• Gavin Guard, Medical Director

The Problem With Medicine

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

We have a major problem nowadays in our country. Some recent statistics are sending off an alarm as to the current state of health of Americans. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have an autoimmune condition like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease. 20% of kids ages 6-11 are obese. 33% will have diabetes and 95% will be overweight in 20 years with current estimations. The diagnosis of depression increases 20% each year and autism rates have doubled since 2011.

Furthermore, we spend a HUGE amount of money of healthcare. Diabetes for example takes an average of $14,000 a year to spend on just one person and collectively we spend $250 billion dollars each on year on diabetes alone. To put this into perspective, it would cost $200 billion to end world hunger. This means that we spend more on a disease of overconsumption than we do on one of malnutrition. This is frightening!

And to be honest, our current healthcare model is not set up to deal with this madness. While I love conventional medicine and am currently being trained in this model, it is not set up to handle the vast amount of chronic disease that plagues our country.

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Most of the time, conventional medicine is not concerned with the underlying cause of disease. Diabetes is a disease of overconsumption, little activity, poor mitochondrial health, as well as more. Conventional medicine has a huge arsenal of drugs that would correct the sugar imbalances that are the hallmark of the disease, but it does not get down to the root of the problem. While sometimes necessary and crucial for health and/or life, drugs are not benign substances. Medications often correct the target imbalance by causing another imbalance in the body. They usually suppress the function of a target system which is concerning when taking into consideration that one system in the body often has multiple functions. Pharmaceuticals are not the answer to our chronic disease epidemic- they are treating the symptoms of the disease not the cause.

I don’t blame docs who practice in this conventional medicine model either. 15-minute appointments are not enough to discover more about the patient’s lifestyle, diet, stressors, and significant influencers of his or her health. In the insurance model, docs are forced to see a ton of patients each day. It often feels like working in a factory line which is maybe why some people complain about docs being jaded or impersonal.

There’s a solution though I believe. The ideals of functional medicine are a true revelation to how medicine should be practiced at a larger scale. Functional medicine aims to look at the root cause and pathology of disease. Let’s take for example if someone had a rock in their shoe. Conventional medicine would give you Advil, put ice on your foot, and tell you to “stop walking”. This is certainly not getting down to the actual problem. Functional medicine on the other hand examines the cause of your pain and gets the rock out of the shoe. Problem solved!

How does functional medicine do this? It’s not integrative medicine, holistic medicine, homeopathic medicine, or naturopathic medicine. These terms carry a lot of baggage with them and do not address the accurate picture of what functional medicine does. Rather, functional medicine is a new paradigm of how to treat the underlying pathology/cause of a disease rather than its symptoms. It does this through careful evaluation of the body’s functions through advanced lab testing, history taking, and physical exam. It uses intricate knowledge of the interconnectedness of different body symptoms to detect how one is affecting the other and vice versa. It utilizes the powerful intervention of nutrition, sleep, stress management, community, movement, nutrients, supplementation, and even pharmaceuticals at times to treat the root cause of the disease. Functional medicine aims to partner with the patient to empower them with the tools to make a profound impact in their own life rather than being handed a drug and a bill.

Work with me and use functional medicine to help you heal

Functional medicine is not “woo woo” or whatever you may say about a model different from the conventional one. It’s science-driven and evidence-based, but not evidence-limited. I’m committed to serve my patients in this functional medicine model because I believe it will make the largest difference in my local home community. I’m excited to work with the men and women that has made my home town such a great place to live and to what it is today. I’m invested into transforming the health of my community so that it can make a larger impact in the world around it. I believe the only way of doing this is through the principles outlined above of functional medicine.

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Gavin Guard, MPAS, PA-C, CISSN


818 Mullis St, Suite #6

Friday Harbor, WA 98250




Medical Disclaimer: Any information on this site is for educational and informational purposes only, and does not substitute for direct medical care, nor can the content be implied to be medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.