*What is Functional Medicine?*
Functional medicine is a systems biology-based approach that focuses on
identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Each symptom or
differential diagnosis may be one of many contributing to an individual's
For example, depression can be caused by many different factors, including
inflammation. Likewise, a cause such as inflammation may lead to a number
of different diagnoses, including depression. The precise manifestation of
each cause depends on the individual's genes, environment, and lifestyle;
only treatments that address the right cause will have lasting benefit
beyond symptom suppression.
Learn more about different aspects of functional medicine below.
The hormones in our body are working together to maintain a healthy
equilibrium. They are all interconnected and when we address sex hormones
(Estrogen, Testosterone, Progesterone), stress hormones (Cortisol, DHEA),
or Thyroid hormone, we need to make sure that they are well balanced. Too
much or too little of one hormone can offset all the other ones, and start
When hormones start declining around the age of 35 and even earlier in some
cases, so do your energy levels, your metabolism, your brain function and
your immune system. You don't feel as vibrant and energized as you were in
your twenties and may become more prone to illness.
It's important to maintain optimal levels of these hormones, which are
driving forces in your body, before they become deficiencies.
Declining hormones around the time of menopause, called peri-menopause can
bring a whole myriad of symptoms. The typical hot flashes and night sweats,
which can be very uncomfortable and leave you sleep deprived, are the main
reason women are seeking hormone therapy.
However, there are many other undesirable effects to the drop in estrogen
levels that occur in menopause:
- Hot flashes
- Bone loss/osteoporosis
- Memory loss/brain fog
- Weight gain
- Elevated blood sugars
- Low energy/fatigue
- and more
The earlier the peri menopause bio identical hormone replacement is
started, the more benefits in disease prevention and reversing the negative
effects of aging.
Premenstrual syndrome including mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks and
- Painful periods
- Irregular periods
- Excessive bleeding
Most menstrual disorders are caused by hormonal imbalance and are
traditionally treated with contraceptives. Hormone replacement along with
diet, exercise, weight loss and stress reduction can help relieve
*Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)*
PCOS is also an issue that results from hormone imbalance that is
characterized by irregular periods and high testosterone levels. Often
there is weight gain, elevated blood sugars and increased growth of body
hair, but the cysts don't need to be present on pelvic ultrasound testing
for the diagnosis.
PCOS may lead to decreased fertility and diabetes when left untreated.
Hormone balance, along with weight loss and blood sugar control is needed
to stabilize PCOS.
Postpartum depression is the 'baby blues' that many women experience after
delivery. It can manifest with mild symptoms of decreased appetite and
irritability to severe mood swings and social withdrawal. This condition
tends to go undiagnosed as new mothers are focused on attending their
newborn baby and often go back to work before their body has time to
There is a hormonal shift that happens after delivery, and especially an
abrupt drop in estrogen levels that can cause depressive symptoms.
Fatigue may also result from thyroid imbalance in the postpartum period.
Natural ways to rebalance hormones can greatly improve the symptoms of
By testing for hormones and nutrients levels, and supplementing accordingly
after pregnancy, you can bring your body back to its pre-pregnancy state
Just like women experience menopause, men can have symptoms of andropause,
characterized by low testosterone in mid life and sometimes earlier.
Men with low testosterone levels report being more fatigued and often have
a feeling of being burned-out. They can also notice unusual weight gain,
sleep disturbances, mental fatigue, irritability, depressive symptoms,
decreased muscle mass, decreased libido and erectile dysfunction.
When testosterone replacement is not indicated, there are ways to boost
testosterone levels by using supplements or balancing other hormones. Some
nutrients are required to produce testosterone and we run detailed blood
profiles to identify possible deficiencies that impede normal hormone
There are different routes for testosterone replacement and we favor the
ones that aim steady optimal levels over time for your own personal needs.
