Why am I not getting better?

It’s a question I’m now hearing every day. “I’ve tried everything doc”. I’ve gone to the top doctors in the field for my (Fibro, IBS, Peripheral Neuropathy, Cystitis cough, allergies, weight loss, migraines, dizziness etc.) and I’ve been a perfect patient. What’s the problem? I’m not getting better. The problem- I believe- is the same as what’s causing the development of an only now understood and appreciated chronic patient population (chronic means having a condition for more than six weeks). And what’s causing the inability to get better is the societal and complex issues involved that are clinically unresponsive to “singular” modality type treatments- in other words one size fits all pills (medical or nutritional), surgeries, diets etc. Frequently this single modality type of approach is what the patient has sought out and often timed feels better for a while, only to have whatever the treatment modality is being employed stop working in a 6-12 month period or less.

If I had to draw up a list of what’s causing us to be sick and unresponsive to the singular, dogmatic (it’s all parasites!! It’s all food allergies!! It’s all inflammation!! Etc) approaches it would include a multitude of social and recently discovered and understood modern developments- such as:

  1. Medications- long term or several trials of antibiotic use from child hood forward, as recent development are creating super bugs but more commonly are destroying gut function which affects all bodily systems. 2) Acetaminophen, which we have come to eat like candy due to it being deemed safe in this country. It’s daily use particularly when coupled with alcohol causes liver dysfunction, damage to the stomach, intestines, and cell walls creating the inflammation its supposed to stop. 3) Polypharmacy- people on more than 3 drugs-WOW!! How many of you are experiencing this- New societal development thanks to too many doctors not talking to each other about your meds and pharmaceutical company advertisements making drugs seemingly impossible to live without.
  2. The drastic societal changes of the last 40-50 years have been breathtaking. Societal changes due to family, workplace, changes along with new developments of 24/7 news cycles and such give our brains no time to rest. We are probably the most stressed out society on planet earth and it matters. A small sample of abnormal physiology due to stress is damage to lung and small intestine lining alteration of the immune system and much much more.
  3. Foods- particularly 1) food allergies which are far more prevalent than standard allergy testing indicates thanks in large part to above referenced stress and testing indicated. 2) S.A.D. the standard American diet- think McDonalds and the development of fast and processed foods as well as Burger King. 3) Genetically modified food and 4) Antibiotics in the food supply – mainly in the meal industry.
  4. Infection and inflammation- 1) Infections, too many to list. Viruses in the system. Parasites (you don’t have to travel outside the country to het these. They now come here. H Pylori, chronic bacterial infections (resistant to the above mentioned antibiotics) are all relatively new developments to our “advanced” life “styles”. 2) inflammation- caused by essentially everything listed in this article.
  5. Nutrition – what nutrients are actually making it from your food to your cells? Are your foods, supplements, etc being broken down correctly and being absorbed, or are they going into the toilet due to HCL deficiency? Is it being absorbed properly once broken down? If not, why not? Is it being utilized properly by the cells- stress, gut problems, autoimmune disease, drugs, and too much alkalinity (to be discussed on another day) and more are all causatine factors in this aspect of nutrition status. Reading “Not Getting Better”
  6. Energy function – is your mitochondria -the energy center of your cells – getting what they need to produce energy? Are your thyroid, blood sugar, and adrenals working well? How about the Krebs Acid cycle which needs all those vitamins and minerals you are not absorbing? Or the CoQ10 your statin drugs are destroying how’s that doing. Dysfunctions of any or all of these decrease mitochondria and doctors and nutritionists are building entire practices around this one aspect of biochemical breakdown release. If Mitochondria are not functioning you have reduced energy function and you can’t heal.
  7. Hormones – Too much testosterone in a woman? Too much estrogen in a man? Taking birth control? Treating low testosterone or low estrogen with long term hormone replacement therapy. These are only some of the socially and “scientifically” evolved issues contributing to chronic conditions in this category.
  8. Toxins – Believe it or not is not the biggest category. Pollutions and environmental toxins are factors but are last on the list for a reason. Heavy metal exposure, ground water toxins, mercury, aluminum can be factors if your symptoms are neurological. This problem is more societal than “genetic”. But these cases are the exception, not the rule. In general chronic conditions that “are not getting well”

These are the societal scientific and evolutionary challenges for the patient who can’t get well. The biggest problem is all these potential contributors to poor health need to be assessed in the patient who can’t get well. No two patients are alike and you must treat the patient and not the diagnosis. Each individual has chronic symptoms as a result of some combination of the above factors and more. Dogmatic one causes “one size fits all” protocol solutions won’t work anymore than the nibbling method of “let’s try this now, and if that doesn’t work let’s try that later” method. Not for the patient who just can’t get better.


Dr. Alex Vasquez, DC, ND, DO, FACN September, 2013 International Conference on Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine Portland, OR

Vasquez, A. (2007) “Integrative Rheumatology, Second Edition”

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