In this podcast, I am discussing 6 diseases that we settle for poor heath; we treat but fail to ask more questions. Why is this important? Because we can get to the root cause, and possibly heal the disease if we go deeper.
Let's discuss where we settle:
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Hello, art of Healing podcast listeners. Thank you so much for joining me for today's episode. I wanted to discuss, uh, well, I, I picked six diagnosis that are common, common in internal medicine, common in primary care, uh, affect many of us. And the question I wanted to pose for each one of these is, why do we settle for this diagnosis and what questions should we be asking? So the reason why I wanted to pick sort of these top, top six diagnosis that, uh, uh, we settle is that they're common. Um, most of the time we diagnose it, we go straight to the treatment. We, we need a treat of course, but then on the doctor's side, on the patient's side, on society's side, we stop and we don't try to go any deeper. And it's a, it's a loss because if we don't go any deeper, we're missing, we're missing an opportunity to heal this diagnosis. So let's talk about these six that I picked out. These are not the only ones, just the ones that came to the top of my head and talk about why we settle and what questions we should be asking about this. Hypertension, uh, some sometimes called essential hypertension, primary hypertension, you may see on your doctor's notes. Um, some description of that, which we call high blood pressure is worldwide common, affecting a substantial number of people. Big part of the population have blood pressures that are higher than they should be. So the numbers that we know keep our heart and our brain and our kidneys safe is one 20 over 70. So that's a systolic of one 20, a diastolic of 70. So that's roughly the number that we know keeps the body healthy. So, um, you know, it's diagnosed to the doctor's office most of the time, or if you happen to check your blood pressure somewhere else, and those numbers are higher. Now, as far as what number is needed to treat, um, you know, depends on medical history, family history, other risk factors. Um, for some individuals they may not have to go straight to medications. Um, they might be able to manage it without, if it's a stage one. And then for some individuals, several medications may be deeded to prevent damage to the organs. That might be stage three, uh, blood pressures where the systolic is maybe over like one 90 or 200. So once the diagnosis of high blood pressure is made, um, and for the majority of patients, they'll initiate some kind of treatment problem medication, and then we stop. And why so why do we settle for just being told you have high blood pressure and you need pills and we just stop right there. So the questions that I ask my patients once we have treatment we've addressed and we're preventing organ damage, um, is, um, you know, your blood pressure is high. How are you sleeping? Are you sleeping well? What's your diet like? Do you have awareness of, you know, maybe what you had, have you ever noticed if what you eat has affected your blood pressure? Um, I had a patient come in recently. Um, she had a morning appointment and her blood pressure was elevated. It was 150 over 70, somewhere in that, that range. She's relatively young, she's in her thirties. And, um, she had never had a high blood pressure, uh, high reading before in my office. So I asked her, you know, what was going on and she said, oh, my blood pressure is high because of what I ate. I said, what was it that you ate? And she shared me, there was a, a breakfast from a fast food restaurant. She said, I know when I eat those things that my, my pulse goes up. So I figured my blood pressure goes up, but it goes away. So, um, it's a good question to ask. Are you noticing certain foods that you eat seem to sort of row up your system and make you feel like breathless or make your heart race? And then I also like to ask my patients who are being treated for high blood pressure, do you sense that you have a lot of stress in your life or do you sense that it's there and you aren't able to manage it or control it? And even once we've diagnosed high blood pressure, it's a big question. Is this the primary, the type that we say primary hypertension, meaning, um, when I tell my patients, it's our way of saying, we don't know why your blood pressure is high, it's just high, we're gonna treat it. So is it that which, um, quite frankly, um, I don't think that's a good way to describe it because that blood pressure really is a problem with the autonomic nervous system. It's a problem of the central nervous system. It's a problem of the kidneys, of the glands in the body. It's just that at the time we diagnose it, we don't have any one target to pinpoint. It's the whole thing together has come together, the drive of the blood pressure. But, um, is there something giving you, is there something raising your blood pressure such as your sleep is disrupted cuz your breathing is, is really bad at night. Um, is it something in your body that when you lay down to go to sleep, your breathing is restricted from something? Either way the chest moves or the way that your neck is made? So should you have a sleep study or, um, does it turn out that although you