At the end of September, I was privileged to attend an AFMCP conference. This stands for Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice and was hosted by the Institute for Functional Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. I wanted to share some of the things I learned and realized during that week. Not all of the thoughts will be completely organized as I was taking notes while writing these notes for you. I hope you benefit from them.
Day two of the Functional Medicine Conference continues to confirm my choice to move beyond the conventional medical approach. Dr. Rountree started the day discussing how inflammation plays a role in most chronic diseases. Applying basic science of chemical processes occurring in our body on a moment by moment basis, we can begin to not only understand the upstream causes of chronic disease, but we can begin to treat diseases at their sources.
Rather than applying band-aids after the damage has been done, functional medicine aims at traveling upstream to see where the biological process of disease begins. We need to understand the way our body uses different chemical messengers to turn up or turn down inflammation. For example, we can look at histamine, a substance normally connected to allergies. Histamine has far more uses in the body than just causing your nose to drip and drive you crazy. Histamine works in the brain as a neurotransmitter and serves as a messenger in inflammation. We normally think of using antihistamines like Benadryl and Zyrtec to treat the allergic symptoms, but this only addresses things after the horse is out of the barn.
On the other hand quercetin is a natural substance which stabilizes the cells which can release histamine. This keeps the horse in the barn. While it does little to corral the horse outside the barn, it acts as a great preventive. Patients often find they can avoid the loose horses of hay fever by taking quercetin. Again, upstream medicine.