What Is Medicine of the 21st Century?

Personalized Medicine

Energy and vitality are at the core of us. Nutrient dense and information-filled food recharges us, our lifestyle matters, and both impact our genetic make-up. We also find energy in fulfilling and happy relationships in our personal lives. Our body has an innate capacity to heal, if given the right tools that encompass our mind, body and Spirit. We are part of a whole and thus must address our healing from a whole perspective, even though there are many parts that make up the whole. Just like that giant puzzle, every piece matters.

A customized approach integrates your specific nutritional needs, your daily lifestyle and unique stress adaptation within a path that requires flexibility and clarity along the way. We all deal with a continuous string of stressors that can also include commercial foods, lack of sleep, infections, root canals, sexual abuse, toxic emotions, negative thoughts, financial worries and unhappy relationships, etc., and these all are part of our unique narrative. How we perceive and respond to them is unique, as past belief systems, childhood fears, expectations and current experiences also come into play.

Beyond the conventional medical model that is based on suppression of symptoms and treating pathology, there are options when deciding on your own wellness path. Today there are various paradigm-shifting options that focus on addressing root causes of illness. “Why are we sick?” or, “Why are we having digestive symptoms or ongoing joint pain.” This brings us to the concept of Personalized Medicine that often will include genetic testing too.

Before we continue, let’s define some trending terms: 

According to Wikipedia:

  • “A holistic concept in medical practice, which is distinct from the concept in the alternative medicine, upholds that all aspects of people’s needs including psychological, physical and social should be taken into account and seen as a whole. A 2007 study said the concept was alive and well in general medicine in Sweden. According to the American Holistic Medical Association it is believed that the spiritual element should also be taken into account when assessing a person’s overall wellbeing.
  • Some practitioners of holistic medicine use alternative medicine exclusively, though sometimes holistic treatment can mean simply that a physician takes account of all a person’s circumstances in giving treatment.
  • Sometimes when alternative medicine is mixed with mainstream medicine the result is called “holistic” medicine, though this is more commonly termed integrative medicine.

According to Andrew Weil and Wikipedia: 

  • “Integrative medicine is healing-oriented therapy, taking into account the whole person (body, mind, and spirit) as well as their lifestyle, using all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative. Integrative medicine is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines, both conventional and alternative to achieve optimal health and healing.”
  • Integrative medicine takes into account medical studies, pharmaceutical interventions, and medical approaches as well emotional triggers, alternative healing, the patient’s history, healing, relationships and healthy self-love and self-esteem.

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Functional medicine:

  • Is a medical practice or treatments that focuses on optimal functioning of the body and its organs, usually involving systems of holistic or alternative medicine, searching for the underlying causes of disease.
  • The patient and the practitioner work in partnership to find these root causes.
  • It includes Functional Testing, pharmaceutical, herbal and nutritional supplementation.
  • Generally physicians are a cash-based practice.

Medical science has finally admitted to the role of stress on our mind and bodies, allowing doctors to pinpoint stressors that are considered precursors to disease.

We all deal with stress but it shows up in different ways for each person. Some of the most common ways we are told stress is expressed is in excess stomach acid, nausea, headaches, zapped energy, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, reduced immunity, frequent colds or infections, neck tension and joint pain. These are symptoms of a body that is experiencing dis-ease.

For example, you might be eating organic food, but:

  • Are you getting enough healthy fats in your diet?
  • Are your personal relationships addressing your need to feel loved or are you in an unhappy relationship?
  • Are you eating the right foods for your body or are you eating too little protein?
  • As a child, were you criticized and now are living your life as an overachiever needing approval and validation from others?
  • Is there a viral infection draining your energy and giving you a constant sore throat?
  • Are you living in a water-damaged home and cannot think straight?
  • Are you struggling after going through a divorce?
  • You have not felt well since the last round of antibiotics.
  • Maybe you are taking care of an ailing parent, which is very stressful besides leaving you no time to do things that you enjoy.
  • And, what about the personal care products you are using that add a toxic burden on your liver?
  • What toxins are floating around in the air at work or in your home?

All of these will affect how well (or not) our body functions, as our mind, emotions and physical body are intertwined. 

The sum of all factors contributes to our unique wellness blueprint. Sure, genetics play a part, but who is the person who is presenting with the 23andMe? It is important not to treat genetics, but to treat the person. Just the other day someone wanted me to interpret their 23andMe. That is fine, but I also want to see the full medical history and life history. Building health is like peeling away different layers of an onion so the body and mind can regain renewed energy, joy and vitality. This is the path to becoming a well woman at any age.

Wellness is an ongoing process; think of it as an essential 21st Century lifestyle that incorporates a holistic, functional and integrated approach. Be our own health advocate, and do not be afraid to ask questions. It is about YOU.

Rika Keck

NY Integrated Health, FDN-P, ACN

Author of two books

Nourish, Thrive, Heal: A comprehensive and holistic guide to living with Lyme disease.

Nourish Your Brain cookbook: Over 60 delicious brain-healthy recipes!

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