Functional medicine is the big picture approach

February 24, 2012

ADD/ADHD, Cancer, Depression, Healing, Health

Conventional medicine usually takes the small picture approach, focusing on one body part at a time.

by Dr. Martha Grout — 

The functional approach to healing does not fit into the existing Western medical paradigm with its one-size-fits-all approach to disease management. But it is the future of medicine because it is a rational approach to explaining what went wrong and how to fix it.

Conventional medicine usually takes the small picture approach, focusing on one body part at a time. For example, there is a specialist who works on the lungs, the feet or the heart. In conventional medicine, the body is seen, for the most part, as a bunch of individual systems functioning on their own.

Functional medicine, on the other hand, takes the big picture approach. It views the body as a network of interconnected systems and recognizes that illness generally is not limited to only one part of the body. Consider ADHD, autism and depression. Conventional medicine sees a mental disorder in each case, whereas functional medicine asks what causes the mental disorder.

And that takes us way below the neck to the gut. ADHD, autism and depression are often symptoms of a malfunctioning intestinal tract. People with these disorders very commonly have imbalances in intestinal flora, an inability to assimilate vitamins and minerals from the gut, and food sensitivities.

Almost all of our serotonin, the feel-good hormone that relieves depression, is made in the intestinal tract. Fix the gut, and you often can fix the brain chemistry. Adopting this big picture approach has reversed autism in thousands of people.

How about heart disease? Functional medicine looks for factors throughout the body that produce chronic inflammation, such as chronic dental infections, mercury/amalgam (silver) fillings, low levels of vitamin D, and insulin and leptin resistance.

How about cancer? Breast cancer incidence rates in the United States have increased by more than 40 percent since 1973. Experts point out that this increase parallels the rise in environmental chemicals and the decrease in the quality of our diets.

Given that cancer takes one to three decades to manifest, it takes time for genes to mutate and overwhelm the immune system. This suggests that the post-World War II increase in chemical exposures and processed foods came with a high price tag. Practitioners of functional medicine advise cancer patients to avoid the environmental triggers that promote cancer growth.

People ask: What causes autism, ADHD, depression and the myriad other chronic diseases that plague us today? Why do one out of six children have a developmental disorder?

Functional medicine would explain that the epidemic of chronic diseases stems from a perfect storm of environmental realities — our air and water are saturated with chemicals, our food leaves us malnourished and our bodies cellular structures are bombarded with unnatural frequencies from ubiquitous wireless networks and radio transmissions. Our environment has changed more in the last 50 years than most of us realize and our bodies simply cannot keep up.

Genetics do play a role — some people do not excrete mercury or process folic acid as well as others — but genetics do not explain the unprecedented and widespread biological dysfunctions among us. There are no epidemics of genetic illnesses, only environmentally derived illnesses. It would follow that the best strategy to combat and explain today’s chronic disease epidemic is for Western medicine to adopt the functional approach to diagnosis and healing.


Martha Grout, M.D., M.D.(H), specializes in the reversal of chronic disease. She and Mary Budinger are the authors of Alphabet of Good Health. Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine,, or 480-240-2600.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 30, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2011.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Web Analytics