What is Functional Medicine? Isn’t Modern Healthcare more Profitable?

3-legged stoolI first encountered the term Functional Medicine a few years ago during a lecture by Dr. Lane Sebring at a World Future Society dinner. In keeping with the focus of this organization, he titled his talk The Future of Medicine is … Not Medicine, which links to my notes and a video of his 71-min lecture.

Dr. Sebring looked to anthropology to understand why, even with modern medicine, many of our diseases today didn’t even exist about a century ago when Heart Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease were almost unknown and Cancer was rare, not even making the top 10 as a cause of death.

The more he looked into the cause of illness, the more he became disillusioned and frustrated with modern healthcare, what he learned in medical school, and the traditional practice of providing “sick care” and just another pill in a “disease management” system that profits from illness. To focus his practice on health & wellness, he became an expert in Functional Medicine, which he describes as a form of evolutionary, integrative, natural, holistic, or alternative medicine, as opposed to the allopathic doctors and practitioners who rely on modern approaches that emphasize prescription drugs. Sebring chose to instead focus on homeopathic, or empiric medicine. But before reading on, watch this video about the history of modern medicine and how it came about.

WHY, might you ask, did the Rockefeller family continue to rely on homeopathic medicine while spending millions to develop and promote allopathic medicines? Why do so many doctors today not take the same medicines they prescribe regularly to patients? Maybe you should ask them, “If you developed cancer, would you personally undergo chemotherapy treatments?”

The revealing video below casts doubt on much of modern medicine, which in the U.S. has become a profitable and powerful industry that makes over $3.5 trillion/year. No wonder there’s so much internal resistance to change in a way that cuts costs in half or more.

Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep, and Lifestyle Choices are Disruptive

Sebring attributes much of today’s disease to changes in diet and exercise, and to that I’d add sleep as well, because these are the three pillars to good health. He and others like him believe functional medicine can replace 70% of traditional medicine, and I agree. But that naturally makes incumbent healthcare providers defensive. And the fact that this jives with “Fed Up,” an eye-opening documentary about sugar and processed food, angers the food industry too.

Why are You Sick?

Dr. Mark Hyman, Chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, describes functional medicine as “the medicine of why.” Another way to put it is that it’s the opposite of … dysfunctional medicine, because it’s based on mechanisms and causes rather than symptoms and diseases.

I’ve already published two of Dr. Hyman’s articles and also recommend this presentation to functional medicine doctors about The Future of Medicine from the May 7th Functional Forum in NYC, where he discussed functional medicine as being personalized and involving the four C’s:

  1. Content (nutrition),
  2. Connections (between people) where social Friends matter more than genetics,
  3. Community (the environment, including social environment), and
  4. Connectivity (quantified-self sensors & technologies)

 

Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen talks about how incumbents lobby government to protect their income from disruption.

EDITOR COMMENT:  Americans ALREADY live sicker and die younger than most other industrialized nations, according to the World Health Organization, even though we spend twice as much on health care. Our $3 trillion/year “sick care” industry is complicit in this food addiction problem and has no financial incentive to address it, since they profit from sick people.

As Stephen Brill wrote in “A Bitter Pill: Why High Medical Bills Are Killing Us,” we have a medical industrial complex (hospitals, insurers, drug companies, equipment providers, and testing companies) that spends twice as much on lobbying as the military industrial complex. This perversely profitable industry views patients as paying customers and works to keep them (paying) by treating symptoms rather than promoting health, wellness, and prevention.

The cause of all of this, in my view, is the corrupting influence of big money in government, and the Roberts Supreme Court. Speaking of big money, let’s not forget about the profound influence that John D. Rockefeller and the oil industry had on the chemical/pharmacy industry and modern medicine by controlling regulatory approval (the DFA), research, and curriculum in medical schools for profit. The schools primarily teach new doctors to diagnose and treat illness and injury with a focus on drugs, with almost no emphasis on prevention or the pillars of health (nutrition, exercise and sleep). Prevention, you see, goes against the profit motive of the medical cartel, and I see that as one of the main reasons American healthcare is so expensive.

With the right policies and more effective health reforms, we “should” be able to cut medical expenses in half, saving over $1.5 trillion/year (each and every year, not spread over 10-15) while dramatically improving the health and productivity of our workforce; but that won’t happen with a toxic political climate that favors wealthy special interests over the public good.

As a technologist and futurist, I love reading and writing about the future, and I compiled this list of movies & documentaries about that future of healthcare. I’ll surely be writing more about the future of functional medicine in … the future.

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