Book Report

Book Report: Unconventional Medicine

Unconventional Medicine: Join the Revolution to Reinvent Healthcare, Reverse Chronic Disease, and Create a Practice You Love by Chris Kresser

I took a look through this book to keep tabs on the new frontier of healthcare which I have found rewarding for patients and myself professionally; functional medicine style coaching.

First a starting definition of functional medicine:

Functional Medicine is a comprehensive theoretical framework for medicine that incorporates a modern understanding of the body as a complex adaptive system, an integrated biological ecosystem, an interdependent, web-like network of biological functions.

Two other notes I saved from the first part of the book that serve as good examples of a functional approach:

  • A review in the New England Journal of Medicine (Farrell 2002) cataloged the myriad diseases that can be caused by celiac disease, from anemia to osteoporosis, from autoimmune diseases to thyroid dysfunction, from schizophrenia to psoriasis. Because each of these conditions may be triggered by multiple factors, not just eating gluten, consideration of him as a unique individual was critical.
  • Clinical medicine can shift to applied systems medicine—personalized, predictive, preventative, and participatory (Snyderman and Langheier 2006). Most chronic disease is preventable, and much of it is reversible, if a comprehensive, individualized approach addressing genetics, diet, nutrition, environmental exposures, stress, exercise, and psycho-spiritual needs is implemented through integrated clinical teams based on emerging research (ACPM 2009).

A good statistic provided ample reasoning as to why one might want to consider a broader approach with 1 in 2 Americans having a chronic disease with 1 in 4 having multiple. WOW!

The book then takes a look at some health care system challenges.

  • Misaligned Incentives: the insurance companies goal is to make money (as any business), but that is achieved by reducing costs.  Partly because of this, there isn’t any incentive by providers in many cases to bill less.
  • Big Pharma Influence: huge advertising budgets to get as many people on a drug as possible
  • Bias in medical research: many of the companies above, and others are involved in the research that gets presented. Often this research is presented in ways that masks this, and there are other times when studies may go against the goal that never see the public light of day. See a previous Book Report titled The Laws of Medicine on the bias angle.
  • “Broken payment models. Because we rely on insurance companies to pay for care, the treatments offered are not necessarily the most effective or those supported by the most current evidence—they’re simply the treatments that insurance companies have agreed to reimburse. This is not evidence-based medicine, it’s reimbursement-based medicine.”

Chris identifies reasons the current U.S. healthcare system is “destined to fail”.

#1: Mismatch Between Our Genes and Environment

  • The top foods are basically all processed and sugar-sweetened or fried
  • Our cells need the light/dark rhythm, we tend to have constant exposure to bad light.
  • sedentary activity profile is the norm

#2: The Wrong Medical Paradigm for Chronic Disease Our current medical paradigm is based more on managing disease and suppressing symptoms than it is on preventing and reversing disease, or promoting health.

  • we tend to see diseases be “managed” for many years versus achieving resolution.
  • Symptom suppression can be primary to addressing causal factors.

3: A Healthcare Model That Doesn’t Support Preventing and Reversing Disease

  • “Recent studies, however, have found that 84 percent of the risk of chronic disease is not genetic, but environmental and behavioral (Rappaport 2016). Our genes do play a role in determining which diseases we’re predisposed to developing, but the choices we make about diet, physical activity, sleep, stress management, and other lifestyle factors are far more important determinants of our health.”
  • The average Primary Care Provider visit is just 12 minutes.

As someone who practices is the conventional healthcare model, there are many valid points. That being said, the author, nor I, assert that it should be discarded. To me, this information, and my experience suggests that we branch out to find new ways to analyze contributing factors and educate clients on a more individualized basis. This type of service offering, and the resultant relationships, I have been able to participate in have been immensely rewarding and beneficial. Please reachout if you have interest in a more functionial approach to health optimization.

This Book Report collection is meant to provide some of the best take-home points from the health and science genre I read. I will continue to go thru my notes of the 160+ and counting (as of January 2019) Kindle books I have on file. To view ALL the notes I saved on this one AND many others without a Book Report post yet, THAT IS ALSO SEARCHABLE, please click here.


Leave a Reply