"My love for medicine has been renewed through Functional Medicine," said Dr. Dorothy Sprecher, founder of the Center for Hope & Healing where the focus on care is on "the underlying causes of medical issues".
Dr. Sprecher was an organic chemist prior tc receiving her medical degree in 1987 from the Medical College of Georgia. She then trained in Family Medicine at St. Vincent's Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida before moving to Cleveland about 19 years ago. She worked in the department of family medicine at Case Western Reserve University where she subsequently has taught a medical students' elective course on Functional Medicine and Hormones. A board-certified family practice physician, she maintained a solo practice at an office in Chagrin Falls until 1997 when she opened the Center for Hope & Healing, a direct result of specialty training courses taught by Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., the nutritional biochemist who founded the Institute for Functional Medicine in 1991.
"He was teaching me what 1had gone to medical school to learn," said Dr. Sprecher as we talked in one of the consultation rooms at the Center, located on Kinsman Road in Novelty. "The body is a symphony of systems that are all interconnected." In response to my question of just what is Functional Medicine, she quoted Dr. Bland: "'Functional Medicine is a patient. centered, science based, health care that identifies and addresses underlying biochemical, physiological, environmental and psychological factors to reverse disease progression and enhance vitality.'"
Each of us is an individual, she explained, with our own body chemistry that is unique, affected by many things including but not limited to family genetics, the environments to which we are exposed and in which we live, diet, nutrition, lifestyle choices and how we respond mentally and emotionally to everything.
One of the principles of Functional Medicine, "a science-based field looking at each individual person's physiology in great detail," she said, is to address biochemical individuality from a new perspective. Dr. Sprecher outlined the differences between Functional Medicine and traditional medical approach to disease: "The old paradigm is to search for diagnosis, name the disease, match the drug that could be prescribed for anybody and that genes are fixed. The new paradigm is to search for the cause, support the system to turn off the cause, tailor an individual program and that genes are modifiable. The individual, not the disease, is the target for treatment."
At The Center for Hope & Healing, "we have a thorough standard of care," Dr Sprecher said. "People come here because they sense something's wrong; they've been to doctors who can't find anything wrong with them, their tests are normal. They are ready for a change; they are motivated. We stabilize the patient, and then seek out the cause. We have expanded tools for healing here, including traditional medicine; what sets me apart is the method to figure out which tool to use." The approach is to balance the whole body, an educational process that is empowering for the patient.
Dr. Sprecher has a team of certified and licensed professionals for alternative treatments such acupuncture, reflexology, tai chi and others, all of which, she said, "can be explained through the science of Functional Medicine."
In addition to Functional Medicine lectures on different topics Dr. Sprecher presents mid-month at the Mustard Seed Market & Cafe in Solon, she holds her own monthly programs at The Center for Hope & Healing. Called "Meet the Doc", the informal talks usually last about an hour during which Dr. Sprecher says she explains "Functional Medicine and its potential impact on the treatment of many medical conditions." The evenings are free, but registration is required. Call (440) 338-6344 to reach The Center for Hope & Healing, 8398 Kinsman Road, just west of Route 306 in Novelty.
-Currents, February 17, 2005