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Traditional Medicine vs. Functional Medicine with Dr. Greg Dennis

"One day I just kind of had an epiphany and I thought, you know, my patients are not getting any better, their numbers look better. Their A1C’s down, their cholesterols down, so, on paper they look...

 JP: Hi everyone! Thank you for taking time out of your day to listen in. Today I am joined by Dr. Greg Dennis who is one of the few doctors in Oklahoma certified in Anti-Aging Medicine. Dr. Dennis and his wife, Dr. Lydia Dennis, own and work at Vibrant Life Direct Care in Mustang, Oklahoma - Dr. Dennis, thank you so much for joining me! 

GD: Oh, great to be here. Thanks for having me. 

JP: Absolutely. Are you enjoying the weather? I have to ask.  

GD: Well, it's pool weather. So, I'll be getting my pool probably the next day or two. 

JP: For those of you not in Oklahoma, it was about 70 degrees yesterday and we’re sitting in like the 20s today and under a winter storm water/warning – fun times.  So, and then they wonder why people are sick. Right?  

GD: Yeah, it’s getting ready to get nasty I think pretty soon. 

JP: Yeah, unfortunately. So - I would love to know what enticed you to work in the field you are currently working in – how would you describe it and how did you get there? 

GD: Yeah, so we do something called direct primary care. What direct primary care is - It's a model of healthcare that we do not accept insurance and people pay a monthly membership fee, we tell people it's like a gym membership, and with that we see a lot fewer patients. We’re not dictated by insurance companies and so we feel like we can take a lot better care of patients, you know, instead of just rushing them through like cattle, like typical, you know, corporate medicine. And so that's kind of the model of direct primary care and we go, I feel like a step beyond that because there's a handful of direct primary care physicians in the area, but we really focus on wellness and so we go above and beyond, just kind of basic primary care and that model and we really focus on nutrition and getting people off medications many times and really optimizing their health. And this model of healthcare gives us time to do that kind of thing.  

JP: Awesome. And what is the difference between taking a more natural approach in treatments rather than utilizing the traditional methods? 

GD – So there's a big difference, you know, I'll just briefly kind of tell you my story and how I got into this style of medicine. So, I am a board-certified family practice physician and practiced the conventional way for many, many years. And I did everything that I was, you know, quote supposed to do, you know, when somebody had high cholesterol, I put them on a statin medication. I mean, I did everything I was supposed to do, and one day I just kind of had an epiphany and I thought, you know, my patients are not getting any better, their numbers look better. Their A1C’s down, their cholesterols down, so, on paper they look better, but they're still fat, they still have arthritis; they still have autoimmune disease, they're still on all these medications, they're miserable and they're still dying of heart disease and whatnot. And so, you know, again, I had this epiphany like what, what am I doing here? Like, you know, this isn't really what I signed up for. And so, I just kind of took a deep personal dive into medicine. And what I found was astounding that a lot of the things I were taught that's quote evidence-based medicine doesn't really help people. It doesn't really make them better, doesn't treat the underlying cause. It just all came from big pharma and that's a whole other rat hole we could go down about how, you know, how involved big pharma is in the governing agencies, the American Medical Association, the American Diabetes Association, you know, all those things. But anyways, so I've always been into health and wellness myself. I just never really practiced that way, I guess as a physician. And so, I started really just diving into how I can make people better and maybe get them off medications and treat the underlying root causes rather than just throwing medications on them. And when I started doing that, I was still in corporate medicine at the time. But when I started doing that, I realized I could actually reverse type two diabetes, nobody ever told me I could do that, that it was even a possibility that I could get them off medications and that in many cases I can reverse autoimmune disease. You know, as we do those kinds of things and then we optimize hormones and I just started seeing people's lives changed. And I thought, man, that's why I got into medicine. And so, the more I got into that, you know, the less of a fit I became for traditional/corporate medicine, because you know, when you're just rushing people through like cattle, I don't have time to correct all those things. And so, then that that kind of took me into what I'm doing now, which I absolutely love. 

JP: So why do you think, what is your opinion on why they don't teach more of these functional medicine lifestyles within the traditional medicine field? I mean, if they really are helping people, why do you think it's not being taught? 

