Functional Medicine Specialization

Conditions We Treat

Dementia

Dementia refers to the progressive loss of cognitive functions (such as memory, learning, and reasoning) over time generally caused by damage to or loss of brain cells.  Dementia is a devastating condition for which we have not had any effective interventions until the past 10-15 years.  We now know that by using a functional medicine approach we can in successfully treat this condition.  At COCFM we specialize in the treatment prevention and treatment of dementia, most specifically Alzheimer’s dementia.

Pioneers in this field, like Dr. Dale Bredesen the author of The End of Alzheimer’s, have shown that if we address the underlying causes of nerve cell destruction and provide these same cells an environment where they can heal and reestablish connections we can recover lost cognitive functions and even grow new nerve cells.

Western medicine has been ineffective at finding a treatment for dementia.  This is largely due to its approach of trying to find the underlying cause.  The issue is that complex disease processes like dementia have multiple causes and these causes differ from patient to patient.  If a given individual has 18 contributing factors to his/her dementia it is easily seen that if we only address 1 or 2 of these we will not make much of an impact. However, if we look for and intervene on as many of these as we can then we can change the disease process.

Autoimmune Disorders

In an autoimmune disorder, a person’s own immune system turns against them.   This immune attack can cause damage to multiple tissues and organs in the body including but not limited to the pancreas, kidneys, liver, lungs, skin, joints, kidneys, thyroid, brain, and blood cells.

There are currently over 100 named autoimmune diseases based on what parts of the body are affected and what types of immune responses are detected.

The mainstay of Western medical treatment is to suppress the immune system with potent pharmaceuticals.  While this treatment is effective and is sometimes needed it also comes with many health risks. 

Functional medicine seeks to find evidence of autoimmunity early on and intervene before the process causes extensive damage.  By looking for and treating causes of immune system hyperstimulation and addressing immune dysregulation it is possible to rebalance the immune system, reverse the disease process, and/or decrease the amount of more powerful medication needed. 

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease pertains to multiple disorders that are related to the heart and blood vessels.  The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD).  In CAD there are plaques in the heart arteries (atherosclerosis) that can lead to a heart attack.  

CAD is the number one cause of death in men and women in the United States. Despite our medications and ability to place stents and perform bypass surgery, 1 person dies every 33 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.

Our interventions can keep people alive after they have significant heart disease but we need to identify atherosclerosis and intervene much sooner if we are going to make this fall from the number one killer.

We now have tools to identify atherosclerosis in its very early stages.  If found a functional medicine approach can be used to identify an individual’s drivers of disease and plan interventions to stop the process.

Endocrine Disorders

The endocrine system is made of up glands throughout our body that secrete hormones.  These hormones travel through the bloodstream to their target organ(s) where they bind to receptors and thereby regulate specific functions.  As of this date, scientists have identified over 50 hormones in the body.  

Hormones play an essential role in health and regulate things such as metabolism, digestion, fluid balance, electrolytes, stress response, growth, bone health, and fertility.

Disorders in the endocrine system can result from nutrient deficiencies, growths, genetic abnormalities, injury to organs, and autoimmune conditions. 

In our medical system we often take a more cursory look at these important hormones but looking at these closely and optimizing hormone levels can have a profound impact on health.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

The gastrointestinal tract extends from the mouth to the anus and has many important health functions.   It plays such a key role in health that functional medicine providers often begin by looking at the gut when beginning to work with complex patients.

A key role of the GI tract is the digestion and absorption of nutrients.  However, the GI tract also has direct effects on the immune system, cognition, hormones, and emotions through the influence of the gut microbiome (which consists of trillions of microorganisms) and the enteric nervous system which has direct links to the brain.

GI health can be influenced by our diet and what we are exposed to.  

Learn More About Gastrointestinal Disorders and the Functional Medicine Approach

Neurologic Disease

The nervous system carries information between the brain and different parts of the body.  It is involved with sensation, movement, memory, reasoning, and emotion.

Dysfunction in the nervous system can be caused by degeneration of the nerve cells (neurons), impaired blood flow, infections, trauma, tumors, structural defects, neurotransmitter issues, and autoimmune disorders.

Maintaining optimal nervous system function is needed to be able to perform at one’s best.  We use a functional medicine approach, working to optimize the function, of the entire body to help enhance cognitive performance and treat a variety of neurologic disorders.

Other Conditions

Western medicine does not have good answers to complex medical issues. Many patients suffer from debilitating health conditions such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, post-COVID syndrome, etc… These conditions generally have multiple underlying contributors that need to be addressed to help heal the body. As part of the evaluation, we need to take an expanded view and look for hidden issues such as chronic infections, biotoxins such as mold toxins, and environmental toxins.