You probably don’t spend a lot of time musing over quasi-philosophical medical questions like, “Why do diseases happen??” YOU don’t because you are a normal human being, not a geeky doctor like me. It is my job to ask and solve such questions and I think about them a lot. And I keep looking for answers all the time, which is why I keep going to seminars and conferences of all kinds, especially ones on functional (natural) medical cures. The longer I think about it, the more I believe Nature is where we will find our ultimate answers. Many of us in the office just returned from the annual meetings of the American Functional Medicine Association in Atlanta, and we are just overflowing with exciting new information, testing, and applications to make our patients feel better, live healthier and longer, lose weight, be happy, etc.
Anyway, back to my original philosophical question, “Why do diseases happen?”! They all happen because of inflammation. Take heart disease. Mainstream medicine will tell you to take medicine to lower your cholesterol (among many other very good suggestions like “lose weight”, “lower your blood pressure”, “RELAX!!”, and “exercise”). But the problem with your coronary arteries is not cholesterol, it is inflammation. Don’t believe me? Well, let’s say you are an oyster instead of a human (for some of us that is not too far a stretch!). As an oyster, you would be happy as a clam until a grain of sand got stuck inside your “soft parts” (boy, does that hurt!). You would hate it so much that you would start to surround the sand with whatever was handy to wall it off. In the case of an oyster, that would be calcium hydroxyapatite that ultimately becomes a beautiful pearl (clever oysters!).
The same thing happens in our arteries, but it doesn’t come out as pretty. Due to stress, poor diet, poor gut health causing inadequate nutrition, hormone imbalance, toxins in our environment and diet, high blood pressure, high insulin levels, etc., we develop inflammation in the endothelial lining of these vessels. Like the oyster, we lay down what is handy to cover up the inflammation, and that happens to include LDL cholesterol and inflammatory cells. If that gets thick enough to limit arterial blood flow to our heart muscle we can (and often DO) have a heart attack. But the original problem is not the cholesterol, it is the inflammation. Controlling cholesterol levels without addressing arterial inflammation makes about as much sense as removing calcium from the oyster and leaving the grain of sand!! What do you think now?—pretty smart, huh??
And it just so happens that we came back from Atlanta with new ways to measure and limit inflammation in your body. What we call it in “doctor-speak” is measuring and controlling “oxidative stress”.
Do you see why I like functional medicine??
So if this makes sense to you and you would like to practice true preventative wellness for yourself and your family, then call us (208) 356-8883 and make an appointment for a long visit so we can figure out your unique path to the wellness you dream of!
– Dr. Hopkin