The mapping of the human genome published in February 2001, launched healthcare into a new era of medicine. DNA sequencing paved the road for more individualized medicine and gave birth to the concept of genomic medicine. Heather Krebsbach ND is able to utilize the growing knowledge and understaning of genetics to inform her naturopathic medicine practice here is Portland, Oregon.
The National Human Genome Research Institute defines genomic medicine as "an emerging medical discipline that involves using genomic information about an individual as part of their clinical care (e.g., for diagnostic or therapeutic decision-making).”
Genomic medicine has helped to identify:
· Targeted medication for individuals to decrease side effects
· Medications that are more effective for specific diseases
· Examine the relationship our environment has on our genes
· Ways to change diet and lifestyle to support the genes we were born with
Genomic medicine isn’t confined to cancer research or what medications to use, there are a number of tests that are centered on optimizing health. For instance, we now have a picture of how each individual is detoxifying as well as making neurotransmitters. With this information, supplements, diet and lifestyle recommendations can be personalized.
This technology is going even further by mapping out our intestinal microbiota, or the community of bacteria, yeast and viruses living in each of our digestive tracts. Many of these organisms have a beneficial relationship that keeps us healthy and much research is going into this area to identify the effect specific organisms have on diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There are numerous tests on the market, but it’s important to have a conversation with your healthcare provider to determine the “right” test for you.
The field of naturopathic medicine excels in its ability to individualize health care to combine diet, lifestyle, herbs and nutraceutical supplements. Now genetic testing is taking this quality of care to new heights by enabling naturopathic doctors to identify and treat chronic or underlying conditions in a more holistic way.