Our Therapeutic Approach
The first interview with any new patient is very important and normally takes about 90 min. re chronic conditions. This allows for taking a proper history, for discussing expectations, planning the way forward re the level of care needed, and for answering questions. In this interview the importance of the mind-body-soul-spirit connection re chronic illness is covered.
Most of the people seen at our practice, who suffer from chronic conditions, have had conventional medical treatment. Invariably something occurred in this process, which led to the need for seeking alternative advice. This may be a growing awareness about the limitations and dangers of regular treatments, and the subsequent desire to explore safe, natural alternatives to the drug based approach. It may be the frustrating sense of being treated like a statistic, of not being heard.
The patient-doctor partnership is very important to us. Generally the first interview ends with some ‘homework’ and – should any treatments be suggested – the invitation to think through these options before proceeding. It is always the patient who decides, without any pressure ever being exerted. The main role of the practitioner is to facilitate better informed decisions and motivate accordingly.
CHRONIC CONDITIONS most frequently seen at my practice
Most of these are immune-related, e.g. infections (especially viral, like some forms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Glandular Fever, Shingles, etc.), allergic disorders (like asthma, “sinus” and eczema), auto-immune disorders (e.g. arthritic conditions, Fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, Thyroiditis, and many others), and cancer.
Others are more related to hormones, like insulin resistance and diabetes, adrenal stress, also linked to unresolved mental and emotional burdens.
Nutritional aspects, bowel health and toxicity are always involved re any chronic disorder.
A STEP WISE CONSULTATIVE APPROACH
Over the past 18 years I have developed a more integral approach, that includes the steps of Functional Medicine but also goes beyond it and that takes into consideration what is possible and responsible for the patient within the South African context. Doctor and patient together explore the various options, including the use of supplements and therapies.
This step-wise approach is not cast in concrete, as everyone is different and as not all disorders need the most extensive intervention. Our quest is to restore health and balance in a cost effective way.
Step 1 - Gut Repair
Our intestines are the gateway to our health. The friendly bacteria in our gut may be seen as the gatekeepers of our physical and mental health. Their importance cannot be overstated.
When the content is disturbed, and the lining may be damaged, our gut essentially becomes the gateway to illness “downstream”, i.e. elsewhere in the body.
The lining of the bowel, where 80% of the immune system is located, is the most important defence barrier in the body. Damage to this filter, commonly called “leaky gut”, is one of the most prominent root causes of all illnesses. Hence “tuning” the intestines is the most important first step ito restoring health.
The main issues are the do’s and don’ts of proper nutrition, the avoidance of toxins (including the many medical drugs, which can harm the gut), harmonizing gut content, and restoring barrier function.
Step 2 - Detoxification
Given our toxic environment some form of detoxification is always needed, usually starting with the liver (which is directly downstream from the gut) and then more general.
Here we have a variety of medical food formulas available.
Step 3 - Addressing hormonal imbalances
Hormonal imbalances are an important aspect of chronic illness and correcting these where possible is normally on the cards.
The sequence here would typically be: first adrenal glands, then sex hormones, then the thyroid gland.
* Adrenal gland support primarily means stress management, but we also use adrenal support formulas, containing essential vitamins, adrenal extracts and adaptogenic herbs.
* At sex hormone level bio-identical hormone creams are offered, mostly re menopause. Each script is individualised according to symptoms, weight and test results. Bio-identical hormone replacement in menopause is normally done as step 1.
* Thyroid support may be given in the form of nutrients, which aid thyroid function and the conversion of thyroid hormones, and – if really needed – in the form of natural desiccated thyroid hormones. Chronic specific thyroid conditions like different forms of autoimmune thyroiditis need an extensive integrated approach.
Step 4 - Treatment options
Given the patient's condition, specific treatments such as Ultra-violet Blood Irradiation (UBI), Peroxide and Vitamin C infusions, Chelation, Phospholipid therapy and acupuncture and laser treatments may be needed at powerful aids to further enhance health. For an outline of these treatments, see further below.
THERAPIES AND TREATMENT OPTIONS
Doctor and patient decide together on any treatment option, which is best suited to the patient’s condition and specific needs. These treatments serve as powerful aids to further enhance body function and health.
They need not necessarily be done as step 4 and may come in even as early as step 1, but with chronic illness in general it is normally more effective to first do the important groundwork (the upstream work), especially ito gut repair and detox.
UBI - Ultraviolet light Blood Irradiation
Ultraviolet light Blood Irradiation is not a new technique, and has been used at Integrative Health since 2002.
A small volume of blood is extracted and exposed to two different, specific types of ultraviolet light, after which it is re-infused into the body. This is a closed loop system meaning thus very safe.
UV light breaks down bacteria and viruses, as well as immune complexes (associated with allergic and autoimmune disorders). Returning these fragments to the body is most unexpected to the immune system and swiftly sets in motion a chain of reactions. Although the exact mode of action is unknown, exposure of a small volume of blood to UV light, can ultimately modify and enhance the whole immune system’s function.
UBI is a very powerful and totally safe way to deal with chronic (and acute) infectious disorders, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, glandular fever, shingles, viral encephalitis, viral hepatitis, etc. It has also shown to be very effective when dealing with allergy and inflammation related disorders, such as asthma and eczema, as well as re circulation problems, and it can be of valuable assistance with auto-immune conditions, especially where infectious triggers are prominent immune disruptors.
At our centre a large number of post–infective chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers have been treated with UBI, as part of an integrated approach, with the overall success rate being > 80%.
New UBI technology is now available at our centre, re the use of multiple UV lamps and UV wave lengths, as well as a much more effective way of exposing blood to the UV light.
Heavy metal detoxification (Chelation therapy)
Every human being living on planet Earth harbours toxic metals, such as lead, mercury, aluminium and arsenic. These metals are not meaningfully eliminated through the normal excretion pathways, accumulate over time and always seem to lurk as causal factors regarding chronic illness in general.
Mercury: Of the metals, we are all exposed to, mercury is by far the most toxic, and even small quantities may have devastating consequences to body and mind.
The toxic effects of mercury can be broadly divided into four categories: chronic fatigue, chronic pain of any type, neurological / psychiatric disorders and immune related (e.g. autoimmune and allergic) conditions. These toxic effects result from the way mercury interferes with the most basic body functions, e.g.: the body’s defence against free radicals and hence the worsening of damaging oxidative mechanisms; mercury attacks organs and glands, mitochondria, red and white blood cells, cell membranes and DNA; it inhibits enzyme function and protein synthesis; it increases the permeability of membranes and destroys barrier functions.
With respect to metal toxicity in general, the best-researched disorders are peripheral vascular disease, coronary vascular disease and cerebral vascular disease; in other words: diminished circulation / perfusion to the legs, the heart and the brain respectively.
Metal detoxification may also be of great benefit with autoimmune disorders (e.g. thyroiditis, lupus, scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and many others), chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, neurological disorders, hypertension, and any chronic degenerative disorders, such as cancer, where toxic metals seem to be prominently involved.
Metal detoxification involves the administration of various oral and intravenous “chelating agents”, which are able to bind with toxic metals and thus facilitate their elimination from the body, almost exclusively via the urinary tract.
Testing for metals is routinely done before the onset of therapy, as well as after a certain number of treatments to monitor progress. This testing involves urine analysis after an oral and intravenous “challenge” with chelating agents.
Although minor side effects, such as mild allergic reactions, may rarely occur, metal detoxification is a very safe and effective way to assist with reversing chronic disorders.
Also an intravenous, non-specific treatment modality, phospholipid therapy enhances health and function, mostly through cell membrane detox and repair.
This newly introduced therapy is mostly effective re chronic neurological and lung conditions.
Acupuncture & Laser (not related to a step-wise approach)
The ancient art of acupuncture is now combined with modern technology.
By stimulating acupuncture points with needles and electrical impulses, as well as laser, the flow of Qi, that magical vital 'energy', through the meridians is enhanced, thus enabling the body to start healing itself. Acupuncture is an effective therapy re numerous conditions, but I now only use it mostly for painful muscle-&-joint problems, and headaches, especially migraine.
Low energy laser is used in combination with acupuncture and for lesser topical problems, such as inflammation trigger spots and sprains, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, etc.
There is a quite a bit of nostalgia here: my introduction to Integrative Medicine came in 1999 via TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine – acupuncture and herbal medicine): For 2 years I did intensive studies with my early mentors, Prof Zang Yi and Dr Bernard Brom, in the Western Cape. While acupuncture now only makes up a small percentage of my work and I no longer work with Chinese herbs, the philosophy of holism is timeless and ever important.
The mind-body-soul connection through-out
It needs to be emphasized that persistent unresolved, negative emotions can always be a primary trigger of any illness.
Research done on the so-called gut-brain axis shows that leaky gut can result primarily from stress.
The adrenals are our stress hormone glands and imbalances of cortisol (too high or too low) cause inflammation, disturbances of sugar metabolism, Thyroid function, and much more.
Where unresolved emotional issues are recognized by the patient as being a barricade on the path to healing, I often refer to my wife Jean for further support (see www.futurelinknow.co.za).