Foundations of Functional Medicine
In the first talk in our series for FxMed4Kids – learn all about the Foundations of Functional Medicine with Dr Elizabeth Mumper, Integrative Paediatrician from the US.
And stay tuned because there are four more modules to come in this series including:
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional Medicine is a new way for practitioners and patients to interact so the best outcome can be achieved for the patients' health. As Dr Mumper explains: "Functional Medicine is not your 10-minute doctor visit." It is much more about looking at the complexity of the body and how all the various networks work together, she explains.
Once a parent or patient understands the foundations of Functional Medicine, they're empowered to manage their health and that of loved ones by making the right lifestyle and treatment choices – including working with a Functional practitioner.
With over 50% of adults and children struggling with an epidemic in chronic illness, Functional Medicine provides great hope for treatment as well as prevention of ADHD, anxiety, allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, digestive disorders, neuro-degenerative and neuro-developmental disorders plus a wide range of auto-immune disease.
Key Points of Functional Medicine:
Why do we need Functional Medicine?
Environmental factors seem to be driving chronic illness. For example, in the US there's evidence of a high increase in autism. In 2018 it was one in 59 children and now it's one in 50. As Dr Mumper says: "Clearly you cannot have a genetic epidemic in a period of 30 years. Our genes just do not mutate or change that fast. So, some environmental factors have to be involved in what I see is a real epidemic."
Dr Mumper adds asthma and atopic diseases are also rising. Peanut allergy around the world has been increasing dramatically since the second world war. As well, obesity is a huge issue and the United States leads the world.
"In my State of Virginia, actually 30% of children are now overweight or obese and I'm very concerned about this because one of the problems with obesity is that it is a pro-inflammatory state and this means that if you are obese, you are constantly driving a state of low-grade inflammation in your body, which is going to make you much more likely to have problems as other illnesses come your way. So, this is a worldwide problem," says Dr Mumper.
"In Canada, childhood diabetes is increasing dramatically. Over time we're starting to see more and more so-called type 2 diabetes which used to be called adult-onset diabetes. Now there are children who are 8, 9, 10 years old that have so called adult-onset diabetes," she adds.
How can Functional Medicine help with increases in chronic illness?
Dr Mumper says these increases in chronic diseases could have some common denominators in terms of the underlying factors: "So, if we can identify some common genetic predispositions and some environmental exposures, we might find some of these reasons for increases in chronic diseases," she adds.
"This is what's really fun about functional medicine – you can do some basic strategic treatments which help a wide variety of conditions. We can harness our inherent move for homeostasis, which is the medical term for balance – in order to make our children healthier."
Once a Functional Medicine practitioner has all the information gathered and curated, the next step is to look at the modifiable lifestyle factors which can be changed including sleep, exercise, nutrition, relationships and stress management.
Autism patient's health history:
Other factors in the patient's case:
An important thing to remember when treating yeast and fungus:
Dr Mumper stressed it's extremely important to check that a patient is having a bowel movement at least once or twice a day and they are extremely well hydrated, before you use any antifungals. If the patient is constipated and you treat them with antifungals, they'll make a lot of metabolic breakdown products from the antifungals killing the yeast and then it will have nowhere to go.
Other factors in the patient's case:
Dr Mumper said about six months after they had implemented all of these treatments, the boy was retested at the same University Autism Center and from his initial diagnosis which was moderate to severe autism and a recommendation he would need lifelong services, the diagnosis changed to him having 'a history of autism.'
The boy was categorised as being off the autism spectrum with superior cognitive abilities. His IQ was measured at the 87th percentile, performance IQ at 92nd and verbal IQ is 75.
So, you can see this was an excellent outcome. The boy is now a concert pianist and competitive swimmer. So, in this case the parents who adopted him were able to change the trajectory of his life profoundly and that's the kind of hope and meaning Functional Medicine can bring to us.
In summary, Dr Mumper's takeaway messages: