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Functional Medicine: An Important Piece of the Healing Puzzle. Dr. Robert Gilliland’s Patient Care Approach

Dec 01, 2011 01:16PM ● By Linda Sechrist

Robert Gilliland

For more than 25 years, Robert Gilliland, a doctor of chiropractic medicine in Bonita Springs, never gave up on his search for the answer to healing his autoimmune condition. Gilliland first received his diagnosis of ulcerated colitis as a 20-year-old college basketball player. Realizing that conventional medicine’s solutions either covered up his symptoms or left him to deal with the sideeffects of medications, he opened his mind to new alternatives.

“I tried everything in conventional medicine, including going to school to become a registered nurse. I needed to know about anatomy, physiology and nutrition, so I could understand what was going on in my body and help myself,” says Gilliland. After two years of working in a hospital, it became clear that conventional medicine’s typical answer to a patient’s problems—drugs or surgery—were not acceptable to him.

“When I graduated from the University of West Alabama with my Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science, I looked at options in alternative healthcare and chose chiropractic, for its range of tools; adjustments, physical therapy, nutrition and acupuncture,” recalls the native Mississippian. “I could order CT scans, MRIs, blood work and lab panels. My only limitation with chiropractic was that I couldn’t perform surgery or prescribe drugs. It was a perfect fit for me, because I was trying to avoid using both.”

On the journey to restoring his health, Gilliland discovered functional medicine, an important piece of the healing puzzle that is now the foundation of his practice. Functional medicine represents a dynamic, science-based approach to whole person health care that embraces optimal wellness as the goal. It is based on the awareness that many health problems
are reflections of underlying imbalances in physiology and chemistry.

Identifying and correcting imbalances is Gilliland’s primary method of improving his patients’ health. “This requires consideration of the human body as a finely orchestrated
network of interconnected systems, rather than viewing it as autonomous individual systems,” notes Gilliland. For example, imbalances in the intestine may precipitate the entry of
toxins into the system which, in predisposed individuals, can stimulate arthritis through an immune response in the joints. Chronic stress may imbalance the adrenal glands, resulting in blood sugar swings, fatigue, inflammation and menstrual irregularities.

Gilliland’s patient care approach is to evaluate an individual’s health problems in light of their interactions with his or her environment and lifestyle, as well as genetic predisposition.
It includes a thorough evaluation of the patient’s environment and lifestyle choices. “I focus on helping my patients to achieve optimal wellness, which is why I’m not focused on disease care,” he remarks. Emphasizing that functional medicine is the key to turning off his autoimmune symptoms naturally, he also adds, “You can’t say that you cure an autoimmune disease once it’s activated, but you can switch off many symptoms by implementing lifestyle and dietary changes.”

Gilliland’s quest for postgraduate training included classes and workshops in nutrition, neurology and functional endocrinology. That is when he met Dr. Davis Kharrazian, author of, Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism. Using functional blood chemistry tests that identify six patterns of low thyroid function, Gilliland applies Kharrazian’s clinical approach, considered outside the traditional model, to assess and support patients with thyroid disorders.

“Any health practitioner who stays long enough in conventional medicine eventually realizes that in the majority of instances, they aren’t really healing people; they’re only helping them mask symptoms, which return again and again, unless the source of the problem is identified and treated,” explains Gilliland. “The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. in 37th place among the world’s health systems, which is why we have to open our minds, like I did, to prevention-based measures such as functional medicine to restore balance and help the body heal itself.”

Dr. Robert Gilliland, 27499 Riverview Center Blvd., Bonita Springs 34134. 239-444-3106.

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