“Modern medicine is like diagnosing the problem with a car by listening to the noises it makes. Sometimes we have to look under the hood.” – Mark Hyman MD
Depressed? Chances are almost certain your medical doctor is going to give you a drug called an “anti-depressant” like Prozac or Wellbutrin which is slightly more effective than a sugar pill. Acid reflux? You are almost certain to get an acid blocker like Prilosec or reducer like Zantac.
But what if the depression is actually a symptom of being sensitive to wheat gluten? It’s true for many. One way it happens is by disrupting your thyroid. In this case, your doctor, while following “standards of care,” is actually mis-treating you. You don’t need Prozac, you need to remove the wheat gluten and heal your gut.
And what if your acid reflux is actually a symptom of too little stomach acid? If that’s the case, then your doctor, while following “standards of care” is mis-treating you. Low stomach acid is far more common, and almost no one has their acid levels checked before being put on drugs that block this natural and healthy process. Long term use of these drugs can often lead to B-vitamin deficiency, keep you from properly digesting and absorbing foods, and disrupts your pro-biotic bacteria. Which all, by the way, lead to feeling absolutely depressed (for which you’ll get an anti-depressant! See the logic?).
Why Most Named Diseases Don’t Exist – One Cause, Many Symptoms
We are learning how one underlying cause – simple things like gluten or dairy sensitivity, low stomach acid, micro-nutrient deficiency in things like magnesium or b-vitamins, or omega-3 fatty acid deficiency — can cause hundreds of different named “diseases.” One person might get arthritis, the other gets migraines, while yet another gets heart disease (yes, people with only a wheat gluten sensitivity are up to 70% more likely to die of heart disease).
That’s one reason why getting a diagnosis like “Depression,” “IBS,” “Restless Leg Syndrome,” “GERD,” or “Fibromyalgia” are often absolutely meaningless. These names tell us nothing about what’s going on with a person. We are really good at naming things, unfortunately it’s often useless when it comes to a non-infectious disease.
What Does Matter: Finding the Cause & Healing with Food
Dr. Mark Hyman is one of those pioneering a new medicine called “functional medicine” — a model that looks at these underlying causes. It’s not “alternative” it’s not “woo woo” it’s looking under the hood of the car rather than listening to the endless noises it makes (i.e. depression, headaches, fatigue, acid reflux, etc.) and trying to simply silence the noise with drug after drug after drug. He says, “Diseases don’t matter anymore. They really don’t exist. We have to go from a disease as a discrete set of symptoms to understanding the pathways underneath it.”
The heart of functional medicine often begins with food. And just in case you think that’s not real medicine, real treatment, and real healing, here’s a story I just got from my own client last week who came to me with severe anxiety and panic, fatigue, life-long problems digesting food for which she took lots of drugs and pain pills for the stomach pain, and joint pain that kept her from exercising:
After 10 years of suffering, several medications and physicians — just 4 weeks of changing what she ate based on the personalized plan we put together, here’s what she had to say:
“The awesome discovery is that I’m finally feeling better – I have more energy, I’m rarely bloated, I never feel really full, my joints feel great. I haven’t needed a single pill for my horrible stomach pains since I’ve started this – and I was needing one almost weekly, sometimes more. I was really skeptical at first, and thought it would be too hard, but whatever I’m doing is working, and I kind of want to continue on this path.”
Just today, Dr. Hyman released these stories on his blog:
I recently saw a patient treated at Harvard by multiple specialists. She was on 42 pills a day for severe allergies, asthma, and hives. She even died twice and had to be resuscitated after anaphylactic shock. In just a few short weeks, simply by changing her diet, she got off all her medications, and her allergies, hives, and asthma were gone.
Another patient, who suffered for decades with reflux and irritable bowel and whose symptoms weren’t controlled with acid blockers and “gut relaxers,” got complete relief from his symptoms one week after changing his diet.
Dr. Terry Wahls, whose story I have long been fascinated, was nearly immobile from complications related to multiple sclerosis. Over 2 years she reversed her condition enough to go back to work and horseback riding with no drugs — just a simple daily regimen of about 9 cups of greens, vegetables, and berries, along with lots of traditional fats, cod liver oil, grass-fed meats and wild fish – every. single. day.
Hope and Help
If you are suffering from any number of strange symptoms that several pharmaceutical treatments are not helping or fixing, or you feel they are only masking a larger problem, help is here, and it’s at your local farmer’s market, co-op, farm, and grocery store on the outside aisles. It’s real food and it’s real medicine.
At the center of many “diseases” and “syndromes” are things like magnesium and other micro-nutrient deficiencies, Omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies, fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies like Vitamin A (which is NOT beta-carotene found in plants), Vitamin D (only found in organ meats, fish, and made in your skin from sun exposure), Vitamin C (which animals make on their own but humans don’t) – these and many other things are almost completely missing from the modern diet, and they have to come back and if they do, you will likely feel better.
Real traditional whole foods are healing — eggs, fatty fish, real butter, raw milks and cheeses, fermented foods, fiber, fresh vegetables and greens, nuts and seeds. And modern industrial foods like most vegetable oils, modern wheat, genetically-modified heavily-sprayed soy and corn, flour, sugar, and more have to go.
You can feel better with food. Your body is waiting, begging, and sending you all kinds of signals that are often just ignored or suppressed with pills. Pay attention to your body, and if you nourish it with enough of the right foods for long enough, I promise your body will respond. If you haven’t found a functional medical doctor to work with, find a directory here or another great directory of doctors who care about traditional foods and functional treatment at PrimalDocs.com, where I am listed.
I’ll be attending the Institute for Functional Medicine’s Annual Conference in Dallas May 28-June 1 with several hundred colleagues all coming together to learn how to help the whole person instead of treating diseases and even before diseases develop. Keep up with me on Twitter for live tweets from the conference @ztaylorwell.