Functional medicine, as defined by the Institute for Functional Medicine “Determines how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual.” It is a scientifically based biological approach to uncovering the root cause of illness and not only treating it, but preventing it from recurring.
Often considered a constellation of over 80 different conditions, autoimmune disease (AD) is really just one big disease that can involve any body part. The immune system becomes confused and begins to attract our own body parts.
The most common of these disorders include:
- Chrohn’s Disease
- Diabetes Type 1
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
The NIH Office of Women’s Health has named autoimmunity a major women’s health issue. It’s estimated that 50 million Americans are living with AD at a cost of $86 billion per year. It is a top 10 killer of women from birth to 65 years of age.
Because the incidence of AD is growing each year, we need to find innovative and effective ways of treating this often debilitating condition that robs patients of their health and quality of life.
Our communities need experts in reversing and preventing AD. Here, we’ll look at autoimmunity and the role nurse practitioners have in understanding and treating the root cause of this growing problem.
Autoimmune Disease and Nurse Practitioners
There are over 355,000 nurse practitioners (NPs) practicing in the United States today, with the majority of these specializing in Family Practice. They work collaboratively across disciplines throughout their career as nurses, which perfectly positions them to work within a functional medicine paradigm.
Nurse practitioners work collaboratively with their patients to uncover the underlying cause of their disease and work tirelessly to treat the underlying disease and prevent further disease from happening.
NPs practicing functional medicine will:
- Learn to identify and treat illness at the symptom source
- Provide individualized care based on each patient’s unique needs
- Work collaboratively with their patient’s to improve health
- Provide insight to empower patients to make necessary lifestyle changes
Current Conventional Medicine Treatment of AD
Current conventional treatment options for AD are centered around medications. These medications do not address the root cause of the AD, but suppress the immune system to mask the symptoms caused by the underlying condition.
This creates a vicious cycle in which the patient needs the medication to alleviate the symptoms, but in turn, the medication creates more disease. Additionally, these medications often only lessen one or two of the symptoms patients experience.
Because of these immune-suppressing medications, patients suffering with AD conditions are at higher risk of life-threatening infections and the development of new AD diseases and even cancer.
Using this “band-aid” approach to treating AD causes patients to become sicker and more desperate for help. If the root cause of the AD is not corrected, the person will likely become sicker and risk developing another AD that can become its own chronic disease.
We can do better for our patients suffering from AD by learning about the specific root causes of disease and providing an individualized plan for treating and reversing their autoimmunity.
Become the Expert Your Patient Needs
As far back as the 19th century, medical knowledge doubled every 50 years. By 1980 it doubled every 7 years, and today medical knowledge doubles every 73 days. It’s impossible to expect anyone to be able to keep up with that pace, and advances in autoimmunity are centered around medications.
When you partner with your patient and understand their unique biology and genetics, you empower them to take control of their health and well-being and become less dependent on every new medicine and its unique side effect profile.
As a functional medicine nurse practitioner specializing in AD, you can not only help your patient alleviate their immediate symptoms, but you can then uncover the root causes and ultimately help them feel better and eradicate their autoimmunity.
You can do all of this without relying on the immune-suppressing medications prescribed by many physicians as a bandaid fix for symptoms.
What if you could become the expert on helping your patient understand how to take control of their health to prevent and reverse their autoimmune conditions?
Dr. Bilstrom has written a book titled “The Nurse Practitioners’ Guide to Autoimmune Medicine” which details a science-based revolutionary approach to understanding and treating AD.
He has also created a course called “The Autoimmune Paradigm: An Experts Program” which provides a step-by-step approach for nurse practitioners’ seeking to use a functional medicine paradigm for the treatment of AD.
Both of these tools will serve you and your patients well in your work to create an individualized treatment plan for their AD.
In this course you’ll learn:
- The problem that is Autoimmune Disease
- What causes Autoimmune Disease
- Testing for the causes of Autoimmune Disease and how to interpret those tests
- Autoimmune Disease treatment options
- If and when you need to re-test and how to interpret those new tests
- Maintenance and long-term follow up
If you are ready to learn more about reversing and preventing ALL autoimmunity, please see The Nurse Practitioners’ Guide to Autoimmune Medicine.
If you’re ready to jump in and become the autoimmunity reversal and prevention expert for your community, please see The Autoimmune Paradigm: An Experts Program.
Dr. David Bilstrom is the Director of the International Autoimmune Institute and the Bingham Memorial Center for Functional Medicine – the first medical center in the United States associated with a teaching hospital to treat all types of autoimmune diseases.
https://www.nursingprocess.org/functional-medicine-nurse-practitioner-programs/ – Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner programs
https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/what-is-functional-medicine-nurse-practitioner – Day in the life of a functional medicine nurse practitioner
https://www.nursingprocess.org/functional-medicine-nurse-practitioner-programs/ – general information about functional medicine nurse practitioner programs.
https://www.ifm.org/functional-medicine/ – Institute for Functional Medicine
https://drdavidbilstrom.com/the-journey-begins/ – Dr. Bilstrom’s first blog post
https://www.aanp.org/ – American Association of Nurse Practitioners
https://nationalstemcellfoundation.org/glossary/autoimmune-disease/#:~:text=Term%20%2F%20Autoimmune%20Disease,Crohn’s%20disease%2C%20psoriasis%20and%20scleroderma. – estimated incidence and cost of AD
https://orwh.od.nih.gov/ – NIH Office of Women’s Health