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Sep 17, 2018

Are You On Way Too Many Drugs Or Supplements?

I find that many of my patients have been taking the same drug for ten or more years. After that period of time the drug may not even be working for them. Too often once a doctor puts a patient on a drug, no one ever reviews if they should be still taking the same medication. I often find this with high blood pressure medication. When I check the patient’s blood pressure often it is still high even though they have been on their medication for years. Therefore, it is important to get to the cause of your health problem. The average sixty-year-old is on five to ten different medications per day ( Many of these medications can interact with each other and cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Therefore, one should be reviewing their medications with each doctor visit because many of these medications can be causing side effects. (Note that one-third of US adults may unknowingly use medications that can cause depression or increase the risk of suicide: Polypharmacy on the rise.

Many patients also take a lot of herbs and vitamins that are not needed. I have had patients come in for a visit with shopping bags full of supplements that they have seen on the internet or were recommended by the clerk at the health food store. I do not recommend patients taking herbs and vitamins unless absolutely necessary for their health issues.  Everyone should not be on the same supplement regime. With each visit, I review all medications and supplements that patients should or should not be on. I find that many medications can be causing the person’s current health issue.  I have worked with many patients to get them off whatever medications that are not necessary – in coordination with any other physician a patient sees. Again, just because a doctor prescribed a drug ten years ago does not mean it is working today.

Deborah Wiancek, N.D.

Not All Supplements Are What They Claim to Be

The FDA does not regulate products such as vitamins, minerals, botanicals, and supplements. There is also a tendency to place the natural label on most everything today. Natural really has no formal meaning when applied to a product. There also are a lot of false claims on different products. Since vitamins and supplements are not regulated there is no one checking the active ingredients in these products, so buyer beware. This can be true with almost all products. Therefore, it is wise to question testimonials and different claims on products especially if there is no research behind the product and quality control test results are not available.

There are problems with many fish oil products which can contain mercury, lead and PCB’s. It is important to do your research. Probiotics also can be a concern. Many different manufacturers make these products because they are big sellers. You may read on the label that the product contains 25 billion acidophilus per cap but when tested it can be a lot less. The pharmaceutical industry is now selling probiotics. Many patients, after being on an antibiotic, are prescribed the probiotic called VSL which contains maltose which is corn and probably GMO and costs about $120.  Again, buyer beware. This is prescribed by many doctors because it is produced and marketed by a pharmaceutical company.

Botanical products can also have a problem. Many herbal companies have products that when tested for quality by consumer labs do not contain the ingredients that the label states. I have also found this with compounding pharmacies. We definitely need good quality compounding pharmacies but since small batches are mixed daily mistakes are easily made.

The FDA currently wants to take all supplements off the market and make them a prescription. This will increase their cost and the pharmaceutical companies will have control in making these products that may not be the best quality. We really need to get the manufacturers of these supplements to have better quality stands and second party lab testing.

Deborah Wiancek, N.D.

Lab Testing Is Not Accurate or As Straightforward as You May Think

As a practitioner in the healthcare field for forty years, I understand that being able to accurately diagnose a health issue requires experience in knowing which lab tests to order. It also helps to have good communication skills and a touch of intuition. Working in radiology for fifteen years I learned a great deal from the radiologists who are specifically trained as diagnosticians. Radiologist read your MRIs, CAT scans, x-rays, and ultrasounds. Radiologists taught me that many of the lab tests ordered are unnecessary, and the more labs you do the more issues you find, many of which are not the problem. On the other hand, too often I find that patients submitted to general lab tests that come back with negative results even when they have major health concerns.

One size does not fit all in health care. Unfortunately, many physicians are not well trained in the many different types of lab tests available. Adding to the complexity, many lab tests are not accurate. I have seen inaccurate results with thyroid tests, scans, food allergy testing, Lyme disease testing, celiac testing, hormone tests, etc.  A study done at Mount Saini hospital showed that “testing disparities occurred despite rigorous laboratory certification and proficiency standards designed to ensure consistency," (  Therefore, it is important to use quality labs with good quality control and to correlate the test results with the patient histories. I do not believe that every patient should have the same lab tests. Every individual is unique, so why waste money on unnecessary testing that does not correlate with a health issue. The same disease in different patients can also have different origins.

When looking at lab testing, not only do I look for excellent quality control, but also the best price. I offer the same labs as a medical doctor does but also offer the following lab tests that many doctors frequently do not offer, such as:
  • SIBO testing
  • Adrenal Fatigue cortisol testing
  • Lyme disease
  • Mold testing
  • Celiac DNA testing (You do not have to be eating gluten for this test to be positive.)
  • Food allergy testing that is 97% accurate
  • Urinary hormone & salvia & blood testing (Urinary hormone testing is much more precise than blood or salvia.)
  • Complete thyroid testing = TSH, Free T3, Free T4, and antibodies
  • Methylation testing MTHRF
  • Micronutrient testing includes minerals and vitamins
  • Amino acid testing
  • Heavy metal testing
  • Extensive cardiovascular testing
Unfortunately, many of these labs are not covered by insurance companies. However, since many people have a deductible, the visit and labs can go towards the deductible. You can also put the cost on your Health Saving Account or Flex spending account. If you or a friend have been suffering from health care issues and are not getting answers set up an appointment to get to the cause of your health issue, so you can reach your true health potential and regain your vitality.

Debprah Wiancek, N.D.

What is Functional Medicine and How are Practitioners Trained?

Functional medicine is a systems biology-based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. In theory, each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of many contributing to an individual's illness. Functional medicine has its roots in Naturopathy. Jeffery Bland, the founder of Metagenics was on the board of Bastyr University when he created the functional medicine courses. He wanted to train M.D.s, nutritionist, and other practitioners to be more like naturopathic doctors and treat by getting to the cause of a disease and using natural therapies. Thus, many of the functional medicine courses were developed by naturopathic doctors.

I have practiced functional medicine for the past twenty-one years. Recently more practitioners are claiming that they do functional medicine. Unfortunately, this can mean they took one class or a few weekend classes as anyone can state they are a functional medicine practitioner without even taking a class. Many of the less well-trained functional medicine practitioners do a lot of lab testing (see the article above on labs) and do not take a thorough history to determine the cause of the patient's health problem. This is not how functional medicine works. If one does not take the time to do a comprehensive history and physical exam (up to 1 1/2 hour) you will never get to the cause. Many new functional medicine providers put everyone on the same supplements and order a lot of unnecessary lab tests.

Since the functional medicine label is now so loosely used, be cautious of this term. Ask about the practitioner’s training in detail. If the practitioner is not a doctor, determine if they have the education and training to diagnose disease. It is important to know who you are going to.