New Functional Medicine Clinic Comes to Southwest Virginia

Aug 26, 2014

People with chronic diseases are always looking for new ways to relieve their symptoms and possibly find a cure.  And more patients are turning to functional medicine to find new avenues for treatment.  While there are several such clinics operating in Central and Northern Virginia, a new medical practice is opening in Southwestern Virginia that focuses on the whole patient.

The Center for Ultra Health in Roanoke isn’t your traditional doctor’s office.  For instance, a first visit will include extensive tests and take two hours.  Dr. Michael Arthur is a Roanoke native who says he can afford to take the extra time.

“My vision is that people are yearning to be heard.  They’re yearning to be listened to and we have set up a beautiful center where that can be done.”

“I think in the traditional medical paradigm, we have a pill for every ill.  So if you have something like hypertension, here you go, here’s the medicines that we need to get you started on.  With functional medicine, we put a pause button on that.  And instead of just throwing a pill at a symptom, we say, ‘Wait a minute.  Why are you having this symptom?’ “

Arthur’s background is in family medicine and geriatrics.  He found traditional medicine is still valid but says there’s a better way, too.

“It was one of the things I experienced as a traditional doctor myself was the frustration of following up with patients and finding that they were really no better.  We were managing medicines just to manage symptoms.  And the symptoms were either staying about the same or not really getting a whole lot better.  In fact, a lot of times getting worse.”

He joins a growing number of functional medicine practitioners in the Commonwealth  in their effort to treat chronic illnesses such as diabetes, migraines, and hypertension.  They look at every facet of their patients’ lives.

“So we’re focused on their nutrition, we’re focused on their sleep-their quality and quantity of sleep.  We’re focused on their stress; we’re focused on their exercise.  And most importantly, one of the things that so many people overlook is relationships.  We’re focused on their relationships.  Do they have toxic relationships around them or do they have healing relationships around them?”

The Center includes other specialists not found in a traditional medical office.  For instance, Roye Evans is a Holistic Nurse and Acupuncturist.

“Holistic nursing kind of takes nursing back to its roots, which is taking care of the whole patient.  So if I have a patient I’m working with and they, for example, struggle with anxiety, we might do guided imagery.  I might teach them some breathing techniques.  I might show them acupressure points that calm them down.”

The practice also includes a massage therapist who is a pilates and yoga instructor.

But this treatment model can be expensive for people with or without health insurance,. Arthur says the diagnostic testing is covered at least in part by most insurance companies and, he’s forming groups for people who have similar health concerns to help keep costs down.

“And what I have found is so completely transformational about the group visit model is that people actually build a community with one another and use that community in additional to using the educational piece that we can provide.  They use that community to get better.”

“I think this is the direction that medicine is going to go.  I don’t have a doubt about it actually.  If you look into functional medicine and the educational opportunities that they’re offering, they’re sold out countrywide.  And people are paying out of pocket for the care because they value their health and it works.”

Arthur says preventive medicine is less expensive in the long run.

“We’re in just a health care crisis at this point.  We’ve got to find a way to stem the tide.  And this truly is the way to stem the tide if we’re ever really to cut healthcare costs.  We’re able to help people to either wean off of medications or get rid of medications altogether because of focus is so lifestyle driven.”

Arthur predicts more functional medicine clinics will begin operating in Virginia as patients search for a more complete healthcare approach to their medical problems. 

The Center for Ultra Health is holding an open house Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30pm