Brittany Schmidt, DC
About Functional Medicine
In my opinion functional medicine is the future of medicine and I am so glad to be a part of it. In conventional medicine the focus is more on early detection and acute care. Conventional medicine is great at acute care, we have learned how to detect a problem and how to treat it when it arises, however, this is a disease focused approach. What functional medicine is is a health focused approach; we look at not only how to detect but how to prevent, and not just how to treat the acute symptoms of the problem but how get to the root cause of it and correct that. Functional medicine is a holistic approach that evaluates everything from objective lab results to subjective lifestyle; it is just a different perspective.
The body as an intricately woven tapestry
In medicine typically we address the body in systems, which is why we have specialization, you see a cardiologist for your heart, a neurologist for your headaches, an orthopedist for your sprained ankle, and so on. This approach helps with organization and expertise but what if all of these systems are closely integrated with each other? What if by zooming in to one system we are missing how the body works as a whole? In this day in age many Americans suffer from complex or multiple health problems which can make treatment challenging and convoluted. The body is an intricately woven tapestry, with each singular thread playing an important individual role but ultimately coming together as one piece of art. As an example let’s consider the condition of polycystic ovarian syndrome (or PCOS for short), PCOS to me is a systemic condition that affects multiple organ systems. Main features of PCOS include multiple cysts on the ovaries, cycle irregularities and pain, weight gain, hormonal imbalance, acne, hair growth, problems with blood sugar regulation or diabetes, depression, joint pain, and more. So is someone with PCOS supposed to see an OBGYN, a dermatologist, an endocrinologist, a psychiatrist, a dietitian, and an orthopedist or chiropractor? This would include each practitioner trying to manage each separate system without addressing the cause of the syndrome or viewing the body as a whole.
When labs are normal but you don’t feel normal
One thing we consistently hear in medicine is, “everything came back normal but I still don’t feel normal.” I can’t tell you how common this is. This led me to think, who decides what “normal” lab values are? I think we need reference ranges and values that help us decide what is normal/abnormal, the “cutoff” numbers can be helpful when deciding treatment. But what if what’s normal for one person is not normal for another? What if there are environmental or genetic factors to consider? I like to take into consideration all factors: what the labs say, what the symptoms are, what the diet like, etc. etc. I like to treat the patient, not the numbers. Are numbers helpful—absolutely—but I think there is more to it. I look at labs with a different perspective, I look at functional low and functional high levels, meaning maybe you’re getting close to an abnormal level (but it still came up as “normal”) and there is something we can do to intervene to either help you feel better or prevent the labs from getting further away from the cutoff point. If you want to learn more about how labs can be integrated into your chiropractic treatment let me know!
What preventative care means
Preventative care, what some call wellness care, has been a part of chiropractic philosophy for decades. BJ Palmer, the Developer of Chiropractic, has a famous quote that goes like this, “the preservation of health is easier than the cure for disease.” Functional medicine can’t take all the credit for shifting the focus to preventative care; this is what chiropractors have been saying for years! Preventative care means going to the doctor not when you are sick but going when you are well so you can stay well. I can only think of one group that does this (other than wellness care chiropractic patients) and that is pregnant women. Pregnant women go to the doctor even when things are going well to insure they keep going well and to catch any potential problems early. What if we all sought medicine in this way? I see it all the time in practice, someone comes in with an acute complaint and once I get them feeling better I often tell patients to come back every month or so to maintain wellness and prevent the problem from resurfacing. Sometimes patients are great and follow that plan, other times I don’t seem them again for months until they come back with the same problem, exacerbated. Preventative care means eating well to stay well, being active regularly to promote a healthy lifestyle, managing stress, practicing body awareness (paying attention to your body can provide you with so much information!), and maybe even getting adjusted by the chiropractor regularly.
How nutrition plays a role
Nutrition, I am convinced, is the answer to so many health problems. What and how we eat is incredibly important when it comes to health. I have a fairly balanced approach when it comes to nutrition because I believe food plays more of a role than just feeding us, we live in a society where food means more than that, it means tradition, celebration, community, connection, and more. I understand this which is why I promote a balanced approach, that being said I wholeheartedly believe that nutrition is a powerful tool that can and should be utilized by physicians. Nutrition is confusing and many people lack basic understanding or education when it comes to what to eat, if this is you then please seek support. Find someone that can help you, it is just too important to ignore or try to figure out on your own. We must understand that with every bite, every sip, we are making a conscious decision to either fight or feed disease.
A final word
Functional medicine is a holistic approach, it is viewing a person as a whole being, not fragmented systems. It is an approach that allows a role for alternative and integrative medicine, it is preventative medicine not reactive medicine, it truly is the future, and it’s available to you today. Feel better, be better, and stay better.
Dr. Schmidt has her Masters in Applied Clinical Nutrition and has taken additional courses in functional lab testing and nutrition. She loves discussing nutrition and has a holistic approach to treating her patients. Dr. Schmidt now offers lab testing, hormone testing, and food sensitivity testing. She is currently accepting new patients call or email to learn more!
How to make an appointment to discuss Functional Medicine, lab testing, or nutrition? Ask the front desk to see Dr. Schmidt or give us a call at 651-699-8610.