Happy Fathers’ Day, Dr Jeffrey Bland, PhD! Jeffrey Bland, now in his 70’s, is not yet retired—working on it. Not really my father, not old enough for that, but I and many colleagues (medical doctors and naturopathic doctors and others) honor him as the Father of Functional Medicine. We all should.
Have you noticed the last few years, frequent ads in the TTC and the papers for preventing type II Diabetes by diet? It works. If anyone you know uses that program, they are benefitting from his work, his first crusade, many decades ago. It takes a long time for big establishments to get on board. People used to think diabetes was all hereditary. Early in his career as a chemist and nutritional researcher, the Chinese government invited Jeffery Bland to speak. They praised his research but said they could not apply it because China didn’t have a diabetes problem. Well, that changed. The Chinese diet became more similar to the North American diet, and so did their diabetes numbers. They invited him back. As his reputation and authority became established, he was invited as an expert witness by the US Senate during a brief time when they studied alternative medicine.
Further developments now include new ways to prevent or manage chronic diseases—circulatory problems (blood pressure), many auto-immune conditions (like arthritis), digestive issues (Crohn’s, colitis, and others). You can’t exchange your genes by diet; however, in some cases, diet can turn one gene’s activity on and off or supply a nutritional bypass. (Technically, that’s epigenetics.)
Change is slow. The companies Dr. Bland has worked with have never had budgets like big corporations that push blood pressure pills—budgets for advertizing, lobbying, legal proceedings and sponsored clinical trials. If ads in alternative medicine are a bit over-enthusiastic, they get jumped on fast. Also, sad to say, many health practitioners think their education is finished when they earn their degree. How many of us fully understand that real science means real controversy?
Functional medicine assumes that symptoms are signals, often signals of silent inflammation. They should call attention to functional systems that need support: the digestive system, the immune systems, the nervous system, the hormones, and so on. Soothing the symptom may be like turning off the fire alarm before you put out the flame. Or in FM terms, before you reduce causes of in-FLAM-ma-tion, a core objective of FM therapy.