Rethinking Illness, Rethinking Medicine

The founding mission of RRH is to support folks in (or even lead them to) a new way of thinking about illness and health, observing that (with a handful of exceptions) prescription drugs and surgery don't really fix anything, only mask more fundamental problems. The "drug it out, cut it out" approach that doctors & nurses learn in medical school works great for infectious disease and emergency room medicine (and we're grateful for that), but where chronic illness is concerned it's not the path to creating and sustaining true health. 

A functional medicine, "root cause" approach might be greeted by some as heretical, but if you strip away a lifetime of "match the pill to the ill" cultural programming, approaching illness and health with questions like 'how' and 'why' suddenly appears like common sense. After all, it's at the very foundational level-- assimilation, elimination, signaling, nutrient sufficiency and detoxification capacity-- that the elements of health and wellness underlie.

Guy Raz and Siddhartha Mukherjee (of "Emperor of All Maladies" renown) put together a 12-minute "soil vs. seed" clip about this a few years back, as part of a series on "Rethinking Medicine" for the TED Radio Hour. While Mukherjee's specific example is about stem cells, the concept of building up from a solid foundation is the same.



#mybody #primumnonnocere #detectivemedicine #goodinbadout #foodfirst



Scientists now believe that as many as one in three people infected with the Sars-Cov-2 will go on to develop long-haul disease, lasting for several months or even longer. In July of this year,  the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services declared long Covid a recognized disability under the ADA.

In a provocative new paper published last month, a group of Hong Kong-based researchers argue that the health of your gut microflora may very well determine your risk of developing serious acute disease as well as long-haul Covid.

Students and aficionados of functional medicine likely suspected this all along.

The study involved only one hundred volunteers, but still the results were striking. Study volunteers with the lowest levels of three species of gut bacteria-- Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Eubacterium rectale, and bifidobacteria-- were 6-8x more likely to experience severe disease and/or chronic Covid symptoms.

While unlikely to be the only three heavy lifters, everyday it becomes clearer that an imbalanced gut microbiota ("dysbiosis") appears to predispose us not only to autoimmune, brain and even skin disorders but to more severe Sars-Cov-2 infection and long Covid."

And tempted as we might be to quickly ask what pill, probiotic or other supplement we can take for this, the best answer is actually much more pedestrian, assuming you're also testing for and pruning back potential pathogens: food!


The by now familiar list is helpfully very short: a fermented food and fifty or more grams of fresh plant fiber daily, preferably from items you are already eating (think seeds, leaves, nuts, tubers, veggies, sea veggies, fruit), although you can cheat a bit with fresh-ground flax, chia and/or hemp.

Fortunately several of our top diagnostic companies-- Genova, Doctors Data and Diagnostic Solutions-- can perform these types of analyses for us. Your run of the mill GP will likely not know of their existence. Many remain unconvinced of the primacy of gut health. It's a long, slow road.

* Dysbiosis, in a nutshell, is when the mix of micro-organisms in your small and large intestines are skewed in favor of the bad guys/gals-- at the expense of the good ones.

Bowl of Grains


Alzheimer's disease is the major dementing disorder of the elderly that affects over 20 million people world-wide. Accumulation of amyloid beta peptide ("A beta") is believed to be an early and critical step in the neuropathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. There is a growing body of evidence for the kynurenine pathway being associated with its pathophysiology.


The kynurenine pathway, a neurotransmitter pathway in the brain by which the amino acid tryptophan is either fed into the production of serotonin or diverted to produce neurotoxic quinolinic acid, is a major route of L-tryptophan catabolism leading to production of a number of biologically active molecules.

The preferential production of the neurotoxin quinolinic acid, considered to be involved in the pathogenesis of a number of inflammatory neurological diseases, and quite possibly one of the critical factors in the pathogenesis of neuronal damage in Alzheimer's disease, appears respond to systemic candida infections, and possibly other instances of gut dysbiosis.

Some early signs of elevated levels of quinolinic acid include depression and fatigue.


Functional medicine diagnostics that measure organic acids in the urine can help to identify these neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain: among them, ZRT Labs, Genova Diagnostics and Great Plains Laboratories. It's never too early to learn these things!

On the Scales
woman 10

I became intrigued when I saw my little brother's behavior issues kind of magically resolve once we discovered he had a yeast overgrowth and a sensitivity to gluten. No ADD drugs for him!

My issues were bloating, anxiety and skin. So I thought I'd give it a try. Fast forward two months. My skin is much, much better. Anxiety gone. I have more energy and even lost ten pounds. Even my periods have changed for the better. There really seems to be something to this "root cause" detective medicine.

Riley J.

Doctor adjusting balance on weighing scale

 “One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine." *

Sir William Osler, MD
Founder, Johns Hopkins Hospital,
Royal Society of Medicine, London
(*not including immunizations)

Health Shake


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