“The young physician starts life with 20 drugs for each disease but the older physician ends life with one drug for 20 diseases.”
After 25 years of practising as a conventional hospital doctor, I’m finally practising medicine the way I want to practise it.
Root cause medicine is the way forward for healthcare.
As doctors, we have to develop a better understanding of the underlying causes of disease and address those instead of focusing on symptom control.
That’s why I love the Functional Medicine model of care.
Functional Medicine is the practice of medicine, which seeks to identify and treat the core physiological, biochemical and other clinical imbalances that underlie various disease conditions.
Functional Medicine isn’t the same as alternative medicine or complementary medicine. Whilst both of these can be instrumental in helping someone recover from an illness, what Functional Medicine does is aim to identify the underlying cause of that illness. It is the practice of evidence-based medicine, using advanced laboratory tests to develop a personalised treatment plan that seeks to address the root cause of disease in a particular individual.
The table below illustrates the main differences between conventional and Functional Medicine, and the main differences between how I used to practise medicine, and how I practise medicine now.
To read about Functional Medicine in action and how it changed the lives of a mother and son, see this page: The Power of Functional Medicine.
“Your genetics load the gun. Your lifestyle pulls the trigger.”
Mehmet Oz, Cardiothoracic Surgeon.
Lifestyle is extremely important in terms of increasing or reducing the risk of developing diseases. Having a genetic predisposition to developing a certain disease, such as breast cancer or dementia, does not necessarily mean you will develop that disease. Lifestyle plays a big role in activating the genes that predispose you to that disease. Through your lifestyle, you can reduce the likelihood of those genes ever becoming activated in the first place. If you have already developed a chronic medical condition, you can often improve your outlook by making changes to your lifestyle.
In addition to using a Functional Medicine approach to discover, and address, the underlying causes of your condition, I ensure that I review critically important areas of your lifestyle such as nutrition, emotional health and other lifestyle factors, and, working with you, address these important areas to ensure all damaging stressors are removed from your system as far as practically possible, and chronic inflammation is reduced to a minimum.
I also use treatment modalities with the primary aims of reducing the inflammatory burdenin your body and improving your microcirculation. With a more efficient blood flow in your smallest blood vessels and capillaries, your cells will receive a higher supply of nutrient-enriched and oxygen-enriched blood, thus providing your cells with the essential elements to absorb nutrients, to undergo efficient detoxification and to function at their optimum capacity.
The treatment modalities I use include BEMER physical vascular therapy, low level laser therapy and exercise with oxygen therapy. Used together, these treatments improve your circulation and boost and strengthen your immune system, your body’s first line of defence against any disease. During these treatments, I use a potent natural anti-inflammatory supplement which is carefully timed so that it is carried efficiently to all your body’s cells, together with the specific nutrients that were identified by your laboratory tests, targeted to your individual needs, so that your cells have all the building blocks they require for optimal function, recovery and regeneration.
I hope you find the information here informative and interesting, and I look forward to working with you on your journey to optimum health.
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931)
The type of food that we eat is tremendously important for maintaining optimum health.
Avoiding highly processed foods and eating organic food as much as practically possible, are both very important, as are the kinds of foods that we eat. For example, diets containing a high amount of saturated fats, meat and dairy increase the likelihood of developing certain cancers such as two of the most common cancers diagnosed – breast cancer and colon cancer. Populations who consume mainly plant-based foods, however, are known to have a reduced risk of developing cancer. Carotenoids and other phytonutrients in plant foods possess anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and anti-infective properties and laboratory trials have shown that carotenoids inhibit the progression of cancer.
There are other countless examples of how foods can both hinder or promote recovery from disease. For example, some foods will trigger painful inflammation of the joints (inflammatory arthritis) whilst others will help you remain inflammation-free and pain-free.
Whilst most doctors knowledgable in the area of nutrition agree that the healthiest diet is one composed mainly of plant foods, many doctors still do not understand the importance of healthy nutrition, and this is why the vital association between food and illness is very often overlooked. There are now many clinical studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals showing a clear link between different diets and the development of diseases such as ischaemic heart disease (angina, heart attacks), type two diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, stroke and other conditions. These studies show that we can significantly reduce the likelihood of these conditions occurring in the first place, and once the disease is diagnosed, we can promote recovery (even sometimes reverse the disease process) with dietary intervention, in particular by adopting a whole food plant-based diet.
Today, more and more pharmaceutical drugs are being manufactured in order to combat the seemingly insurmountable tide of disease, yet one of the simplest and most effective forms of treatment is virtually ignored.
