Traditional medicine uses medication and surgery to treat problems. In medical school, doctors are taught to get to a diagnosis to give medication or perform surgeries indicated for that problem. When the body has a problem, it eventually results in pain, fatigue, stomach upset, and more.
Taking medication overrides the body’s attempt to tell us something is wrong by reducing or stopping the symptom. Surgery may be used to remove an organ that has trouble and is causing symptoms. An example of this is heartburn or GERD. Medication is used to stop stomach acid from being produced, so the person doesn’t feel the acid taste and burning. However, it does nothing for the cause of the problem.
Most heartburn is not too much acid. It can be too little acid causing the stomach to not open into the small intestine, blocking forward motion, causing food to back up into the esophagus. Or, food or gluten sensitivities can inflame the stomach and cause that acid backup feeling.
Or, some chemical or food dye or color can be inflaming the stomach and esophagus. Many people have yeast overgrowth, parasites, lack of, or overabundance of, good or bad bacteria or other problems. Some people have gastroparesis, a slowing of the GI tract, so things back up.
These problems need different solutions. Not to mention, stopping acid production with medication hinders all future digestion. This can lead to many deficiencies, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, poor growth, hormone disruption, and other problems.
Functional medicine is often called “upstream medicine” as it starts with symptoms and looks upstream to hunt for the problem’s cause. Since many things cause heartburn symptoms, we believe it’s better to find the cause and treat it so the problem can go away by itself. Many tests use urine, blood, stool, saliva, and hair to find different abnormalities based on what we are looking for.
Wouldn’t it be better to get rid of the cause of symptoms and not just take something that stops the “warning symptom” that something is wrong, leaving the problem to get worse? Functional Medicine teaches medical providers to use a new way of thinking. Specialized Tests get to the underlying issues.
It’s better to eliminate the cause. This may cure the problem and possibly eliminate the need for potentially harmful medications. If you have issues and want help hunting for the cause, contact The Maine Center for Functional Medicine at (207) 941-0080.