When I was growing up, I really wanted to be a math teacher… some of you may be thinking why on earth would anyone want to do that. I really enjoyed math, and I had enjoyed several jobs as a tutor. My mother wanted me to be a dermatologist because they had good office hours, good pay, and there would be a doctor in the family. No thanks… I did NOT want to spend my days looking at people’s skin problems.
I did kind of like the idea of being a doctor. I could help a lot of people. While I was taking some basic education classes, I realized that with all of the regulations I would not be able to teach the way I wanted to teach, so it was time for a career change. Luckily, I was only 2 years into college, so not much time was lost. I learned that the word doctor came from the Latin word that meant teacher, so it seemed to fit my goals of being a teacher in a round-about way.
Although I liked the idea of being a doctor and that doctor meant teacher, I didn’t like the idea of pushing pills. It seemed like medicine had become a profession that prescribes a pill for a given symptom. These pills had side-effects that needed more pills… and down the rabbit hole we go. Not that some medications weren’t necessary or didn’t alleviate suffering, but surely there is more to it than that.
As I contemplated my career change, I happened to come across a chiropractic college that seemed to resonate with me. “Don’t just be a doctor, be a healer” or something like that. At first it sounded a lot like voodoo. Then I read about finding the root cause of health problems. This is what chiropractic professed to do. Find and treat the root cause of disease. I can buy into that, but really? Chiropractors do that? I had about of low back pain, went to a chiropractor and felt better after one treatment. I never went back to see him because I felt great. So I knew that chiropractic worked great for my back pain, but other diseases as well? I was a little skeptical. They talked about using natural methods to treat disease. Okay, I can buy that. So that started my chiropractic journey.
While I was in chiropractic school, I studied anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, biomechanics, x-ray interpretation, soft tissue techniques, and of course, adjusting the spine. I took as many technique courses that my schedule would allow, including acupuncture. I studied nutrition as well. Some of the techniques I learned were strange to me, but most had real applications to musculoskeletal disorders. By the time I had finished school, I was ready to be a musculoskeletal doctor. I became very good finding the root cause of musculoskeletal conditions and treating them with mostly good results using natural methods. I incorporated some nutrition into my practice, which did seem to augment my treatments.
Still, I was unsatisfied. I helped hundreds of people with low back pain, neck pain, plantar fasciitis, shoulder problems, disc herniations, headaches, and many other pains that were related to the muscles, joints, and other soft tissues. But I still didn’t feel like a doctor. Finally, I discovered something called functional medicine.
Functional medicine, as I learned, was about finding the root cause of disease. This is what attracted me to chiropractic in the first place. Chiropractic claimed that all diseases came from the spine. Nerve interference caused disease. It could be treated by adjusting the spine. This, to me, was not entirely accurate, but it was the best I had at the time. So, I focused mainly on musculoskeletal complaints. But now, with functional medicine, I could treat other health problems, too. By finding the root cause and treating it using natural methods. Finally, something that makes more sense. Functional medicine is not about prescribing a pill for a symptom. It askes why do we have the symptoms in the first place.
So conventional medicine is great at treating acute problems. If you are having a heart attack, conventional medicine will save your life! If you are having an asthma attack, nothing works better than an inhaler. But what about chronic problems? What about diabetes? High blood pressure? Digestive problems? There is a medication for all of these things. But this is acute-care thinking. Most of the medical issues are treated with medication. Successfully, I might add. BUT, conventional medicine fails when it comes to identifying WHY you have these medical issues. They find a diagnosis, a medicine, then stop. Functional medicine takes this process further. It asks why.
Functional medicine is based on the most current research available. It focuses on the individual. The goal is to identify the underlying cause of disease, rather than rely on medications to simply manage the disease. What if we could eliminate the disease? Or sometimes, what if we could reduce the number of medications, or reduce the dose of medications needed? In my book, that would be a win.
This seems to be what I was after when I began my chiropractic journey. Chiropractic certainly plays a part, but there is a much bigger picture now. I’m able to be a doctor, a teacher, and help people with their health journey. I don’t have to prescribe a specific medication (or supplement for that matter) that will cover up symptoms and leave a greater issue just below the surface. These can be tools in my bag, if needed, to control symptoms while I try to uncover the real problem, but I don’t have to stop there.
I am happy to say that I am now a certified functional medicine practitioner. I am happy to have the tools needed to identify the underlying causes of disease, whether that’s thyroid problems, diabetes, fibromyalgia, digestive problems, or some auto-immune diseases. Am I going to cure these problems? No. Am I going to try to eliminate the symptoms? No. Am I going to address the underlying problems? YES! By doing this, not only will the symptoms be relieved, but hopefully, you will save lots of money on medications and treatments designed to keep the symptoms at bay. I will take that extra steps that conventional medicine fails to do. I will base my treatments on the most updated research available. I will go on this journey with you toward better health!