How Functional Medicine Uses Genetic Data
How Functional Medicine Uses Genetic Data
Functional medicine employs all available tools to help you heal quickly and naturally. In addition to diagnostic testing, nutrition, pharmaceutical-grade supplementation, and manual treatments - another tool is your genetic data.
Especially for chronic conditions or 'mystery' symptoms - genetic data can provide a window into the inner workings of your body and illuminate pathways that may be blocked and are preventing you from healing.
While genetic data is routinely used by online software programs to generate 'disease risk.' Most of the time, these risk assessments are of limited use. The science behind those risk assessments, however, is very important.
Beyond 'Disease Risk'
How 'at risk' you are for certain diseases is based upon what your compromised genetic variants did in the first place. Adjusting your behavior and environment based on your genetics can help you heal quicker and may reduce symptoms.
A genetic mutation like MTHFR results in a reduction of your body's access to folate - a necessary vitamin for fetal development and detoxification.
Using this knowledge we can supplement your diet with the necessary form of folate (as well as making other changes), thereby reducing your risk of folate-deficiency-related diseases.
The Big Picture
Too often, doctors and patients focus on a few genes while ignoring the rest. Our genes do not operate in a vacuum - not only can they activate or deactivate based on our environment and daily behavior but they constantly interact with each other.
Focusing on one disease-predicting marker, while ignoring others can cause you to miss genes that are even more impactful to your health and longevity.
Gene Variants &
How they can Affect You
Certain variations indicate that your body has a hard time converting folic acid into the active form of folate.
Very Important for:
Anxiety, depression symptoms
Certain variations can affect the brain, hormone system and overall health
May be implicated in:
Increased Breast Cancer Risk
Identifying and modifying your lifestyle can save your brain and heart.
Certain variations increase the risk of:
Frequently Asked Questions
"What information would I get with a genetic appointment with Dr. Lum?"
Expert genetic analysis and interpretation provide vital information for your overall health. Using your genes, we create a personalized health blueprint - mapping specific areas of focus for nutritional and lifestyle interventions.
We combine your genetic interpretation with your health status and medical history to determine the steps forward.
Using this information we determine your diet guidelines and your methylation status. We can also assess your brain health, heart health, neurological health, immune system factors, and much more.
"I'm worried about what I would find out from a genetics consultation - If something bad is going to happen, I don't want to know!"
The information that you get from an appointment with Dr. Lum will be very different from what you would get using an online program that gives you a percentage risk for certain diseases.
There are hundreds of factors that go into disease susceptibility - most of which are not genetic in nature.
Keep in mind that genetic testing is not infallible. Particularly with third-party companies that do not use certified medical laboratories, errors can be made.
If your genetic data has indicated that you have a serious condition - a confirmatory test should be done to make sure you have accurate data.
Knowledge is the best antidote to fear. Your genetics do not dictate your health, nor do they determine the future of your wellbeing.
During your appointment, you will learn what pathways your body uses to break down foods, to detoxify the body, your neurotransmitter function, methylation factors, and actionable steps that you can take to optimize your health.
There are genetic conditions, and genes that are known to increase the risk of certain diseases - but there is also a lot of scientifically advanced ways we can reduce your risk of certain diseases through lifestyle interventions.
We will focus on doing all we can to support your body. Genetics merely provides a map of potential problem areas where we can focus attention.
"Is genetic consultation the answer to my chronic ill-health?"
It certainly may hold some important clues as to why some medical and lifestyle interventions work for you when others do not.
It is very important that your genetics be used in conjunction with clinical diagnostics - medical history, family history, physical examination, and targeted diagnostic testing are all necessary to build a treatment plan.
Genetic data combined with functional medicine can provide answers for many patients who have been told that their symptoms are 'idiopathic' or unexplained.
Patients come to me with chronic conditions or symptoms like stomach pain, bouts of dizziness, joint pain, and chronic migraines.
After testing, I often find the source of these symptoms to be conditions like chronic infection, SIBO, food sensitivities, or autoimmunity combined with a genetically reduced ability to methylate or an inability to efficiently break down fats.
Once the source is discovered, symptoms can be mitigated or completely removed using nutritional medicines, dietary intervention and other therapies.
'DIY' Genetics - Online Genetic Software
The utilization of online genetic software to assess risk is very popular and can have some very useful information.
Many times, however, the format is oversimplified to the point that it causes unnecessary fears and can lead individuals can take incorrect supplementation in order to 'fix' their genetic 'problems'.
Often, online genetic software does not make clear that testing data from third-party companies can have errors, and their risk assessments can be based on flimsy, unreproducible studies with very small sample sizes.
A functional medicine doctor can put your genetic data in the context of your overall health. Your current conditions, exposure to toxins, family history, current diet, stress levels, and current medications can conceivably have far more of an effect on your long-term health than individual genetic variants.
Read more about genetic testing in our blog article: Why Getting Your Genetic Data Shouldn't Be Scary
Affordability of Genetic Testing
A genetic interpretation with Dr. Lum can be a great way to gain vital information. Testing for a few genes through your general practitioner or a hospital lab can easily cost $2,000 and up.
Our clinic utilizes services that charge around $150 and can send a kit directly to your home - the only additional cost to you is the appointment itself.
Remember, you should not treat information from online diagnostic software as a medical diagnosis - confirmatory testing is needed to make sure medical decisions are based on accurate information.
A Comprehensive Approach
A functional medicine doctor can ensure that you are using the right tools when approaching your unique medical situation.
For some people, manual treatments that rewire the nervous system and a complete nutritional overhaul will be most effective, for others, it will be a combination of genetic-based interventions with pharmaceutical-grade supplementation along with regular blood testing to make sure we are on track.
My first patient appointment is an hour long. During that time I want to hear all about your family history, medical history, and any symptoms you have. I can review your previous bloodwork and x-rays and will include a manual treatment if you are in any immediate pain.
In between appointments, I am available to email if you have any questions. Please set up a Free 15 Minute Consultation if you want to speak with me about your individual case or call our office to make an appointment.
How To Schedule
I offer functional medicine consultations over the phone (or through the computer) and in-person appointments at my office.
I can even work with your primary care physician to coordinate testing and treatment plans.
You can talk to me directly by scheduling a Free 15 Minute Consultation or you can call or text my office at 913-728-5291.