might have felt that you were thriving and you are very successful in maybe multiple places in your life, um, are, are you maybe really stressed and just had and acknowledged it? And um, is it showing up here silently rather than somewhere else? So, um, when we're dealing with high blood pressure, my my response is, let's treat it, but let's not just settle. Can we find out a little bit more? Do we have to leave you with high blood pressure or can we fix it? Diabetes, the various types also affects a substantial number of all the humans on the planet and unfortunately is increasing in frequency in all age groups, all types of diabetes, whether it be the autoimmune type of type one diabetes or the metabolic derangement type of type two diabetes. Um, if you're wanting to learn more about diabetes, I have a, uh, fantastic episode with an endocrinologist and a diabetic specialist that goes back just a few months ago. Dr. Kilpatrick, um, she gave a really great description of diabetes. We learned from her that it's occurring more than ever. So when someone is initially diagnosed with diabetes, um, it's, it's actually traumatizing. There's a part of that initial diagnosis that really just for some reason no one discusses it. But for a lot of people it's an extremely emotional time and it's heartbreaking because they have, have not really felt that their lifestyle is hurting them. And then suddenly this crushing blow comes that they have these high sugars, that these high sugars can hurt their, um, heart hurt their eyes, uh, hurt, all of those things. And then even more difficult that they now have to have a practice of intentionally hurting themselves by sticking their fingers and extracting blood to check blood sugars. And then the hardest of these is that at least at that point in their lives, almost everything that they're doing is making them diabetic. So it's just overwhelming. You don't know where to start. So when someone's diagnosed with diabetes, in the same as with high blood pressure, there's in the medical cell, there's numbers, there's gonna be blood sugar, um, there's going to be sugars in the urine, we're going to look at the cholesterol panel, we'll look at the kidney function, a number of things that we look at with numbers that we wanna make sure they're safe to protect the body, protect the mind. But then at that point, and once we get the blood sugars better, if it's with oral medications or with injectable medications or with insulin, um, then what happens? So I recently had had a, a patient, a gentleman who had been seeing another doctor and he was really frustrated. He felt that his diabetes just wasn't being managed aggressively enough and he could not understand why he was only on two medications and his blood sugars were still so high. Um, and he was really feeling that more needed to happen. And my question to him was, well, um, I had a couple questions. Had you worked with anyone to learn about what your body's nutritional needs are to learn about what your body is telling you by having converted from a normal metabolism to a diabetic metabolism? And he said, no, he had never had that. Um, so it's like working with a diabetic educator. And then I asked him, um, well it's, you know, it sounds like you've been diabetic for a few years, why are you still diabetic? And that completely shocked him, like, whoa. And I said, so you don't want to reverse it. Do you just want to stay diabetic because you don't actually have to stay diabetic? And he was completely shocked. And he's like, well, what do you mean? I'm like, well, I can fill in the blanks. I know that whatever's going on in your life, it's your blood sugars are high, it's a disease process, but also you're fueling it. And like with most diabetics, since we got to dig a little bit deeper, yes, he was fueling it by many of his choices. He had to rely on fast processed food. He didn't think they were a problem. Um, he would check his sugars at home. He knew they were in the 200 s, two 50 s, sometimes 300 s but he just didn't want to really make the connection that he actually could do something about it rather than leaning more on medications. So when we're dealing with diabetes, the questions I ask and I ask people, why, why aren't you still diabetic? Do you wanna stay diabetic or do we wanna address this? And the easiest and the fastest place to go to is, is what you're eating keeping you diabetic? And that's the scariest because for a lot of diabetics, their perception's gonna be that we're gonna take away everything that's in their lives and they won't be able to be around their family and they won't be able to socialize. And usually what I advise my patients, rather than focusing on takeaway, we might actually wanna focus on what's missing. Cuz one thing we can kind of make a guest said is that probably you don't have enough fiber. Probably there's not enough color in your diet, so there's probably not enough plant-based foods. Um, there may not be enough water, there may not be enough water in your food. So it doesn't have to be strictly snatching and taking away, we just need to see what's missing. We might also wanna make sure that you sleep. Um, there's a strong connection between disrupted sleep and long term, uh, sleep deprivation in having high sugars. And even before starting my functional medicine