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Dr. Greg Symko-Why does a patient have the symptoms they have?

Doctor-150x150There are several ways to explain what the practice of functional medicine and functional neurology does that is different from the other ways of practicing healthcare.   When  attending Medical school, Chiropractic school, Acupuncture school, Massage school, etc.  the body and diseases are studied in chapters.

Each chapter or section covers a specific part of the body.  An example being there is a section on the heart and the cardiovascular system, the back, the head and headaches etc.  That is how all of us healthcare providers learn.  The problem with that approach is the body does not work that way.    Every system in the body is related to each other. So if you have bad posture, this can be related to a certain part of your nervous system called the PMRF.

A problem with the PMRF can have other consequenses besides posture.  It can affect blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, pain, and sensation.    So in a nutshell other healthcare providers treat you like a chapter, but Functional healthcare providers treat you like a book.

Dr. Greg Symko-Patient gets great results with her fibromyalgia by looking at her illness functionally.

smile-150x150I received a phone call from a patient that I started on brain exercises and anti-inflammatory supplements who stated that she is both feeling better and sleeping better.

She is still getting stomach cramps, but they are better.   She further said that her legs are much better and jaw pain and headaches are greatly improved.  Her neck and arm still ache, but are also better.

Now this is how powerful functional healthcare is, and she is only 2 weeks into her treatment.

Dr. Greg Symko-Even the most difficult and rare diseases can be helped with Functional Medicine.

Happy-150x150-1MS was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease call Susac’s Syndrome.  Medical treatment for this is largely experimental and outcomes are generally not very hopeful.  I saw MS over a year ago when she was first diagnosed.  She was being treated with drugs that suppressed her immune system, steroids and several other medications.

Since she was on so many different types of medications I just treated her with dietary modifications.  I just saw her a week ago and she is off the steroids, and has greatly improved.

Her Doctors are very pleased with her progress and she has done better than they expected.  So even if a patient is on a host of medications they can be helped by Functional medicine.

The fringe benefits of functional medicine may help problems that were not the primary reason for treatment

Good-outcome-150x150One of the most thrilling and amazing aspects of functional healthcare is it’s global positive effects on a patient’s health.    AJ was a patient I was treating who suffered a stroke.   Our goal was to ensure she did not decline in her functioning, improve her mobility and independence, reduce discomfort  and to get her driving again.  Treatment consisted of both traditional adjusting therapy, brain based therapy (Vibration, balance exercise, music, smells, lights, etc…) and metabolic therapy (Dietary changes, etc…).   She did very well.  Now she is driving walking better and is living a more independent life.

The amazing findings were several.

Two were observed by other health care providers.  Her dentist stated that her teeth were looking the best they had in years.  The other was truly amazing.   She suffered from arrhythmia.  She had been monitored for this once a year since her stroke.  The arrhythmia only worsened.  After working with me for about 6 months she was do for another monitoring visit.  The test showed that her arrhythmia was almost completely gone.  The healthcare provider could not believe it.  Just a couple of the fringe benefits of functional health care.

Polymyalgia rheumatica is a term for widespread muscle aches and stiffness.

Traditional treatment and knowledge of this disease is limited and generally ineffective.  Functional Healthcare is very effective in helping with this issue.   Those of you who have been reading my posts know how I feel about a traditional diagnosis.  They are used so that the office visit can be billed to the insurance company, but it is not very specific so it does not tell you how you might be able to help some one with this problem.

So as a Functional health care provider, I dig deep and find the potential cause of all the aches, stiffness, fatigue.  One of the hallmarks of this disease is that it is inflammatory, that is why it is traditionally treated with steroids.but this does not address the issue as to why there is inflammation and why all the pain and stiffness?  Is it coming form certain part of the brain, is it what you are eating, is it stress or how stress is handled.  It could be any one of these or all of them.

PainIt just takes time to find out.  It is your health and you deserve a health care provider that takes the time to find out and investigate these areas.  There are no silver bullets.  That is what functional health care does.  It finds out why.

It is possible to support Type 2 diabetes sufferers and improve their lives with out more medication.

type2diabetes-s5-woman-removing-glasses-150x150Medications that help with type 2 diabetes are important, but they do have side effects.  One of the goals of functional health care is to support the patient so their dependency on medication is less and thus the chances of nasty side effects diminished.

With type 2 diabetes if the sufferer is willing there are many ways to help to improve their lives, reduce pain, improve the neuropathy,  increase energy, lose weight and live a healthier more satisfying life.   It takes a careful and in-depth approach to determine the underlying cause of the diabetes.

Once the cause can be found, help can be delivered.

What is Functional Neurology?

brain-150x150Like Functional Medicine, Functional Neurology tries to get at the cause of the problem.  This can be done simply by looking at how someone walks.

