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A core goal of naturopathic and integrative medicine health care providers is to look beyond a few presenting symptoms and to view a broader, bigger picture in order to treat the whole person. The new field of medical genetics is expanding the range of tools that support this higher level approach. How many years will it be until every patient is routinely screen for genetic variants that can impact overall biochemical function? How many years will it be until all newborns have their genes mapped and on file ready for providers to use to make medication and treatment decisions. What sounds like something from Star Trek is getting closer and closer.
What are the roles that genetics can play in treating a complex patient? Looking at just one dysfunctional enzyme can feel unhelpful at times, because there is always that nagging question of what other genes may come into play. Understanding a broader perspective of some key genes known to have a significant impact on cell signally improves the practitioner’s ability to match the symptom picture, diagnostic testing, and family history, with a diagnosis. More finely tuned diagnosis allows for treatment decision making that is likely to be supported by the presenting gene picture, have a faster response and reaching patient health and wellness goals. Learning how two or more risk alleles can interact in the larger picture can be invaluable. Being able to group risks alleles into body systems can help to not only organize the information, but to also start looking at the patient as a whole. Genetics is a powerful tool and fits perfectly into the holistic model of health management.
- Increase knowledge of gene interactions so that the practitioner can become more skilled at interpreting the patient’s entire genotype
- Improve provider’s ability to identify symptoms of certain risk alleles in their patient population
- Explain the process of identifying medically relevant risk alleles within the body of ever growing research
- Identify groups of genes that relate to similar disease processes
- Increase the practitioner’s knowledge of understanding what risk alleles are related to certain body systems
- Educate about the connections certain alleles have with each other for example the MTHFR and COMT as well as CYP1A1 and COMT