Part II: The Facade of Functional and Alternative Medicine


Paul A. Goldberg MPH, DC, DACBN, DCBCN
The Goldberg Clinic: Chronic Disease Reversal

To view Part I of this article:

Laboratory Testing and Functional Medicine

I am well acquainted with Functional Medicine and have lectured to Functional Medicine Practitioners on topics involving autoimmune, gastrointestinal disorders and Clinical Nutrition. I was involved in the development of Functional Laboratory Testing and Educational tools starting over thirty years ago as a consultant to two major laboratories. If a practitioner understands laboratory procedures and their application they can play a helpful role in uncovering causes and monitoring progress. Functional Medicine on the other hand, while employing many of the same laboratory tests we have long employed, uses them to implement treatments with drugs and supplements making their application little different from standard medical practice. Functional Medicine as it turns out is in reality a minor variant of medical practice.

The Allure of Functional Medicine

The patient who has suffered under Medical Practice and seeks a saving grace can easily be attracted to Functional Medicine. They fail to understand, however, that they are going from Dweedle Dee to Dweedle Dum with the same template being used.

As a young man with Rheumatoid Disease in my 20’s I learned that Alternative Medicine in its varied forms such as “Functional Medicine” is not fundamentally different from standard medical practice. Throwing supplements and additional drugs into the mix does not change its faulty and hazardous nature. Functional Medicine is in essence a marketing device used to attract patients, disillusioned with Conventional Medicine, yet wishing to remain in a medical comfort zone.

There are today a plethora of Alternative Medicines in addition to “Functional Medicine” including:

Alternative Medicine in its varied forms is not fundamentally different from standard medical practice. In the video above, Dr. Tener discusses the difference between Conventional/Alternative Medicine and the Goldberg Clinic Approach.

  • Anti-Aging Medicine

  • Holistic Medicine

  • Functional Medicine

  • Naturopathic Medicine

  • Complementary Medicine

  • Integrative Medicine

All kinds of medicine presenting themselves as alternatives under the guise that they represent a better approach with their particular variety of medicine.

Functional Medicine promotes itself as an improved or “complimentary” form of medicine. The jump from Conventional Medicine to Functional Medicine is a small jump allowing the patient to continue medical treatments, just different or additional ones. Beyond the hoopla and glitter Functional and Alternative Medicine are a facade based on the same faulty premise i.e. the naming of symptoms followed by “treatments” to address those symptoms. Call the plethora of alternative/functional medicine approaches by any name but a rose is still a rose, treatments are still treatments and the treatment of chronic disease vs. addressing disease causation are polar opposites. Causes of ill health need to be identified and addressed directly. Medical and Alternative Medical Treatments fail to accomplish this.

Use Our Medicine Rather Than Their Medicine!

Conventional Medicine initially viewed Alternative/Functional Medicine as a threat but has now chosen to assimilate it. Medical Giants such as The Cleveland and Mayo Clinics have opened departments of “Functional Medicine” leading a gullible public to believe they are in a place to get the best of both worlds when in fact they remain in the same world with some added glitter.

Confusion is debilitating. I bear this in mind everyday working with patients bewildered by the avalanche of what they read on the Internet along with misinformation from Alternative Practitioners.

Patients are informed they have yeast overgrowth, the MTHFR Gene, Gluten intolerance, and other canned answers. “Diagnoses” are followed by prescribing herbs, supplements animal glandulars, parasite cleansers, detoxifiers, etc., Treatments and more treatments. Confusion and frustration generally follow.

Confusion is debilitating. I bear this in mind everyday working with patients bewildered by the avalanche of what they read on the Internet along with misinformation from Alternative Practitioners.  Most patients I’ve worked with over the past four decades have taken a myriad of approaches prior to coming to us. Their “alternative/functional medical” list of treatments often exceeds the long list of drugs they are taking and that can be a very long list.

