivity tests from a variety of labs. CYREX even offers panels for various autoimmune diseases along with their food sensitivity testing.  Urine (O.A.T) can also be invaluable as far as metabolic testing is concerned.

Functional testing can reveal whether your mitochondria are working correctly, see if you are METHYLATING properly, whether or not you are managing OXIDATIVE STRESS, or how loaded with NEUROTOXIC METALS you might be (I prefer Hair Analysis to provocative testing). There is also a vast array of blood and spit tests to determine whether or not your ENDOCRINE SYSTEM and hormones are functioning properly.  There are also tests to tell you whether your stomach is being attacked by H. Pylori, typically caused by your stomach not making enough strong acid (A VERY COMMON PROBLEM). 

And to top it all off, every passing year leaves us with a plethora of new genetic tests (not quite as important as once believed once you begin to understand the simple concept of EPIGENETICS).  The truth is, in this day and age there is a test for almost everything.  And for many of you, a FUNCTIONAL NEUROLOGICAL EXAMINATION might prove critical as well.  None of this even begins taking into account that the ABSURD NUMBER OF DRUGS YOU ARE TAKING might be a significant part of your problem as well (not that I am telling you to stop taking them; that’s your doctor’s job).

The bottom line; it’s fairly easy to find a Functional Medicine specialist who will run you through lots of tests — maybe lots and lots of tests.  The thing you have to remember is that these tests are rarely covered by health insurance.  In other words, you’ll be paying out of pocket.  So…….    Although you may very well end up needing some testing, why not start this little shindig on your own? 

Here’s what’s so awesome about making up your mind to tackle this thing now.  With the holiday season in full swing, you can wait until the New Year to start your new way of living (or you COULD SIMPLY GET STARTED TODAY).  For many of you, the first and hardest thing will be conquering your SUGAR / JUNK ADDICTION

The next step will be an ELIMINATION DIET, followed by some sort of Paleo or even KETOGENIC DIET, depending on what your chief problems are.  If you are wanting to do a cleanse, I’m a fan of the Master’s Cleanse (sometimes called the Lemonade Cleanse).  You’ll have to address your GUT HEALTH issues as well, and maybe even consider an FMT.  Fortunately, I have given you a generic protocol for getting most of these things done (HERE). 

Consider it a gift from me to you.  Does it encompass everything you could possibly need or run into?  Probably not.  But for many of you — quite possibly the majority of you — it’s a fantastic starting point that has the potential not only to turn your life around, but save you a bundle of cash in the process.

It’s kind of like the story of STONE SOUP.  Sure, you could go through thousands of dollars worth of testing.  But in many cases, after doing so you are going to get the same essential advice I am providing you today free of charge.  Worst case scenario, you don’t improve as much as you wanted, realizing that testing might be in your cards.  And face it, you aren’t going to get worse by eating a diet based on WHOLE FOODS.


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