22 May ASKING WHY IS THE 21ST CENTURY MEDICINE
I was in London attending a conference on Alzheimer’s presented by Dr. Dale Bredesen who is bringing true hope and indeed have helped many to prevent or reverse this devastating condition. The reason he is succeeding where others in the medical and pharmaceutical world have failed for decades is that he asked “why”.
For decades neuroscientists have pointed fingers at the accumulation in the brain of a protein called amyloid-beta. The solution then would be to find a pharmaceutical drug to destroy this protein or intervene in its formation. Unfortunately this has not worked despite the billions ploughed into it. At best the drugs helped lessen some symptoms like memory loss or confusion for a limited time but the decline is an accepted fate.
Dr. Bredesen said 20th century medicine was focused on the “What”. Now 21st century medicine must examine the “Why”. Why, why, why is amyloid-beta forming?
This led him and his team to discover that Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline of dementia is not one disease. There are several types, driven by different or a combination of contributing factors.
Yes the amyloid-beta is there but guess what? It turns out the formation of this protein is the brain’s protective and defense mechanism against the true culprits.
To find out more about Dr. Bredesen’s work, you can read his book “The End of Alzheimer’s. The First Programme to Prevent and Reverse the Cognitive Decline of Dementia”.
Root Causes, Not Labels
The practice of Functional Medicine is based on finding the root causes of ill health. It asks “How, When, What and Why”. Asking why is critical to addressing the root causes and a holistic view of the person has to be taken to truly bring back health. Dr. Bredesen was, in fact inspired by his wife, who practices integrative and functional medicine.
Conventional thinking has been to label, give a name to a condition and match a drug to it. In reality the human body is much more complicated. Using another example, depression, which is another common mental health issue, you are typically given an anti-depressant medication. If that doesn’t work, you are given another type of anti-depressant.
Why does someone suffer from the symptoms of depression? It can be due to low thyroid function, nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities that affect brain function, gut infections, heavy metals toxicity, hormones deficiencies, adrenal dysfunction due to stress of which there are various forms and sources.
And why is thyroid function low, why are certain nutrients or hormones deficient, etc. why, why, why?
On the flip side, one factor can manifest in different symptoms that is labeled with another name. For example a gut bacteria infection can be the driver of eczema or other skin conditions or rheumatoid arthritis or indeed depression and Alzheimer’s.
No One-Size-Fits-All Solution
At the crux of this confusion and complexity is that we are unique individuals. Each of us has had different exposures, challenges and genetic make-up that make us more vulnerable to certain insults and to expressing certain symptoms.
21st century medicine has to acknowledge there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
As an individual you can help yourself by asking why you have xx symptoms or xx health issue.
Steps to consider when you are asking yourself why
- Map out your own life story and health history. This is called your timeline in functional medicine. Trace back to your childhood or as far as you can remember when you had any health issues, major and minor. What were these health issues?
- Trace your environment in your homes, schools, work places, countries you’ve lived in. Were there toxic exposures in the food, water, air?
- Think about relationships and emotional issues throughout your life. Were there stresses from e.g. divorce, unhappy childhood, abuse, traumas.
- Is there a family history of certain health conditions?
- Think about your diet. How has it changed, are there correlations with your symptoms coming up?
- Recall repeated use of medications e.g. antibiotics, stomach-acid blocking medications.
- Consider the amount of sleep and rest you are getting. Are you pushing yourself too hard?
- Work with a health care professional who asks why and looks for the root causes. This can be someone who practices therapies based on functional medicine or an integrative health practitioner.