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Joanne Pizzino, MD, MPH

Visit https://www.parsleyhealth. com/consultation for a free consultation to learn more about Functional Medicine and telemedicine services to help you heal chronic disease.

Joanne Pizzino, MD, MPH is board-certified in Preventive Medicine, and Diplomate-certified in Integrative Medicine. Dr. Pizzino is part of the Parsley Health Team. Feel free to refer your friends and family. She is licensed to treat patients in the following states: North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, West Virginia and Wyoming.  Parsley Health doctors are available in most other states. To see videos about Functional Medicine essential functions and healing, type “Whole Health Solutions Cary” into your YouTube search engine

Telemedicine: How to Get Your Doctor to Pay Attention to You, With or Without COVID-19

By Joanne Pizzino, MD, MPH
Medical Editor of Health&Healing

Dr. Pizzino

Since our last issue of Health&Healing, the world seems to have turned on a dime. If you were never concerned about your health before, suddenly you have to be. And, if you had any acute or chronic health issues in the last four months—especially in March and April—it may have been very hard to get attention for them if they were not symptoms of COVID-19. Whether it was a dental office, mental health clinic, acupuncture, or many other places where healing happens, it may be that you could not get treatment because your provider was also sheltering at home. This article will discuss how the science of Functional Medicine, now available everywhere through telemedicine, can help you get the care you need to solve health problems.

Another group who often has difficulty finding solutions with their physicians are the many people with “mystery” symptoms, inability to tolerate standard medication treatment regimens, or those who simply want to find a more natural way to turn on the innate healing built into their bodies. Many of these people are used to being ignored by their doctors, or told that there is nothing that can be done for them, so they should just live with debilitating symptoms. COVID-19 has certainly brought some of the limitations and short-comings of our current “sick-care” system to the forefront of many people’s attention.

And, perhaps that will be one of the silver linings of this pandemic. Sometimes, things have to get really bad before we are willing to consider alternatives. Now, a science-based healing system called Functional Medicine is gaining more attention. Functional Medicine got its name from focusing on root causes that affect how cells function. These are responsible for conditions that affect the entire body.

Seven Root Causes

It turns out that just seven root causes are responsible for the vast majority of both acute and chronic illnesses. These seven root causes are the terrain of your body, the fundamental soil which makes us susceptible to disease or able to resist it. How well are you able to absorb the nutrition from your food or oxygen from the air? (assimilation) Can you protect from invaders and mend damage? (defense & repair) Are the different parts of the body talking to each other? (communication) Are structures intact on the macro and micro levels to support function? (structural integrity) Are you able to extract and utilize energy to build and maintain all systems? (energy) Can you process and remove toxins and wastes? (biotransformation and elimination) Are building blocks being delivered where they need to go and wastes being shipped out? (transport) Rather than disease labels, these essential functions are the focus of Functional Medicine.

We call this “working upstream.” Rather than just focusing on the results and effects of dysfunction, we track it back to the source cause. And, as it often turns out, correcting the fundamental imbalance at its root will improve many different problems simultaneously. It is not just heart disease that makes one more susceptible to viruses such as influenza and COVID-19.  It is the deep-seated immune dysfunction of chronic inflammation that causes heart disease and many other illnesses of aging, and which also make folks with these conditions vulnerable to invaders. Working upstream makes downstream vulnerabilities less likely.

Bringing Patient and Physician Together

Just as Functional Medicine has quietly been changing more and more lives working at the leading edge of science, so it has also been positioned at the forefront of delivering this healing technology, providing access to greater numbers of citizens. Using advanced HIPAA-compliant video conferencing, I have been listening closely and paying attention to what you know about your body for decades. You are the world’s expert on your own body.

