Interview with Dr Ionela Hubbard Transcript

Dr. Weatherby:
Well, hello there everybody. Welcome to another Success Stories. This is Dr. Dicken Weatherby, and I am privileged today to be joined by Dr. Ionela Hubbard. She received her medical training at the School of Medicine and Pharmacy in Laşi, Romania, and her traditional oriental medicine degree from South Baylo University in Anaheim, California, where she received her master’s degree in oriental medicine. She also has advanced clinical training through The Center for Mind/Body Medicine, and the Institute for Functional Medicine, where she is a certified functional medicine practitioner. She is currently Assistant Professor of Preventative Medicine and Complementary and Alternative Medicine Curriculum Director at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in Loma Linda, California. She teaches integrative and functional medicine, clinical nutrition, herbs, and dietary supplements, acupuncture, and traditional oriental medicine. She also maintains a private integrative and functional medicine nutrition counseling and acupuncture clinical practice in Loma Linda and North Tustin, California, so welcome Dr. Hubbard. Just from reading your bio there, you have a very wide and varied scope to the work that you do. Perhaps you could share a little bit about the work that you do at Loma Linda University and also the types of patients that you see in your clinical practice, just to kind of get us started.

Dr. Hubbard:
Well, thank you for inviting me to speak. I had graduated from medical school and I had learned very fast that I was not prepared to deal with chronic conditions, so I decided to learn more about it and through my extensive work I have come across functional medicine, which has provided me the ability to help chronic patients, so right now my focus is more on chronic care, than originally the acute care model that I had been trained in. At this time, I teach functional medicine at Loma Linda School of Medicine and consequently I get a wealth of patients that come with very large previous laboratory testing and elaborate evaluations from specialists in various areas. And it’s always some sort of a detective work for me to figure out what was not looked at, what is the underlying condition on each one of those patients, and to try to address those. Both of my practices are heavily based on lifestyle changes, on nutritional counseling, on stress reduction. I am not against conventional medicine at all. I think it’s very helpful and it has its place. I often collaborate with specialists who refer patients to me all the time and I enjoy seeing my returning patients doing well, improving, and being motivated to stay on path for health. I hope I answered your question.

Dr. Weatherby:
Absolutely, and that’s a hope that I think all of us practitioners share. Given that you’ve got a fairly extensive background in oriental medicine and acupuncture, and when I think of sort of assessment tools and diagnostics in the oriental medicine world, I think of pulse diagnosis and tongue diagnosis and things like that, we don’t often think about blood testing and those types of analytical tools. I was wondering if you could speak to how easy it was for you to be able to combine both the oriental and the western diagnostic tools into your clinic.

Dr. Hubbard:
Well, having had conventional medical training prior to oriental medical training, my mind is already used to having access to laboratory testing, to interpret laboratory testing, and to rely on it a lot. And so it wasn’t hard for me as an oriental medical practitioner to do that because of my prior training. However, later research on acupuncture and oriental medicine has clearly showed us the effect of those modalities on the nervous system on the ability to increase and decrease abnormal blood counts. So, I find more and more connections and points of intersection between those very different medical systems. So I would say that any acupuncturist that practices in a state in which they are allowed to order laboratory testing, they should make an effort to become familiar with the various tests available to them and to utilize them all the time in their practice. I think that will serve their patients, it would give them additional tools to improve patient outcomes, and I don’t think I have enough words to motivate one to use the laboratory testing available to them. Not every state allows acupuncturists to order tests, and that’s unfortunate, but if they can do that, they should do it.

Dr. Weatherby:
Fantastic, and I guess you know, in the realm of blood testing, which is sort of an area where I spent my career focusing on, there is this difference between the test that comes back from Quest or LabCorp and the values that we’re seeing there. And then from a functional medicine perspective we’re sort of digging deeper underneath the surface, so to speak. So, having that functional analysis tool at our disposal I think is very helpful.

Dr. Hubbard:      
Right.

