Functional Medicine, Herbal Medicine, & Nutritional Medicine
Treating the Whole Person
Beyond symptom resolution to healing. Our team works with you every step of the way. Our integrative approach to wellness incorporates numerous pathways to provide the most efficacious therapy to health for the whole person.
Our integrative approach to wellness incorporates numerous pathways to provide the most efficacious therapy to health for the whole person. Holistic medicine includes a wide array of diagnostic and therapeutic modalities which we utilize at Integrative Psychiatry Austin.
- Functional Medicine
- Herbal Medicine
- Nutritional Medicine
- Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Functional medicine looks at the root causes that contribute to illnesses which affect us physically and emotionally. Rather than focusing on symptom resolution, functional medicine is a biology-based approach which pursues the underlying cause for the condition.
Functional medicine is informed by scientific literature. It is also informed by clinical outcomes and what has worked in various conditions. It draws on basic biochemical research to optimize the human body’s functioning.
Functional medicine is health focused, preventive, patient centered, holistic, individualized approach in approach.
For example, if a person presents with anxiety the functional medicine approach would try to find the underlying cause. It might be inflammation. The same inflammation could be manifesting in multiple other problems in the same person. For example heart disease or joint pains. If the inflammation is addressed a person’s cardiac status, joint functioning and anxiety are all addressed. The inflammation might need to be addressed with lifestyle measures and with something like an Omega-3 and vitamin D correction.
Functional medicine believes that each person’s physiology is unique. Instead of looking at the labs as “normal”or “abnormal”; functional medicine views the labs as patterns and trends of how the body is functioning. That is why many times a lab that is “normal” for one person might be causing a problem in another person. It is also necessary to look at how various systems are functioning. Functional medicine labs are a way to look at the functioning of those systems. Treatment planning is individualized based on the patterns of functioning that the labs show.
Insurance does not typically cover functional medicine work ups or treatments. As a result the expense in functional medicine treatment protocols involves the lab investigations, supplements and follow up visits with the physician. Oftentimes this expense can be addressed by talking openly with your treatment team, and the treatment plan is designed with the resources of a person in mind. In the long run however functional medicine can be much more economical by helping prevent illnesses, which is less expensive than the treatment model of conventional medicine.
For example a person who starts engaging in exercise, avoiding disagreeable foods, cooking at home and spending more time in nature might have a resultant improvement in mood, better relationship with family members, better physical health, less obesity, healthier appetite, better energy, lesser chances of diabetes, lesser chances of kidney disease and the list goes on and on. This prevention represents significant healthcare savings on part of the individual and also the healthcare system. However to get to this place, a person might need to optimize their gut health so that they can absorb the foods that they are cooking. A person might have to optimize energy levels so that cooking at home can be done. For figuring out gut health a stool testing might be necessary. To remove offending foods, a food sensitivity test can be helpful. To determine how to increase foods in a diet that is supportive to a person’s health, the general nutritional status of the body needs to be determined. These are just examples but like most primary prevention programs the upfront cost and effort pays off multiple times over in treatment costs.
Functional medicine usually results in better symptom control. It is individualized medicine that interprets the functional state of a person and devises treatment based on the person’s strengths and deficiencies.
Functional medicine treatment can be difficult to follow unless a person is motivated. This approach to wellness can involve a change in diet, activity levels and relationships. The degree of commitment required to make these changes can be difficult and requires discipline and consistency. We help guide and support a person who is making these changes as part of our protocol.
You do not have to be sick or suffering from an illness to benefit from functional medicine. Optimizing one’s system to prevent illnesses is the fundamental goal of functional medicine. For example if we are trying to prevent a relapse of a mood disorder in a person, it is essential to figure out the contributing factors that lead to the ups and downs of the mood. For example those might be related to nutrient deficiency or autoimmunity in nature. So to prevent a relapse we would have to figure out what causes nutrient deficiency in that person. It might be a gut related problem that causes absorption problems then, it would be vital to keep a person’s gut functioning optimally if we want to prevent a mood relapse.
The Core Principles of Functional Medicine
Assimilation (digestion, absorption, microbiome)
Defense and Repair (immune system and inflammation)
Energy (energy regulation and mitochondrial functioning)
Communication (hormones, neurotransmitters, cognition)
Achieve Your Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Healing Goals
Transport (cardiovascular and lymphatic system)
Structural integrity of our system (from the cell to the musculoskeletal system)
Genetic testing can find out answers to multiple questions. Some of them might include:
- How does the body metabolize and detoxify various environmental chemicals around us?
- What is the ability of the body to break down histamine?
- Is there any predisposition to food intolerances?
- What medications might have the best chances for success?
- What medications might cause adverse reactions in a person?
- What is the methylation cycle like?
- What is a person’s ability to metabolize neurotransmitters/
- How are the detoxification and anti-inflammatory mechanisms of the body functioning
In past times herbs were being used with the scientific methods of that time. The science of that time was based on various observations of symptoms that people went through when ill. In China, illnesses were caused because of an imbalance of Qi, the vital life energy. Various herbs and acupuncture were meant to balance Qi in various organs. Similarly, Ayurveda looks at Doshas and how it predisposes people to certain conditions based on their constitutions. Greco-Roman and Western herbalism looks at heat, cold, dampness, or dryness in the body with various illnesses. Each herb was divided into categories based on its properties. And based on the presentation of a person a set of herbs were used to alleviate symptoms. These herbal treatments have been refined over a period of thousands of years. In fact, there is evidence of the use of herbs by humans in the Paleolithic age. That is 60,000 years ago.