Whilst doctors receive some exposure to non-pharmaceutical approaches to disease, the main focus of our training and the main approach to the treatment of disease is almost always with drugs, some of which can potentially cause numerous undesirable side effects. Whilst sometimes the use of drugs may be unavoidable or advisable, in many cases it can be possible to alter the course of disease simply by focusing on lifestyle measures, especially the diet.
We can literally eat our way towards better health.
Delayed food hypersensitivity is one of the most commonly overlooked problems when treating medical conditions. As opposed to food allergies or food intolerance, delayed food hypersensitivity causes symptoms to occur up to three days after consuming the particular food. This is why the association between the food and the symptoms, is often missed. Any kind of food can potentially cause delayed hypersensitivity in a particular individual, even foods that are usually considered healthy.
(NB delayed food sensitivity is not the same as food allergies, when allergy causing foods should be avoided completely).
Ideally our gut lining should be intact and only allow necessary nutrients to pass through the gut cells and into the surrounding capillaries.
However, for various reasons, the gut lining is often not as intact as it should be. There are areas where the connection between the gut cells, or ‘tight junctions,’ can lose their integrity and thus allow microscopic particles of food (or whatever else we ingest such as pesticides, food colourings etc) to enter the bloodstream.
When this happens, your immune system recognises an invader and calls on its troops to attack it. This immune response, triggered by whatever your immune system sees as the invader, ultimately causes tissue inflammation.
Poor digestion, imbalanced gut flora, an overly strained immune system and stress are some of the factors which make it more likely for food sensitivities to develop.
Sometimes, it is not the actual food that causes the immune reaction, but something that is bound to it, such as a pesticide, a particular food colouring, or other chemical agent. However the body will still see the food as the offending antigen and once the immune system has been activated, every time you eat that particular food, your body will mount an inflammatory immune response. This immune response may manifest as different physical symptoms in different people, in different parts of the body. Symptoms of delayed food hypersensitivity are not necessarily related to the gut but may manifest as, for example, joint pains.
It is possible that underlying food sensitivities may be an important contributing factor in the development of autoimmune diseases.
If the offending agent settles in a tissue, then that tissue can be damaged when the immune system attacks the particle that it sees as foreign. This may be a credible explanation for the development, and exacerbation, of different auto-immune diseases.
Most food sensitivity tests involve the measurement of specific antibodies such as IgG. Whilst this can have benefits, there can be an unacceptable degree of false positive results, that is, the test may show you have a sensitivity to a certain food when in fact you do not.
At Quantum Clinic, we prefer to address the underlying issue of intestinal hyper-permeability or ‘leaky gut.’
Leaky gut syndrome, which has for years been recognised by health practitioners outside Conventional Medicine, has only recently been recognised as a phenomenon by mainstream medicine, and especially since the mechanism for intestinal hyper-permeability (the medical term for leaky gut) was identified by Dr Alessio Fassano who in 2000 discovered zonulin, a protein that modulates the permeability of tight junctions between cells of the wall of the digestive tract.
By strengthening your natural gut defence mechanisms, removing certain foods that may be damaging your gut membrane, and moving to a healthier nutrition plan, it is often possible to repair the leaky gut that contributed to food hypersensitivity, with remarkable results.
At times, we may use a comprehensive functional test for delayed food sensitivity that identifies three out of the four delayed sensitivity reactions (type 2, 3 and 4), but most of the time this is not necessary to achieve beneficial results.
Conventional Medicine is beginning to understand the vital importance of healthy gut flora, or microbiome.
In the human body, we have about 70 trillion human cells and 1.4 quadrillion bacterial cells (about 20,000 species of bacteria).
15% of the micro-RNA (molecules that regulate gene expression) circulating in our blood comes from the bacteria in our gut. What this means is that the bacterial genome controls a significant proportion of our genes by switching them on and off.
Studies have shown that the bacterial load in out gut can influence which type of cancer people will develop, that is, different gut microbiomes can predispose a person to develop different diseases. Certain gut microbiomes favour the development of, for example, breast cancer, and others, the development of type 1 diabetes etc.
With 70% of the immune system located in the gut, maintaining a healthy gut and diverse gut microbiome is paramount to preventing ill health; addressing an imbalance in the gut microbiome is one of the first issues that should be addressed in the management of disease.
At Quantum Clinic, creating a healthy gut environment for your optimum health, is one of our top priorities:
“The human body heals itself and nutrition provides the resources to accomplish the task.”
Roger Williams Ph.D.
In terms of the potential stressors contributing to chronic disease, thought stress is extremely destructive in terms of inflammation. Of all the stressors, it is the most frequent. Repetitive negative thought patterns are powerful promoters of inflammatory mediators in the body. The resulting continuous physiological stress response (ie continuous release of stress hormones) is damaging to the body in the long term. and contributes to chronic low grade inflammation which predisposes individuals to developing chronic disease. This is why it is so important to address the mind body connection, especially when disease is already established.
