The UWC Team Shares Why Functional Medicine Matters to Them | A Personal Interview with Dr. Elizabeth Boham
What first drew you into the Functional Medicine World?
I was first introduced to Functional Medicine when I got a job at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass. This was where I met Mark Hyman, Todd Lepine and Kathie Swift. I went to my first Functional Medicine training program and I was hooked. I was so excited to be able to have a map to integrate my nutrition background and my belief in prevention with my medical school training.
What kind of Functional Medicine practices do you currently engage in regularly?
I always focus on the importance of lifestyle when working to optimize my health. I work to get enough sleep and rest, exercise daily, make the correct food choices for me, practice meditation and relaxation and have fun! When I am taking care of myself, my body functions more optimally.
Was there a major event in your life in which Functional Medicine played a huge role?
When I was 30, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Functional Medicine helped me understand what had become out of balance in my body. I realized that I was not handling the stress in my life optimally. I started to meditate and keep a gratitude journal. In addition, through further testing, I realized that genetically I was not a good detoxifier. I needed support in the production of glutathione. I started to take glutathione and sulforaphane (a phytonutrient that can help the body detoxify) and worked to lower my toxic load. In order to do this, I had my silver mercury fillings replaced safely and engaged in a detoxification protocol In addition, I needed to work on my digestive system. I had years of antibiotics as a child for chronic urinary tract infections. As a result, my microbiota, my first line of defense in my immune system, was not optimal. I started to take probiotics and this helped everything from my immune system, helped stop the cycle of chronic UTIs and helped my digestion.
What do you see as the most important distinction between Functional Medicine and Conventional Medicine as it relates to your journey?
Functional Medicine helped me answer that question why. I recognize that we can’t always fully understand why a body is out of balance or not functioning as it should. But if we ask that question, we can personalize our treatment and more often help a patient’s body heal and regain optimal function. Functional Medicine helped my body heal after the treatment that it went through. I was able to rebalance my body and optimize my detoxification system and my digestive system.
What’s your favorite way to use food as medicine?
First I work with everyone to balance their blood sugar. This is important for everything from improving energy to decreasing the risk of diabetes and cancer. I have people focus on having some healthy fat, high amounts of fiber and a good protein source at every meal. My second favorite way that I use food as medicine is focusing on the importance of phytonutrients. These very powerful components in our plant foods have amazing actions in our body. They have been found to lower inflammation, feed our health microbes in our gut and even lower blood pressure and blood sugar. I work with people to get 8-12 servings of phytonutrients in their day. Phytonutrients are found in our vegetables, fruits, spices and teas.