How is Proactive Functional Medicine different from other specialties?

In our current system we see specialties that have dedicated themselves to organ systems, particular diseases, particular demographics, or particular techniques. Within this framework we have seen fabulous advances in acute care, and in alleviating symptoms of advanced disease processes. But what specialty is focused upon treating the underlying causes of dysfunction and disease? What about the complex, chronically ill patient? What about the patient that feels rotten but all the disease-centered tests are “normal”?

Science has not stood still over the last 100 years. On the contrary, the knowledge explosion has reached nuclear proportions! With recent understandings that all the pieces of biochemistry, anatomy, psychology, and spirituality meld together into something much greater than the sum of the individual parts came the realization that a new way of organizing this information was needed. The interaction of all bodily systems over the course of time had no ‘natural’ specialty within medicine. This need, driven by the need of patients not effectively served by the older specialties, is now addressed by Proactive Functional Medicine.

Dr. Sidney Baker, a pioneer in progressive medicine, describes the difference between conventional medicine and progressive medicine:

“How do we think differently? The merging school of thought (functional medicine) does not deny the usefulness to the patient and physician of diagnostic groups that allow us the comfort of knowing “what you’ve got.” We are careful to keep in mind that a diagnosis is an idea we form about groups of people and properly belongs to the group, not an individual. Making a diagnosis in the realm of chronic illness—such as the many conditions of chronic inflammation whose proud names end in “-itis,” and autism, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, and a host of otherwise eponymous, classical, and respectable diseases—is for us not the end of a diagnostic road, but the first step, to be followed by the …[consideration of unique individual needs]. These questions are not applied to “curing the disease” but to healing the person.
This approach is based on the recognition that individuality…[has] a spiritual as well as a biological foundation in the sense that each of us is a unique creature. Hence our patients are denied dignity when given a group identity (diagnosis) and a group treatment (the “treatment of choice: of that diagnosis).”

Why is Proactive Functional Medicine the latest evolution in health care?

In order to understand the need for a new direction in medical care, we need to understand where we started from, as well as the particular strengths and weaknesses that come from the current conventional perspective.

Before the microscope and other scientific advances became available in the 1800’s, the vast majority of doctors were generalists – they did a little of everything, and treated the whole person. With the microscope and the greater understanding of the effects of disease upon the structure of the organs came an explosion of knowledge and opportunity for research and learning.

This knowledge explosion led to individuals focusing upon one organ or one organ system. Thus the division of medicine into ANATOMICAL specialties began: cardiologists (heart & vessels), neurologists (brain & nerves), orthopedists (bones), etc.

Later, as certain diseases were recognized to cross over into many different organ systems we see the development of DISEASE-centered specialists: Rheumatologists (Arthritis), Diabetologists (Diabetes), Oncologists (Cancer), Geneticists (Genetic disease), etc.

Other doctors specialized in a particular DEMOGRAPHIC group; Pediatricians (Children), Geriatricians (Elderly), Family Physicians (Individuals in context of community), etc.

Certain TECHNIQUES led to specialization: Radiologists (X-Ray manipulation), Endoscopists (Scopes to look in all kinds of orifices), Plastic Surgeons (Surgical Manipulation of structure), etc.

What does it mean to be Proactive with regard to Health Care?

To be proactive is to anticipate. Think of taking a road trip. To be proactive is to take the trip with a map, and the tools you need to make the journey quickly and with as little trouble as possible.

When you are proactive, you focus on the road ahead: where you want to be, as opposed to being reactive and looking at the road through your rear-view mirror, at where you have been.

Proactive Medicine strives to always LOOK FORWARD and TAKE ACTION , choosing the best road available for that person at that time to promote their health and vitality, and to avoid disease and disability.

Proactive Medicine is the counterpart to Preventive Medicine. Each serves a separate function, but together, they are stronger than the sum of their parts. Preventive Medicine (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Public Health Efforts, etc.) usually focuses upon blocking or inhibiting something from occurring for large groups of people at a time.

Proactive Medicine focuses upon one unique patient at a time to provide the tools and encourage the thoughts, behaviors, and actions that will serve to maximize that individual’s health potential as well as prevent future disease and disability.

“Proactive” in this usage means taking positive actions to not only prevent (avoid) a potential problem from becoming a source of crisis, but also to move towards (attract) potential assets in ways which contribute to a better and more pleasurable journey.

To continue our road trip analogy…think of Preventive Medicine as the stop lights and traffic signs that keep us from crashing into one another as we travel to our destinations. We respond to red lights and stop signs, but is that all we can do? Proactive medicine is like defensive driving. Leaving home knowing the best route to your destination, keeping your car in optimal running condition, having the proper fuels and tools for fixing unexpected problems, should they occur.

