The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Food & Health

September 5, 2013

Is 'functional medicine' real?

DEAR DR. ROACH: I have insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes (diagnosed a year ago), and I currently take metformin, Tradjenta, Levemir and NovoLog as part of my treatment. However, my question is regarding some advertisements I have been seeing in my newspaper. These advertisements claim that they can cure type 2 diabetes with no surgery, lower medications, etc. They say that their “functional medicine” is not generally used by most doctors because if doctors cured diabetes, they would not make money. My question is: What is “functional medicine,” and is it possible that they can cure my diabetes if I pay them their exorbitant out-of-pocket fees? — P.P.

ANSWER: There are some parts of a functional approach to diabetes with which I agree, including recognizing that overt, clinical diabetes is a late stage of a long process. Also, functional practitioners emphasize more than most traditional doctors do (and should do) the importance of diet and exercise. Large amounts of starches, especially if consumed without protein, require the pancreas to try to produce large amounts of insulin to control the carbohydrate load. These high insulin levels promote fat deposition, which then contributes to the patient’s resistance to insulin, the hallmark of type 2 diabetes. Decreased consumption of sugars and starches reduces insulin needs and helps to control blood sugar. Exercise partially reverses the insulin resistance and promotes weight loss. This should be the starting point for management of type 2 diabetes.

The part you have mentioned that I don’t agree with, and which needs to be rebutted immediately, is the implication that traditional doctors are deviously avoiding effective treatments in order to keep people sick. This is, of course, absurd. All health-care practitioners, regardless of background or training, have come to the field to cure the sick, ease suffering and prevent disease as best we can. We may disagree on methodology, but not, I hope, in our goals.

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