Tag Archives: amino acids

Mark Hyman on functional medicine; plus: diagram your way to health!

In this TEDMED 2010 Talk, Mark Hyman, MD describes functional medicine and how he came to embrace it after his health tanked following a perfect storm of stressors. Among other things, he had mercury poisoning from a year of living in China. (Here’s his TEDMED 2010 Conference bio.)

At about 8:23 he displays a diagram of how his health problems interacted and manifested themselves. Here’s a screenshot:

He starts in the center with what he thinks caused everything, then makes a separate circle for the resulting nutritional deficiencies and for the digestive, immune, hormone, energy/mitochondrial, and detoxification (liver and kidneys, I guess) symptoms that arose. I’m not sure what the dotted lines indicate. Maybe he was just doodling.

Although I once drew a diagram of how I think my various remaining nutritional deficiencies interact, I never thought to put all these elements together. Using Hyman’s model I herewith offer a theoretical breakdown of my multitudinous medical mysteries. I explored these aspects one by one over the past 12+ years, focusing most of my effort on nutritional deficiencies, and I’m still trying to figure it all out — the ones in red are unresolved. Hyman attacked them all at once and got better in a year. La de da.

Where he’s got conditions and symptoms lumped together on his diagram, I’ve tried to separate mine. I also put symptoms in more than one circle where I think they have more than one cause. I added a circle for the central nervous system.

The nutritional deficiencies can overlap with the other circles. For example, a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency will affect your mitochondria’s ability to, uh, mitochondriate, but it’s not the only thing that can affect them***.

As for functional medicine, although I love the idea and got an appointment with a local FM practice about two days after I first heard about it (long before I saw this video), I can’t recommend that group. I did find the director and the nutritional something-or-other with whom I spent several hours to be compassionate, knowledgeable people. We decided finally to start with working on neurotransmitters — that is, supplements of amino acids, their precursors — which had impressive results in just a few days. After a week, though, I developed splitting headaches, complete insomnia, and zombie brain. When I called the office for help, they took two weeks to reply even after repeated calls, and then all they had to suggest was that I might have a damaged liver and that acupuncture might help.

For some of the tests, the nutritional guy was not legally allowed to discuss or analyze them with me, and that fell to an MD who 1) suggested I needed Ritalin when I mentioned the brain fog, and 2) repeated the extremely outdated theory that a type of celiac disease is outgrown in late childhood.

Better luck to you in finding a decent functional medicine practice.

***Speaking of mitochondria, here’s another video from the TED empire, this one a TEDx Talk by Dr. Terry Wahls, who ended her disabling MS symptoms by addressing that end of things.