Studies show that through using HeartMath techniques, stress levels recede, energy levels increase and we are capable of achieving a state of optimal clarity, perception and performance.
HeartMath techniques are not the same as relaxation exercises which generally promote a passive state. On the contrary, Heartmath techniques are active self-regulation exercises using self-generated positive emotions to drive the body into a harmonious state.
Simple HeartMath techniques can be used at any time, to control your own stress hormone levels and empower you to take control of the mind-body aspect of your particular condition. You will find these exercises useful not only for empowering you in the management of your condition, but also in many of life’s challenging circumstances.
The following are a few publications on the use of HeartMath technology in Medicine:
Barrios-Choplin, B., R. McCraty, and B. Cryer. An inner quality approach to reducing stress and improving physical and emotional wellbeing at work, Stress Medicine, 1997. 13(3): p. 193-201.
Luskin, F., M. Reitz, K. Newell, T.G. Quinn, and W.A. Haskell, W. A controlled pilot study of stress management training of elderly patients with congestive heart failure. Preventive Cardiology, 2002. 5(4): p. 168-172, 176.
McCraty, R., M. Atkinson, L. Lipsenthal, and L. Arguelles, Impact of the Power to Change Performance program on stress and health risks in correctional officers. 2003: Boulder Creek, CA: HeartMath Research Center, Institute of HeartMath, Report No. 03-014, 2003.
McCraty R, Atkinson M, Tomasino D. Impact of a workplace stress reduction program on blood pressure and emotional health in hypertensive employees. J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Jun;9(3):355-69.
McCraty R, Barrios-Choplin B, Rozman D, Atkinson M, Watkins AD.The impact of a new emotional self-management program on stress, emotions, heart rate variability, DHEA and cortisol. Integr Physiol Behav Sci. 1998 Apr-Jun;33(2):151-70.
Going to medical school was a dream come true for me. I had, for as long as I can remember wanted to become a doctor, and medical training, rigorous though it was, stimulated my mind and made me look forward to the day I would finally qualify and start working as a doctor.
Things got a bit disappointing after that. Leaving aside the 70-100 working week that was the norm in those days for junior doctors (my weekend shift would start at 9am Saturday morning and end 5pm Monday afternoon with no formal breaks and, if I was lucky, three hours of broken sleep at night), I soon found that my interventions were almost completely limited to the use of pharmaceutical drugs, and whilst in many cases they did result in a rapid improvement in symptoms, I intuitively felt that I was only scratching the surface of the problem, putting a plaster on the wound, as it were.
A couple of years into my working life as a doctor, the longing to find a more meaningful way to address illness led me to explore other systems of Medicine. I read, with an insatiable appetite, subjects ranging from Chinese acupuncture energetics to western herbal therapy to the use of different forms of waves and frequencies to treat infections and cancer. During the day, I worked as a medical registrar in busy London hospitals, and in the evenings and weekends I studied and gained qualifications in different medical approaches including TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) acupuncture and phytotherapy.
I seriously considered leaving conventional medicine to pursue a path in holistic health, but somehow that never happened and I continued in my very traditional and conventional doctor’s role, eventually obtaining a consultant post and working for over another decade as a respiratory physician.
During that time, I diagnosed countless people with cancer. In accordance with recommended protocols, I discussed all the cases in the Cancer Multidisciplinary Meeting and referred to the appropriate specialists for further management – surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or palliative care, depending on each individual scenario.
I used to be the doctor that said: “I’m sorry Mrs X, there’s nothing else we can offer you, I recommend that I refer you to the Palliative Care Team who will look after you and ensure that your symptoms are kept under control.”
That was then.
When you look at doctors or other health practitioners who have drastically shifted their perspective and changed their medical approach to a more integrative and holistic one, the turning point was often a personal tragedy, whether it was personal ill health or the loss of a loved one. So it was with me.
I won’t recount that story here, only to say that the whole harrowing experience of watching my loved one disintegrate before my eyes, highlighted something very eye-opening to me – that despite having diagnosed many people with cancer, I had very little knowledge about the underlying causes of cancer and even less about what I could do about them.
What is it, for example, other than the commonly quoted (and overestimated) role of genetics, that determines if someone develops cancer? And why do they develop it at a particular age, say 65 – why not when they are 20, or 40, or 80? Why can someone smoke like a chimney for years without developing lung cancer, whilst others who have never smoked in their lives, do?