Food is the medicine but, we may not live in an environment that supplies
it all in a 'balanced meal' anymore. The soil we grow our food in is not as
rich as it used to be and the products contain less vitamins; foods are
genetically modified and have no more nutritional value other than empty
calories. Adding to this picture is our erratic stress filled lifestyles
which keep our bodies from absorbing foods properly.
More than ever, in the face of an epidemic of diabetes and increasing
auto-immune issues, we need to understand how to avoid harmful foods and to
take the right amount of natural supplements.
*Cell Nutrient Analysis *
Testing for nutrients can be done in different ways. When we test the
bloodstream (plasma), we find out about the levels of nutrients that
circulate in your blood. This doesn't necessarily mean that they are
entering the trillions of cells that are responsible for all the functions
in the body. In order to be of some use, the nutrients have to end up in
your cells. There is a 'transport mechanism' that allows this process and
it can be altered by many factors. We use a test that assesses the nutrient
levels within the cells, and we compare them with the bloodstream results
to identify a possible absorption issue.
Do you feel that your body is holding on to extra pounds despite all your
efforts? Just like every other function in your body, your weight is
conditioned by the way nutrients, hormones and neurotransmitters are
balanced. If you eat less, exercise and you cannot lose the weight;
something else is going on that is making your body unresponsive. The main
issue we see in today's world is the excess cortisol release that happens
with stress. The mind triggers a so-called 'fight or flight' response that
tells the body to treat it as if there were a life threat. The adrenal
glands release cortisol to maintain a survival state that is beyond what is
actually needed, and this excess cortisol in the bloodstream affects your
metabolism and your blood sugars.
When you are already releasing too much cortisol and at the same time
working out strenuously and stressing your mind with a rigorous diet, you
are putting even more pressure on your adrenal glands. The result is
stagnant weight and sometimes, even more weight gain. The 'yoyo' diets
which were so popular have fallen out of favor, as people end up gaining
more weight over time. We now understand that keeping an optimal weight
requires lifestyle modification.
However, the lifestyle should be appropriate for your own body and mind
type, and your own likes and dislikes for you to commit to it. Many times
we are told to embark on an exercise routine that we don't enjoy and eat
foods that seem tasteless to us, so we give up!
Hormones also plan an important role in balancing weight. Undiagnosed
thyroid disorders are notorious for altering weight, but also the myth that
estrogens are responsible for weight gain. There are 3 different types of
estrogen and the ones we use in Bio Identical Hormone Replacement are
actually supportive in weight loss.
*Absorption & Gastrointestinal Health*
SIBO and Leaky Gut are used as mainstream terms for
Gastrointestinal imbalance (GI) and disturbances. As we are becoming more
aware of what causes GI symptoms, we aim more at finding the source of the
problem and treating it, rather than taking pills to reduce the symptoms
and have them recur when the medication is stopped. Besides belly pain,
flatulence, nausea and bowel issues/irregularities, there is a main issue
that we have to be aware of when we have GI dysfunction, and that issue is
You may be eating the best organic vegan diet, take the highest grade of
supplements on the market and it may not make the difference you are
expecting in your health. What good are the nutrients, if your body doesn't
absorb them? Optimally, you want to convert each bite of food and each
supplement you ingest into energy that your body can readily utilize. This
can only happen if the foods get processed efficiently and the nutrients
are actually delivered to the cells. Your digestive system is a fascinating
factory that breaks down foods and extracts what's needed. When its
function is disrupted, your cells become deprived and cannot function as
The bacteria that live in your gut also play a large role in helping you
absorb nutrients, but they can be destroyed by antibiotics. Whether you
have been put on an antibiotic medication or have absorbed the antibiotics
that most meat is treated with, you need to rebuild those colonies of
healthy bacteria in your gut.
One of the main reasons why you would not be absorbing those good nutrients
is because you are in a state of stress. The food you feed your mind/body
is equally as important as what is on your plate. When your breathing is
shallow because your mind is racing, so is your digestion.