Using 75-minute visits from the comfort of your home, I combine this with over 40 years of studying health and healing, from ancient traditions to high-tech marvels. Called telemedicine for providing care across distances, I began providing access to patients all over the country in 2013. I work with patients to get root cause specialty labs (many of which can be done at home without blood draws), and treat with advanced healing protocols which activate functional healing principles necessary for the body to heal from any acute or chronic illness. I have now partnered with Parsley Health to “transform the health of everyone, everywhere through the world’s best possible medicine” (their stated mission).
People often have a lot of questions about what telemedicine is and how it works. Here are some FAQs:

What Does “Telemedicine” Mean?

Telemedicine leverages technology to bring the best Functional Medicine doctors to the comfort and convenience of your home or workplace. Using video conferencing on your camera-equipped computer, you will meet face-to-face with your doctor for a deep dive into your health. In addition to standard medical history, I combine your own knowledge of your body with the most advanced medical science to find which of the seven essential functions are out of balance.

Can Telemedicine Replace My Regular Local Doctor?

Telemedicine is a value-add to standard medical care. Our longer visits, up to 75-minutes, allow more in-depth guidance, support and education to empower you to manage and change chronic conditions. This is not usually offered by most brief primary care visits. We can assess certain aspects of physical examination, for instance the clues of dark circles under your eyes, ridges or spots on your nails, swollen joints, or read the cracks and indentations on your tongue for information about the seven essential functions.

And it is still a good idea to have a primary care provider (PCP) locally as telemedicine cannot cover all possible health issues.  For instance, acute problems often need hands-on care. If you have chest pain, a local examination is needed to determine if this is pneumonia or a heart attack. Certain areas such as internal ears and genitals still need a local exam. If you fall and are hurt, X-rays may be needed to determine if bones are broken, so we encourage you to keep a local PCP relationship for these issues. However, if you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, frequent digestive issues, allergies, headaches, other unexplained symptoms, or want to prepare for pregnancy or otherwise maximize your health, a Functional Telemedicine visit can get to the root of the problem. If you prefer to solve your health issues without medications, or wonder if there are alternatives to surgery, I can explore all these options with you.

How Do I Get Laboratory Tests
Through a Telemedicine Visit?

As your legal physician, I can order lab tests through local laboratories, such as LabCorp or Quest that can work with your insurance provider. Testing for COVID-19 antibodies is available. I can also order specialty Functional Medicine test kits using saliva, urine, or stool to be sent to your home for you to obtain your own samples. These are especially helpful for hormonal issues, and gastrointestinal complaints.

What If I Need Medications?

I can e-prescribe medications to your local pharmacy, and fax specialty prescriptions such as bio-identical hormone replacements to compounding pharmacies who can mail your prescription to you.

What If I Need Help with Nutrition
or Other Lifestyle Changes?

Functional Medicine specialists excel at providing detailed prescriptions for condition-specific nutrition, better sleep without medications, movement and exercise, stress management, and many other lifestyle skills to empower you to build optimum health from the inside out. Parsley Health also includes health coaching, as we see this as key to implementing your personalized health plan into action in your life.

What If I Need to Contact My Doctor Between Visits?

You will have an on-line portal to all your health information through Parsley Health. You can see your laboratory results, follow the detailed health plan we provide for you, and contact us 24/7 through email. We even answer urgent questions on weekends.

How Often Do You See a Doctor Through Telemedicine?

Solving chronic health problems is a journey. We often have visits every 4-8 weeks in the beginning as we are gathering detailed history, and special laboratory tests, including hormone patterns, nutrient levels, inflammatory markers, and information on your detoxification abilities. After each visit, I recommend meeting with your Health Coach to get help you to take action on your recommendations. Healing chronic inflammation, hormonal, or gut problems may take a few months. As symptoms start to resolve, we spread visits farther apart, so there are often a total of five to six visits the first year, then one to three visits per year after that to maintain health gains.

Can Telemedicine Help Me If
I Am Concerned About COVID-19?

Parsley Health has been at the forefront of providing at-home health care for COVID-19 during the pandemic. Check out our empowering articles to find out what you can do to prevent and survive the virus at