In conventional medicine, personalized medicine is all the buzz. Although a decade after decoding the human genome has not yet resulted in the panacea leading to game-changing cures that were once thought possible, huge strides are being made in growing the knowledge base of genomics, as well as molecular immunology and biotechnology.
Over 2000 molecular diagnostic and genetic tests are available today with many novel targeted therapies in the pipeline. Emerging technologies and powerful new computational and mathematical tools are swiftly moving medicine from its current reactive mode to a predictive, preventative, personalized and participatory mode. This is called “P4 Medicine”.
Does this sound familiar—predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory? I posit that evidence-based integrative medicine done right IS personalized medicine. The direction of 21st century conventional medicine is targeted therapies based on a patient’s unique genome and sub-type of disease. On a parallel track, running fast along the rails, is an emphasis on prevention through lifestyle, and the ability to modulate genes that may predispose some to certain disease, ala Dean Ornish’s work with heat disease and indolent prostate cancer. Integrative practitioners who shape prevention programs and/or disease management protocols for their patients by employing a whole person biomedical approach—mind, body and spirit—are practitioners of personalized medicine.
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If your practice is performing diagnostics like measuring levels of various dietary nutrients, inflammation load (C-RP, IL6), insulin growth factor (IGF), oxidation (free radicals) and other biochemical terrain factors that inform a tailored set of baseline nutraceuticals, you are practicing personalized medicine. Are you offering nutritionist or dietician consults? What about prescriptive exercise consults to effect metabolism, psychoneuroimmunology interventions to induce relaxation, reduce stress hormones or decrease pain? The point is, if your practice is engaged with any of these types of diagnostics or interventions, you are part of the personalized medicine revolution.
We are all part of 21st century P4 medicine. The parallel tracks of the allopathic personalized medicine and evidence-based integrative medicine communities will intersect, soon enough.
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