So first of all, take the time to be with your food and appreciate it;
think of it as an act of love and self nurturing. When you are really
conscious of how you are eating as much as what you are eating, your body
opens up to a whole new experience.
Then the food gets processed efficiently and nutrients are actually
delivered to your cells rather than hanging out in your bloodstream and
getting eliminated. Your digestive system is a fascinating factory that
breaks down food and extracts what's needed, but it happens best when you
fully participate in it with full awareness.
We assess your cardiovascular health both through blood testing and through
a non-invasive biofeedback device that evaluates the state of your
peripheral arteries and your nervous system.
The cardiometabolic blood test panel provides an overall 'heart score'
through detailed analysis of your nervous system. It shows your overall
blood circulation and helps us evaluate unwanted plaque build up in your
Heart rate variability tells us how your cardiovascular system is adapting
to possible stressors.
A healthy person has a balanced autonomic nervous system between
sympathetic and parasympathetic function. This test will detect imbalances
and assess your stress resistance, which means your own ability to
defend your body from damaging effects of stress.
*Optimizing Brain Function*
There are natural ways to prevent memory loss and cognitive decline. We
used to think that we were born with a number of brain cells called neurons
which decrease as we go through life. All the cells in our body have a life
cycle and regenerate on a regular basis, but not neurons. So, it was
widely accepted that our brains wouldn't be functioning as well as we age
and lose neurons.
What we discovered recently is the amazing power of 'plasticity' of the
brain. This means that even though we may not grow new neurons, we can
establish and grow new connections between neurons that help maintain and
regenerate brain function. This process can be boosted by supporting brain
health with nutrients, hormones and especially exercise and breathing
Preventing memory loss has become a major for our society. Those who have
had a family member or friend affected by dementia know the importance of
preserving memory cells. We don't have a real explanation for the cause of
Alzheimer's which represents close to 80% of all dementia. Genetics are not
an accurate predictor and you can have the genes for the disease without
ever getting it.
There are many precursors for Alzheimer's as it is seen in 'multifactorial'
disease. We have now established that depression is a precursor and that
anxiety, lack of sleep and decreased mental activity are possibly involved
as well. Certain physical illnesses such as anemia, low thyroid or nutrient
deficiencies might play a role in memory loss.
Some medications trigger memory loss as a side effect and should be avoided
as much as possible. Hormone deficiencies can also affect memory, as brain
cells have receptors for estrogen and testosterone. The hippocampus, the
brains structure that processes memory, is very vulnerable to toxins, it is
very important to avoid environmental toxins and stress in order to protect
In addition keeping the brain alive involves creating new connections
between neurons. This happens by learning new material, whether that is a
new language, a musical instrument or any new activity that involves a new
habit for the mind. There is a naturally regenerative substance produced in
the brain called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic peptide) that creates new
networks between brain cells so the brain can function better. The best way
to produce this is through exercise. There are also some forms of yoga
involving deep breathing techniques and coordination moves that help with
clarity and thought and better memory. Nutrients, hormones and brain
exercises are very helpful in preventing cognitive decline.
*Anxiety & Depression: Neurotransmitter Testing*
Anxiety and depression are not only stealing away the quality of life, they
are debilitating and at the core of many illnesses at any age.
Identifying the cause of anxiety and depression is crucial, as medications
often only work temporarily. Knowing that many neurotransmitters,
especially serotonin (the anti-depressive hormone) is produced in the gut,
this is why we need to look at GI health. Nutrient imbalances, hormone
imbalances and undetected illnesses can produce anxiety, panic attacks and
depression. They can be treated with the correct nutrient supplementation,
calming herbs and hormones. Genetic and neurotransmitter testing can be
helpful in identifying the causes and provides information on how to treat
Declining levels of energy, pain and vulnerability to illness are not the
fate of aging anymore in our technologically advanced area. We have the
means to live healthier, happier and more vibrant longer lives. As you
start regenerating vitality, you will feel your body and your senses
regaining vibrancy and your mind becoming clearer. With clarity, you will
be able to make the choices that are good for you and with more stamina you
will have more persistence to stick to those choices and get over a healthy
condition faster. We will guide you through how to get in touch with your
own capacity to self heal and self regenerate; becoming less vulnerable to
external factors and physiological aging.
