I hear a lot of complaining among my physician friends about managed care, reduced control and income, having to market one’s practice, and the surplus of doctors that did not exist twenty years ago. One of the rules of success in life is to “find a need and fill it.”

As far back as I can remember, I have heard about patients with chronic, severe symptoms and on laboratory examination all of the tests come back normal. I have always believed that there is a host of biochemical functions vital to homeostasis that the common laboratory tests do not measure. There is a new generation of laboratory tests that have not been discovered by most doctors. Amazingly, even in the face of a physician surplus, many chronically ill patients have given up on doctors. They get their medical information from health food store clerks, books, word of mouth, and the internet.

A few years ago I became totally disabled. Not getting help from local doctors, I began to search the internet and other sources for answers. I learned very little at first, but as time went on, I began to discover the new world of functional medicine. Information began to accumulate at an exponential rate.

An example is chronic fatigue syndrome. While more and more doctors are accepting it’s existence, there is a lack of understanding of its many etiologies and treatments. Given today’s technology, CFS is not a definitive diagnosis. It merely is a broad category that serves to separate this group of illnesses from others. This lack of specificity creates problems in determining treatment options and in getting disability status approvals.

I believe that if enough doctors added functional medicine to their specialties, or completely changed their specialties to that of functional medicine, that there would no longer be a physician surplus. This is a bold challenge. It requires reeducation and a change of mind set. You can start by learning about a few of the functional tests and integrating them into your practice. This will help you to get a feel for their validity and usefulness.