There were so many questions – questions which at the time, I had little idea how to answer, despite my so called expertise as a specialist.
The immediacy of the situation propelled me onto an acute learning curve where I voraciously consumed every piece of information I could glean in a perpetual race against time. I treated my relative with many of the treatments that you read about in the ‘alternative cancer clinics’ of Mexico and Germany. Our front room took on the appearance of a lived-in medical clinic, with IV equipment, ozone and biophotonic therapy devices, far infrared sauna for hyperthermia, relaxation and meditation CDs, and all manner of supplements. You name it, I tried it.
Unfortunately, despite everything I did, it was too late for him. Or at least, I didn’t succeed. Looking back, and with the knowledge I have now, I recognise every factor that led to the development of this ‘sudden’ advanced cancer. It wasn’t so sudden, of course, the underlying issues were present for years beforehand, but only with the eye and wisdom of experience can I now see this. And with this same experience and the information I have learned since, what was invisible to me before, has become so clear.
The mire of desperation and the subsequent urgent quest for more knowledge led me to a clarity of understanding about cancer that I never possessed before.
In most adult cancers, aside from the genetic component, which is strongly influenced by the person’s environment anyway, there are numerous factors which provide a favourable environment for cancer to develop in the body. These include:
Mental and emotional stress. This is number one on the list. The stress may be due to a sudden, acute trauma, or due to ongoing emotional issues;
Exposure to some form of cell-damaging toxin. This may be, for example, nicotine, chemicals, or heavy metals;
An infective agent. Usually a virus that propagates and spurs a cancer to spread. This has been confirmed in several types of cancer but I think the medical world has yet to fully understand the crucial part that viruses play in the role of cancer development and spread;
Nutritional deficiencies. Very common and almost universal in people with cancer, I would say, often coupled with poor diet.
The above factors are what I consider to be the leading underlying causes of cancer, and they almost always occur together – not all at once, but often one after another over a period of months to years, like adding links to a chain, until they are all in place to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting host.
Other factors also play a role in propagation of cancer, including exposure to cancer-propagating ‘foods’. This is very common again, and sugar is the leading culprit here. Also exposure to anything that suppresses the immune system – there are many possibilities, but frequent or continuous exposure to a cold environment is one.
The diagnosis may seem sudden, but the underlying factors have usually been around for years. The body’s change in terrain, over time, and often for the above reasons, becomes favourable for this condition we call ‘cancer’ to appear.
There is something important I want to say about all of the above factors.
All of them are environmental.
All of them are potentially treatable.
All of them are potentially reversible.
So why don’t we hear this from conventional doctors?
Why is it that doctors in the fields of Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine know about these issues, yet you will rarely hear about them from your conventional doctor?
Is it because this information about root causes of cancer isn’t accessible through the usual medical databases?
Actually, it is. All this information has been verified and published in medical journals. The trials are all available to view online via different platforms, including Pubmed, a search engine commonly used by doctors that provides access to a database of medical literature.
Mental and emotional stress
Stress-related hormones such as catacholamines and cortisol have been shown to influence cancer cells and their potential to proliferate and to migrate. There are numerous studies indicating that stress hormones are likely to be responsible for progression of malignancy.
Exposure to cell-damaging toxins
The carcinogenic action of many chemicals and certain heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic have been documented, but they are virtually ignored as possible aetiological factors in cancer formation, in contrast to the almost universal knowledge amongst doctors of the cancer-causing effects of other environmental toxins such as nicotine and asbestos.
Several viruses including human papilloma virus (HPV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and hepatitis B virus have all been implicated in numerous cancers.
It has been known for decades that diet is a major factor in the development of cancer and it is estimated that as much as 30% of all cancers worldwide have dietary factors as the main underlying cause.
Despite the fact that there are literally thousands of publications, including clinical trials and reviews, all published in peer-reviewed medical journals, for some baffling reason, much of this information has neither infiltrated routine medical practice, nor international guidelines and protocols.
How many doctors ask whether a person with cancer has been exposed to high doses of mercury in the past? How many address emotional and traumatic issues causing stress? How many seek out an underlying chronic viral infection, or perform detailed nutritional testing to identify micronutrient deficiencies?
Doctors will usually only search for information about these treatable causes of cancer if they have an interest in the area in the first place, because finding these studies would involve actively searching certain terms in medical databases, terms such as ‘heavy metals’ and ‘neoplasms-aetiology’. If there is no interest or knowledge in this area to begin with, then it is unlikely that any individual doctor would search for these terms and links, and subsequently it is unlikely that they would know about these studies.
The fact is, most doctors today would not even think about these underlying factors, let alone address them. To find someone with the knowledge to address root causes of cancer, currently one would need to search for a health professional who is knowledgeable in other approaches to Medicine, most likely in the areas of Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine.