*Hormone Optimization *
The hormones in your body are working together to maintain a healthy
equilibrium. They are all interconnected and when we address sex hormones
(estrogen, testosterone, progesterone), stress hormones (cortisol, DHEA) or
thyroid hormone, we need to make sure that they are well balanced. Too much
or too little of one hormone can offset all of the others and can result in
When hormones start declining around the age of 35 (even earlier in some
cases), so are your energy levels, your metabolism, your brain function and
your immune system. You don't feel as vibrant and energized as you were in
your twenties and you may become more prone to illness.
It's important to maintain optimal levels of these hormones, which are the
driving forces in your body, before they become deficiencies. Learn more in
the 'Hormonal Balance' section above.
*Stress Management *
You must know by now that stress is responsible for a multitude of diseases
and that it has the power to kill you. It is not stress itself that
directly affects your health, it is how you experience stress and how
resilient you are to it. In reasonable doses, stress can actually be
stimulating and productive, in this case it's called 'eustress' i.e. good
stress. It only becomes toxic when it is associated with a negative
experience in your mind or in your emotions.
Working on your capacity to become resilient to stress is crucial in 21st
century life. There are interventions that can make you less vulnerable to
stress, such as supporting your adrenals, your thyroid and taking a
high-grade multi-vitamin. However, the best way you can build resistance to
stress is to have a better understanding and control of the connection
between your body and your mind. When you are under stress, your adrenal
glands secrete a hormone called 'cortisol' which directly raises your blood
sugars. This is one of the main reasons we make cortisone treatments as
short as possible; we avoid it as much as possible with diabetic patients.
The way we approach this issue in anti-aging medicine is by regenerating
and balancing your adrenal glands to produce steady amounts of cortisol and
by using very effective stress reduction tools such as breath work.
'Detox' is not only a trendy term for a body cleanse, it is actually one of
the most important functions in your body. When your body is in a good
state of balance, it detoxifies naturally by metabolizing whatever you
ingest, breathe in or let in through the pores of the skin.
Your liver is the organ that has the power to transform toxins into
harmless substances. When it is overloaded or not functioning properly, the
liver loses its ability to detoxify and the body starts being affected by
toxins. It can result in headaches, GI disturbances, but also in more
Your body also processes toxins through your elimination system in sweat,
urine, feces, and you have to make sure that your kidneys and intestines
are functioning well and that you are sweating regularly. Sometimes toxic
substances may accumulate over time and a detox program may be necessary at
first to cleanse the body and bring back the balance where detoxification
can occur spontaneously. A good detox program should be gentle and
replenishing to minimize the side effects of sudden large toxic load
*Cellular Regeneration *
The focus of anti-aging medicine is now on 'molecular and 'cellular
regeneration'. The cells in our body constantly die and new ones are born,
meaning that your body completely regenerates periodically. Optimally, you
want to help your body get rid of sick cells faster and prevent the growth
of 'bad' cells. Lately, intermittent fasting has been gaining more and more
credit at achieving this. Studies show that not only does it support weight
loss, it also conserves cell energy, removing damaged cells faster and
triggering the release of an anti-aging substance called 'sirtuin 1'.
Hormonal and nutrient balance as well as exercise play a role in providing
a medium where cellular regeneration can be optimized, whereas inflammation
in the body can delay this process. There are different schedules of
intermittent fasting and they depend on your own individual needs. Most
people should have at least 10-12 hours overnight fast, this allows the
body to build resilience.