The More The Merrier

The current trend is to employ both pharmaceuticals and “Functional Medicine” treatments. The thinking is that the more approaches one takes i.e. a plethora of drugs accompanied by mountains of herbs, diets, probiotics, vitamins, chelation therapies, “bio-identical” hormones, anti-depressants, etc., the better the chance for recovery. The reality is to the contrary as these piles of pills and therapies more often burden then assist the body to recover.

In plying the chronically ill patient with “alternative” treatments in addition to prescription drugs, the patient is driven farther away from health. The result of the “natural treatments” physicians dispense to warrant the  “functional, alternative” titles” is that health issues are compounded. The correction of causal factors must be specific to the patient and not merely entail throwing a myriad of additional treatments at an already overburdened body.

Functional Medicine’s slippery slope has two inherent hazards:

  1. A medical physician is trained to treat disease with drugs. This is embedded into every physician’s psyche and it is highly improbable for this treatment model to be drilled out. Likewise patients are indoctrinated in being medicated. It is therefore easy to add yet more medications under the guise of “alternative medicines” to the pharmaceuticals already prescribed.

    Hippocrates the “Father of Medicine” did not advocate medicine (let alone drugs) for the “treatment of disease.” The notion of giving potions for symptoms came later with the School of Asclepius, a competitive camp from which Conventional (Allopathic) Medicine evolved. Functional Medicine bears little resemblance to the Hippocratic School. Functional Medicine is driven by a symptom/treatment orientation regardless of how “holistic” the practitioner might profess to be as a result of a seminar sponsored by a supplement company. New tests and treatments are added to their pharmaceutical armory but the approach and results remain the same.

  2. To maintain Medical Licensure requires practicing Conventional Medicine. To not follow medical protocol is to risk malpractice. The practitioner can add “alternative therapies”, “supplements”, “bio-identical hormones” etc., to their antibiotics, steroids, hormones, Synthroid, immunosuppressant’s and anti-depressants, but remains held to medical standards. The physician that prescribed pharmaceuticals preciously still gives those pharmaceuticals as a “ Functional Medicine” practitioner but with yet more pills. The physician attends a weekend seminar on Bio-identical Hormones and on Monday advertises he or she is a “Functional Medicine” Practitioner with the hope of gaining a competitive edge. Giving a probiotic along with an antibiotic or St. Johns Wort with Prozac does nothing for the patient till at last, as the disease becomes further ingrained and the patient fails to get well, he says… “I tried everything”.

 The difference between nature, hygiene and treatments is blurred in the public’s eyes. Physicians such as Television Personality “Dr. Oz” make careers of touting a plethora of “natural” potions and pills continuing to promote a non-productive treatment mentality.

What the chronically ill person needs is not “alternative medicine” but an alternative to medicine.

Functional Medicine and other forms of Alternative Medicine might prevent some from closing the door on hope but it also prevents them from returning to good health and taking control of their health destiny. Alternative/Functional Medicine approaches take us down the same path of naming diseases and treating symptoms… a path going in the wrong direction.

Paul A. Goldberg MPH, DC, DACBN, DCBCN

The Goldberg Clinic For Chronic Disease Reversal

Causes Identified…Causes Addressed…Health Restored

Reversing Rheumatoid Arthritis: Another Success Story!

Tom traveled to the Goldberg Clinic from Illinois having been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis by a Medical Rheumatologist. He received numerous medical treatments including Prednisone, Plaquenil, Methotrexate and Sulphasalazine while predictably his condition continued to worsen. He experienced multiple side effects from the drugs he was prescribed (see article “Problems with Prednisone).

Tom endured numerous ups and downs in the course of recovering his health including periods of significant drug withdrawal (prednisone in particular). He exhibited patience and persistence in the two year period he worked with us at the Goldberg Clinic. Tom possessed what we refer to as “The Will to Get Well” which contributed to his success.

