Well, I finally took the plunge. I left my stable position in a large family medicine practice to go into integrative/holistic medicine.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved family medicine. I loved my patients and working with my colleagues, etc. But, like many who get into primary care, feelings of burnout started to set in.
The long hours, the pressure of needing to see 20-40 patients a day, dealing with insurance, etc., were starting to get to me. I kept seeing more and more patients who had unexplained fatigue, brain fog, unexplained weight gain, insomnia, and headaches. These symptoms were ‘functional’ problems in a sense, and remained despite unremarkable lab testing and diagnostics. Conventional medicines, at best, were only treating the symptoms–not the root causes of my patient’s ailments. And I just couldn’t keep referring them to specialist after specialist with little improvement. It was quite disheartening. Maybe I was seeing part of a larger trend. We are no doubt getting sicker as a population. Globally, there have been increases in Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, gut disorders, thyroid disorders, certain cancers and headaches globally over the past 20-30 years. Autism cases have rapidly grown and now affect 1 in 45 children.
Unfortunately, there many factors behind these trends, some being:
1.) Environmental toxins. There are over 80,000 man-made chemicals that may affect our health. One study showed over 200 toxins in umbilical cord blood. This includes pesticides, heavy metals and chemicals that cause hormonal disruption and oxidative stress.
2.) Infections. We all have been exposed to different viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. When we are stressed, these infections come out of hiding and cause disease. Many of my patients are positive for exposure to Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), which is implicated in chronic fatigue and hypothyroidism.
3.) Our food. Our overly processed food is devoid of nutrients, minerals and enzymes needed for cellular repair and growth. And it’s also contaminated–random testing of foodstuffs shows a plethora of different chemicals that could be harmful.
4.) Leaky Gut Syndrome. Constant exposure to small amounts of antibiotics, GMOs, glyphosate and other chemicals has caused our gut lining to become inflamed. The result is that we can’t absorb nutrients very well. Poor digestion leads to leaking of proteins into the bloodstream, causing our immune system to go on the offensive, ultimately leading to autoimmune disease.
5.) Lack of Exercise. This leads to increased cholesterol, poor circulation, poor lymphatic drainage and toxin build up.
6.) Lack of sunlight. We simply don’t get enough of the the essential sunshine vitamin. We are afraid of skin cancer so we stay inside or lather the sunblock on. Low vitamin D weakens the immune system and sets us up for cancer and a myriad of other diseases.
7.) Stress. Increased levels of our ‘fight or flight’ adrenaline chemicals fuel many chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.
8.) Lack of sleep. Insomnia now affects 1 in 3 adults. We are lucky to get 7 hours of sleep on average (down from 9 hours 100 years ago). This, of course, has a detrimental effect on our overall health.
9.) Electro-magnetic Frequency (EMFs). Cell phone towers, wireless routers, smart meters, cell phones, etc., emit frequencies that disrupt our natural biorhythms, especially sleep. Not good.
So, at this point, many people feel overwhelmed with all of the things that could impact their health…
BUT THERE’S HOPE. SO LET’S KEEP IT SIMPLE.
FIRST, improve your exercise. Improve your diet, cutting out all processed foods and try to eat organic if possible. Try to reduce the stressors in your life and do what it takes to get a good night’s sleep. This goes a long, long way to keeping health issues at bay.
NEXT, get a general medical evaluation. Unfortunately, standard physicals and blood work are unable to uncover deep, functional imbalances in the body. If possible, seek out an Integrative/Functional Medicine provider in your area who can run more extensive lab testing. More often than not, this testing is expensive and not covered by your insurance. If this is the case, consider getting a bio-energetic assessment to look at the 100’s of potential and actual functional disturbances such as infections, toxins, allergens, nutritional deficiencies, structural problems and many others, and then make a plan to detox and bring the body back into balance. This assessment is much more cost-effective and can put you in the right direction, eliminating the need for expensive guesswork.
Wishing you all the best in your health journey!
Martin Van Lear, FNP-C
The information is not intended to treat, cure, prevent or diagnose any disease or ailment. The information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Always consult your doctor before doing anything to do with your health.