Individualized Medicine

13 03 2016

Ask my friends and they will tell you that I’m famous for saying, “it depends”. Why? Because very rarely is there a one size fits all answer. This is especially true when it comes to YOUR health. What supplements should you take to maintain good health? It depends. What type of exercise should you do? It depends. How can you treat that cold or flu? It depends.

What does it depend on? It depends on YOU! What is your health history and your family health history? What is your personality like? What type of diet and lifestyle habits do you follow? What are your environmental stressors? What combination of the above led you to become sick or are predisposing you to developing illness in the first place?

This may sound overwhelming at first. If everything has so many variables, how can anyone hope to figure their health out? You may ask, “can’t I just take some fish oil and a multivitamin and vitamin D and be done with it?” I think deep down you know the answer to that question…it depends.

This complexity is why healthcare and research in the last hundred years has focused on which remedies and which medications will be beneficial for the most diverse range of people. And medicine has advanced in leaps and bounds due to this focus. Because we can treat more people in less time with better results. This is awesome! We need these types of treatments. When you are seriously ill, you need to know that the treatment given will work for most people including (most likely) you. Yes, there are always a few clinical decisions your doctor has to make in order to make sure you are getting the right treatment. Age, weight, other health conditions or medications you are taking, etc. all play a role in what your doctor prescribes. This is why we have doctors and don’t just go to the store and ask for a medication for lowering blood pressure or getting rid of anxiety. But often, especially with a time pressured medical system, the treatments end up being based on your condition and each individual symptom rather than the whole. Outliers to the norm are overlooked and mismanaged. This style of medicine, in short, has a tendency to leave out the most valuable piece of clinical information…YOU!

How do we clear up the confusion then? How do we seamlessly integrate individualized medicine with streamlined protocols that work for the majority? And most importantly, how do we make your health less confusing for you?

The answer lies in knowledge and education. Knowing your specific health history and combining that with education on how your body works as a whole. Symptoms are rarely separate issues within the body. Your hormones talk to your gut and your gut talks to your brain and your brain talks to your immune system, etc. If we know that you generally have a weak gut and suddenly you start to show signs of hormone imbalance, your individualized treatment plan will most likely address the gut primarily and only secondarily the hormone issue. With this type of individualized treatment, you will have better resolution of your symptoms and a better understanding of how to prevent it from recurring.

When you come to see me, I want you to leave not only with a treatment plan but with a better understanding of why you got the symptom in the first place and how you can prevent getting it next time. This takes a bit of time, usually more than one visit. This is why I spend 60-90 minutes on an initial appointment before giving a treatment plan. This is why I follow up more frequently at first to learn how you are responding.┬áThe key piece is education. The word doctor actually means teacher. I want you to be the expert on YOU and your health. In many ways you may be very similar to everyone else, but in a few areas your body may respond very differently. This is what I aim to understand about each one of my patients and communicate/educate them about. So that you can take back control of your own health. So that you know the answer to “which diet and exercise and supplements should I take for good health?” So that the answer is no longer…it depends.

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