The Truth About Functional Medicine

It’s common to assume good intentions on the part of your healthcare provider. Unfortunately, several research studies are shining light on some very real issues in the functional medical field including:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Unnecessary and Inaccurate Testing
  • Costly Medical Bills

In general, functional medicine is a field that may be in serious trouble. In this article, we’ll explore these issues and introduce you to our model of functional medicine specially designed to protect you from these experiences.

Problem #1: Misdiagnosis

One of the biggest problems we’ve witnessed at Austin Center for Functional Medicine is the prevalence of misdiagnosis, particularly hypothyroid misdiagnosis. Research supports this observation.

  • In a landmark study, 60% of patients diagnosed and taking medication for a thyroid condition had normal lab results after abstaining from medication use for 6-8 weeks. This illustrates these patients did not require thyroid medication [1].
  • In a study conducted over a 9-year period, 52,000 individuals were surveyed regarding the use of levothyroxine (a common thyroid medication). Results showed a 30% increase in levothyroxine use over this time period demonstrating a strong propensity toward overdiagnosis [2]

Our clinic routinely treats patients who seek our help after being incorrectly diagnosed with a thyroid condition.

Problem #2: Doctors Overlook Problems in the Gut

Gut problems are three to ten times more common than hypothyroidism:

Hypothyroid symptoms include fatigue, anxiety, and depression. What often goes overlooked are other conditions that present with similar symptoms, particularly IBS and gut related disorders [3, 4].

  • Hypothyroidism affects 4.6% of the US population [5]. 
  • IBS affects 10-15% of the US population and as many as 40% are affected by digestive disorders [6].

Quality research studies show that symptoms like fatigue, depression, and anxiety are vastly improved through the implementation of gut tailored diets, or by probiotics [7, 8, 9] .

For patients, the combination of misdiagnosis, overdiagnosis, and underdiagnosis can drastically prolong your time to recovery. Many of the patients we see are frustrated and confused after seeing many practitioners and sometimes receiving multiple misdiagnoses.

Problem #3: Unnecessary and Inaccurate Testing

It’s come to light that some functional medical labs are blatantly lying to people. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • In 2016 a neurotransmitter testing lab pled guilty to falsifying lab ranges to encourage the purchase of more supplements [10].
  • A very popular stool test literally used dog poop to establish normative ranges for humans [11]. 

Long before the dog poop scandal became public, our practitioners reviewed the evidence for this stool test. It was evident that the science was flawed from the start. We warned people against the use of this test for years, but sadly many continued to use it. As a result of an FBI investigation, the company went bankrupt.

Beyond deliberately falsifying information, a lot of functional medicine testing is based on weak science or provides information that’s not clinically relevant. Patients always hope that the next test will give them the answers they need to help restore their health. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Problem #4: Costly Medical Bills

Misdiagnosis and inaccurate lab testing can create the perfect storm for costly medical bills. Taking medications and consulting practitioners to treat a condition that doesn’t exist is costly and a waste of time. Not to mention the frustration of continuing to feel unwell.

One patient came to our clinic for a second opinion after the functional medical doctor she was seeing wanted $18,000 for a nine-month care plan. We were able to provide her with the treatment she needed for a fraction of the cost and in three months’ time.

A New Model of Functional Medicine

It’s important to us to prevent these kinds of experiences from happening to you. We’re proud to offer science-based, cost-effective functional medical services. We are championing the functional medicine field in a better direction. 

The model we use at the Austin Center for Functional Medicine has been created with your health and satisfaction in mind.

What’s Important to Us

1.       You feel educated, empowered, and that we’ve worked together as a team.

2.       We make the right diagnosis.

3.       You feel better as soon as possible.

4.       We don’t waste your money.

5.       We don’t make you feel broken, afraid of food, or dependent on supplements.

How We Accomplish This

Our clinical focus is on minimally invasive, permanent, and predominantly natural solutions for gut health, the gut-thyroid connection, and the myriad of symptoms caused by these conditions. We do this by utilizing diet, lifestyle, and natural treatments for optimum well-being.

We can also explore and diagnose mold and mycotoxin sensitivity, mast cell activation, and metal toxicity with our patients.

Research and Science

We’re helping to reform functional medicine through publishing research and science. The doctors at the Austin Center for Functional Medicine have published in peer reviewed medical journals and we continue to do so.

Bottom Line

Misdiagnosis, inaccurate testing, and costly medical bills can be avoided. 

Unfortunately, a healthy amount of skepticism is important when seeking healthcare options. Even though most functional medical providers are well-intentioned, working from outdated information or fad tests and treatments can cause unnecessary suffering.If you’re in need of assistance in improving your health, I hope you will contact our office.

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