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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Physician Finds Solutions in Functional Medicine

Jan 30, 2015 08:54AM

Dr. Zorayda Torres

It wasn’t just family tradition that nudged Zorayda “Jiji” Torres, M.D., owner of Upstream Medical Consultants, PLLC, in Bonita Springs, to enroll in medical school. “Even though my mom is a general practitioner, my dad is a surgeon and my sister is a pediatrician, I didn’t feel pressured into becoming a doctor. Instead, it felt very natural to me because I’d already enjoyed assisting in a number of my dad’s surgeries while I was in high school,” says the native of the Republic of the Philippines.

Torres, a board-certified internist with 17 years of clinical experience, and her husband relocated to Naples from Cleveland, Ohio, in 2001. “My husband trained in cardiovascular anesthesia at the Cleveland Clinic there. We moved when the Cleveland Clinic in Naples hired him,” advises Torres, who finished her bachelor of science in public health and doctor of medicine degrees at her country’s prestigious University of the Philippines. “I completed my residency training in internal medicine at St. Francis Hospital, in Evanston, Illinois,” says the mother of two.

Upon her arrival in Naples, Torres began practicing traditional medicine at the Naples Cleveland Clinic. Between 2008 and 2011, Torres was alarmed by what seemed to be an epidemic of autoimmune diseases, bowel and digestive problems, chronic fatigue and mood disorders. “Many of the drugs given to these patients or procedures performed did not help significantly or carried with them a lot of adverse effects. Their conditions persisted and progressed. Frustrated with the ineffectiveness of my allopathic knowledge and background, I began researching other possibilities to help my patients regain their health,” she recalls.

“This led me to discover functional medicine, something that is still only taught as a mere elective in very few medical schools today. This is unfortunate, because as I learned from reading Eat to Live, by Joel Fuhrman, nutrition, which I was exposed to very little in medical school, is extremely important to our health,” remarks Torres, who became a diplomate of the American Board of Holistic Medicine. Another influential book that shifted her direction as a physician is The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First, by Mark Hyman, M.D.

When Torres discovered as a convert to functional medicine that it was exceedingly difficult to combine with conventional internal medicine in her multi-specialty group practice, she resigned. “The majority of doctors are trained in allopathic medicine, just as I was initially. They are slow to change,” she notes.

“A doctor who gets his or her training from a prestigious medical school and hospital, where they never hear anything about functional medicine, doesn’t expect to learn of other methods from any institution outside the one they highly respect. Basically, this is why medical schools need to expose doctors much earlier to this field and that of integrative medicine,” explains Torres, who is a member of the Institute for Functional Medicine.

Functional medicine is not yet taught in most medical schools and residencies, so many providers are unaware of its existence or what it even means. Torres believes that consumers should begin demanding coverage for functional medicine consultations from their insurance carrier, advising, “This is a life-changing option that is important to have if we want to lessen the burden of chronic disease in this country and worldwide. Functional medicine is highly scientific, makes a lot of sense and actually bridges the gap between research and clinical practice. It finds the root causes of diseases and tackles them. While it is slowly reaching more doctors, The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio just opened a Center for Functional Medicine, the first of its kind in tertiary referral centers. This is definitely a great start.”

For Torres, functional medicine is just the perfect niche. “This is the art and science of healing that addresses care of the whole person—body, mind and spirit—which is in alignment with my personal values.”

Upstream Medical Consultants, PLLC, is located at 27499 Riverview Center Blvd., Ste. 255, Bonita Springs. For more information, call 239-444-5636 or visit UpstreamMD.com.

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