There are many clinics around the world that offer a progressive approach to treating cancer. Organisations such as Yes To Life are invaluable sources of information about these clinics for people whose lives have been affected by cancer, and especially at the time of diagnosis when the need for information is so crucial.
At Quantum Clinic, our aim is to address the underlying dis-ease that allowed cancer to appear in the first place. That means searching for, and addressing, the root causes. After extensive history-taking and laboratory testing to identify these factors, we offer a programme that involves support with healthy nutrition, focusing on anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer foods, provision of targeted nutritional supplements, cellular detoxification, and anti-inflammatory supplements. Some of the latter are delivered in liposomal form, and carried to the diseased cells through enhancing the microcirculation via therapies such as Bemer physical vascular therapy and exercise with oxygen therapy (similar to hyperbaric oxygen therapy in its effect). We also use low level laser therapy for its myriad benefits which include anti-inflammatory effects at a cellular level. The supplements are timed synchronistically with these therapies in a convenient oral delivery system that enables maximum intracellular delivery of the agents.
We measure anti-inflammatory markers and certain cancer markers before and after the programme in order to monitor your progress. The programme can be undertaken with conventional treatment if you are receiving this.
For further information about our Cancer Programme, please visit: https://quantumclinic.co.uk/cancer/
Do you want to know how to help seal leaky gut using healthy, plant-based nutrients?
Intestinal hyperpermeability, or ‘leaky gut’, is one of the main underlying issues in many conditions including autoimmune disease. Leaky gut leads to ongoing systemic inflammation and it is essential to address it, in order to optimise the outcome in any chronic illness.
‘Better Than Bone Broth’ is a plant-based recipe to help seal leaky gut junctions and reduce the damaging effects of systemic inflammation.
Just click on the image above to see the recipe.
Functional Medicine practitioners ask a lot of questions. In fact, you should be prepared to sit down for an hour or longer to answer the (very) long questionnaire you will likely be sent before you even see your Functional Medicine practitioner for the first time. You’ll be asked about all sorts of things – your diet, your sleep patterns, your stress levels, your environmental exposures, even down to the type of cosmetic products you use. That’s a whole lot more detailed than the histories I used to take in my conventional practice. But it’s all important information, and all relevant.
The investigations you’ll have will be much more detailed, too. Functional medicine practitioners use cutting-edge diagnostic tests, performed in first-class laboratories by skilled technicians, to give them the answers they need in order to pinpoint the underlying imbalances and causes of your condition, and guide you on the path back to health.
The patient-practitioner relationship is a much closer working relationship. It’s no longer about me telling you what’s wrong with you and giving you a tablet for it. Now we work together, and your input and commitment to following through with the treatment plan, is very important.
In fact, how much effort you are prepared to put in yourself on your path to optimal health, is just as important in terms of a successful outcome as seeking out a knowledgeable and experienced practitioner to guide you on that path.
Because your own contribution is so important to the doctor-patient relationship in Functional Medicine, there are a number of things I think you need to consider before deciding to see a Functional Medicine practitioner:
Are you prepared to spend time answering a lot of questions about yourself?
In order to get to the bottom of the issues in your individual case, your Functional Medicine doctor will need a lot of information about you, especially before your first appointment.
Are you prepared to make changes to your lifestyle?
This one is very important. It’s so important that I would say that if you’re not prepared to change your lifestyle, then don’t waste your time and money, because that’s probably the first thing your Functional Medicine practitioner will focus on, and for good reason. Lifestyle makes a big difference to health outcomes, even in genetic conditions.
If you choose to see a Functional Medicine practitioner, you will be given advice about healthy eating, as well as other lifestyle advice such as how to improve your stress handling skills, advice about sleep, exercise, leisure etc. But your doctor or practitioner can only recommend what will be helpful for you – you are the one that has to strive to make the change. This may not be easy to begin with, but in the majority of people, it is well worth it in terms of reaching health goals. Before you see a Functional Medicine practitioner, it would be wise to consider carefully how prepared you are to make changes to your current lifestyle, because, whether it is to a smaller or larger degree, it will undoubtedly be a necessity.
Are you prepared to take supplements?
Gone are the days when food gave our bodies all the nutrition, unfortunately. Our soils are so depleted that even organic fruits and vegetables, whilst still far preferable than pesticide-laden produce, no longer provide the nutrients they once did. The sad fact is that even with the healthiest diet, almost all of us are likely to require some form of supplementation in order to maintain health, and definitely so if a disease has already developed. Detailed Functional Medicine testing will identify which nutritional deficiencies are present and therefore which supplements are recommended. They are a vital part of regaining your health.
