The Past

The past century has featured amazing progress in the field of medicine, including prolonged lives, safer and more effective medical treatments,  amazing discoveries and countless unprecedented achievements. We salutes those pioneers whose dedication and teaching have advanced the capacity for improved medical treatments and patient care.

If you are interested on how we got here please read “ A brief history of American Medicine” by Lee Lipsenthal, MD.

The Present

Diagnosis: Dehumanization

Western medicine, with its advances, is still suffering from a host of problems. At a time in history when the results of medical interventions are at their best, some doctors want to quit and many patients are unhappy.

In our opinion, the most important of all the contributors to these problems is the “dehumanization” of medicine. Today, we have “clients,” not patients. We are “health care providers,” not doctors. Health care providers are subject to rules made by the so-called “health care industry.”

The healing, human exchange between doctors and patients, trust, giving of hope, and time to listen and care have all suffered. 

Without these elements, there is little hope for significant improvements in health care, no matter how technologically advanced we may be.

Parts Vs. Whole

Another contributing factor is the difference in success in the treatment of acute versus chronic diseases. We have grown accustomed to spectacular operations that can reattach severed limbs, but we seemingly cannot help the millions of people suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other debilitating chronic diseases.

It seems that while modern biomedicine is adept at extinguishing the fires of acute trauma and disease, it has not understood nor successfully treated chronic and age-related disorders. With each new advance, conventional medicine appears to become more divided and specialized. Doctors are taught to name, classify, and treat illnesses based on groupings of signs and symptoms. Studies evaluate one drug for one symptom or one disease. Anything outside of Drug X for Disease Y seems “suspicious”.

This way of doing things is commonly understood as the “scientific method.”  This gives the impression that there is only one way of approaching clinical medicine. This method is founded in linear dynamics and has limitations. A linear scientific method focused on one drug for one symptom or disease concentrates on the trees and loses sight of the forest, or the function of the whole body.

When applied to medicine, the linear method helps explain our current health care situation. Doctor and treatments become isolated. One goes to the cardiologist to get heart medicine, to the dermatologist for skin medicine, to the neurologist for neurologic care, and so on. Drugs are given for one purpose, and then end up creating problems in other areas called “side effects.” Sometimes people collect doctors and medications to the point that the whole system is backfiring and the side-effects are worse then the original problem. This is called “polypharmacy” and is officially accepted as a fact of life.

Whole Person Health Care

A branch of science that goes countercurrent to linear thinking has developed steadily over the last century. It is called complexity, or complex adaptive systems. [1]

Applying complexity science allows us to account for multiple variables and tackle multiple problems simultaneously. Complexity deals with living organisms much more appropriately than the linear, isolated, compartmentalized medical approaches common today.

Complexity based science considers the whole body in a web-like fashion. This branch of science yields knowledge that moves us deeper in the understanding of the laws of nature. This provides the basis for a deeper knowledge of biology and for a better way to treat medical problems.

When similar developments happened in physics, such as Einstein’s Relativities and Eisenberg’s Quantum Mechanics, they changed the world.

We went from technology that produced Ford Model Ts and vacuum tube radios to nuclear weapons, laptop computers, cellular phones, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, the Internet, Artificial Intelligence and more.

One hundred years after Einstein’s physics, we are starting to experience a similar revolution in medicine. As we attain deeper knowledge, we achieve better results.

So why are we sharing this with you?  Because it changes your health care!

Branches Vs. Roots

For example, in the linear world, high blood pressure, diabetes, elevated triglycerides, low HDL, obesity, heart attacks, strokes, and other conditions are all different and discrete diseases. To deal with each diagnosis and symptom, you go to different doctors and are prescribed different drugs.

In the complex world, all these are the result of one root cause called metabolic syndrome (Syndrome X.) This is caused by insensitivity of the tissues to the action of the hormone insulin called insulin resistance. Fixing insulin resistance improves all of the above seemingly separate conditions.

So who practices complexity based medicine? What is this medicine called?

