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Exploring the Parallel Universe
of Functional Medicine
There are two worlds of medicine today, the
conventional disease-centered model and the
patient-centered model that treats each per-
son as a unique entity with diverse systems of
genetic, biologic, social and environmental in-
puts. As a board certified, teaching physician,
I know the conventional system well, but as a
¡°functional¡± medicine practitioner I feel like I
am living in a medical parallel universe.
For over one hundred years ¡°modern¡± medi-
cine has taught doctors to identify and treat
disease. We learn the skills that lead us to
a single diagnosis amongst all the differ-
ent possibilities. The patient is then labeled
as having this or that disease and for every
disease there is an approved code, called the
International Classification of Diseases or ICD.
Version 9 is about to be replaced by version
10 and goes from 13,000 to 68,000 possible
codes. If a physician wants to get paid via
insurance they must submit the proper codes.
ICD coding is useful for the government and
the insurance companies to facilitate billing,
assess data, and measure outcomes, but is
one of the biggest detriments to healthcare
today. The entire system revolves around
codifying and classifying of patients according
to the disease or illness they have. This reduc-
tionist mentality trains and rewards physicians
to see patients through the lens of a disease
label instead of a complex and unique person.
The ancient healing arts emphasize restoring
harmony and balance to the patient¡¯s underly-
ing body systems. Ironically, modern research
combined with technology is enlightening us,
and reminding us, of this principle. From ge-
netics to the microbiome we are making huge
strides in understanding how specific distur-
bances in core systems lead to disease.
Focus on healing underlying systems is the
core of functional medicine. Instead of simply
putting our patient into a disease classification
we strive to uncover the origin of symptoms
or disease so that we might eliminate the
issue altogether.
Advanced testing allows us to gather
information unheard just a few years
ago, such as genetic mutations, nutri-
ent or hormone deficiencies, metabolic
or immune disturbances, gut dysfunc-
tion and food allergies, toxin accumula-
tions, chronic infections and more. This
information is invaluable in sorting out
root cause, yet so much of it is consid-
ered unnecessary or experimental and
outside covered insurance benefits.
More Than Just Testing
Including and engaging the patient in
the healing process is another aspect of
medicine that is lacking. In the rushed
world of conventional practice we hardly
have time to hear the patient¡¯s story -
there¡¯s no ICD code for that. Everyone
has a story, and listening to that story is
2017 June/July
Pg 6 - The Sunshine Express
Health & Nurturing
one of the most important and rewarding pro-
cesses in human interaction, especially so in
medicine. It sets the stage for healing.
I teach my students that 80% of diagnoses can
be gleaned from the patient¡¯s history. The physi-
cal exam and lab tests are meant to confirm the
diagnosis. While it doesn¡¯t always work this way,
I think it underscores the need to listen more and
to understand what patients are up to and up
against, outside the office.
To truly heal patients we need to think holistically
and we need the time to consider the mind as
well as the body. Addressing attitudes, spiritual-
ity, social networks, and stressors should be part
of the workup. For our part as physicians, the
intention to heal and sincerity are powerful tools
as well.
Almost one hundred years ago Harvard physi-
cian Francis Peabody wrote, ¡°One of the essential
qualities of the clinician is interest in humanity,
for the secret of the care of the patient is in car-
ing for the patient.¡± Perhaps now more then ever
this is needed in healthcare, for the sake of the
patient and the physician.
Areas such as nutrition and exercise get little
more attention than a feel good marketing
message in our current ¡°sickcare¡± model. Hav-
ing health coaches, nutritionists and personal
exercise trainers involved in every primary care
clinic would likely do more good than physicians
learning the latest drug protocols and approved
formularies for treating the increasing epidemic of
obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
For thousands of years herbal and nutritional
supplements have been an integral part of heal-
ing. Despite what the television commercials
and lobbying pressure from big pharmaceutical
companies would suggest, there is an abun-
dance of evidence based research and experience
showing the safety and efficacy of many natural
treatments. We have a much larger ¡°toolbox¡± of
treatment options than the local pharmacy can
Along the same lines, a lengthy list of comple-
mentary therapies such as chiropractic, acupunc-
ture, and massage have proven benefits. Stress
management techniques including meditation and
biofeedback lower blood pressure and blood sug-
ar. Yoga and dance expand the traditional ideas of
exercise. The point is that physicians don¡¯t have
all the answers and integrating other
health practitioners
is part of the cure.
