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Where are the impressive, tipping point cases? TEDMED 2020 Conference Reflection

It seems like a year ago given all that has transpired since! But just four weeks ago, I was privileged to attend the TEDMED 2020 conference in Boston. Interacting with some of the most open, progressive, and creative minds in the field of healthcare.

This was a diverse collection of public health leaders, clinicians, researchers, influencers, and thought leaders. People who are passionate about changing the way healthcare is viewed and practiced.

While there were some truly innovative ideas shared, I was struck by a surprising and alarming trend. Most of the ideas were about how to make the existing healthcare system more effective. The priorities promoted in this vein are certainly laudable e.g. better care coordination, comprehensive medication tracking, patient advocacy, living environment impact on care, socio-economic care equity. But this approach to innovation is highly constrained by our current framework for and assumptions about what “health care” should mean. What it has to mean. What it’s capable of. Because that’s the only way it can be. Right?

It’s sobering to realize that most healthcare innovation today – even in an erudite forum such as this – is predicated upon assumptions that we in the world of functional medicine Know are simply not true:

  • Disease is inevitable. Everyone eventually gets a chronic disease. Plan on it.
  • “Healthcare” (that is, the practice of credible medicine) should start once signs and symptoms of disease become bad enough and consistent enough to be diagnosable and given a label.
  • Holistic health is great, but once symptoms get bad, we need to stop playing games and get serious, deferring to “real medicine” with its selection of drugs and surgery.
  • The majority of people are unwilling and unable to put in the work or discipline to have healthy lifestyles. Thinking otherwise is rose-colored idealism.
  • True health and vitality are a fleeting luxury.
  • Our single, aligned belief and priority regarding death (despite its inevitability) is to delay it as long as possible irrespective of quality of life.

But these are merely assumptions, not laws of nature. And those steeped in a framework are frequently least qualified to objectively assess its limitations. When we limit what we want – what we pursue – based on our limited belief of what is possible, we seldom achieve greatness. Or solve big problems. But here’s the thing: in the FM community, we Know better! Where are the TED talks on what we Know to be true?

  • Sustainably changing your diet can Reverse (yes, eliminate) Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Resilient endogenous glutathione capability repels diseases.
  • Magnesium deficiency plays an insidious role in several chronic disease cascades.
  • SNP info is valuable but genetic activation is based on Environment and Choices.
  • Loneliness kills more people than smoking and obesity combined.
  • Viruses are a ubiquitous part of nature with which we must Adapt to thrive synergistically.

Medical schools will teach functional medicine science when textbooks explain it as sanctioned truth. These tomes will feature FM when the published research is rife with its affirmation. Peer-reviewed journals will publish more FM validation when more FM-relevant studies are funded. Funding will come when there is ample grass roots proof from published cases that there is something worth exploring. TED talks will come when there are top-notch cases that can withstand scrutiny. And those case examples, that evidence, my friends, Must. Come. From. Us.

The pathway to healthcare transformation is through You. Us. We need more and more practitioners of all walks Doing this work around the world, confidently and competently. Whether it’s via a targeted FM practice or the infiltration of FM principles into allopathic practice or a complementary focus. We need All of these. We need You. Learning, practicing, learning some more, honing, improving progressively – together – to build true grass roots expertise. All we need is a tipping-point-worthy number of objectively impressive case successes. And I believe we typically need about 50 cases to create one that meets this hurdle. We need to be so good that the rest of the world can’t look away. We have to Show Up.

There has never been a greater demand or need for functional medicine know-how than is unfolding right now. In the wake of this fear-soaked pandemic, all the other chronic disease epidemics we have been countering for years will need You and your expertise.

Success is when opportunity meets preparedness. Here at SAFM, we are not canceling anything. We are not stepping back. We are stepping forward, leaning in, more committed to supporting you and your passion, your calling, than ever before.

We need to be so good that the rest of the world can’t look away. We have to Show Up and Do this work, together.

With gratitude and relentless belief in the healthcare future we know is possible –






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