Treating the root cause of disease

Why a functional approach is more effective for lasting health and wellness

Scouting, functional medicine, integrative approach, sustainable farming

Amy walked slowly through the rows of swiss chard, cabbage, kale, and potatoes, stopping frequently to bend down and inspect the leaves and stems of the young plants.  As she walked through the field, closely observing any external damage to the leaves and stems, she relayed her observations to the small group of college students who eagerly trailed in her wake. When she approached the spinach patch, she frowned, and carefully dug the soil away until she could gently pull a single plant out, roots and all. She motioned for us to gather around her, so that we could all see that the small tan-colored maggots clinging to the roots of the plant.

It was my senior year at Kalamazoo College, and I had chosen to take a capstone course on sustainable farming. In addition to weekly discussions about various aspects of the food system, we spent a few hours each week volunteering at Harvest of Joy, a local sustainable farm run by Amy and her partner John. This week, Amy was introducing us to the idea of scouting. She explained that, while conventional farming would douse the surface of all of the plants and soil with pesticides at regular intervals throughout the growing season, sustainable farming sought a more integrated approach.  By scouting the fields regularly and paying close attention to the plants and their environment, she could understand exactly what the problem was, and seek a targeted solution that was minimally harmful to the plant.

Conventional vs. functional medicine

I couldn’t help but see parallels between the different approaches to farming and different approaches to medicine. For so many years, conventional doctors had tried to treat my eczema with increasingly potent steroid creams. It wasn’t until I discovered functional and integrative medicine and began to see my eczema as merely a symptom, and dug a little deeper to find the root cause, that I finally was able to heal. (To read my full eczema healing story, click here).

Conventional medicine seeks to mask symptoms “above the soil”, treating disease at its outer branches with drugs that typically don’t address the real cause of disease, require repeated use, and often treat one issue by causing another.

In contrast, integrative or functional medicine seeks to discover why the symptoms are occurring, digging below the surface to find the root cause of disease and restore the body’s natural balance. It focuses on targeted nutrition and lifestyle interventions that are designed to optimize health.

Identifying the root cause

NGmedicine, a blend of functional, integrative, and individualized medicine, considers a wide range of factors, including lab test results, medical history, current symptoms, and even genetics in some cases. With all of this additional data, we look for patterns to help identify the root cause of disease. The most common causes of modern chronic inflammatory diseases are:

  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Hormone imbalances
  • HPA axis dysregulation
  • Chronic infection
  • Methylation issues
  • Immune dysregulation
  • Environmental toxins

You’d be amazed just how many diseases can be resolved, simply by addressing these issues with targeted nutrition, lifestyle, and supplemental support.

In my next article, I discuss how functional medicine is evidence-based, how lab testing differs, and the principles of treatment.

Treating the root cause of disease

Why a functional approach is more effective for lasting health and wellness

Scouting, functional medicine, integrative approach, sustainable farming

Amy walked slowly through the rows of swiss chard, cabbage, kale, and potatoes, stopping frequently to bend down and inspect the leaves and stems of the young plants.  As she walked through the field, closely observing any external damage to the leaves and stems, she relayed her observations to the small group of college students who eagerly trailed in her wake. When she approached the spinach patch, she frowned, and carefully dug the soil away until she could gently pull a single plant out, roots and all. She motioned for us to gather around her, so that we could all see that the small tan-colored maggots clinging to the roots of the plant.

It was my senior year at Kalamazoo College, and I had chosen to take a capstone course on sustainable farming. In addition to weekly discussions about various aspects of the food system, we spent a few hours each week volunteering at Harvest of Joy, a local sustainable farm run by Amy and her partner John. This week, Amy was introducing us to the idea of scouting. She explained that, while conventional farming would douse the surface of all of the plants and soil with pesticides at regular intervals throughout the growing season, sustainable farming sought a more integrated approach.  By scouting the fields regularly and paying close attention to the plants and their environment, she could understand exactly what the problem was, and seek a targeted solution that was minimally harmful to the plant.

Conventional vs. functional medicine

I couldn’t help but see parallels between the different approaches to farming and different approaches to medicine. For so many years, conventional doctors had tried to treat my eczema with increasingly potent steroid creams. It wasn’t until I discovered functional and integrative medicine and began to see my eczema as merely a symptom, and dug a little deeper to find the root cause, that I finally was able to heal. (To read my full eczema healing story, click here).

Conventional medicine seeks to mask symptoms “above the soil”, treating disease at its outer branches with drugs that typically don’t address the real cause of disease, require repeated use, and often treat one issue by causing another.

In contrast, integrative or functional medicine seeks to discover why the symptoms are occurring, digging below the surface to find the root cause of disease and restore the body’s natural balance. It focuses on targeted nutrition and lifestyle interventions that are designed to optimize health.

Identifying the root cause

NGmedicine, a blend of functional, integrative, and individualized medicine, considers a wide range of factors, including lab test results, medical history, current symptoms, and even genetics in some cases. With all of this additional data, we look for patterns to help identify the root cause of disease. The most common causes of modern chronic inflammatory diseases are:

  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Hormone imbalances
  • HPA axis dysregulation
  • Chronic infection
  • Methylation issues
  • Immune dysregulation
  • Environmental toxins

You’d be amazed just how many diseases can be resolved, simply by addressing these issues with targeted nutrition, lifestyle, and supplemental support.

In my next article, I discuss how functional medicine is evidence-based, how lab testing differs, and the principles of treatment.