DELTA, Ohio – A new way to treat disease called Functional Medicine proves so effective compared to conventional medicine that millions of Americans are making the switch.
Ohio wife and mother Cindy Tedrow is one of the latest converts. She feels fantastic now, maybe better than ever, which is a far cry from the horrific health problems she previously endured.
"I would pray, 'Lord if you want me, take me. Just take me,'" Tedrow said.
Too Many Problems to Count
For most of Cindy's adult life, she suffered from infections, pain, and fatigue.
"My feet and my legs felt like they were cement," she recalled, "It took that much effort to pick them up and move."
She also struggled with hormone issues and obesity.
"I could not lose weight. I could not lose weight," she said, "No matter how hard I tried, I could not lose weight."
She couldn't go out of the house after a seizure. Something that happened far too often.
"I would make a commitment and then I would have to cancel. And it was so hard," she said.
In fact, her seizures became so common she had to stop driving and teaching school.
"And I loved my job. I loved my job. I just couldn't do it anymore," her voice quivered, "The hardest thing was I couldn't go to church a lot of times and that really, really was hard."
With tears in her eyes, Cindy recalled seeing the fear on her husband's face and hearing the worry in her mother's voice.
In searching for answers, she visited twenty doctors and took numerous medications. Nothing worked.
"They would send me from one specialist to another specialist and they would give me medication for that particular symptom," she said, "And so at one time I was at 22 prescriptions and getting worse. I was just getting worse."
An Answered Prayer
With nothing to lose, Cindy decided to try a different approach. She went to the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine That decision turned her health around.
Dr. Mark Hyman, a practicing family physician, and 11-time New York Times bestselling author, including his latest release, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? directs the center.
"Functional medicine is a new way of thinking about disease that gets to the root cause," he explained, "It doesn't focus so much on the symptoms as the question of why you have those symptoms."
Dr. Hyman said like many patients, once Cindy was treated by a functional medicine doctor, she quickly got much better.
"In a very short period of time, she not only lost a lot of weight but was able to end her seizures, to recover her energy, end her brain fog and to be engaged in her life again, which is not only something we see routinely in functional medicine, but often something traditional physicians are surprised at, because these are patients that they've tried for decades to try to help and mitigate symptoms. Well, we don't go for symptoms, we go for causes."
Step Number One: Re-Vamp the Diet
Dr. Hyman says up to 80-percent of health problems come from an unhealthy diet. Therefore, functional medicine doctors recommend their patients cut out sugars and processed food because they cause harmful inflammation, which health experts now say is the foundation for most disease including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's.
Instead, functional medicine doctors advise their patients to eat more vegetables and healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocados. Cindy says when she started eating an anti-inflammatory diet she lost eighty pounds.
"The weight just melted away. It just melted away!" she exclaimed, "It's not hard. It is not hard. I basically stick to real meat. real vegetables. I have to stay away from the carbs."
Step Two: Fix the Gut
Vitamin D and Fish Oil are two common supplements functional medicine doctors recommend their patients take on a daily basis. They also typically advise patients to take a good probiotic supplement to improve the type and amount of good bacteria in the intestines.
"The gut microbiome has been linked to depression and cancer and heart disease and diabetes and obesity and autoimmune diseases and asthma," Dr. Hyman said, "So that doesn't make sense given our current model describing disease."
He continued, "When you go to the cardiologist they don't ask you about your gut microbiome. They want to know whether they should put you on a statin or beta blocker or aspirin and not think about, 'Why is there inflammation? Why is there high blood pressure? Why is your cholesterol abnormal?' and fix that."
Step Three: Lower Stress
Dr. Hyman says another key component to functional medicine is helping patients lower anxiety and deal with other negative emotions.
"Our thoughts, stress, exercise, sleep and also community and connection because many of us are isolated and many of us are lonely and that promotes disease. And in a faith-based world, it's really about connection, community, belonging, meaning purpose. Those are also ingredients for health."
Functional medicine doctors report people of faith tend to have less stress.
"They told us about meditation," Cindy said, "I didn't do meditation but I was already praying and that has made a tremendous difference."
Compared to the conventional approach of simply relying on big pharma, functional medicine often focuses on significant lifestyle changes. While that's more responsibility and discipline, people like Cindy Tedrow, who've tried both, say the extra effort pays off in the long run.