There is a wide range of Functional Medicine practitioners. For some it evolved from their Naturopathic Medicine training. Others, including MDs, DOs, NPs, DCs, and LAcs, have done anywhere from a weekend course to the very well known IFM (Institute Functional Medicine) certification program (six 3-day weekend classes plus written case studies). I went with the Kalish Institute of Functional Medicine because it focuses on:
* Clinical application vs medical theory,
* Patient based case study vs research study based learning,
* Specific clinically based product recommendations and treatment protocols vs. research based study and application of supplements,
* Live weekly case-based online grand rounds with a teacher vs. large conference settings for 6 extended weekends.
Another thing I liked about the Kalish program is that it really focuses on a few key functional medical labs out of the hundreds that are available. By learning how to use these few labs really well, it’s easier to get a clearer, deeper clinical impression of the patient vs. getting overwhelmed with too much information from the wide variety of labs that are out there.
These labs include:
Hormone labs focusing on the HPA Axis, including the DUTCH Test and Genova Adrenal Stress Profile. The advantage in this area that I’ve learned with my training is the effective application of low-dose bio-identical hormone drops to treat adrenal stress hormone imbalances. This simulates a more normal functioning endocrine system and induces the brain and body to behave in a normal manner that continues on it’s own after the drops are discontinued at 6 months or so.
Another hormone lab that I use is the Genova Rhythm, which measures estrogen & progesterone levels at different times during the menstrual cycle. This lab is not used that frequently by other practitioners, but can be very helpful for identifying and treating various menstrual cycle related disorders, including migraines, bleeding, infertility, and digestive problems.
Digestive stool labs – these range from PCR based labs that look for pieces of DNA of various friendly, unfriendly, and parasitic entities that make up our microbiome, to direct microscopic identification of parasites and bacteria. Most functional medicine providers use these labs as part of their patient assessment.
I take it one step further in that I also work with another outfit that is not as well known within the FM community, parawellnessresearch.com, run by a Vietnam vet pathologist who has seen everything under the sun, and he often finds parasites that other labs miss.
Organic acids labs – these are highly complex labs that measure 46 key urinary organic acids. These are substrates or products related to key biochemical reactions in the body. Initially developed in the 1950s to assess amino acid processing viability in infants, they are now used on adults to assess overall biochemical functionality, genetic snips that can affect enzyme functionality, and nutritional status. They include markers for:
* Glucose processing (glycolysis),
* Fat processing (beta-oxidation),
* Kreb’s cycle (the 8 intermediaries of the TCA cycle),
* Inflammation and oxidation markers,
* Neurotransmitter & brain function (including dopamine, serotonin, and catecholamine status),
* Detoxification pathways (including glutathione status), and
* Compounds of bacterial or yeast origin.
Organic acids are complex, and new interpretations and applications are still being developed. My teacher, Dan Kalish, DC, has 30+ years of practice experience and continues to study with Richard Lord, PhD, the original developer of the Genova Organix Profile. This places me close to the cutting edge of understanding how to interpret AND apply these labs in the clinical setting and gives me a distinct advantage over many other practitioners that don’t utilize or do a less thorough analysis of an organic acids lab.
I’ve now finished the 1-year program of the Kalish Institute of Functional Medicine, and am now enrolled in the advanced program that features an online weekly video grand rounds session with Dr. Kalish. Over the last 30 years, Dr. Kalish has studied and practiced with many of the pioneers in the field of functional medicine, developing lab interpretation and effective dietary, lifestyle, and supplement protocols that have evolved from years of trial and error. As a result, I’ve learned a highly refined and effective system of Functional Medicine that I get to share with you!