Do you have a supportive family/partner?
It’s much easier to make lifestyle changes if you are supported in doing so. If possible, I recommend coming to the first appointment with your partner or other family member, so they can better understand what you need to do in order to regain your health, and how they can support you to achieve it.
As you can see, there are several points to consider before heading to a Functional Medicine practitioner, but if you are tired of just having your symptoms controlled and want to really get to the bottom of what is causing your illness, and if you are prepared to follow the lifestyle changes and other recommendations advised by your Functional Medicine practitioner, then you are likely to do well with a Functional Medicine approach and it’s very likely that you will start to see positive changes.
In my experience, Functional Medicine works very well as a therapeutic approach, but there are two vital ingredients to a successful outcome:
2. Your own resolve to make the necessary changes on the way.
You are the key player and decision maker. Are you prepared to propel yourself towards optimal health?
Many medical studies show that inflammation lies at the core of different medical conditions – not only conditions with an obvious or visible inflammatory basis, but even conditions as diverse as Alzheimer’s, depression, insulin resistance and obesity.
It’s important to stress that it is chronic inflammation that causes long term problems in the body. Acute inflammation, such as one sees with a cut or injury, is beneficial and necessary in the healing process. But ongoing, low grade inflammation can result in constantly elevated stress hormones which leads to all kinds of problems including insulin resistance, lowered immunity, higher propensity to repeat or chronic infections, and early ageing.
Low grade, chronic inflammation can occur on a cellular level well before inflammatory markers in the blood (eg C-Reactive Protein or CRP) start to rise. Detecting chronic inflammation and removing its cause is critical if one wants to address the root cause of a chronic disease.
Different people can tolerate different levels of chronic inflammation. How much chronic inflammation your body can tolerate without developing a chronic condition or disease, depends on the duration and severity of the inflammation and how well your body is equipped to deal with it, for example whether your cells have access to a good supply of anti-oxidants. Your tolerance to chronic inflammation depends on both genetic factors and lifestyle, especially your diet.
Inflammation can occur anywhere in the body – sometimes, the source is obvious and can be treated easily, for example a urinary tract infection or a tooth abscess. But often the source of chronic, low grade inflammation is not clear. In that case, there may be ‘hidden’ factors involved, such as heavy metal toxicity, or a chronic viral infection, or imbalanced gut flora. These can be identified with Functional Medicine testing and addressed appropriately using a Functional and Integrative Medicine approach.
Lifestyle is very important in helping to limit chronic inflammation, and there is one lifestyle factor that is critical in maintaining good health, but it is all too often ignored in Conventional Medicine – nutrition.
“Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.”
The foods we eat can contribute to inflammation in the body, or they can fight inflammation.
There are two broad ways in which foods can be pro-inflammatory (cause inflammation) in the body:
Some foods such as refined cooking oils and processed foods directly fuel inflammation in the body. Other foods produce a substance called arachidonic acid which triggers the body’s inflammatory pathways. If inflammation is already present, arachidonic acid will make it worse.
If the individual has a high blood sugar level and insulin resistance, the inflammation is amplified further. Other foods contributing to inflammation include any foods containing trans fats, and alcohol.
Fruits and vegetables are anti-inflammatory powerhouses, packed with fibre, healthy protein, antioxidants and phytonutrients, all of which fight inflammation. Fibre is only found in plant foods.
“The absorption and organization of sunlight, the essence of life, is derived almost exclusively through plants. Since light is the driving force of every cell in our bodies, that is why we need green plants.”
The importance of the bacterial diversity in our gut is not to be underestimated in the prevention of inflammatory conditions – an imbalanced gut flora can predispose us to certain diseases. Click here for more information on the importance of a healthy gut flora.
We really do need to understand the critical importance of the food we eat and how it impacts on our physical and emotional health. Even our psychological well being is affected by the number of fruits and vegetables we eat in one day!
At Quantum Clinic, reducing chronic inflammation in your system is one of our primary aims, and we do it through a number of interventions including food sensitivity testing, comprehensive nutritional profile, Nutritional Therapy, Low Level Laser Therapy and Physical Vascular Therapy.
Our treatments work by aiding your body in its own reparative processes to achieve inflammation-free, optimum cellular health and function.
Inflammation in Alzheimer Disease—A Brief Review of the Basic Science and Clinical Literature. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2012 Jan;2(1):a006346.
Review: the role of inflammation in depression. Psychiatr Danub. 2013 Sep;25 Suppl 2:S216-23.