A holistic system of medicine consists of an approach that takes any particular system as a part of the whole body. So when a herbal remedy is being made for someone with abdominal pain, it becomes very important to pay attention to the headache and the lack of energy that might present. Once all of the systems or dysfunctions are addressed can a person start to heal. Just taking away the abdominal pain without focusing on the whole person, in the eyes of the herbalist only results in symptom resolution and not true healing.
Dr. Javed is trained in herbal medicine. He has learned how to use herbs from Ayurvedic, Traditional Chinese medicine and western herbal traditions. Because of his background he also looks at the scientific evidence and research on herbs when using them in treatment.
Our acupuncturist is trained and experienced in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She combines the use of these herbs in conjunction with acupuncture and other traditional healing modalities.
Our Nutritionist is experienced with using herbs based on the scientific literature and combines their use with diet and lifestyle.
The most common misconception that people have is that herbal treatments are safe. Herbs used incorrectly can cause side effects and negatively impact a person’s condition. However we have found that the chances of this happening are much lower than treatment with conventional medicines.
Yes. Herbs and medicines interact with each other. Thus they change each other’s effects and also each other’s side effects. It requires caution and experience to use herbs in conjunction with medicines.
The “science” of herbs is different from the scientific method of our century. Herbs carry behind them trial and error of at least tens of thousands of years. Over a period of time an herbal remedy that did not work for a certain condition was not used any more. And herbs that helped a condition were then used repeatedly. In fact it is not only human beings who use herbs. Animals also use herbs to cure themselves. For example, the bear is called the herbalist of the animal kingdom and has been known to use up to 40 different species of herbs to cure various ailments. This is not limited to animals. Birds like the Starling can also use herbs in affecting the health of their chicks. Because of evolution the survival of the fittest was also at play. The people who survived illnesses as a result of herbs propagated cures.
A complete history and assessment is key for herbal assessment. Historically a pulse diagnosis and a tongue diagnosis is used to diagnose imbalances. Herbal systems typically require few lab tests. However when combining them with modern medicine, we check baseline labs to monitor toxicity of the herbs. Labs also check for any patterns of illnesses or nutritional deficiencies that need to be addressed by herbs.
Herbs can be used to augment various medicines. For example, St. John’s Wort can augment treatment of moods. Valerian can be used alone to help with insomnia.
Herbs can be prescribed in pre-made formulas that can be customized for each person’s specific treatment goals.
A completely individualized formula can also be made specifically to support a person’s healing.
Sometimes we also work with a pharmacy which can make the prescribed herbal formula and ship to patients.
An herbal prescription may involve taking a tincture, capsule or tea two to three times a day. Herbs can also be used in suppositories, washes, topical salves or steamers. Sometimes certain food groups are also emphasized and eaten as part of the treatment plan.
Nutritional Medicine is based on the principle that nutrients, including essential micronutrients, are required for the proper functioning of all the biochemical processes on which our bodies depend. We get these nutrients from food. And when severely deficient we can get these nutrients from supplements.
Our body is constantly going through a state of construction and destruction. Scientists call this the processes of anabolism and catabolism. During catabolism, our body gets degraded. Some of the toxic elements are excreted and some of the important nutrients are recycled. During anabolism the recycling of nutrients is done in combination with nutrients and building blocks we get from food. Most of the cells in our body are constantly replacing themselves. In a sense, we are literally not the same person that we were half a year back. How we have changed during those 6 months depends on the food that we have eaten. If we pay attention to what we put in our body we can control how we change. We can use this principle to help optimize our functioning as well as provide us healing from certain conditions.
Yes. Both are related if not the same. Orthomolecular medicine uses varying doses of substances that are found in our body, like amino acids, lipids, vitamins etc. to maintain human health. It uses nutritional supplements as recommendations to maintain health. It believes that disease results from imbalance and deficiencies of substances that can affect the biochemical processes of our body. Our production of hormones, neurotransmitters, energy for example are all affected by these biochemical processes and nutrients.
Just like no two snowflakes are alike and no two fingerprints are alike, no two humans are alike in their metabolism. Even twins. Each one of us are born and then grow amidst a combination of our environment acting on our genes. This interaction determines whether we survive or thrive. Nutrition takes into account not only our genetics and our metabolic needs but also our environment. So the nutritional needs of a person living in a desert will be different from the same person living on a high altitude mountain. Similarly some people will need one kind of food more than the other. One of the most common examples is of the MTHFR gene. People with that gene feel much better with diets rich in B vitamins. They feel amazing keeping greens in their diets. They also benefit from a particular form of folate.
Nutrition is needed to function optimally and sometimes to reverse the disease process. An example is how people can reverse dyslipidemia or pre-diabetes with the help of proper nutrition. Similarly a person under stress will need more Vitamin C to function optimally. Or a college student after a night of drinking might need more Pantothenic acid to do their homework well the next day. By that extension a person who is taking care of a child with special needs will require a diet that is very different from a person that is practicing for a dance competition.
At our clinic we feel that food and nutrition play an intimate role with each other. Nutrition determines various biochemical processes that determine our mental health. Mental health influences our ability and willingness to care for ourselves and use adequate nutrition. For example a person who is worried and hurries to get things done, will have difficulty paying adequate attention to healthy nutrition. Our assessment focuses on assessing both these things. In order for us to affect one, the other needs to be influenced.