training, I would ask my patients, uh, my diabetic patients about sleep. And there there's a common theme of staying up late, getting up early. Um, you know, how would that lead to diabetes? Cuz your adrenal glands are gonna be pushed to their limit and as they're being pushed, they're producing more stress hormones. The stress hormones have multiple consequences. But one of the, their main consequences is to raise the blood sugars to bring them up to prepare your body for some kind of stress. Speaking of stress, uh, many diabetics learn to cope with their ske stress using food. Food becomes an integral part of their life to manage stress. And it may take the form of just a snack of something to, um, runs of binge eating. I have patients who share with me that they often binge on things they know they shouldn't have. And in particular, when we dig a little bit deeper, we find out that there's deep emotional pain. Deep emotional pain has never been addressed. And it's showing up in my office with diabetes. So for diabetics, you know, how are you stressed? Is your stress being managed with, with food? And how was your mood six months before you were diabetic? This seems like a weird question, but there's studies that show that before being diagnosed with diabetes, many diabetics were already starting to notice. They didn't feel well, but they would've thought it was more of like feeling depressed or stressed or even anxious. And it's actually their body talking to them leading up to when there's finally a metabolic collapse where the pancreas cannot produce the insulin it needs and the sugars start to run high. So for diabetics, why do we settle? Why do we not probe a little bit deeper? And why not probe a little bit deeper, still treat your diabetes, but as you're treating it with the medication, why not see what we can do to help you feel better? And, and in reverse this disease? It was a process to get there. So we just reverse it. To go the other way. Autoimmune diseases are devastating in their scope and their frequency. Um, autoimmune diseases can affect almost any part of the body from appearance to skin and hair to nails to functionality with joints and muscles and organ function. So when I say autoimmune diseases, I'm speaking to the whole range. Although if you're surviving one of these diseases, you might be dealing with just one of those. But autoimmune diseases include, but aren't limited to lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis or Crohn's, which can be called inflammatory bowel disease, Hashimoto thyroiditis, psoriatic arthritis, and uh, eczema, asthma. So, um, by all means, that's not an inclusive list. Um, but just to give you an idea when I'm saying autoimmune in this context, we're speaking to, um, you know, that whole spectrum of diseases. So when I'm working with patients, um, that come in to see me, um, and because they know that I I, you know, I like to ask these questions, I like to have a holistic approach. A lot of my patients within with autoimmune diseases are already beat me to the question they be, they ask me because they're the ones who are having to live with this disease, work with the specialists, take multiple medications and just don't feel good. So the questions asked with those is, when did you last feel really well? I mean when you last felt? Well? And for most people with a diagnosed autoimmune disease, they have to rewind more like a decade or longer. And for some of those individuals they noticed that even in their childhood there was just like a mini version of this full blown disease starting to show up. I also like to ask, are there certain foods that seem to make you feel worse? So, um, individuals suffering from an autoimmune arthritis sometimes make the link that certain foods make their joints more red and swollen. Um, some individuals who deal with food allergies may notice eruption of rashes, um, after they eat certain foods. But it could get even more detailed than that. Some people notice certain foods make them very tired or short of breath or, and again, just asking the questions, it seem like certain foods make your symptoms worse. And then for patients with autoimmune disease, um, how does stress interface with your disease? How is it when you're really stressed? Does it show up with this disease? Is the disease worse right away or do you go through stress and then you notice a month later your fibromyalgia has flared? And my question for most people with autoimmune disease, really all of them is um, and again, because these individuals tend to ask me, cuz when you with individuals autoimmune disease often have to be a very strong self-advocate. But I like to ask them, how often are you a priority in your life? Um, for reasons that I'm trying to explore, because I do love energy medicine, PAX energy medicine, the common theme I notice with most individuals with autoimmune diseases, they're frequently very concerned about the people in their lives. And it's not unusual that they're often more concerned with the people in their lives. And then they sort of come really low on the list. And so my first question for them is, well when are you a priority? Cuz you're, you're here seeing me, you've got issues, so let's talk about them. Often they're worried about a spouse, a sibling, a kid, and so much so