Are you getting the best in alternative medicine? I know that this post is going to rankle some, but hear me out.
As a MD who has cared for thousands using Functional Medicine principles for more than a decade, I have seen the pain patients experience when they have entrusted their care to less-than-capable providers.
I see it in precious dollars spent on worthless tests and supplements. I see increasing frustration and desperation as people grasp at every possibility or option. Most importantly, I see people lose precious years of their life. And in one example, I saw a woman actually lose her life due to grossly misguided recommendations from inadequate training.
I want to use this space to highlight a few points. These will help you best align with a provider whose knowledge and experience puts you and your health first.
Alternative Medicine Red Flag #1
You have been diagnosed with “everything.”
I see it all the time in many Facebook groups. A poor understanding of what constitutes health or pathology leads to poor conclusions. It’s that simple.
There’s a time-tested truism in medicine known as “Occam’s razor.” In short, this means that simpler, more direct approaches will likely solve the problem. Sticking to basic principles and established metrics will give the clearest picture in all cases.
Here’s another medical truism. “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras.”
Nobody concurrently has black mold, Lyme, heavy metal toxicities, gut dysbiosis, “adrenal fatigue” and chronic viruses.
Now, I know I’ll probably get some angry comments stating that indeed a “provider” has diagnosed all of these. Your felings may stem from the fact that you are not getting better, and the belief that it is due to the complexity of your condition. It may be time to take a breath, and reconsider some of the points in this blog.
Alternative Medicine Red Flag #2
You are taking more that 6 supplements from your provider.
I get it, supplements can help greatly when applied with a sound understanding of the science and biology. The operative word here is sound. Taking “this supplement for this” and “another supplement for that” uses the same approach as a mainstream physician.
Mainstream docs practice allopathic medicine. Allopathy is simply the use of a medication to combat a symptom. So don’t just take the same approach with herbs, nutrients, and supplements.
Supplement use in the US is like the Wild West. There’s little rhyme or reason for use, the supporting research is spotty at best, and there’s no regulation of the industry.
Many reading this will insist the products they are using are the best, but are they? Have you carefully vetted the manufacturer? Have you asked the supplement company for a copy of their third-party COA—certificate of authenticity? Is the company GMP, Good Manufacturing Practices certified?
If you can’t answer “yes” to all three of these questions, buyer beware. You may not even be consuming the stated product on the label.
Don’t believe me? I’ve attached a valuable New York Times article from 2013. It shows New York Attorney General’s cease-and-desist order that was filed that year against several large chains’ supplements. The claim of outright fraud was based on DNA fingerprints with sound science. Read the article. The majority of supplements didn’t come close to what was claimed on the label.
Alternative Medicine Red Flag #3
Learning by degrees.
Experience and education counts. My MD degree required 4 years of medical school. I spent another 6 years in post graduate residency training, and was board certified as an OB/GYN. I completed a fellowship in anti-aging and regenerative medicine in 2012. And I have been practicing and studying Functional Medicine exclusively with thousands of patients.
And so many insist that their 26-year-old chiropractor has all the answers.
Would you rather fly on a plane piloted by the person who has a hundred hours of experience in a Cessna, or the decorated Air Force pilot with 10,000 hours of combat and commercial experience? If your provider seems, acts, or looks too young and inexperienced, they probably are.
My bias, generally speaking, is that the provider whose education is best suited to solving complex medical problems is as follows.
MD with formal functional training > DO with functional training > Naturopath with prescriptive training and licensing > Naturopath unable to prescribe >> Chiropractor>> simple certificate in nutrition or health coaching.
Experience really matters here. Are you familiar with the concept of 10,000 hours required before mastery? There’s nowhere this applies more than in medicine.
Knowledge is Power.
I submit these posts because I want to see people heal and thrive. I am saddened by the number of people who are spinning their wheels, spending tons of money, and losing precious years of life trying to simply get well and live fully.
Sometimes the best thing to do in the pursuit of something is to take a step back. Consider these points. If you have a sneaking suspicion that something is off, trust your gut. This may be your opportunity to make some positive changes.