The role of inflammation in depression: from evolutionary imperative to modern treatment target. Nature Reviews Immunology16,22–34(2016)doi:10.1038/nri.2015.5
Metabolic endotoxemia initiates obesity and insulin resistance. Diabetes. 2007 Jul;56(7):1761-72. Epub2007 Apr 24
“Seeking an inflammatory factor causative of the onset of insulin resistance, obesity, and diabetes, we have identified bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) as a triggering factor.”
“Is Psychological Well-Being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?” Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 114(3), pages 785-801, December.
When I used to work as a conventional hospital physician, my approach to diagnosing and treating patients followed standard protocols.
I would dutifully take a detailed history from my patients (or rather, what I thought was detailed at the time), then I would examine my patients, reach a provisional diagnosis and order the relevant investigations for confirmation. Once I confirmed a diagnosis, I would commence standard treatment for that condition according to national guidelines or my specialist body recommendations. Usually the patients’ symptoms would improve, but occasionally they didn’t. Sometimes there would be side effects from the drugs I prescribed; some minor, some not so minor.
“Doctors pour drugs of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, into patients of whom they know nothing.”
Most of the time, though, we managed to control the symptoms enough to allow the patients to lead a good, or at least reasonable, quality of life – and that’s essentially what I used to do; control the symptoms.
My approach to patients with chronic disease now, has progressed significantly, with my understanding of the principles of Functional Medicine. My aim now is to identify the underlying cause for the patient’s condition. For example, what is it in this particular person’s internal or external environment that is causing inflammation in their body? What is it, in this particular individual, that is provoking their immune system to overreact and destroy their body’s own tissues? Why does the inflammation or pain ‘flare up’, seemingly of its own accord? Is there something the patient is exposed to that is causing the flare up, something that has been overlooked? And many other questions.
The change in how I practise medicine now, and how I practised medicine before, illustrates the main difference between Conventional Medicine and Functional Medicine. Functional Medicine is root cause medicine. It is patient-specific, not disease-specific, which means that two people with the same condition, let’s say rheumatoid arthritis, can have very different factors causing the same disease, and thus the treatment approach will be different for each.
Functional Medicine is about finding the underlying factors that are contributing to a particular condition in a particular individual, a unique individual. It’s about identifying the underlying cause in your case, whether that is a nutritional imbalance, or an imbalance in your gut microbiome, or a hidden chronic viral infection, or maybe a toxic exposure such as chronic heavy metal exposure, that your body is having a hard time trying to eliminate. Once the specific causes have been identified, treatment can be aimed to address those causes.
“If we doctors threw all our medicines into the sea, it would be that much better for our patients and that much worse for the fishes.”
Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes, MD
This page explains further the differences between Conventional Medicine and Functional Medicine.
Optimal health is being the best you can be and feeling the best you can feel.
On an individual level, a lot depends on who you are, what your goal is, and the capacity your body has to repair and regenerate itself.
Optimal health can carry a very different meaning for different people, depending on their aims and goals.
For example, for a 35 year old athlete with a recent diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease, who is plagued with recurrent bouts of abdominal pain and diarrhoea which dramatically affect his performance, the goal may be to significantly reduce (if not eradicate) the pain and diarrhoea, allowing him to return to top athletic performance.
A 75 year old person with a long history of rheumatoid arthritis who endures continuous pain, treated unsuccessfully by conventional pharmaceutical and surgical interventions, is unlikely to be planning any sporting activities. Their goal is more likely to be minimising or eradicating pain, and improving their functional ability and joint movements, allowing them a greater freedom and quality of life.
Achieving optimal health requires a multi-faceted approach. Both physician and patient need to work together to address the issues that have led to the development of a particular condition. More progress will be achieved if we remember that it is necessary for all aspects of our being – mind, body and spirit – to function in harmony.
At Quantum Clinic, we use multiple modes of therapy to help you regain your wellbeing. Together, we look at the different therapies to address the root causes of your condition, and utilise the benefits of an integrative approach in treating dis-ease.
Whether you want to run a marathon, or whether you want to be able to enjoy your life without having to suffer pain – whatever your goals and aspirations, we work with you to achieve your optimal health.
Please note that Dr Tavakkoli can only see patients aged 18 or over at Quantum Clinic.
If you live with a teenager, then you’ll know that life can be challenging at times.
But sometimes it may be a mistake to blame all the issues of teenage years, such as mood changes, on ‘teenage hormones’. Sometimes there can be different reasons for the teenage mood rollercoaster, which if identified and addressed, could lead to an amazing improvement in quality of life, both for the teenager and for their parents.
A friend of mine was going through a difficult time with her 15 year old son.
