Functional medicine is a systems-based approach to identifying and treating the root causes of disease, as opposed to the short-term symptom relief seen so often with conventional medicine. It uses specialized systems-oriented lab results that measure various aspects of important body functions. When woven together with the patient’s history and direct experience, it manifests a meaningful picture of patient dis-ease.
Most importantly, Functional Medicine helps incorporate lifestyle changes into your life to restore health, balance, and vitality. These include dietary changes, exercise, proper sleep hygiene, meditation, and other lifestyle adjustments. Based on the patterns of data shown in lab results, nutritional supplements are also prescribed to support this change.
The goal of Functional Medicine is for you to improve your quality of life so that you can better fulfill your life’s mission and enjoy life.
While most people feel better within the first few weeks, the larger healing journey can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the complexity of your condition and how long you’ve had it.
Our goal is for you to feel healthy without an over-reliance on medications and supplements (some may be necessary), and instead utilize a good clean diet and lifestyle to maintain your optimum health.
After you complete your program, we suggest that you check in 1-2 times per year to help keep you on track, and do a periodic Organic Acids Test to make sure your body’s systems are functioning properly.
A program of treatment in Functional Medicine usually proceeds in the following manner:
Initial Visit You’ll first fill out a detailed Intake Form that we’ll review together at the first visit, via telemedicine or telephone. We will also ask more specific questions about your health history to help connect the dots of your health puzzle. During the visit you’ll receive dietary and lifestyle recommendations, and, based on your particular situation, possibly supplements. At the end of the session we’ll order 1-3 labs that will be shipped directly to you.
Functional Medicine Labs These lab tests can be performed at home and usually involve the collection of saliva, urine, or stool samples that are appropriately packaged and shipped via UPS or FEDEX. The results take 2-4 weeks to arrive, during which time you should usually be experiencing positive changes from the lifestyle adjustments you’ve already been implementing.
Follow-up Visits With the arrival of lab results, we will schedule time to discuss your labs, lifestyle changes, and nutritional supplements. We’ll send you a summary of the recommendations that we discussed, a supplement protocol that outlines your course of treatment for the next 6 to 12 months, and a supplement prescription from our online dispensary.
We will also schedule periodic Follow-up Visits (usually every month of two) to discuss progress on health issues, lifestyle changes, and supplements.
We usually use three types of Functional Medicine labs in our approach, depending on the complexity of the patient. These include labs that test adrenal stress hormones, GI (gastrointestinal) function, and organic acids (tests for liver detoxification pathways, brain and neurotransmitter health, inflammation, oxidative damage, methylation, and energy production).
Unlike other styles of Functional Medicine, we focus on minimizing the number of labs needed to identify health issues and establish a baseline for assessing improvement. Out of hundreds of available lab tests, patients usually end up doing 1-3 labs, depending on the complexity of their condition.
We also seek to minimize the number of supplements that need to be taken at one time. While we aggressively go after pathogens and patterns of imbalance, we use a slower gentler approach to tonify and coax our body’s systems back into gear and healthy levels of function. Generally speaking with regards to supplement intake in Functional Medicine, we try not to prescribe more than 10 capsules being taken at one time.
The time to complete a program in Functional Medicine usually takes 6-12 months, depending of course on the individual patient’s condition, and their willingness and ability to stick with the program.
Of the hundreds of Functional Medicine labs available, we like to keep things simple by using a few key labs really well. You will likely only need to do 1to 3 lab tests for your treatment program. This efficiency is one of the most appealing aspects of the Kalish Method, as it reduces the time and expense that it takes for your body heal and rebalance.
There are 3 basic types of labs that we use: Hormonal stress markers, digestive stool analysis, and organic acid tests.
Adrenal stress labs assess the amount of stress your body has endured over the decades by measuring your daily fluctuations in cortisol (the stress hormone) and DHEA levels to assess the overall health of your HPA Axis (hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenals).
