Right now, I’m in (sweltering) Phoenix, attending the annual conference of the Institute for Functional Medicine.  This organization educates healthcare practitioners in a different way of looking at health and disease—looking at systems biology and underlying processes, not just fitting the symptoms into a particular diagnosis.  It’s the way I’ve been looking at my work for a long time, and my hope is that one day all medical students will be taught to think this way.

As many of you know, I do a lot of teaching myself, and it’s no big deal for me to be addressing 400 or so of my colleagues.  I walked into the hall today and gasped:  this conference is being attended by at least 850 people!  And it sold out months ahead of time!  What this tells me is that there is hope for our healthcare system.  More and more providers are realizing that what we were taught doesn’t work well for chronic disease.  As one of the lecturers today said:  In conventional medicine, we were simply given the wrong road map, so no wonder we got confused trying to find our way around.  The Matrix of Functional Medicine is a different thing all together—it shows interconnections and interactions and all the subtle ways our bodies work.  A web, not a straight line.  For instance, one of the lectures today discussed the fact that coronary artery disease is actually an immune response run amok.  I sure wasn’t taught that in medical school!

So I’m happy knowing that so many docs and nurses and nutritionists are learning how to think this way.  Now, we need to get you, the healthcare consumers, to demand this kind of care.  Every single lecturer is using science published in conventional medical journals, not some “wacky, way out there” holistic publication.  If the science is there and the conventional medical world acknowledges it enough to publish it, why does that not translate into changes in practice?  Well, it’s mostly cause there is no physical way for any doc to keep up to date on the literature.  Physically impossible, even with good intentions.  So, you consumers need to demand a different medicine.  If you ask for it from your insurance providers, or if you opt out of conventional insurance and seek out options like HSA’s, then eventually things will change.  The current system is pretty ingrained.  Don’t expect it to change just because you want it to.  As Mark Hyman said this morning, he’s looking for a “disruptive disturbance” in how medicine is practiced.

Go here to learn more about Functional Medicine.  Tell your primary docs about it.  Trust me, they probably aren’t all that happy about how they have to practice; maybe they will welcome a change.  Have them call me with any questions.  We need to spread the news and keep the hope alive!