Expert in weight, blood sugar & thyroid problems in kids and young adults
I was a healthy kid. My brothers and my friends were healthy kids. None of the kids in my school went to the nurse’s office daily for medicine for asthma, allergies, ADHD, diabetes, anxiety or depression. Fast forward to the present. Now, our kids have many more health issues
than just a few decades ago. What happened?
In my 30+ years as a pediatrician and pediatric endocrinologist, I have watched the numbers of sick kids and young adults rise dramatically. I routinely see young people with many diseases that used to be found only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. I am shocked and saddened by these changes, especially as I know that diet and lifestyle changes can not only prevent, and in many cases, reverse these problems.
I have faced some of my own health challenges, the most frightening of which was the diagnosis of breast cancer when I was 43. I am sure that my stressful medical career played a role, but I know now that there are other risk factors like what I ate back then (a lot of junk and fast food!), environmental toxins and endocrine disruptors, my digestive system…. I wonder if I could have avoided cancer if I had known then what I know now. I am happy to report that I have had no recurrence and am over 10 years out from that life-changing diagnosis.
I married in my late 30’s, and it gradually became apparent that my husband was struggling with a significant mental disease: huge mood swings, dark days of depression, long nights of no sleep. He was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
We struggled with a less than wonderful response to prescription medications but his doctors had no other answers for us. I am sad to say he took his own life in 2010. Now that I know about the tremendous impact of nutrition, digestion, and toxins on mental health, I can’t help but wonder if there might have been a different outcome for him if we had known this information earlier.
I had always been interested in alternative medicine, vitamins and supplements. After my husband died, I began to look deeper, to understand the many reasons why people get sick, and how to get them better. I discovered Functional Medicine! Instead of treating the symptoms, I can look at each patient’s unique lifestyle and biochemistry to understand the whys of disease. The solutions are different for each person. Now my patients are getting results that I did not see in my previous years of practice! It is so very rewarding to see these kinds of results, and it makes me passionate to spread the news that people can get their health back.
I specialize in hormone problems. Stress affects our hormones! I am always amazed by the harmful impact of chronic stress on our health, and how important our hobbies, our social & spiritual life, and our sleep habits are to good health. I use art as a way to relax: in my spare hours, I make fiber art and art quilts (quilts that hang on the wall). Making art was an especially welcome refuge in first few years after my husband’s death, a healing balm to my sad heart. I also dabble in paint and mixed media.
I wish I had known about Functional Medicine earlier in my career. I wonder how these concepts might have made a difference for my husband and many others in my circle of family and friends. But, we cannot go back, we can only go forward - and my heart’s desire is to help people learn that there are so many causes of disease and so many things that they can do to get well. My deepest concern is for our young people: they are facing shorter life spans than their parents because so many of them are sick at such young ages. I want to help them get well so that they can enjoy their exuberant youth, so they can focus on developing into vibrant, resilient adults who can explore their full potentials.
Patty Powers, MD, COL, US Army (retired)
• B.S., Biology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
• MD, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD
• Pediatric Internship & Residency, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC
• Pediatric Endocrinology Fellowship, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC
• American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine: multiple training modules & webinars, 2011-present
• Kalish Institute: 6 mo Functional Medicine program, March 2015-Sept 2015