The father of Functional Medicine Jeffery Bland asks you to cast your mind back to the late nineteenth century and recall the diseases that brought fear and loss to many.. diptheria, whooping cough, pneumonia, influenza, even plague routinely swept our county.
These diseases were the reality for many that decimated and destroyed our communities throughout our ages. At the time it was believed that noxious vapours from decaying matter were that cause, and to be avoided.
Scientists like Lister, Koch, Pasteur revolutionised the way illness was perceived over the ages, and this transformed medicine from targeting vapours to instead hunting for germs as the germ theory was born. And so too was the age of antibiotics and vaccinations as these methods succeeded in treating infectious diseases very well.
But!, that does not mean that we do not need to worry at all!! Correlating to the steady decline of the family of infectious diseases, emerges a new family of illnesses, which has also been growing in prevalence and severity over time. These are Chronic Diseases.
Chronic Diseases are defined by their nature, in that they never really ever go away. On the contrary the individual becomes more susceptible to the complexities or such conditions over time as the severity of symptoms increases, so does its state of Chronic!, disabling and draining the life out of our very cells.
These diseases that are on the increase are;
Heart and blood-vessel diseases like type 2 diabetes, gout, high blood pressure, and dementia.
Autoimmune disorders such as depression, attention deficit disorders and autism
Digestive diseases: gastric reflux, duodenal ulcer and inflammatory bowel
Bone loss diseases like osteoporosis
Obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma
Muscle pain and weakness from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia
Kidney and liver ailments
Vision problems like macular degeneration and retinopathy
Another fact about chronic diseases is that… they are not self-limiting. The common cold is self-limiting.. it runs its course and then it is gone.
Chronic diseases also do not have a single cause. And this is very important to understand, both within diagnosis and treatment. Which is why General Practice medicine is so bad at dealing with chronic diseases… because it looks only for a diagnosis and treatment for a single organism.
This last fact gives rise to the next truth.. that chronic illnesses tend to have complex symptom profiles, with hard to specify causes of no single origin.
Which means that they don’t go away, rather gets worse over time as we attempt to palliate but not successfully obliterate the condition.
Fortunately the model that has become Functional Medicine looks at the patterns of dysfunction underlying chronic diseases, offering a model of care that can prevent or reverse these illnesses..
Functional Medicine looks at genotypes via epigenetics, and the various interactions between our biological systems (circulatory, digestive, nervous, respiratory etc) and stressors that are TOXIC and found within our environments..
Functional Medicine understands that our biological systems function successfully to the brink of chaos, but that our adaptogenic capacity can become eroded over time. Some chronic diseases set in when we can nolonger adapt healthily to stressors, whilst others can be due to genetic errors known as SNPs
To be covered in subsequent posts.