10 Years – Traditional to Functional
December 5th, 2015 marks the 10th year of Westcoast Integrative Health and my practice of Naturopathic Medicine.
In medicine, 5 years post-graduation is considered to be the turning point of experience moving from a junior practitioner to a novice. It takes a lot of clinical experience, with actual patients, to get really good at practicing the art of medicine.
Early in my career I was very fortunate to have good mentoring with a lot of clinical exposure. Dr. Sandy Wood and Dr. Jonn Matsen allowed me to see thousands of clients in my first 2 years of practice. To put this into prospective, a conventional busy family practice can fill up with 800 to 2000 patients, so it is common that a family MD may only see this many patients in their entire career. Dr Matsen and Dr Wood never fill up. When people embrace the philosophy of what traditional naturopathic medicine teaches many of them never need to come back.
Although clinical experience does help the doctor generally know what works and what doesn’t, continuing education is the key to a cutting edge medical practice. This is because medicine is an area of science that is drastically changing all the time!
A typical medical practice is between 10 and 20 years behind medical science. This is generally a good thing, because take it from me, medical science and in particular pharmaceutical research is often “scary” inaccurate. That is to say that when a new drug or procedure gets approved it can take many years to see what harm can come from that drug or procedure, which is not included in the original research studies. So …. a good rule of thumb when it comes to pharmaceuticals is that the drug be on the market for 10 years before a doctor considers using the drug with patients or a patient considers taking the drug. You do not want to be an example of poor science!
Traditional naturopathic medicine is another thing all together. What I have learned, in over 10 years, is that traditional naturopathic medicine is essential for all clients. Without implementing simple lifestyle, diet and stress reducing strategies with clients, there is absolutely no way to get the outcomes that make up a good functional medicine practice. Traditional naturopathy has been practiced for 100′s of years and simply advocates that a healthy diet, exercise, hydration, moderation and mindfulness are keys to health and longevity. Things that many of us struggle with!
Functional medicine answers the question of who needs what. Genetics and lab work can tell us if we are better on an animal based diet or plant based diet. Why we have heart disease or depression. How to most affectedly treat cancer. Or what is causing our bloating. Functional medicine is truly on the cutting edge of medicine but in order to be good at it, you literally need to live it. Learning functional medicine can’t be work, there is just too much to learn! It has to be a passion that is founded in a deep understand of biochemistry and the fact that everything is connected.
Every year I go to Las Vegas Nevada (of all places), to one of the largest functional medicine conferences in the world. The Advancement for Antiaging Medicine World Congress. The congress is made of 90% medical doctors, mostly from the US, that are dedicated to learning the art of functional medicine. Although, I cannot say that I take home a ton of clinical knowledge from the conference each year, what I can say if that I take home the energy that fuels my passion for this area of medicine. For this I am thankful.
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of my amazing clients that have been with me on this journey. Happy holidays to everyone.
PS – I think Santa needs some work!