Every part of the nervous system has a job.  It makes our arms move and coordinates them so they move smoothly.  It makes our eyes move as well.  Simply by observing someone’s eye movements can tell me a great deal about their brain.

A functional neurologist is like a detective observing the body for movements that give clues so that I can put those clues together and figure out what is wrong.  By doing this, I can apply specific therapies that target the specific parts of the brain that need stimulation.  When I get it right, it can be extremely powerful and affective.

Breakfast Lunch & Dinner from Beth’s Gluten free kitchen


Symko’s Favorite Granola

Heat oven to 300 degrees

Mix together:

3 cups of gluten free oats (not instant)

1/2 cup each of chopped walnuts, almonds and pecans

1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup of golden ground flax seeds

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/3 cup maple syrup

Stir well.

Spread out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes.  Put back in bowl and stir again; then bake again for another 15 minutes.  Let cool in the bowl to get crispy. 

Add raisins or whatever else you enjoy.

Store this in a large glass jar vs. plastic.
Asian Chicken and Cabbage Salad
1 red jalapeno or Fresno chile with some seeds, chopped
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (fresh makes a big difference)
2 Tbsp gluten free reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 tsp grated peeled ginger
Kosher salt
1/2 small head of red cabbage thinly sliced (about 5 cups)
2 medium carrots shredded
6 scallions, whites and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup baby spinach, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
Whisk chile, oil, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce and ginger in a large bowl; season with salt.  Add cabbage, carrots, scallions, chicken, spinach and carrots; toss to coat.  Top with peanuts and sesame seeds.
Baked Steak
8 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced on a diagonal
1 lemon very thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
One 2lb. 2 inch thick sirloin steak
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
Baked potatoes
Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a roasting pan, combine the mushrooms, celery, lemon, onion, oil and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. 

Season the steak with 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper, rub with the garlic and place on top of the vegetables.

In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, lemon juice and Worcestershire.

Spoon the ketchup mixture over the top of the steak and roast 30-35 minutes for medium-rare (when a meat thermometer registers 125 degrees).  Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.  Serve the steak with the vegetables and baked potatoes.

Boston area functional health care provider Dr. Greg Symko D.C. writes about the power of combining functional neurology and functional medicine.


Many functional health care practitioners do one or the other – either functional medicine or functional neurology.  In my office I combine both.  That is why I coined the term “functional health care”.  Here’s an example of how powerful combining the two can be. A patient came in to see me for anxiety, stiffness and pain.  The pain and stiffness were getting worse and he had been trying to deal with this for over two years.

After taking an extensive history, reviewing his blood work and a thorough functional neurological exam, I pinpointed both a dietary issue and a neurological issue.  Treatment consisted of both diet and brain exercises that he could do at home.  I saw the patient two weeks later for a follow-up and I’m glad to say the anxiety is almost gone and the pain and stiffness is 50 to 60 % improved.   Not everyone can get results this quickly, but you can see that combining both Functional Medicine and Functional Neurology is very powerful.

Another Gluten Free Breakfast Lunch and dinner from Beth’s Kitchen

Banana Cacao Muffins
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup honey
3 eggs
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup almond butter
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 cup cacao  nibs
Preheat oven to 350
Mash bananas until smooth, add eggs, honey, coconut oil, vanilla and almond butter and mix thoroughly.
Add coconut flour and cinnamon, mix really well. 

Let batter sit for 5-10 minutes, then add baking soda and cacao nibs.  Mix until baking soda is mixed through.

Fill muffin tins – no need for paper, they slide right out!

Bake for 25 minutes.


Curried Chicken Salad
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves – cooked and diced (I poached mine in chicken broth to make sure they were tender).
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup dried apricots finely diced
1/8 cup dried cranberries finely diced
A small gala apple finely chopped
2 T chives minced
1/2 stalk celery finely chopped
2 T green onion finely chopped (white only)
2T red onion finely chopped
1 tsp. curry powder
salt and pepper
Combine all above ingredients.  Mix all together and adjust salt and pepper to taste.  Cut an avocado in half remove the pit and top with chicken salad and serve


Parmesan Sage Pork Chops

1/4 cup GF flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 pinches ground black pepper

2 eggs lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups GF Italian bread crumbs
1 T rubbed sage
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. grated lemon zest

4 boneless pork chops

2 T olive oil

2 T butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly grease a 7/11 baking dish

Mix flour, salt and pepper in shallow dish.  Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, sage and lemon peel in another shallow dish.  Gently press pork into flour mixture to coat and shake off excess flour.  Dip into beaten egg, then press into bread crumbs.  Gently toss between your hands so any bread crumbs that haven’t stuck can fall away.

Heat olive oil and butter in skillet over medium heat.  Brown pork chops on each side about 4 minutes per side then transfer to baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven until juices run clear and a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees, 10-15 minutes.