If your HPA Axis is not balanced, it often throws off the rest of your endocrine system, so resetting the HPA Axis is usually one of the first things that we do. When it gets reset, you should feel more energy and the rest of your hormonal system should start to fall back into place.
An imbalanced HPA Axis often results in adrenal insufficiency, in which case you could be experiencing some of the following symptoms: • Fatigue • Loss of endurance • Digestive problems • Slow metabolism • Weight gain • Food cravings • Blood sugar issues • Brain fog • Insomnia • Hair loss (female) • Loss of libido
We use three labs we for assessing the HPA Axis:
Adrenocortex Stress Profile (Genova Diagnostics - $195) is the least expensive and uses saliva collected in vials over the course of the day to measure daily fluctuations in cortisol and DHEA.
DUTCH Complete (Precision Analytics - $345) uses urine collected on filter paper over the course of a day and then air-dried. It also measures levels of progesterone, the 3 estrogens, testosterone, melatonin, and their breakdown products.
Rhythm Plus (Genova Diagnostics - $495), a saliva test that not only captures the levels of stress hormones over the course of a day, but also captures the levels and fluctuations of estrogen, and progesterone over the course of a month which is very helpful for assessing and treating various menstrual conditions. Hormonal imbalances such as unopposed estrogen, high follicular progesterone, anovulation and luteal phase defects are easily identified. This hormone test is especially useful in treatment of patients with chronic menstrual disorders.
These tests cover a variety of factors that influence digestive and overall gastrointestinal health. The gut lining is one of the first things to go when exposed to chronic stress, as the body cannibalizes it as an easy source of amino acids. This lowers gut immunity and leads to the buildup of pathogenic bacteria in the gut, which in turn further compromises gut integrity.
Eventually the intestines become permeable, and this allows for small pieces of protein to be absorbed into the bloodstream. This raises inflammation levels throughout the body and causes a variety of autoimmune reactions and unpleasant symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, depression, muscle pains, and achy joints.
GI Effects Comprehensive Stool Profile (Genova Diagnostics - $495, + H.Pylori add-on $30), This is the stool test of choice for optimizing gut health. Since 80% of our immune system lies in the gut, this test provides insights that help guide dietary and clinical interventions to optimize immune health. It measures markers related to digestion and absorption, gut immune health, inflammation, the microbiome, and identifies possible parasites and bacterial pathogens.
H. pylori add-on (+$30) Helicobacter pylori is an opportunistic pathogen that often shows up in times of stress, can cause a variety of unrelated symptoms (besides ulcers), is easily treatable, and we often recommend getting checked for it.
Over the course of a night, our urine collects over 1,000 unique organic acids that result from chemical reactions happening throughout our body. When we compare levels of these organic acids to those seen in healthy populations, we can identify unhealthy patterns of data manifesting from an unbalanced biochemical physiology.
Organix Comprehensive Profile (Genova Diagnostics - $395) This test picks 46 of these organic acids from a sample of frozen urine to assess a wide range of body systems, providing us with a detailed overview of our health status. These include markers related to: • Neurotransmitter metabolites and brain health • Mitochondrial energy production • Liver Phase I & Phase II detoxification capacity • Oxidative damage and antioxidant need • Methylation sufficiency • Vitamin and mineral status • Amino acid insufficiencies such as Carnitine and N-Acetyl-Cysteine • Lipoic acid and CoQ10 status • Bacterial and yeast overgrowth
It’s an ideal test for patients who may suffer from: • Weight issues • Sleep abnormalities • Depression • Chemical sensitivities
This is a complex test that offers lots of insight into how well your body’s systems are functioning. Researchers are still discovering new ways of interpreting the data it provides. If you were to do one test a year to track how your body’s systems are doing, this would be the one, as we can compare it to previous years to see how our physiology is trending.
Most importantly, the patterns identified in the Organix Comprehensive offer a clear roadmap of dietary, lifestyle, and supplement protocols that will lead you back to balance and health.