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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Is Your Doctor Asking the Right Questions?

Nov 02, 2015 09:38PM ● By Kurt Waples

It is no surprise that the medical field has become less efficient and effective when treating chronic diseases. Conventional medicine employs a media campaign focused on prevention which is really seeking early detection. The message is: get screened, tested and probed as often as possible, so when you get cancer it can be treated with the most advanced drugs, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and other very expensive procedures as soon as possible. All of this serves as a fog to cover a serious issue, which is the key question patients should ask their doctor when they have a physical problem: “Are you going to find the cause of my complaint?”

While doctors must be skilled in the science behind their diagnoses, they must apply that knowledge by recommending treatments for the individual cases before them. No two people are alike, so no two treatments should be exactly the same, either. It requires subjectivity, objectivity, scientific knowledge and creativity to be a great doctor. It also demands that doctors ask the right questions and seek to treat underlying issues rather than symptoms.

Are your doctors asking the right questions? Are you asking your doctors the right questions? As consumers of healthcare, it is time to demand that doctors do better. Both patients and doctors have more information at their fingertips than at any other time in history. And yet, when it comes to healthcare, patients often leave common sense at home in accepting everything they’re told while our health care system’s outcomes rank far below other developed nations. Health is our greatest asset – it is time to seek the right answers in order to protect it. Jeff Bland said it best in 1994 in Advancement in Clinical Nutrition: “The questions we ask determine the answers we get.”

Traditional healthcare asks, “What are your symptoms?”, to which it generally responds with a drug to block or reduce them. The result of this approach has been that now we are the most drugged nation in the world. More than 4 billion prescriptions were written in 2011, which translates to 13 prescriptions per year per individual in the United States. Forbes did a study that showed the average American spends more than $6,500 a year on healthcare, yet we are fatter, sicker, more stressed, more toxic and more tired than ever before. Where is all the money going?

A functional medicine doctor asks different questions than the conventional physician. Instead of simply looking to subdue symptoms, he asks, “What is causing these symptoms?” The answers obtained from this line of questioning are very different. Gut issues, GMO and food allergies, nutrient deficiencies, detoxification problems, toxic exposures, heavy metals, stress, high blood sugar, diabetes, and more can be brought to light when a doctor looks for the root cause of a cough or pain. The answer to each question leads to new questions and eventually to a solution. Blocking the symptom is not a solution because it doesn’t change the circumstance that created the symptom in the first place. 

One widely believed falsehood perpetuated by conventional medicine is that specific biomarkers cause disease. For example, we often hear that high cholesterol causes heart disease. That’s simply not true; it may be one of many contributing factors in a specific patient, but it is not the only cause. The real question is, why is the patient’s cholesterol high? The answer most certainly is not that she is statin-deficient. It could, however, be due to stress, a diet too high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, toxic load, genetic makeup, nutrient deficiencies, or some combination of these factors.

Healthcare can be complicated. Don’t be passive and expect screenings or other conventional testing to make you feel better. Seek the right answers by asking questions and finding a doctor who asks the right questions on your behalf. This is where good health starts.

Kurt Waples, DC, is founder and clinical director of Bluestone Health Group, a detoxification-focused natural medicine clinic located in Stamford. Connect with him at BluestoneHealthGroup.com or 203-220-6488.