1. As a parent, who wants everything wonderful for your child, wouldn’t you want to be well informed and extremely knowledgeable about everything that pertains to the health, wellbeing and learning abilities of your child?
2. Wouldn’t you like to know what all your best options are when it comes to dealing with small or large challenges that your child faces?
3. Wouldn’t you want to be able to challenge your doctor for better answers and expect cutting edge treatment, instead of being expected to believe that the doctor knows best?
If you answered, ‘yes, yes’ and ‘yes’ to these questions then here’s the first piece of information you need to be aware of – there is a very important shift taking place in the way that medicine is being practiced. The shift is away from traditional medicine towards what is being called, systemic, functional or integrative medicine. (Remember these terms because they are critically important for your child’s wellbeing).
Here’s why this is vitally important to you and your child:
- The focus is on the disease.
- The body is seen as a collection of separate organs with separate diseases that are treated by separate specialists.
- All patients who have a particular disease, or show certain symptoms, are treated in the same way – one treatment model that fits all.
- Treatment involves drugging the symptoms.
- The focus is on the patient.
- The body is seen as ONE integrated system – so what happens in the gut affects the brain, for example . This means that the doctor treats the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms
- Instead of drugging the symptoms, the doctor looks for, and treats, the cause of the symptoms.
- The treatment is tailored and customized to address the unique needs of the patient.
You might ask yourself, ‘why wouldn’t a doctor want to be patient-centered, treat the cause, and customize the treatment according to each patient’s situation? Well the answer is that it takes much more time to treat patients this way. The doctor would need to gather many more facts, ask more questions, and understand many aspects of the patient’s life – like peeling the layers of an onion to discover what is really happening. This would require that the doctor researches why is this person feeling like this and how can I treat the cause, not treat the blood tests or the symptoms. And this means the doctor will need to see less patients in an hour!
Parents, Take Charge!
So now that you are aware that doctors on the cutting edge are practicing systemic medicine (and getting some truly remarkable results), what can you do that you may not be doing now?
- Begin by reading everything you can about systemic medicine. I particularly like the work of Dr Mark Hyman, who refers to this approach as functional medicine.
- If you need to see a doctor for a physical, emotional, learning or behavior issue regarding yourself or your child…
1. Find out what the doctor’s orientation is. Is this a doctor that is very traditional and conservative and does not enjoy challenging questions or explore different treatment options? Or is he/she open to looking at the whole patient and researching the causes of the problem rather than just drugging the symptoms?
2. Do your research before you go to visit the doctor. Go with a list of questions and a list of options you have read about and identify the option that has the greatest appeal for you.
3. Remember this is your body and brain, or your child’s body and brain and ultimately you are the one who has the responsibility to offer yourself and your child the very best of what is available for health, wellbeing and learning.
This take time – but then if you want the doctor to take more time then you need to do the same.