While orthodox medicine focuses on chasing symptoms and finding single causes (germ theory) for specific diseases, both functional and orthomolecular medicine focus on managing the cellular terrain to create health. A great example of this is from a lecture delivered by Dr. Otto Warburg in 1966: "There are prime and secondary causes of diseases. For example, the prime cause of the plague is the plague bacillus, but secondary causes of the plague are filth, rats, and the fleas that transfer the plague bacillus from rats to man. By the prime cause of a disease, I mean one that is found in every case of the disease. Cancer, above all other diseases, has countless secondary causes. Almost anything can cause cancer. But, even for cancer, there is only one prime cause. The prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen (oxidation of sugar) in normal body cells by fermentation of sugar.
All normal body cells meet their energy needs by respiration of oxygen, whereas cancer cells meet their energy needs in great part by fermentation. All normal body cells are thus obligate aerobes, whereas all cancer cells are partial anaerobes. From the standpoint of the physics and chemistry of life this difference between normal and cancer cells is so great that one can scarcely picture a greater difference. Oxygen gas, the donor of energy in plants and animals, is dethroned in the cancer cells and replaced by the energy yielding reaction of the lowest living forms, namely the fermentation of sugar. In every case, during the cancer development, the oxygen respiration always falls, fermentation appears, and the highly differentiated cells are transformed into fermenting anaerobes, which have lost all their body functions and retain only the now useless property of growth and replication.
Thus, when respiration disappears, life does not disappear, but the meaning of life disappears, and what remains are growing machines that destroy the body in which they grow. All carcinogens impair respiration directly or indirectly by deranging capillary circulation, a statement that is proven by the fact that no cancer cell exists without exhibiting impaired respiration. Of course, respiration cannot be repaired if it is impaired at the same time by a carcinogen. To prevent cancer it is therefore proposed first to keep the speed of the blood stream so high that the venous blood still contains sufficient oxygen; second, to keep high the concentration of hemoglobin in the blood; third, to add always to the food, even of healthy people, the active groups of the respiratory enzymes; and to increase the doses of these groups, if a precancerous state has already developed. If at the same time exogenous carcinogens are excluded rigorously, then much of the endogenous cancer may be prevented today."
In his attempt to explain how functional medicine approaches its patient, Dr. Sidney Baker, a pioneer in this new wave of medicine, suggests we apply the "tack rules" of medicine. If you are standing on a tack, it will take a lot of aspirin to diminish the pain. The treatment for standing on a tack is to remove the tack from your foot. Furthermore, if you are standing on two tacks, taking one out does not make you 50% better. There are often multiple causes to a health problem and all of them need to be addressed before you will get better. This is completely in conflict with the "single disease-single drug", or magic bullet, model followed by orthodox physicians. Until we have dealt with the web of factors that are responsible for your illness, you will remain sick. We must consider predisposing factors, acute triggers as well as biochemical mediators with their effects on the functions of the body. Only when we offer a comprehensive program that addresses all contributing issues will you be able to finally get well.
The right approach to medical treatment will focus on strengthening your underlying wellness, not shooting magic bullets at the symptoms presenting as an illness. We must focus on creating balance in all systems of the body, because then the healing takes care of illness automatically.
We must do this by managing all 5 of the major Forces of Illness: