Next Gen Sequencing, Pharmacogenomics, the Microbiome, and Integrative Medicine are leading us quickly into the next generation of personalized medicine where you will be treated individually based upon your specific genetic profile. No more guessing; no more accidental dosages; no more unnecessary tests; the next generation of medical treatment is here, and it’s up to you to find the precise doctors and health systems to treat you appropriately. Oh, yes, and Integrative Medicine gives you the tools to become the master of your own destiny by influencing your Epigenetics. (Those genetic modifications which are influenced by personal health related decisions that do not change the DNA.)
Did you know that the Amish carry the “genetic indicators for obesity,” but they sure aren’t fat? How can that be? Well, if you walked an average of 20,000 steps per day, you would potentially alter your epigenetic profile as well. Dr. Dean Ornish started working on this idea back in the late seventies with a revolutionary approach to health. In fact, it was so revolutionary that the FDA literally questioned every aspect of his concept on many levels. His aggressive, controversial approach to healthcare was a combination of diet, exercise, stress management and group support. Can you imagine anything so contentious?
The truly amazing lesson learned from his work initially was that cardiac victims were able to regain their health and take control of those multiple morbidities that were leading them toward a premature grave. As an early adaptor of the Ornish Program, we saw amazing transformational outcomes with our participants that were here-to-fore unexplainable. Angina pain virtually disappeared a few weeks after starting the program. Leg cramps went away. The average person lost over 20 pounds but was a virtual eating machine, and people suffering from things like impotence, inflammatory disease, i.e., auto-immune diseases and general depression oftentimes experienced remission on some level. Truthfully, the most fascinating outcome from this program was that those individuals who entered it saw a significantly improved psychological profile that remained positive long after completion of the actual hands on portion of the work. They literally got their lives back.
By focusing on specific genetic panels, next generation genetic sequencing will help individuals pinpoint not only current, but also future problems nestled away in their DNA, and, like the Amish, through Integrative Medicine practices where we are literally treating the root causes of many of these afflictions, physicians and healthcare providers will not only be able to help you control these risk factors, in some cases, they could literally help to ameliorate the risks indicated in your genetic map.
Now, imagine having 300 of your genes tested to determine what medicines you can metabolize, and as a result of that test never getting the wrong medicine prescribed to you again. It’s a onetime test with a life time of results. If a certain number of human beings are destined to have a negative reaction to specific medicines, those medicines won’t be prescribed because the Pharmacogenomic tests will counter indicate its use. The entire concept of trial and error medicine or “only one in one hundred thousand” risk factor exposures will eventually be virtually eliminated through Pharmacogenomics. Have you heard the radio spots for Vanderbilt University Medical Center that claim protection from incorrect heart medications, or The Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s advertisements for genetic testing?
Finally, what about the microbiome? We can finally analyze the millions of living organisms in our body’s’ digestive systems to determine their benefit or potential negative impact. Only 1% of these organisms are harmful to us, but the other several million are literally believed to be contributing to everything from leaky gut syndrome to curing C-dif colitis.
So, let’s review: Integrative medicine, NextGen sequencing, Pharmacogenomics, the Microbiome and YOU? Personalized medicine is knocking on our door on multiple levels. Now it’s up to us to find the right practitioners, the well-schooled, open minded, and progressive medical centers that can combine these various approaches to keep us healthy.