GD: Oh, that's an easy answer. And it's a one-word answer - money. So, I'm going to sound like a conspiracist here. But again, big pharma is everything as it relates to conventional medicine. Again, they're all the quote studies, you know, the medical journals that, you know, I used to think were gospel and they're tainted from, you know, big pharma. Matter of fact, I believe it's two thirds of their income comes from big pharma with these medical journals. And so, everything revolves around that, you will never unless, you know, radical changes are going to be made before this becomes the standard of care because there's no there's no money in it. I mean, why would you want to get people better? A current example of that? I hate to bring this up, but it's Covid. I mean, and there are a lot of things that could have got done better and differently with Covid. But I won't go down that rabbit hole. But it, you know, in general, it does not make people money. You know, I was just talking to a friend of mine the other day about sauna therapy and there's a huge study out of Finland and this isn't a recent thing, but it was a 20 yearlong study and I'll summarize it very quickly where they had three groups of people, men, and one group rarely used the sauna, one group used it three days a week, one group used at four plus days a week. And this was over 20 years, thousands, and thousands of men in the study. And the reason they did in Finland is saunas are commonplace over there. Anyways, you know, what the study showed was people who used the sauna. So, the latter group who used it four plus days a week and the middle group had a lot of benefits as well. But, the latter group who used the sauna four plus days a week, had a and I don't know the exact numbers, but it was a 30 something percent decrease in cardiovascular disease and a 40 something percent decrease in all-cause mortality. So, if we had a pill that did that, it would make billions of dollars. Like it would go crazy. And I had never even heard of that study in medical school or residency. And I was like with those statistics, why had I never heard of that study? And again, it comes down to money. Nobody makes money with that other than the sauna manufacturers. But you know, big pharma doesn’t make money - nobody makes money. So unfortunately, when it comes to our health care system, it all boils down to money. I tell patients all the time, our health care system cares nothing about you. It's a big money-making machine. And I hate to say that, but it's reality. 

JP: Yeah. And it's sad is what it is. So, we were talking before and it's one reason that I started this podcast was just to help educate those about the other treatments that are out there. On that note - what to you doesn't mean to achieve optimal health? And what are the main areas you look at? 

GD: Yeah, great question. So, we like to - in our clinic and so we focus on several areas and it's like a puzzle and we want them to all kind of, you know, fit together and they're all important. And so, one we want to decrease inflammation. Almost all chronic diseases can be linked back to inflammation. Unfortunately, we live in a very inflammatory environment just with the environment itself and then the foods that we eat, the standard American diet is highly, highly inflammatory. So, it's no wonder why we're so sick. And so, we teach people about good nutrition and eating whole real foods, not the processed foods.  

We talk about, you know, intermittent fasting and we try to get them to an optimal weight for them. And so that's number one is just getting to a healthy weight and decreasing inflammation. Number two is exercise; exercise is just good for you. We talk about incorporating exercise. Number three is stress, and these are in no particular order, you have to have some way to deal with stress. And usually along with that is sleep and so good sleep is very important. And then hormone optimization, hormone optimization is a big piece of the puzzle, not only for quality of life because hormones make you feel better, but for longevity. I mean, people don't realize that hormones, if done properly, I always put a little asterisk there - if done properly - can possibly extend your life. And for women especially decreased risk of and almost eliminate osteoporosis and decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease. And you know, all kinds of things. And again, not to mention improving the quality of life. So those are some of the major pieces that we address when we see patients in our clinic 

JP: And when it comes to hormone optimization, what treatments do you normally utilize? 

GD: Yeah, so for women there are, in my opinion, there are two good options. Probably our number one in women is pellets. And we love pellets in women, and women love pellets. I mean they feel great on them. They’re a great option. It's an easy procedure, but if they don't want to do pellets then we'll do compounded creams. And those are really the only two options in my opinion for women that are good. Both of those are what we call bio identical hormone which just means they're plant based, and they are similar in biochemical structure to the hormones that your body produces or used to produce. For men, same thing, either creams, pellets as well for men, or for men we also add injections. I don't really like the injections in women - we can make it work, it's just not ideal. Obviously for men were just replacing testosterone, whereas in women we’re replacing multiple hormones. And so, for men we can add injections in there. So, either injections, creams, pellets in men. Women - pellets or creams. 

JP: Okay. And this kind of goes back to what we were talking about. But I've seen this a lot actually recently we've had a lot of providers that have sent us some articles with other providers have their blog posts or their YouTube videos. So, what are your thoughts on those out there saying not to use products that aren't FDA approved? 

GD: This goes back to what I was saying a minute ago. You know the FDA is not the most honest bunch in the world. You know again their goal at the end of the day is to make money. Okay - and so I like using peptides and that's a whole another little rabbit hole. So the FDA is pulling the rug out from under a lot of peptides and unfortunately they're being successful and getting to where we as providers can't get certain peptides and peptides you know can be really useful in a lot of areas and when it comes down to it there's no good reason other than their hand isn't in it. They're not making money on peptides. And so, you know, they're trying to pull the rug out from under it. And so just the fact that medicines aren't quote FDA approved. I mean doesn't mean much to me. 

JP: Okay. And I mean we see it all the time and Qualgen, we obviously compound the hormone pellets and we ourselves we’re registered with the FDA, and they come in and they do all of our inspections, and you know, we follow the guidelines on everything that they provide. So, it's crazy to me that they can make such a big statement that it's not approved just because we don't pay all the money that it costs to get it approved. 