How can Proactive functional medicine improve my health, and the quality of my life?

This question begs a second question: What do people want from their investment of health dollars?

We believe that people want improved vitality, performance, resistance to disease, and optimal resiliency when faced with the inevitable health challenge.

By identifying and treating the underlying causes of illness we increase our potential to experience excellent, LONG TERM results. These long-term results include improvement in mood, energy, vitality, and overall quality of life, while avoiding the tragedy of disability and early death. In the process, the risks associated with many medical therapies are eliminated.

We believe that Proactive Functional Medicine and Health Coaching are the best maps and tools that exist to experience Maximum Wellness.

What are the principles of Proactive Functional Medicine?

Proactive Functional medicine is grounded in the following principles:

  • Recognizing the Biochemical Individuality of each person
  • Treating the Causes of Disease rather than focus solely on symptom suppression.
  • Being Patient-Centered rather than Disease-Centered
  • Acknowledging the Dynamic Balance of external and internal influences on an individual’s health and well being.
  • Using the Web-like Interconnectedness of Body Systems as a fulcrum for safe and more effective customized interventions.
  • Remembering Health is a Positive Inner Vitality, not just the absence of disease
  • Promoting Organ Reserve as a means to improving a person’s Health Span.

Proactive Functional medicine is anchored by an examination of the core clinical imbalances that underlie various disease conditions. Those imbalances arise as environmental inputs such as diet, nutrients (including air and water), exercise, and trauma are processed by one’s body, mind, and spirit through a unique set of genetics, physical predispositions, attitudes, and beliefs.

The fundamental physiological processes include communication, both outside and inside the cell; bioenergetics, or the transformation of food into energy; replication, repair, and maintenance of structural integrity – from the cellular to the whole body level; elimination of waste; protection and defense; and transport and circulation.

The core clinical imbalances that arise from malfunctions within this complex system include:

  • Hormonal and neurotransmitter (Depression/Mood Disorders) imbalances
  • Oxidation-reduction imbalance (Energy Productions)
  • Biotransformation Imbalances (Detoxification)
  • Immune System imbalances
  • Inflammatory imbalances
  • Digestive, absorptive, and microbiological imbalances
  • Structural imbalances

Imbalances such as these are the precursors to the signs and symptoms by which we detect and diagnose disease. Improving balance – in the patient’s environmental inputs and in the body’s fundamental physiological processes – is the precursor to restoring health and it involves much more than treating the symptoms.

Functional medicine is dedicated to improving the management of complex, chronic disease by intervening at multiple levels to address these core clinical imbalances and to restore each patient’s functionality and health. Functional medicine is not a unique and separate body of knowledge. It is grounded in scientific principles and information widely available in medicine today, combining research from various disciplines into highly detailed, yet clinically relevant, models of disease pathogenesis and effective clinical management.

Functional medicine emphasizes a definable and teachable process of integrating multiple knowledge bases within a pragmatic intellectual matrix that focuses on functionality at many levels, rather than a single treatment for a single diagnosis.

Functional medicine uses the patient’s story as a key tool for integrating diagnosis, signs and symptoms, and evidence of clinical imbalances into a comprehensive plan to improve both the patient’s environmental inputs and his or her physiological function. It is a clinician’s discipline, and it directly addresses the need to transform the practice of primary care.

(Modified from the website for the Institute for Functional Medicine http://www.functionalmedicine.org/)

What kind of training does a functional medicine practitioner or doctor have? Is he/she actually a “real doctor” or “real nurse practitioner”?

Dr. David Haase is our Medical Director at the MaxWell Clinic. Dr. Haase is absolutely a real doctor. Dr. Haase received his B.S. in Biology from Calvin College , Grand Rapids, MI and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. His residency training in Family Medicine was completed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN . He has completed training with the Institute for Functional Medicine, was a reviewer for the “Textbook of Functional Medicine”, and Lectures nationally on aspects of Functional Medicine. He is a Certified Health Coach and holds board certifications in Family Medicine and Holistic Medicine, and is also a Certified Nutrition Specialist through the American College of Nutrition.

Grace Vinson, ARNP is a Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner who has over 25 years health care experience. She too has completed training with the Institute for Functional Medicine and works tightly in conjunction with Dr. Haase for patient care at the MaxWell Clinic. Grace has special interests in thyroid, auto-immune, allergy, and women’s health care needs.

Will my functional medicine doctor be writing me prescriptions in addition to utilizing supplements in my treatment?

Sometimes your provider may elect to use traditional medicine alone or in conjuntion with nutritional supplements. At the Maxwell Clinic, our first instinct is to pursue natural ways to return the body to good health. As always, your treatment is customized to meet your specific needs. Here, we choose to use WHAT IS WISE and WORKS to help you achieve Maximum Wellness.

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