The Future of
A welcome para-
digm shift in
healthcare is im-
minent. While the
conventional sys-
tem marches on
with the disease-
centric pharma-
ceutical model a
quiet revolution is
Just recently
the prestigious
Cleveland Clinic
announced the
establishment of
its Center for Func-
tional Medicine.
And meanwhile,
an army of physicians from around the coun-
try has been discovering the joy and success of
treating patients under the functional medicine
With ever expanding coding, data collection,
documentation bureaucracy, prior authorization,
meaningful use and so on, there are days I feel
more like an accountant than a physician. For the
sake of the art of medicine and true healing, the
patient-centered world of integrative, holistic,
functional medicine is coming, and hopefully, it
won¡¯t long be the alternative.
(Scott Rollins, MD, is Board Certified with the
American Board of Family Practice and the
American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative
Medicine. He specializes in Bioidentical Hormone
Replacement for men and women, thyroid and
adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia, weight loss and
other complex medical conditions. He is founder
and medical director of the Integrative Medicine
Center of Western Colorado (
and Bellezza Laser Aesthetics (www.bellezzalaser.
com). Call 970.245.6911 for an appointment or
more information.)
In Harmony
by Scott Rollins, M.D.
Expert advice for your infant¡¯s first foods
(BPT) Your cooing, curious, incredibly cute baby
is now 6 months old and you¡¯ve got the go-ahead
from your pediatrician to start solid foods. You
both are excited to begin this new adventure,
but when you head to the store you are suddenly
confused by a sea of options.
Which foods are safe for your new little eater?
Which offer the most nutrition? How do you know
what is the best for your baby? If you¡¯re feeling
overwhelmed, you¡¯re not alone.
In research conducted by ORC International and
Stonyfield, at least one-third of parents admit to
feeding confusion during baby¡¯s first months, and
just over half (53 percent) feel overwhelmed by
the varying opinions of early childhood nutrition.
Pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP and
mother of three, sees many parents who are
unsure about best first foods for infants. To help
guide parents and caregivers, she offers five im-
portant pieces of advice.
Seek safe dairy options for babies under 12
You might think it¡¯s safer to avoid dairy products
until infants are at least 12 months old. However,
dairy is packed with essential nutrients (such as
calcium and vitamin D) for growing bodies, and
can be an important part of baby¡¯s diet.
The good news is babies as young as 6 months
can begin eating yogurt, even if they¡¯re breast-
feeding. Not only is it a healthy option for their
little bodies, you¡¯ll find infants love yogurt.
Choose a brand made with organic whole milk,
like Stonyfield YoBaby yogurt, the No. 1 Pediatri-
cian Recommended yogurt for babies between
6 months and 2 years old among refrigerated
yogurts. (Source: IMS Health ProVoice Survey,
12/01/15 - 09/30/16)
Expose baby to healthy foods early
Introducing baby¡¯s first solids is a stressful time
for parents. To keep it simple, reference a list
of trusted foundation foods to ensure your baby
is receiving the proper nutrients. Remember to
check with your pediatrician before feeding your
baby any new food groups and modify as needed
to accommodate any food allergies.
Some great foundation foods are eggs, prunes,
avocados, fish, yogurt, cheese, nut butters, chick-
en, beans, lentils, berries, citrus fruits, green
vegetables, whole grains and water. Mix and
match these foods as your baby becomes more
comfortable with solids.
Protect baby¡¯s gut health
Did you know gut health is the foundation for
overall good health? To help protect your baby¡¯s
gut health, you want to ensure they¡¯re getting
enough probiotics. While naturally found in breast
milk, probiotics are also found in yogurt.
Stonyfield recently added the probiotic BB-12
(registered trademark of Chr. Hansen) to its
YoBaby Yogurt. BB-12(R) has been shown to
have a digestive health benefit when consumed
regularly as part of a balanced diet and healthy
lifestyle by promoting beneficial gut bacteria and
regular, soft stools.
Understand natural sugar vs. added sugar
Sugar is receiving a lot of attention in the news
recently and many parents are looking more
closely at labels when grocery shopping.
Simplifying Baby Nutrition