Forward thinking scientists starting with Linus Pauling, Ph.D. [2] have helped develop this trend towards a better way of understanding health care that applies these principles to treating patients.

Functional Medicine

Functional medicine represents, in our view, a watershed component of the evolution of Standard Western Medicine.

Functional medicine is the field of health care whose mission is to improve physiological, physical, emotional, and cognitive function. Functional medicine has fundamental concepts that serve as guiding principles for clinical assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.

Functional medicine treats people, not diseases. Even if various people have been given the same diagnosis, the biology of each person is unique like their fingerprints. Their condition represents a different disease state that will respond differently to various therapies. The point is to explore all angles until achieving a favorable result in a particular individual.

One of the foundations of functional medicine is to bring principles of biochemistry and physiology to bear in individual patient care, [3], reuse those books for therapeutic suggestions, and then weave in pharmacology appropriately.

Functional medicine is decidedly different from the generality of  “alternative medicine” or other labels that are vague and provide unclear concepts about  Integrative health care.

Conventional medicine engrossed in linear thought, teaching, research, and practice is lagging behind this scientific evolution. The profit goals of the “health industry” often help overlook these scientific developments. These and many more reasons account for why insurance companies do not yet reimburse for this type of comprehensive and personalized care.

Most people are aware that according to HMO guidelines, the medical visit must be accomplished in less then 10 minutes.

Please do not mistake what the HMOs pass for “standard care” with the achievements of Medicine.

Sadly, there is an ocean between what scientists know and can do and what is actually delivered to you.

Disease Prevention

Today the public is awakening, learning, and demanding that we no longer wait for chronic diseases to “happen” into our lives, and then attempt to undo them. Personalized preventive health care creates an environment where disease states have less of a chance of taking hold, and/or allows disease states to be reversed before they create significant permanent structural damage in our bodies.

People are less and less trusting of  a medical system that waits for disease states to manifest before doing anything about them, and then only treats them with drugs.

Public awareness and action comes at a point in history where it is clear that in our short-term future our society will lack the financial ability to provide the present, late damage control medical care to millions of citizens in the years to come.

Better Strategies Necessary

Faced with this reality, Americans are seeking solutions to their health concerns outside the conventional arena. In the area of nutrition, over 160 million consumers take vitamins and supplements with wellness, vitality and longevity foremost on their minds. 

People pay for this out of their pockets. Further analysis shows that 40 percent of these consumers base their choices on magazine articles or vitamin store clerks opinions instead of qualified medical advice or, better yet, genomic testing. It is also calculated that one out of three dollars spent on supplements is spent on poor quality products which do not deliver on their promise, or which can be counterproductive.

This is an era in which FDA approved drugs have been known to fail quality control, and there is no regulation for the vitamin market!

We believe that this is unacceptable and dangerous for both patients and their doctors. People are more and more disenchanted with their medical care.  Many take matters in their own hands and/or seek advice from sources other than physicians. Unfortunately more and more, the doctor is the baby that is thrown out with the bath water. This has negative consequences on health outcomes.

The Future

Compare the following statements:

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease. “Thomas A. Edison  (1847 – 1931)

“Virtually all human diseases result from the interaction of genetic susceptibility and modifiable environmental factors broadly defined to include infectious, chemical, physical, nutritional, and behavioral factors.”  CDC 2000 [4]

People will more and more seek care with physicians who, together with Edison and the Centers for Disease Control, believe in these concepts and apply them in their practices.

We believe this type of medicine is a big part of the future, and will eventually become available to everyone.

FWSI understand how to provide functional and integrative health care NOW. We do it for the people who want it and because we know it is the best health care we can provide.


1 A great reference about complexity is the book The Web of Life by Fritjof Capra
2 Twice Nobel prize winner
3 These textbooks describe the human body in a condition of optimal health
4  Centers for Disease Control The Office of Genetics and Disease Prevention Gene-Environment Interaction Fact Sheet, August 2000