Book Review: Unconventional Medicine by Chris Kresser

Full disclosure: I work as a research assistant and content contributor for Chris Kresser. However, I received no incentives, monetary or otherwise, to write this review and was not involved in the writing of this book. I simply believe in his mission, think he has written an excellent book, and believe that everyone should know about it!

I’ve believed in the power of functional medicine for quite some time now. Healing my chronic eczema from the inside out made me a firm believer that we need an approach to medicine that restores health; an approach that doesn’t just treat symptoms. I’d always had a passion for science and biology, and functional medicine seemed like a career that I would truly find rewarding, challenging, and meaningful.

While I could have gotten a simple three year post-graduate degree and become a functional medicine practitioner, I wanted to have the credibility and knowledge of the conventional system. I ultimately decided to pursue a dual degree MD/PhD program.

But functional medicine hasn’t quite reached a point where it’s widely accepted. To this day, I’m hesitant to tell someone in the conventional medical community that I want to pursue “functional medicine” after completing my degrees for fear they’ll label me as a quack without a second thought. In my med school interviews, I tended to use the slightly more acceptable term “integrative medicine”. Even on this blog, I’ve decided to brand myself as “NextGen Medicine”, an approach that brings together the best of functional, integrative, and conventional medicine.

I struggle every day with how to bridge the gap between my conventional medical education and what I know to be the truth: functional medicine is the best way to heal chronic disease.

In this regard, Chris Kresser’s latest book, “Unconventional Medicine”, is truly a gift. I received an early copy of the book last week, and have already read it cover to cover.

In a highly accessible, zealous manifesto for functional medicine, Chris explains why the current approach to U.S. healthcare is destined to fail and why evidence-based functional medicine is truly the future. With chronic disease reaching epidemic proportions, the stakes are high, and we simply can’t afford to keep doing the same thing over and over again.

The book is for any conventional practitioner who is feeling burnt out and disillusioned with medicine, practitioners already familiar with the functional approach looking for a successful framework for their practice, and even patients and the public who want to join the crusade to improve healthcare. With gripping stories of real clinicians and patients throughout the book, it may convince even the most stubborn, pharma-bought doctors to reconsider their approach to medicine.

Chris envisions a new system, where health coaches, nutritionists, and other allied providers form 70% of the health workforce, working to encourage healthy behaviors, provide moral support to patients, and help prevent disease in the first place. Another 25% of the workforce would consist of licensed functional medicine practitioners, while 5% would be made up of hospitals and specialists.

In other words, conventional medicine would remain useful for short-term reduction of symptoms or emergency care, but functional medicine would be the first line medical care for most patients with chronic disease. Perhaps this passage from the book illustrates it best:

“Imagine you’re in a boat, and the boat is leaking. You can bail water from the boat to make it sink more slowly, but if the leaks are still there, you’ll have limited success. Conventional medicine is mostly about trying to bail water out of the boat without fixing the leaks. Wouldn’t it make more sense to prevent the leaks from happening in the first place, and then fix them completely if they do occur? We might still need to bail some water initially, but if the leaks get fixed, the boat is steadied. Eventually, there’s no more bailing required, and the sailing – or living – can resume. That’s what Functional Medicine is all about.”

Unconventional Medicine” will truly challenge current paradigms, and I hope that healthcare providers the world over will read this book and begin to recognize the validity and necessity of a functional approach. We need to start thinking about the future of healthcare, and Chris has provided a glimpse at what that could be.

I am more hopeful than ever that by the time I receive my M.D., I can proudly declare that I am pursuing a residency in functional medicine, and receive only positive responses from the medical community. And unlike the 63% of physicians that are dissatisfied with their jobs, I am confident that I can create a practice I love and a career that I enjoy for many years to come.

The bottom line: whether you’re a patient or a practitioner in alternative, functional, integrative, or conventional medicine, I urge you to get your hands on a copy of “Unconventional Medicine”. The future of healthcare requires major change, and Chris has provided a powerful roadmap to get us there.

Did you like this article? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe below!

P.S. You can preorder a copy of Chris’s book here (not an affiliate link). The official launch is November 11, 2017, so it should be available in libraries soon after.