In the space of less than a year, the usual teenage grumpiness had developed into much more problematic behaviour. From being occasionally bad-tempered and moody, which one would expect in teenage years, he was now almost constantly angry and irritable. Normal conversations were a thing of the past. If he wasn’t allowed to do something he wanted, this usually resulted in an explosion of anger and disappearance for several hours, sometimes late at night. His attitude at home and his relationship with his mother had sunk to a very low point.
His defiance of authority had also amplified and he was getting into trouble at school for his attitude towards his teachers, as well as a lack of focus and engagement in class. Numerous meetings took place with his teachers, and it had reached the point where things had become serious at school. He was at risk of expulsion if he didn’t improve his attitude.
On the rare occasions when his mother was able to hold a short conversation with him, he would express that he felt ‘awful’. He was convinced he had some sort of mood disorder.
She’d taken him to see their family doctor, who had organised a few blood tests. He had a slightly low vitamin D level, but nothing major showed up on the tests. There was talk at school about referring him to a psychologist.
Friends suggested that he’d grow out of it. ‘It’s just his hormones, he’ll get better with time.’
But his mother felt there was something else going on. Something as yet unidentified. She approached me for advice. I strongly suspected nutritional deficiencies to be the cause of her son’s behavioural problems, and advised a functional nutritional blood and urine test that would identify any deficiencies or imbalances in nutrient levels.
Sure enough, the test revealed that he was deficient in several important vitamins and minerals, and the key symptoms of some of the deficiencies were…irritability, mood swings, poor attention span – all the problems he was experiencing.
His mother was elated to finally have the underlying reason for her son’s behaviour problems identified, but disappointed at the same time, having believed she was providing him with a healthy and well balanced diet. Further functional testing, however, revealed that he had a genetic variation causing a problem with a process called methylation. Methylation is a chemical process that occurs in every cell of the human body and is essential for critical cellular processes such as detoxification. Efficient methylation relies on several factors, including an adequate supply of B vitamins. My friend’s son was what is known as a ‘slow methylator’, which meant, amongst other things, that his body required a higher amount of some vitamins in order to enable efficient methylation to take place. So, no matter how healthy his diet was, and whilst it remained important to continue, he required a higher intake of certain vitamins and minerals than other people in order to support cellular function, because of his genetic makeup.
The solution was to support his methylation and cellular processes by supplementing with the vitamins and minerals that were deficient according to his nutritional test. This is known as ‘targeted supplementation’ and is prescribed according to the individual’s specific nutritional profile and requirements.
There was an added bonus to knowing the result of this genetic test. Inefficient methylation can have several implications for future health. For example, problems with toxicity could become an issue, as his body was not equipped to adequately remove toxins without extra methylation support, hence the added benefit of targeted nutritional supplements.
In addition, slow methylation can mean that an individual could be at a higher risk of experiencing side effects with medications, since the cells are less efficient in excreting any toxic metabolites of the medications.
Furthermore, micronutrient deficiencies can be a risk factor for developing disease later in life, therefore addressing this risk factor at this early stage, meant that the risk of developing chronic diseases later in life as a result of nutritional deficiency, was also likely to be lower.
Once we identified the root cause of his behaviour and mood problem, and the reason for it, I advised some nutritional supplements to boost the levels of the nutrients his body was lacking.
Within three weeks of starting the nutritional supplements, both he and his mother started to notice an improvement in his mood. The constantly high level of anger had receded significantly, and his disposition was far more relaxed. The dramatic mood swings disappeared. By four weeks, he was smiling and having conversations with his mother. His sense of humour had returned. His focus had improved and even his teachers noticed he was doing better in school.
If they had chosen to go down the conventional route, things would have been very different. Firstly, it’s very unlikely that the root cause of his problem – nutritional deficiencies – would have been identified. The kind of comprehensive testing offered by Functional Medicine laboratories is simply not available in hospital laboratories. He would probably have been referred for a mental health assessment. Perhaps a diagnosis of an early mental disorder would have ensued, followed by a trial of medication with a long list of potential side effects. All of that would likely have taken many months, and the underlying cause would probably never have been identified.
As my friend Maya Hammarsal put it: “How many other poor kids (and adults) are there out there who are blamed for such and such a behaviour or attitude – are said to have some intellectual disability, psychological problem or psychiatric condition – are thought to be stupid, mad or bad – are being treated with a whole range of pills – when actually it is a lack of nutrients that is causing the imbalance.”
I couldn’t agree more.
With a Functional Medicine approach, a teenager on the verge of being diagnosed with a mental disorder, was once again able to regain his natural personality, to participate fully in life and to really enjoy it, and his mother who had reached her wit’s end, regained the beautiful son she loved – all in the space of four weeks.