I realize that my last post about Functional Medicine was a wee bit long. But there are a lot of things about the medical industry that have frustrated me for most of my life. So, yes, healthcare is quite a hot button for me.
I was thinking about the supposed controversy about Functional Medicine.
I will admit, there is a lot of bullshit out there about it, and the “famous” people behind the Institute for Functional Medicine have perhaps either made over-dramatic claims (in the hopes of selling books), or have just perhaps gone down the road of unicorns and butterflies a bit too far.
That doesn’t mean that the science is not sound, nor the logical concept behind it.
The human body is hugely complex, and there is a lot about our bodies that are still being learned. And, if you look at a lot of the articles found in peer-reviewed medical journals, you will find new discoveries happening quite often. But, modern medicine sadly has a very poor record in accepting new discoveries, especially if they happen to disagree with the “traditional” medical understanding. Hell, it took 400 years for germ theory to actually be accepted universally by doctors, and you can actually SEE germs if you have a strong enough microscope.
In addition to the desire to stick to “what has always worked,” there is also an assumption that all bodies are exactly alike, and therefore the disease(s) experienced by any body should present in the same ways. Except, there are always a lot of “statistical outliers” (in other words, people whose bodies do not present the same disease in the same way with others).
As we find out more information about our genetic makeup, and what genes predispose our bodies to assorted illnesses, it should also lead us to try to get a “head start” on trying to prevent those illnesses. We’ve known since 1912 that the body needs certain trace elements in our diet or environment in order to stay healthy. And, we’re still finding out what assorted vitamins and minerals do for our bodies. We’ve known about enzymes since 1833, but we’re still finding out what purpose they have in our bodies.
Our bodies – based on our genes – come out in a huge spectrum of differences and similarities. Some genes are beneficial, others may not be. And certain ones may mutate in ways that mean a body does not function in the way that it is expected to function.
But, many doctors are stuck in their preferred paradigm for many, many reasons. Some have truly good intentions, but choose to stick with “what has worked” because they feel it is too risky to their patient(s) to try something “new.” Some can’t understand the impact of new discoveries on patients’ lives. And some, sadly, have a stake in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as in the weight loss industry (both multi-billion dollar industries), and refuse some of the new discoveries because it would negatively affect their pocketbook.
If someone can prevent a disease that their genes have predisposed them to have, it would make the most sense to try to focus on what gene (or genes for that matter) does, and what mutation may have destroyed necessary processes in a person’s body. And if a vitamin, mineral or herbal supplement can help in that prevention, why shouldn’t we use it?
A lot of the experimentation on supplements assumes that all forms of a certain substance must work exactly the same as any other form. A good example of this is the element chromium (symbol Cr). One form of this element is lethal when ingested (hexavalent chromium). Another form (trivalent chromium) is necessary for the human body to function correctly. And both getting older and obesity deplete the levels of trivalent chromium in the body.
But, most of the tests of the supplement chromium have used chromium picolinate. This version of trivalent chromium is not absorbed well by the body, and can actually cause liver or kidney damage. And, those experiments have pretty much proven that this form of chromium does NOT support the effectiveness or efficiency of insulin in the human body.
On the other hand, chromium polynicotinate (which is the bio-active form of chromium – also known as glucose tolerance factor chromium, or GTF chromium) does have an effect on blood glucose and the use of insulin in the body.
Many doctors don’t look closely at the difference, and since picolinate has been proven to be not helpful, assume all forms of chromium are non-helpful.
Same goes for taking progesterone pills for those of us with hormonal imbalance. Synthetic progesterone is rarely absorbed well by the body, and can have some nasty side effects. On the other hand, bio-active progesterone extracted from natural sources does help to regulate those imbalances.