Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), which include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, affect as many as three million Americans, most of whom are diagnosed before age 35. These chronic, life-long conditions can be treated but not cured, so as a result IBD can significantly affect a patient’s quality of life and may have a high financial load. Up until now, traditional medicine has taken a linear view of treatment options by focusing only on addressing and commonly suppressing symptoms, ignoring the impact of the whole person; their mind, body or lifestyle, causing many patients continuing the struggle.
In contrast, the Functional Medicine approach to IBD is the most healing road to optimal health. It focuses on addressing the root cause of the imbalance that is generating the symptoms. To do this, functional medicine doctors rely on many tools and methods, including but not limited to: food plan and balanced nutrition, lifestyle modifications, acupuncture, homeopathy and mindfulness therapy.
Gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, urgency, and painful cramping—these are just some of the many difficult symptoms that come along with inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract can become debilitating if left untreated, but an integrated functional medical approach can help restore the natural balance to a patient’s digestive system. The digestive system is one of the most important and sensitive biological systems in the body, critical to overall health and well-being. Also, we now know that the immune system is very reactive to the environment, so when we look at Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, there is a genetic component in some but the escalation of these diseases worldwide in the last twenty years is not genetically founded, so something about the environment (such as what we are exposed to or consume) plays a fundamental role.
Functional medicine’s approach is like building a house, starting by building a foundation which is a healthy lifestyle, healthy environment and personalized food plan. We need to return to the roots and start to cultivate a healthy inner environment —a strong microbiome that supports the rest of the body. Treating inflammatory diseases of the bowel can be challenging: genes, food, gut microbes and disrupted immune function – all contribute. Functional medicine is really a paradigm shift, progressing from the medications that suppress symptoms or a reactive immune system to addressing the underlying cause of the problem.
In our functional medicine of Healthy Wealthy & Wise Medical PC along with Dr.Elena Klimenko, we address the underlying causes of IBD disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It’s really all about approaching these diseases by looking at the wholeness of the patients and identifying the root causes, which may vary for each patient.
There is so much we can do for patients with IBD, which can be done in parallel with conventional medicine. Healing takes time, but the functional medicine approach is the most certain road for optimal health. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century.
As an experienced functional medicine expert with an integrated combination of Western medicine and traditional Eastern practice, Dr. Elena Klimeko can assess the numerous factors of you that can affect your immune system—potential environmental toxins, lifestyle, stress, diet, medication, allergies, and sleep habits—to uncover the root cause of your IBD diseases. If you would like to get more information or to schedule a consultation, please call the office at 212-696-4325.