GD: That's what it's about. And you look at many of these I mean many prescription medications that are so toxic to the body that like you know, I as a healthy person myself, I would never want to take many of these medications but they're FDA approved. You know? So just because they're FDA approved does not mean that they're good for you.  

JP: Yeah. I think it was the Women's Health Initiative, the big study that they did years ago. I mean it's been years, but I feel like people always still talk about it and it was about estrogen so it scared everybody away from estrogen. And I think what people don't realize is that it was the synthetic form and that the bioidentical is completely different. 

GD: Completely different. And the progestin, a synthetic progestin was you know, one of the big players in that trial that did a lot of you know had a lot of the deleterious effects. But you're absolutely right. I mean it's apples and oranges and I have this conversation all the time in my clinic and unfortunately people don't know and even OBGYNs - I’m not trying to throw them under the bus, but I mean they're just traditionally trained that all hormones are the same and that, you know, that's all they know is Premarin, estradiol, either. They will prescribe them which I don't think is a good idea or you have some that just say, well no all hormones are bad and so they're just unfortunately not educated about this whole other area that can really be a game changer for people.  

JP: Yeah, I know me personally I went to my OBGYN with some issues and their answer was birth control, which I was like I don't want to be on that. But I mean that was that was the answer and hormones you know, especially hormone replacement therapy in any sense like it's just why would we do that? So, it's just blows my mind that it's not more receptive to doctors to want to help.  

GD: Yeah, you know word is getting out slowly but surely again, I mentioned Covid and we see a lot of people who during these last two years are just getting fed up with the traditional healthcare system. I think that just their response to Covid and the treatment of that has exposed a lot of the inadequacies of our health care system and so people are realizing it again, you know, slowly but surely every now and then we'll get kind of a convert as far as from a practitioner that, like myself, just kind of got the veil, you know open  

JP: You saw the light. 

GD: I saw the light, you know, but unfortunately, it's, you know, it's slow. 

JP: Right. In today's world, what are some of the most common issues you are treating in individuals? 

GD: Insulin resistance probably I would say the number one and that goes far and beyond just and this could be a whole you know podcast in and of itself, but you know insulin levels in general we just say insulin resistance or prediabetes but insulin levels in general can cause a lot or contribute to a lot of chronic illnesses. So that's really what causes heart disease, inflammation and you know autoimmune disease and all this stuff. And so just because of the food that we eat, the lifestyle that we live, lack of exercise, we see a lot of insulin resistance. And so that's probably the number one thing that comes to my mind and obviously with that we still see a lot of diabetes, still see a lot of obesity, and all the things that come with that. But insulin resistance is the first thing that comes to my mind. 

JP: And what are some of the other services that you provide in your clinic? 

GD: Yeah, so we do you know just a lot of primary care which I talked about and general wellness, we help people lose weight and then we also do a lot of sexual wellness and so we do something called PRP, or platelet rich plasma, which is where we draw blood from the patient kind of spin it down and consolidate what we call the platelet rich plasma which is part of the blood that activates the healing process, or has a lot of regenerative properties, and so we can use that then for a facial that a lot of women like to do we can do what's called a nonsurgical breast lift with that. We can inject it into joints and many times avoid surgery. We inject it into the general genitalia, both men and women for sexual dysfunction. So, we do that kind of thing, we do some aesthetics. So, we do a little bit of Botox and microdermabrasion that kind of stuff. I did mention peptides and you know do a little bit of peptides which is more just kind of a fun and so yeah.  

JP: I love that. I think it always goes hand in hand because people want to look better but they want to feel better too. So why would you not want to get it all one stop?  

GD: Absolutely.  

JP: I would love for you to tell us about your podcast.  

GD: Oh yeah, so I host a health and wellness podcast. Yeah, thanks for mentioning that. So, you know because I just love everything kind of health and wellness and you know I can't get enough of it, and I am constantly reading about the latest thing on you know longevity and diet and you know and all that stuff and so about a year and a half ago I started my own podcast. It's called FitRX, I have interviewed some great guests and have a lot in the works. And so yeah, you can find that on Apple, Spotify. I mean pretty much all the, all the podcast places. Yeah.  

JP: Yeah, awesome. Well, is there anything additional you would like to add?  

GD: No, I don't think so. If you want to check out more about what we do you our website is And yeah, I appreciate you having me.  

JP: Perfect, well I appreciate you being here! Thank you so much. In the meantime, if anyone has any questions for Dr. Dennis you can find his contact information, like he said, on his website: or on Facebook at Vibrant Life Direct Care. Thank you again for joining me and maybe we'll have you back sometime! 

GD: That would be great – I appreciate it. 

JP: Perfect, well, thank you everyone for listening! Please make sure to subscribe and follow us on social media to stay up to date on Qualgen! Have a great day!


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