Book Review: Unconventional Medicine by Chris Kresser

Full disclosure: I work as a research assistant and content contributor for Chris Kresser. However, I received no incentives, monetary or otherwise, to write this review and was not involved in the writing of this book. I simply believe in his mission, think he has written an excellent book, and believe that everyone should know about it!

I’ve believed in the power of functional medicine for quite some time now. Healing my chronic eczema from the inside out made me a firm believer that we need an approach to medicine that restores health; an approach that doesn’t just treat symptoms. I’d always had a passion for science and biology, and functional medicine seemed like a career that I would truly find rewarding, challenging, and meaningful.

While I could have gotten a simple three year post-graduate degree and become a functional medicine practitioner, I wanted to have the credibility and knowledge of the conventional system. I ultimately decided to pursue a dual degree MD/PhD program.

But functional medicine hasn’t quite reached a point where it’s widely accepted. To this day, I’m hesitant to tell someone in the conventional medical community that I want to pursue “functional medicine” after completing my degrees for fear they’ll label me as a quack without a second thought. In my med school interviews, I tended to use the slightly more acceptable term “integrative medicine”. Even on this blog, I’ve decided to brand myself as “NextGen Medicine”, an approach that brings together the best of functional, integrative, and conventional medicine.

I struggle every day with how to bridge the gap between my conventional medical education and what I know to be the truth: functional medicine is the best way to heal chronic disease.

In this regard, Chris Kresser’s latest book, “Unconventional Medicine”, is truly a gift. I received an early copy of the book last week, and have already read it cover to cover.

In a highly accessible, zealous manifesto for functional medicine, Chris explains why the current approach to U.S. healthcare is destined to fail and why evidence-based functional medicine is truly the future. With chronic disease reaching epidemic proportions, the stakes are high, and we simply can’t afford to keep doing the same thing over and over again.

The book is for any conventional practitioner who is feeling burnt out and disillusioned with medicine, practitioners already familiar with the functional approach looking for a successful framework for their practice, and even patients and the public who want to join the crusade to improve healthcare. With gripping stories of real clinicians and patients throughout the book, it may convince even the most stubborn, pharma-bought doctors to reconsider their approach to medicine.

Chris envisions a new system, where health coaches, nutritionists, and other allied providers form 70% of the health workforce, working to encourage healthy behaviors, provide moral support to patients, and help prevent disease in the first place. Another 25% of the workforce would consist of licensed functional medicine practitioners, while 5% would be made up of hospitals and specialists.

In other words, conventional medicine would remain useful for short-term reduction of symptoms or emergency care, but functional medicine would be the first line medical care for most patients with chronic disease. Perhaps this passage from the book illustrates it best:

“Imagine you’re in a boat, and the boat is leaking. You can bail water from the boat to make it sink more slowly, but if the leaks are still there, you’ll have limited success. Conventional medicine is mostly about trying to bail water out of the boat without fixing the leaks. Wouldn’t it make more sense to prevent the leaks from happening in the first place, and then fix them completely if they do occur? We might still need to bail some water initially, but if the leaks get fixed, the boat is steadied. Eventually, there’s no more bailing required, and the sailing – or living – can resume. That’s what Functional Medicine is all about.”

Unconventional Medicine” will truly challenge current paradigms, and I hope that healthcare providers the world over will read this book and begin to recognize the validity and necessity of a functional approach. We need to start thinking about the future of healthcare, and Chris has provided a glimpse at what that could be.

I am more hopeful than ever that by the time I receive my M.D., I can proudly declare that I am pursuing a residency in functional medicine, and receive only positive responses from the medical community. And unlike the 63% of physicians that are dissatisfied with their jobs, I am confident that I can create a practice I love and a career that I enjoy for many years to come.

The bottom line: whether you’re a patient or a practitioner in alternative, functional, integrative, or conventional medicine, I urge you to get your hands on a copy of “Unconventional Medicine”. The future of healthcare requires major change, and Chris has provided a powerful roadmap to get us there.

Did you like this article? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe below!

P.S. You can preorder a copy of Chris’s book here (not an affiliate link). The official launch is November 11, 2017, so it should be available in libraries soon after.