Dr. Weatherby:  
And I guess from someone who has done it in the manual way, sort of looking at the blood test and tracking everything on a form and then having spent the time to put together an analytical software program, I’m wondering if you could speak a little bit to sort of what benefits you get from that blood testing perspective, the functional approach.

Dr. Hubbard:      
Sure. Oh, there are lots of things I can say positive about the software. First of all, before every appointment, I do take time to look at patient’s results and I also look at…this is for my returning patients and their previous results. And let’s be honest, it’s not always easy to locate previous results, especially with the electronic medical charting and some software is not providing us the ability to have tests side by side.

Dr. Weatherby:   
Yes.

Dr. Hubbard:       
It’s kind of hard moving from one page to another. In the meantime, you’re not sure what number you have seen on the previous result, so having that time reduced and more efficient instead of flipping between web pages looking at actual results in front of me. I’m referring to the bottom portion of your software where you have the ability to display the latest seven tests.

Dr. Weatherby:   
Yes.

Dr. Hubbard:       
I think that is a fabulous tool. That has helped me not overlook certain trends that might have been subtle enough to have been overseen in the past. So that was one aspect that I am very, very much using. Another thing that has helped is those ratios that we were taught how to calculate. I still remember calculating them in my student years, but as a practitioner in a rush trying to see all of the patient schedule on my day, I don’t always really take the time to calculate let’s say an iron gap or maybe calcium alginate ratio or something like that, sodium, potassium, so I really enjoy having that calculating in your report. I think this is very beneficial and suggestions coming from abnormal ratios are very necessary and needed. I mean, patients take us to heart, and they like to see how their condition has improved or worsened and what they need to do and how their choices influence those results, so this is very helpful. And when it comes to laboratory ranges, you mentioned that. Your report provides optimum ranges and I am very grateful for it. Also patient present with results from blood tests ordered by their previous doctors, and frequently these test results are within normal laboratory ranges; therefore, patients were told that everything was normal. Often they were told that it’s all in their mind, but that’s another story. However, we know that those lab ranges are established based on a sample of patients who presented to that lab the year before and filled out a questionnaire in which they claimed that they were healthy at that time. Most of us are not even aware of our own subtle biochemical eschatological abnormalities; therefore, the so-called normal lab ranges most likely represent the sick ranges in one’s neighborhood. So I don’t know about anybody else out there, but I do not want to treat my patients based on sick ranges, rather on optimum ranges. Those that have been shown to correlate with healthy individuals, so for this reason I am very pleased with my results that I have based on the strictest optimum lab ranges provided by the software. And of course, they are consistent with the functional medicine recommended ranges, so it’s the same thing you are. Actually, I did hear about your books. I read for the first time about them on the **** Functional Medicine Forum, and then I looked for the books and I own your boos, by the way, blood chemistry as well as the sinus symptoms analysis book, which to this day I refer to both of them. Then digging through various websites where I purchased the books, I found a link to the blood chemistry software. That’s kind of how I found it.

Dr. Weatherby:   
Yeah.

Dr. Hubbard:       
It was a well kept secret. I think you need to publish it more. But, I’m very grateful to have all those tools to utilize them in the pre-appointment period. That makes my preparation more effective. It makes me more effective as a practitioner. And from a patient perspective, they love to see their numbers; they love to understand their numbers. They are only disappointed when the doctor tells them, “Your cholesterol is high and your sugar is high,” or “Your blood count is okay, but it’s not as good as last time.” They have really no understanding of those notions and no ability to remember them. There’s nothing for them to hook that information and be able to do something with it later on. So, my patients get an iPad when they arrive and they get to scroll to their results, to this report, and they get a paper copy of their results as well. And it is a cumulative analysis…this is what our meetings look like, analyzing this report, analyzing their results, looking at the optimum range, and they own it. When they come back the first thing they want is they want the iPad with the report. We email the patient’s report to them, and if by any chance my personnel forget to do that, the same day we always get an email or a phone call, “I haven’t got my report yet. Can I please have my report?” So, that has helped them understand their condition, the fact that you are describing the markers, their meaning as they are elevated or decreased; it helps them track their progress and makes them informed conversation partners. I now have a partner, not a patient to whom I speak down to. We are equal, we both understand the meaning of those values and where we want to go. They go home and they study and they study, and then they come back and they ask questions and that has increased their compliance. It has increased their desire to do the lifestyle changes and to stick to their protocols to see the improvement that was explained to them, that was forcing for them in our interview. So, I think it is a win/win situation for both patients and practitioners.