Tom reports 75- 80% improvement in his condition. He is now drug free. His HsCRP (an important inflammatory marker) normalized after having been significantly elevated initially (see before/after lab below). Tom’s recovery was accomplished without the use of “treatments”, drugs, potions or therapies but rather through the implementation of a highly individualized, monitored, Bio-Hygienic/Nutritional Program.

Before and After HsCRP: A marker of systemic inflammation commonly used to measure disease activity in patients with Rheumatoid Disorders and other inflammatory, autoimmune conditions. Tom’s HsCRP (high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein) was significantly elevated at 11.4 initially. Normal is less than 3.0. Nearly one year later, his HsCRP is very low (excellent) at 0.3 (without drugs) indicating, along with the absence of symptoms and improved energy and vitality, the successful reversal of Tom’s condition.

Tom Shadid After.jpg

Reversing Hypothyroid

Hypothyroid | October 2018

Caitlin was diagnosed by her Endocrinologist with Hypothyroidism based on blood work that showed a very high TSH level and a low T4 level (see lab work below). The Endocrinologist prescribed Synthroid (Thyroid Hormone Replacement) but Caitlin declined to take it (see Dr. Goldberg's article regarding the dangers of Synthroid and other thyroid replacements). She instead sought assistance at our clinic to seek out and address the causes of her problems as opposed to taking drugs.

After four months of care at the Goldberg Clinic, Caitlin’s Thyroid Lab work is normal (see below). She is drug free. Her energy has significantly improved. She lost twelve pounds. She reports feeling great.

Before and After Thyroid Blood Work

Thyroid Panel Before.jpg
Thyroid Panel After.jpg

Nutrition from a Bio-Hygienic Perspective

Man is not what he eats. Health largely represents how efficiently you are able to transform what you eat into body tissues.

Most people relate the term nutrition only to the food we consume or what is called the diet. The process of nutrition, however, is much more encompassing. Nutrition involves all the steps involved in transforming food materials into living tissues.

Nutrition is the process by which living organisms develop, grow, repair, and maintain themselves, by which wounds and broken, bones are healed and by which reproduction is accomplished. Nutrition involves all the steps in the process of transforming food into cell substance and maintaining it. It is a process that involves every part of the body including the gastrointestinal tract, the nervous system, the endocrine system, the immune system, the cardiovascular system, etc. and needs to be appreciated in all the health sciences yet is widely misunderstood or ignored.

Nutrition is NOT just about diet!

Virtually all patients have nutrition related issues. Not all patients, however, have diet problems. Many have issues with the way what they eat is is processed by the body and transformed (or not transformed) into human flesh. Poor digestion, absorption, assimilation, excretion and elimination can bring about a wide variety of health issues. It is not just about diet! To understand this better please look at the following:

Steps in the Nutrition Process

Nutrition is the sum of all the processes involved in transforming food, air and water into living, animated tissues. This involves the following transformational steps:

1)         Consuming nutrients (diet).

2)         Breaking down food into water and fat-soluble molecules (digestion).

3)         Delivering nutrients into the blood and lymphatic systems (absorption).

4)         Efficiently carrying the nutrients from the blood and lymph into individual cells (assimilation).

5)         Eliminating cellular wastes from the cells (excretion).

6)         Eliminating wastes efficiently from the body (elimination).

Man is not what he eats. Your health largely represents how efficiently you are able to transform what you eat into body tissues. This is dependent not only on your diet but on many aspects of your life including:

•    Stress levels in your life

•    Hydration status

•    Sleep and rest habits

•    Overall vitality and physical vigor

•    Sun Exposure

•    Drug Usage

•    Toxic exposures and residues in your body

•    Your social relationships

•    The health of your gastrointestinal tract, your immune system and your endocrine system.

•    The microbial flora of your gastrointestinal tract

•    The inter-relationships of the above factors

Improving your nutritional status and restoring your health will involve working with your entire body…not just your diet. Following dietary instructions is important but it is only one step in helping you obtain better health.