MAYWOOD, N.J. — Even Chiropractor Philip DiPasquale was surprised when 13 people showed up last week for the first meeting of his Maywood Wellness Meetup .
The subject that attracted them is functional medicine .
Functional healthcare practitioners include some medical doctors, osteopathic doctors, chiropractors, and dietitians. They’re all on the same page in that they treat the causes — not the symptoms — of disease.
“In the meetup we are educating the consumer on what choices they have in health care,” said DiPasquale of New Milford.
He uses a functional medical approach in his Maywood practice, Bergen Spine and Wellness .
“People don’t know about alternative treatments that are effective and natural,” he added. “They’re also free of the side effects of pharmaceuticals.”
Up to 10 years ago, DiPasquale, 58, practiced traditional chiropractic medicine.
One day, he went to meet another chiropractor in Morris County and picked up a book on functional medicine in the waiting room.
It changed his life and the way he treated patients with chronic illnesses, such as allergies, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux, Lyme disease, pain, arthritis, and more.
The traditional medical and functional medical way of diagnosing disease is the same – reviewing patient history, blood testing, conducting special studies, he explained.
Then the two approaches part company.
Say a patient has GERD, a condition in which stomach acid goes up into a person’s esophagus. Many times, DiPasquale said, a doctor will suppress symptoms of the condition by prescribing acid-inhibiting drugs.
But functional medicine specialists find out what functional imbalances are occurring in the patient.
“Is it the immune system that’s not working properly?” he asked. “The nervous system? The digestive system? The endocrine system? It could be multiple systems.”
A functional medical practitioner may find the GERD patient’s stomach is not releasing enough hydrochloric acid because the person is in tremendous stress.
“So what do we do? We give them a hydrochloric acid supplement, and their GERD is gone,” DiPasquale said. “Now that the stomach has plenty of acid in it, the food goes down instead of staying in the stomach.”
According to DiPasquale, the U.S. is among the top five countries in the world when it comes to taking pharmaceuticals.
Yet, according to a 2014 report by the Commonwealth Fund, it performs worse than 11 other similar industrialized nations.
“Something’s wrong,” DiPasquale said. “We need pharmaceuticals but not the way we take them.
DiPasquale will devote each gathering of his meetup at the Maywood Inn to a different health issue, including diabetes, fibromyalgia, digestive problems, osteoporosis, hypertension, heart disease, cancers, and more.
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