that it's pulling them away. And so I like to ask them, why when are you their priority? And many of them really struggle with answering like, when am I the priority Dealing with mood disorders, whether it's fluctuation in the mood that's rapid or prolonged, um, mood disruption that's fitting in with the diagnosis of major depression or anxiety. Um, those are very difficult. It's difficult for patients for all of us to come to terms that that may be how we're feeling. We've been feeling bad and it may be coming something that's much bigger than we can manage in our heads or in our hearts. We have to reach out for help. Um, and then once we are diagnosed, um, and for many patients, you know, after talking to their doctor, discovering they really do have major depression or maybe after few visits I, with my patients, few visits that are being, that are diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, um, coming to terms with that and then posing the question of, you know, do we start medications? And that's an emotional, um, time as well because it's realizing that, oh wait, this is something I can't just manage on my own. I need help. And that's, you need help. Absolutely. But then once we get to that point, then what else For individuals that are being treated for depression, once we've got the medications that are hopefully having some improvement in their neurochemistry, um, and we have hopefully got support with therapy and any other healing modalities we need to add, then the next question is, in your life, is there anything that's taking away your energy? One of the hallmarks of depression can be not, not absolutely it's gonna be decreased energy fatigue, uh, sometimes a crushing fatigue. And I start to ask those individuals, are there things that they feel might be draining them? And many times there are. It could be things such as, you know, excessive work, toxic relationship, um, toxic habits. Um, a lot of people don't realize that certain habits they may have may actually be draining their energy. Um, and you know, that could be a habit of like, oh, uh, excessive shopping or, um, um, binging a TV show that on the surface seem to feel good, but in fact are really taking away from their life force. Um, for those that are, um, dealing with both anxiety and depression, I'll sometimes ask'em, have you noticed that certain foods you eat make you feel worse? Um, so that's a reference to the fact that sugar spikes, if you're eating something that's really high in sugar temporarily, it may help to improve your mood right then, but then what happens one to two hours after that? And for most of us really doesn't feel good or just eating lots of refined carbohydrates, we were depressed or anxious. There's a process inside the body where it becomes very easy to crave carbohydrates. Um, and for some individuals that takes over to the point that they almost feel a need to binge on these carbohydrates. Um, and I'll ask them, you know, once that happens, how is your mood the next several hours to today? And it was usually a correlation with filling a dive in the mood after having consumed these types of foods. So when it comes to depression, anxiety, you know, why do we settle at just stopping the medica or sorry, just starting the medications. Um, can we go further and can we actually reverse those by taking a holistic approach? And finally, problematic disrupted sleep insomnia is just either an irritation or awful or really, really awful where it's could be just a really disrupting force in someone's life. Um, so for individuals that are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep or just simply aren't sleeping, um, you know, many of them are just desperate and they just wanna sleep. So they want a medication just to put them to sleep. Um, and for many people that's actually where they settle is that they have insomnia, the insomnias treated with a medication. Um, but one clue that it's time to go deeper is if you take a medication just with the intention to help you sleep and you're only getting five to six hours of sleep a night. Um, for many of my patients that I first meet that are being treated for insomnia, they'll tell me that, uh, because I'll ask, well, how long have you been taking the sleep medicine? And they'll say for seven or eight years, how much you sleep in about five or six hours a night. So if you take something just to put you to sleep, but you still only sleep a few hours and for the most part, you know, these individuals will still have symptoms of sleep deprivation, brain fog, mood changes, carbohydrate, a sweet craving, um, digestive issues, uh, cardiac issues, all of that. Um, um, they will, um, still be dealing with all of those, still taking the sleep medicine and often feel that it's time to step the dose up on the medication. So I said let's ask a few extra questions like for one, if you're not sleeping well at night, what's happening during the daytime? What is your day look like? Is your day full where every second of the day is taken up? Is there time in your day where you can take a break or is there time in day where you have something you might truly enjoy or look forward to? Um, is your day really long where it starts early in the day? It doesn't until way late in the night? Um, what I've commonly noticed with individuals, with