Dr. Kyle: Oh, this is a great question. In my opinion, it's really what medicine should be. It looks at every problem from a point of, “how well is this functioning” and “can I get it to function better?” Let's use some common medication as an example. If you have heartburn, we would say, “your digestion is not working properly.” Doing an antacid actually further prevents your digestion from working optimally.It does relieve the symptom, but it actually further makes your digestion worse because you don't have the acid, you’re unable to digest your food as well, which means you're not able to absorb it as well. There's this whole cascade of events… and when I look at a lot of the treatments we deal with in medicine we feel like they are really missing the mark and they are not improving the body's function on any level, and we find that to be quite disturbing for patients, particularly with chronic health problems. If you have a short-term problem, you know, you broke a bone or got a strep infection or something, we think the system works fine. But once you have Alzheimer's disease and chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, we think not improving body function on every step of the way is a mistake in treatment. I think at its core level [Functional Medicine] is trying to get away from just alleviating symptoms and trying to improve function.
One of the analogies we use; the fastest most reliable way to take a plant that's dying, so it's brown, you know, it's not green. “The best way to make [a plant] green, is to paint it green.” It works every time and it works very fast. And we can do a study on if we give plants water or if we give it sunlight or if we paint it green, and all we have to do is, we just have to quick end the study like a day after. We go, “see painting is better than sunlight and water.” And this is what we think has been done a lot of times kind of this, you know, magic trick deception show with, “oh it changed this!” And I go… but did it?! Did we measure the right thing? Did you really look at getting patients Better?
We deal with this with chronic migraines and headaches; we get people who, the medication will reduce the pain score, except the person is a “zombie” and can't function in their life. They're on two or three different meds and the side effects are pretty severe. So we have a lot of chronic fatigue/chronic migraine cases that the side effects of the meds which are curing them…it's not really a cure, it's not really functional. We deal with this with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is said to be caused from overactive nerves, and the drugs work on really slowing down nerve function. Well there's a downside to slowing down nerve function. You don't feel pain. But, guess what? You don't feel anything! A lot of times, your brain, people feel like they're like a zombie or they're like just… people use the words, they “just feel dumb, they feel slow.” I go “Right, because that's what it did,” it just stopped everything from working well. And so we at functional medicine are going to approach the problem so differently. We're going to say, “if you have fibromyalgia from overactive nerves, how can we get the nerves to not be overactive? How can we solve your problem by helping something work better?” That's what we want to do in functional medicine.