How Integrative Functional Medicine is different

How Integrative Functional Medicine is different

Case: Male — 53 — with the following symptoms: heart palpitations, leg cramping, insomnia, GERD

CONVENTIONAL MEDICINE-General Symptoms Approach

A conventional approach is typically symptoms-based, treating with drug therapy.
A cardiologist puts him on beta blockers because of his heart palpitations (heart ultrasound test was negative).
An internist prescribes muscle relaxant medication for leg cramping.
A psychiatrist puts him on antidepressants because his insomnia is associated with anxiety.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE-General Symptoms Approach

An alternative approach is typically symptoms-based, treating the symptoms with natural substances.
A naturopath suggests potassium chloride and a natural muscle relaxant, Black Cohosh, for leg cramping.
Heart palpitations associate with anxiety and contribute to insomnia; 5-HTP and St. John’s Wort are suggested.
A naturopath also discusses taking HCl (Hydrochloric Acid) for GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)


With this approach, no specific disease is being pursued (no diagnosis is made). Rather, it determines why the body does not function at the optimal level (why it is out of balance) and evaluates body functions at the cellular level rather than “organ pathology” (disease). In this particular case, all symptoms were initially thought to have the same origin, mineral deficiency (particularly magnesium). PubMed, which catalogs all medical journals, has over 40,000 articles on magnesium and cardiovascular health, magnesium and anxiety, magnesium and insomnia.

An erythrocytes (RBC) minerals test confirms low magnesium as well as other multiple minerals. Measuring concentrations of elements in erythrocytes provides a look at how well cellular levels are maintained (true cellular stores) because erythrocyte mineral levels reflect mineral status over a period of 4 months (the life cycle of an erythrocyte). Assessing mineral status in serum (blood), a common lab test at a doctor’s office, is affected by daily dietary fluctuations (thus, not a sensitive test). Only 1% of total body magnesium is extracellular. Additionally, the body always makes its best efforts to maintain homeostasis (balance) and will do this by pulling minerals out of storage into the blood in order to maintain equilibrium.

Because an adequate production of Hydrochloric Acid-HCl (stomach acid) is required for efficient absorption of minerals and digestion, the pH capsule test is suggested, which confirms low HCl (hypochlorhydria). Strangely enough, the symptoms of stomach acid (HCl) over production and under production are virtually identical.

The client’s diet is carefully evaluated; it is found that he consumes 3 cans of diet coke per day and due to his sweet cravings, eats cookies and ice cream each day after dinner. Also, he heard that a low sodium diet prevents heart disease and high blood pressure, so he has been on a low sodium diet for one year.

It is explained to him that diet coke has a high content of aspartame which belongs to a special group of amino acids called excitotoxins. Exitotoxin, aspartate, and high caffeine contents in pop can cause heart palpitations, insomnia and anxiety. Phosphoric acid in pop neutralizes stomach acid which further compromises mineral absorption. Sugar in anything depletes magnesium levels.

A diet high in simple carbohydrates causes spikes of insulin produced by the pancreas and a high level of insulin lessens the blood sugar level too fast (hypoglycemia). One of the many manifestations of hypoglycemia is anxiety.

The body needs salt (NaCl) and cannot function adequately without it. Low salt diets can make it very difficult if not impossible for the stomach to produce adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid. The problem is not salt per se, but the quality of the salt. Using unrefined, highly mineralized sea salt is safe and healthful to the system.

Suggestions for the client: improved diet, chelated (well absorbed) multi-minerals, digestive aid — HCl and digestive enzymes. This natural regimen is targeted at correcting the imbalances in the body with respect to individual biochemistry and style of life.

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