children at school that they have these days, it start well before seven. And then between work for the parents school, for the kids extracurricular activities, their days are ending at eight or 9:00 PM at night. And what they're desiring is to shut everything down, get in a bed and boom, just fall asleep. But if you've been sort of at a high level all day, you're not going to just fall asleep. Your poor brain is still racing at that intense pace and your brain is still processing emotions and events and all of that is still flowing through your brain. And if there hasn't been any space to slow down and take a breath and it's not likely you'll sleep, you might be really tired. And that's a real frustrating pe uh, feeling that I hear is, I am so tired but I'm wired. I can't sleep If your sleep is disrupted. Um, in addition to what does your day look like, how much of it may have been spent online? Um, we're all online, we're online together right now as you're listening to this podcast. But as you're taking in content, is a lot of it the fast rapid paced social media content And in particular, is it an evening? Um, cuz that probably would disrupt your sleep. It's a lot of stimulation. Some of it might be emotionally triggering in a good way or not so good way. But that kind of information in your brain in a very busy world, it's definitely impacting you. And how do you really feel? So for a lot of people that initiate treatment just for insomnia and don't get to go further, um, how are you really feeling? Are you anxious? Sometimes? Is your mood really good? Most days? And for a lot of patients, their initially answer to me is, my mood's great, I'm not anxious, I'm not depressed, I just can't sleep. But the more and more we talk about it, it's, it's not so simple that in fact they have things that are repressed, things that they've wanted to talk about or didn't. Something that happened that just kind of got pushed to the corner of their mind. Um, there's something there, but it may be just that they've learned to compensate and it may even be by staying busy, they don't have to deal with the thing, but now the sleep may be asking them to deal with whatever that is. So much in healthcare, as a practicing physician, I can definitely speak to this, that the environment and the pace in everything that we have to do to take care of our patients forces encourages us as doctors to focus only on getting the treatment done and getting every patient on their way. And then on the patient side, the expectation is the same just to get a pill and be on my way. But boy, we are settling on both sides. We are just settling to not feel well. We're settling for taking pills, we're just really not stretching ourselves. So my challenge, or you know, my answer to this question I guess is why are we settling? Um, we're settling for not getting to the root cause of diseases. Cuz on the surface it's easier and it is the fastest solution in that moment. But with the disruption in healthcare and the fact that for many, many folks like hoping to stay with the same doctor, but you know, systems change, doctors change, patients change, we move. Um, long term you're not really getting to the answer. You're definitely getting the answer right in the moment, but long term you're not getting to the answer. And I like to ask my patients, where will you be five years from our 10 years from now? So if we start on this path of I've got this diagnosis, I'm cheating it this way, but then we don't get you, we don't try to go deeper. Um, what are we saying where you're gonna be at in, in several years? So I would say let's, let's maybe think differently. So in my own life, and because I had been studying curious about functional medicine, reading noted authors such as Mark Hyman, um, and Dr. Bland, um, these are, you know, functional medicine, uh, pioneers. Um, I'm saying that, you know, maybe it's something that we really don't settle, that we start asking those questions. I'm not saying that everything has to happen right away and that you have to change everything in your life right now, but simply asking the question, you know, I've been treating my blood pressure for 20 years, why is my blood pressure high? Just asking that question, maybe trying to answer it, maybe going deeper. So for those that have been considering going deeper, I am opening up my, um, my functional medicine practice to accept patients and I can put some links in the show notes as far as how to connect with me and discuss if that's something that you would like. Um, I can currently accept patients in California and Oklahoma and I'm working on more licenses, so I will definitely let you know. Um, and uh, I am working on developing some, some programs even for those that maybe I can't work directly with that we start to ask those questions and just, just see where it takes us. It doesn't have to be a definite answer, I just think asking the question, why are we settling? Can we do more? And the answer is yes we can. And I say that together, we get started. So thank you so much for joining me for this episode. I hope it was helpful. Your show notes will point you to ways that we can stay connected either online or if you're ready to go a little deeper offline. I will join you next week with another episode. Thank you so much for joining me. Bye-bye.