In my practice, I prescribe supplements, which I refer to as “nutraceuticals.” These can range from modular Chinese herbal formulae (modular formulae are groups of 4-20 herbs arranged in a hierarchical mixture and designed to treat a Chinese Medicine diagnostic “pattern” or combination of patterns, such as Liver Qi stagnation with Liver Blood stagnation or Kidney Yin Deficiency with Empty Heat) to single supplements, such as saw palmetto, fish oil, Vitamin D, or probiotics.
Because the medical literature is peppered with studies citing quality inconsistencies as a big problem, I rely on a few trusted companies who use certain methodologies, including third-party testing. I prescribe these either directly from my office (along with common pharmaceutical medications), or through two local pharmacies (Luke’s Pharmacy in Hailey and Valley Apothecary in Ketchum), or via on-line pharmacies at Kan Herbs, Crane Herbs, and Metagenics.
I typically use my allopathic skills in my diagnostic workups to be sure that I don’t miss an important finding. I also employ the principles of Chinese Medicine diagnostics in a parallel fashion.
I consider Functional Medicine diagnostic tools to be allopathic in nature. They include focused histories and some valuable lab tests chosen, depending on the presentation. Functional medicine is strongly rooted in biochemistry, so such labs can include analysis of stool microbiological growth patterns, comprehensive detoxification pathways, inflammation markers, allergies to foods and/or inhalants and/or molds (including IgE and IgG testing, when appropriate), and provoked urine collections for heavy metals. While I am very interested in genomic single-nucleotide-polymorphism mutations related to degenerative diseases in neurology, immunology, cardiology, I have done only a little testing of these genomic mutations in certain selected cases.
I have found that acupuncture with or without Chinese herbal medicine works well for a number of medical problems including asthma, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, chronic UTI, eczema, sinusitis, allergies, headache, TMJ, Bell’s palsy, substance abuse (smoking, chewing, opiates, alcohol), premenstrual syndrome, perimenopausal symptoms, heavy or irregular periods, infertility, labor pain, breech presentation, pain of lateral epicodylitis, plantar fasciitis, arthritis, low back pain, neck pain, pelvic pain, ganglion cysts, shingles, fatigue, and can be helpful for decreasing the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation.
I use an FDA-Approved Class IV laser to treat problems of inflammation. By delivering highly focused bundles of photons of light to the mitochondrion of the cells of inflamed tissue, the body’s ability to resolve inflammation improves significantly. This is helpful for tendonitis, arthritis, epicondylitis, gastritis, (and other ‘itis-es’) and can help in the recovery from acute or chronic injury. It can help reduce the number of acupuncture treatments required to adequately relieve pain and restore function.
Almost universally, I use a functional medicine approach to these problems, as well. I have found this approach to be helpful for the autoimmune diseases and for such nebulous complaints as the person who seems to “always get sick” with the latest virus. Fatigue can be a big challenge, depending on underlying psychosocial issues and the intensity of adrenal dysfunction. I am also very interested in obesity and metabolic syndrome and the related constellation of chronic degenerative disorders, although I have not found that acupuncture in isolation is particularly helpful for obesity. Rather, I assess for underlying insulin resistance and inflammation status, review dietary and lifestyle issues, employ the use of nutritionists when needed, and write exercise prescriptions and supplement prescriptions.
The scope of my practice ranges from “bread and butter” family medicine to complex chronic diseases of neurology, immunology, endocrinology, cardiology, gynecology, oncology, gastroenterology, and pulmonology. I blend standard allopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and functional medicine (which I consider to be allopathic in principle) fairly fluidly. It is my hope that I might have the opportunity to work closely with my medical and surgical colleagues for the benefit of patients suffering from complex, chronic, and often interesting medical problems.