Dr. Weatherby:   
Wonderful. Well, your patients are extremely lucky to have you as their practitioner. It sounds like the amount of care and attention that you put into the work that you do with them is really second to none. Well, thank you for taking time out of your busy day. I know that you have probably got patients waiting for you right now, so thank you for sharing that. Thank you for sharing how this tool is helping you in practice and also helping your patients and I really, really appreciate it.

Dr. Hubbard:       
May I add one thing?

Dr. Weatherby:   
Absolutely, yeah.

Dr. Hubbard:       
May I add one more thing? Do we have the time? All right.

Dr. Weatherby:   
Of course.

Dr. Hubbard:       
I really want to mention that it is not always easy for patients to make a financial decision for their follow-up visit or for purchasing dietary supplements. I have a cash practice and that is harder for patients to come up with—that amount that’s needed for their health. But I have noticed that since I have been using the software, scheduling the follow-up and patients actually sticking to that follow-up schedule has been much easier for me. I do not have to remind them how important it is to do the repeated tests. I do not have to convince them and my person doesn’t have to be on the phone trying to reschedule a canceled appointment. This has been very, very good for my practice, both from a time management for my personnel and myself as well as the revenue stream. Also, the dietary supplement recommendation on the practitioner report, it’s been very helpful. There are some companies that I have used in the past but maybe I kind of not used lately, I have forgotten about certain products they have created or newer products that I was never purview to. Having that ability to go from one brand to another and compare and analyze what would be best for that one patient has been very helpful. It has also helped me with maintaining inventory. I don’t know if you used it that way, but knowing that I tend to order certain things when I see certain abnormalities, it helps me keep them in stock at a right amount and not run out of…like in the past I have been running out of things much more frequently, and obviously from a revenue perspective that has helped as well.

Dr. Weatherby:   
Wonderful.

Dr. Hubbard:       
So that was another point I wanted to make.

Dr. Weatherby:   
Thank you. Well, I was just wondering, you know, given that you obviously have a varied background in medicine and oriental medicine, you know there are many, many acupuncturists, you know practitioners of oriental medicine that don’t have the exposure that you have had to functional medicine in this type of work. I’m wondering if there’s any sort of final words that you might have to say, if there’s an acupuncturist listening to this that is curious about doing this work and about how it could be incorporated into maybe a more strictly oriental medicine practice. Whether there are a few things that you might…just words of wisdom that you could share with them.

Dr. Hubbard:       
I would say that in oriental medical school we do get exposure to laboratory testing; definitely not in the same amount and context as in conventional medical training. However, the fact that the software has the built-in information behind of what everyone of those biomarkers mean; what it is in context of the rest of the biomarkers pointing to a certain end organ dysfunction, and pointing to potential changes in ones biochemical physiology that one should look into. I think that anyone could use this tool, even if they have not relied on blood testing before or they feel they might not be equipped to analyze them. I think that by utilizing this tool they definitely will become knowledgeable. All of that information that I have seen in your books and you poured into the software, I think will make anyone proficient if they choose to spend the time to learn the software and utilize all of its functions.

Dr. Weatherby:   
Wonderful. Well, thank you very much for sharing that and sharing your experience and taking time out of your busy day to speak with us today. So, Dr. Hubbard, thank you. I appreciate it. I hope to chat with you again at some point. You have a very interesting background and I think you are just doing fabulous, fabulous work, so thank you very much.

Dr. Hubbard:       
You are very welcome, and thank you very much for giving me this opportunity.

Dr. Weatherby:   
Well, this is Dr. Weatherby saying thanks for checking in and listening to another success story, and we’ll be back with another one very soon, so goodbye everybody and thanks so much.

Dr. Hubbard.:      
Thank you.

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