Categories Expert Series

The State of Functional Medicine 2020: Insights From Kike Oduba

3X4’s new State of Functional Medicine series features interviews with a diverse range of active practitioners and established thought leaders to learn more about why they chose the field of functional medicine, what excites them most about their work, the most common misconceptions they hear from patients, and most importantly — how they see the field evolving in the years ahead as healthcare shifts to be more personalized, proactive, and preventative. 

Functional medicine practitioners play a key role in helping patients understand who they are so they can improve their quality of life which is what we’re all about here at 3X4. Our goal with this new series is to celebrate the work these practitioners are doing and inspire others to explore the exciting field of functional medicine.

The following is an interview we have recently had with Kike Oduba MBBS, MPH, Functional Health Practitioner, WellnessWits

Why did you decide to make functional medicine your focus?

KO: A personal experience with an autoimmune condition, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, was the beginning of my journey with functional medicine. I was left with only one option by my conventional medicine colleagues, and that was to surgically take out my thyroid gland and live on prescription medications for the rest of my life. My curiosity and determination to heal my body naturally led me to finding functional medicine. It was the only approach that gave me hope to reverse autoimmunity. As I began seeing results from just applying simple dietary and lifestyle modifications, it only made sense to start my own practice. I realized that functional medicine truly worked and if it gave me hope of complete remission of my symptoms without using any medications, I could give many people the chance to achieve the same results without giving up hope of a medication free life.

Who have been your greatest mentors in your functional medicine journey? 

KO: The greatest influencers of my functional medicine journey are Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Kara Fitzgerald. I appreciate Dr. Hyman’s work in pushing functional medicine into mainstream media and his commitment to what he truly believes despite all odds. Dr. Fitzgerald inspires me to do better and learn efficient ways of practicing while being in the forefront of research and innovations in the field.

What excites you most about your day to day work? 

KO: The most exciting thing about my day-to-day work is the creativity I tend to express while working with patients. I like the ability to look at a patient and be able to adapt my protocols and treatment plans based on their lifestyle and the many aspects of their existence. It just makes me happy to know that I am going to have a new experience in every patient relationship. With each patient, everything is personalized and everything is different.

What’s the most challenging part of your day to day work? 

KO: The most challenging part of my day-to-day work would be keeping up with my current schedule. There’s just so much to do, and lots of sick people out there. I like to take my time with each patient encounter and I incorporate a lot of health coaching in my practice. That’s what makes my practice quite unique, the fact that as a doctor, I also get to coach my patients into new behaviors to help them accomplish their health goals. I love referring to my practice as a ‘patient partnership, not a ‘doctor dictatorship’.

What do patients most commonly get wrong about functional medicine? 

KO: I think the most commonly misconstrued notion about functional medicine is that people think it is alternative to mainstream medicine. I personally believe it’s not really alternative, it is complementary to conventional medicine modalities more tailored for chronic disease management. It just tends to apply natural, holistic and lifestyle interventions to improve outcomes and prevent unneeded dependence on pharmaceuticals.

What’s holding the field of functional medicine back? 

KO: In my experience, the biggest challenges we have in functional medicine are naysayers and other practitioners who claim it is not evidence-based. When in fact, there are scores of research proving that a healthy lifestyle and diet are the foundations of true healing for most diseases, not pharmaceuticals. With my background as an epidemiologist, I tend to incorporate some scientific evidence to all my protocols to ensure that my patients see the value of functional medicine.  For many, it’s hard to believe functional medicine works because it seems so simple and basic, perhaps too good to be true.

What has your experience been with genetic testing? 

KO: I have found genetic testing to be quite illuminating, from seeing how much of our genetics can be turned on or off based on the environment we live in. It has helped me understand the way the human body can adapt itself or express disease when subject to different conditions. For many of my patients, it helps a lot to know the root causes of their health issues at the cellular level, coupled with the ability to prevent future ailments through proactive measures that can be taken if done early.

How do you see the practice of functional medicine evolving in the years ahead? 

KO: I truly believe functional medicine is the new frontier in the healthcare industry. It will eventually be the foundation of many new innovations in medicine and bring great advances in public health as well. The current state of the world right now, especially with the pandemic, has made us rethink what we believe health and wellness is. It is more apparent that many people may look healthy but may not have the resilience to fight a new pathogen. Functional medicine has the tools to build resilience among populations on a large scale and shows a lot of promise for optimizing health when all fails.

About Kike Oduba

Dr. Kike Oduba is an Epidemiologist and a CBIC (Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology) consultant. She is the Medical Director at Wellness Wits , a Functional Medicine practice in Houston, Texas that provides solutions to reduce the incidence or progression of chronic diseases. Follow Kike on Twitter and connect with her on Linkedin.