About Us - The Experts in Functional Medicine
Dr. Scott V. Watkins, M.D.
I’m Dr. Scott Watkins, and I’m so happy to welcome you to my website that I know will help you in your road to health and well-being.
I want to share with all of you why I’m now on this incredible journey that has taken me from 25 years as a cancer specialist, to focusing on helping you prevent health problems before they happen.
My extensive background in medicine began at West Virginia University’s Medical School. I completed my Residency in Radiation Oncology at Albert Einstein Center and Temple University Hospital, and I’m Board Certified by the American Board of Radiology in Radiation Oncology.
For some 25 years, I’ve been a radiation oncologist. As a specialist who ensures the radiation treatments a cancer patient gets are done accurately and expertly, I’ve seen what can happen when we don’t take care of our ourselves. It’s something I’ve experienced myself.
As I entered my 50s, I began to notice changes in my body and my well-being that I just did not like. My schedule for my medical practice was so busy that, as many people do, I buried myself in my work.
I tried to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet, but calling for pizza on a Friday night and falling asleep in front of the television was just too easy. My weight crept up, my blood pressure got worse and my sleep suffered. My own primary doctor also noted a slight increase in my blood sugar — pre-metabolic syndrome, which can be a sign of pre-diabetes — and all in all, heading down a path to worse problems in the future.
I began to search for how I could make myself healthier, and then I discovered Functional Medicine and the Institute for Functional Medicine. As an allopathic physician, I am well trained in the acute-care model of medicine — diagnosing a malignancy and then following through with treatment. Throughout my career in cancer care, as medicine progressed with more ability to extend the life of patients and even see their cancers disappear, I had the honour of witnessing a growing population of patient survivors. But there are lingering concerns, on the part of both the patients and physicians: How best to prevent or reduce the risk of cancer returning. Some of the answer may lie in genetics — which can’t be overstated — and the rapid advancement of “targeted therapies.”
But there’s also the more personal, and equally important, question of: What can we ourselves do?
Over the last 20 to 30 years, a growing body of evidence has emphasized the importance of how we treat our bodies, and what we put into them, in gaining and maintaining overall health. A prime example of something that’s been shown to be harmful is smoking — a risk factor for so many illnesses and diseases.
But increasingly, Functional Medicine is playing a crucial role in health and wellness. This patient-centred approach to managing health focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of illness and disease, with an emphasis on prevention — something that revolves around our gut and gut health, and what we consume.
Again turning to my own personal experience, I watched my mother suffer nightly from reflux — that burning feeling when stomach acid comes back up into your esophagus, and that can lead to all sorts of problems. While diet and medications like proton pump inhibitors are often used to manage acid reflux, my mother continued to suffer significantly. Later in my life, I experienced similar problems and feared I was headed down the same path as my mother. So I turned to how I managed my food. I began a fairly restrictive, low-carbohydrate diet, and noticed very quickly that as I ate less, I had fewer reflux problems — a seemingly simple approach that still holds true to how I take care of myself today.
Now, 20 years later, through my studies at the Institute for Functional Medicine, I’ve learned the importance of intermittent fasting (an eating plan that switches between fasting and eating on a regular schedule), and other methods of changing eating patterns that could improve gastrointestinal (GI) health and function. Through that, I’ve found eating less food equates to fewer GI problems. (There are some exceptions, of course, such as people with eating disorders, whose care is more complex and may require a much different intervention and specialist care.)
The Functional Medicine approach of upstream prevention is incredibly important. Take diabetes. We know that by the time a person is diagnosed with diabetes, there’s been a great deal of end-organ damage. For that reason, the time to STOP diabetes is years BEFORE the actual diagnosis, when insulin levels start to increase. This prevention principle applies to a wide variety of conditions and diseases — affecting everything from the gastrointestinal, to the cardiovascular, endocrine, musculoskeletal and other systems. Chronic inflammation — which can be controlled with Functional Medicine — can lead to diabetes, polycystic ovary disease, and problems with fertility, obesity, heart disease, neurologic disease and malignancy. But small positive steps in dealing with these illnesses could have a major impact on overall health of a population.
In this new phase in my medical career, I’m excited to be offering the best in prevention care. It’s my hope and determination that, through education and this website, I’ll help contribute to the evolution of medicine — to make people healthier and keep them healthier.
It’s the reason my new motto is: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Yours in health!
Dr. Scott V. Watkins, M.D.