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Going deeper into bodily functions

Medical specialisations have not really helped chronic patients become healthy again. This is where Functional Medicine holds out hope of full recovery

When I was in the US, I heard quite a buzz about Functional Medicine (FM). Eager to find out what it’s all about, back home I sought out the lone practitioner of this system of medicine — Dr Alok Chopra (MD, MRCP) of Aashlok Hospital, Safdarjung Enclave, who has specialised in intensive care. With super confidence, he says FM will “rock the world”. Confidently, he says this will be the end of science, in the sense that science can’t progress beyond this point.

At first glance, it sounds as if this allopathic doctor has become an alternative medicine practitioner, especially when he says that his whole approach is about using universal energy to heal disease.

Nothing of the sort. “I am not a deserter from the ranks of modern medicine. I take what is good in it and leave what is bad.” His journey is as interesting as the system he is developing, still a work in progress because he wants to offer scientific verification for his cures. Initially, he started out understanding energy healing like acupressure and acupuncture and later went on to explore reiki.

A lot has gone wrong in the last century, obviously. Mercury in dental fillings were poisoning our bodies, so was the kind of heavy breakfasts we were advised, based on processed foods like bread and orange juice. “Metal toxicity has not been talked about enough,” he says. “What we eat, what we think, is obviously at the root of ill health.” The whole world is now onto the wrong diet and supplements, making the food and pharmaceutical industries the most profitable in the world, despite the advancements in modern medicine.

“In my own practice, I was distressed to see how many people were suffering from chronic diseases,” he says. Despite super specialisation, conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) seem to follow patients to their deathbeds.

FM does not throw various cures together in an eclectic system. That kind of thing is done in Integrative Medicine, and that works for a lot of patients. FM has got recognition in the US, and goes deeper into the root cause of disease by offering bio-regulatory medicine, which can bring reversal of disease. So whereas patients of thyroidism, diabetes, cholesterol and cancer used to be patients for life, FM will swim upstream looking for the cause of such conditions.

So though, all of us are living in a degraded environment, eating all the wrong foods, breathing in toxic air – which Dr Chopra calls a bad terrain – it is an individual’s exposure that determines the ailments he falls prey to. “We are not watering the plant but improving the composition of the soil,” is how he puts in.

For patients, FM holds out the hope that their disease can be arrested, its progression stopped and recovery start. For patients in Stage 1 or 2 of cancer, it offers reduction in doses of chemotherapy and can alleviate pain and other symptoms for those in the terminal stage. Changes in diet like avoidance of sugar and acidic foods can kill off vulnerable cancer cells.

Not just practitioners of FM, these days all doctors are increasingly talking about the importance of the gut in human health. This is where endo-toxins are formed as the gut allows absorption of toxic material into the blood, which results in problems like allergies and arthritis. “The gut is the conductor of the orchestra and all other organs are players,” is how he puts it.

In a few months, Dr Chopra will put together a team of doctors who will start practising FM in Delhi. Chronic patients will no doubt like to find out if there is an alternative to swallowing pills every day. Remember, you read it here first.

Dr Reshma is an advocate of wellness, prevention and holistic health. Instagram handle: dr.reshmakhattarbhagat