Does it need to be allopathic medicine or functional medicine? Does it have to be allopathic medicine vs functional medicine? Can these two often parallel universes work together to help people improve their health? I think so.
We must consider there is a time and place for both allopathic and functional medicine. We have to consider that both work. What “work” means is where things get cloudy.
Whether a treatment, a medication, a surgery, a diet, a supplement “works” is based on the perspective through which you look at a given situation and what the intended outcome is meant to be.
In allopathic thyroid care, the goal is to restore TSH and T4 to lab range. This can be accomplished with T4 therapy. So from the allopathic perspective, the goal is to diagnose hypothyroidism by elevated TSH and low T4, then use T4 medications to restore T4 and TSH. From that perspective the treatment “works”.
If you have high blood pressure and a medication is provided that restores it to normal, the treatment “works”. I you have acid reflux and an antacid reduces the symptoms, the treatment “works”. If you have diabetes and the medications keep your HA1c in the “healthy diabetic” range, it’s considered the treatment “works”. And to be fair, the medication does what it is intended to do, reduce a symptom or maintain a preset lab value.
What gets confusing is that your perception of whether a treatment “works” may be different than that of your doctor. You may consider needing to take a medication for the rest of your life to manage symptoms or disease, a therapy that doesn’t really work because it doesn’t get rid of the problem. It just suppresses signs and symptoms temporarily.
You doctor however may consider the treatment successful because his intended goal is achieved. When it comes to treatment for hypothyroidism, there is a huge disconnect between what the patient’s intended outcome is and the doctors.
Patients actually want to feel and function better. They want to be able to maintain healthy weight, to have healthy hair, energy, bowels that work, and a libido. That is not the goal of allopathic thyroid care. The goal is normal TSH, which often does not equate to patient well-being.