BABY boomers come to Dr. Christopher Rex Gloria when other doctors can’t provide the accurate solutions to their chronic fatigue, lack of focus, slipping memory, insomnia and weak immune system.
Women worry about menopausal syndromes such as hot flashes, mood swings and dry skin, while men confess their concern over their expanding girth and loss of libido.
The Royal Preventive Medical Clinic has helped many patients become more productive at their optimal health in their midlife.
Although Doctor Gloria specializes in longevity and preventive medicine, he adopts the precepts of precision medicine in his practice. This means that every test and prescription is carefully customized to the patient.
Preventive medicine is based on up-to-date scientific and medical technology that discovers and treats disorders before they build up.
Longevity medicine focuses on age-related ailments and how people could be healthier in their advanced years.
Precision medicine describes diseases according to their molecular and environmental causes, instead of the conventional symptoms. It entails genetic testing, which determines the individual’s genetic features that predispose one to a disease and its causes.
Young at 36, Doctor Gloria has been in this field for 11 years.
“I went into surgery for my specialty,” he says. “I did not continue on my last year because I realized that if I’m just going to be operating on people, that means it’s always an emergency. It dawned on me that I wanted to be there before the problem.”
He took a course on natural hormone replacement overseas then went on to acquire a postgraduate degree in Preventive Medicine at the Dresden International University in Germany, because he wanted to help his mother through menopause.
His practice of preventive and longevity medicine specializes in understanding hormones and the human functions.
Today, he gets a wide range of patients— from students who complain about irregular menstruation and depression, to mid-lifers experiencing bone loss.
The core of his treatments lies in balanced nutrition, stress management and controlling inflammation.
He says patients need guidance when taking their medicines and supplements: “Is this the right thing for me? Do I still need to continue this? Am I taking too much? How come I am on certain medications—strong medications, maintenance— but I am not improving? You need to look into your metabolic process—things that have not been checked by other doctors. The direction is toward health and wellness.”
The patient undergoes a basic evaluation, consisting of blood and urine tests that are unlike the tests conducted in standard health exams.
Doctor Gloria plots a list of tests for thyroid function, hormonal levels and brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that convey messages to the body for adrenaline function, such as serotonin, dopamine and cortisone.
Based on these tests, Doctor Gloria recommends supplements that could help patients deal with certain deficiencies without having to start them on strong medications.
He determines which of the patient’s own supplements would still be useful and at what dosage.
After several months, these tests can be repeated on a smaller scale to evaluate the patient’s progress.
“Supplementation needs to be dynamically changed, too,” says Doctor Gloria. “You cannot have a formula and embrace it for the rest of your life, because our body tends to change.”
Patients also answer a detailed questionnaire on their lifestyle. During the consultation, Doctor Gloria encourages the patients to reveal what bothers them, no matter how trivial, because it could be a symptom of a condition.
Depending on the patient’s condition, he might require a saliva sample and 24-hour urine collection. In specific cases, the genetic profile test is conducted and sent abroad for assessment.
“It shows how you are predisposed to things that you’ve inherited from your ancestors,” says Doctor Gloria. “There are ways of preventing, delaying or even stopping these things from happening.”
He adds: “A genetic test will always provide information to guide the doctor and the patients on what to eat, what to add to their supplements, what special tests to undergo annually, or whether a statin is good for you when you have cholesterol problem, or a certain medication is compatible with your genes.”
Asked if the liver function tests can provide a general picture of one’s health, Doctor Gloria explains that standard executive exams look into the SGPT (serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase) and SGOT (serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase), enzymes that are susceptible to malfunctions in the liver.
“Some people look at their liver profile, whether it’s normal or beyond the normal limits,” he notes. “We find out if you have the enzymes to actually flush out toxins, metals or even drugs. By knowing the enzymes, we would know whether a certain food is right for you.”
Doctor Gloria points out that the environment also has an effect on gene expression, or how genes produce proteins for vital body functions.
“You’ve got to be wise in protecting your body from possible radiation or environmental changes,” he says. “The profile can help you switch off the likelihood of getting certain diseases. That is the beauty of customized supplementation.”
He observes that patients are more health-savvy as they are deluged with information from friends, relatives, media and the Internet.
“It’s always important to talk to a doctor or to someone who is well-versed in the right kind of vitamins, what is the right dose, what is the good combination,” he says.
Although Doctor Gloria has been focused on the wellbeing of patients, he occasionally accepts special cases. He underscores that his practice complements the patient’s existing protocols. Some ask how to improve their health so as not to increase the dosages of their long-term medications.
Ultimately, the spirit of care and coaching is essential to medicine, he says. The crux of his practice is the patient’s rapport with the doctor and the body’s ability to heal itself. He always flashes a genuine smile that warms the patient’s heart.
“I’m mabusisi,” says Doctor Gloria, who has earned the trust of his patients. “I have the nature of wanting to know whether you are feeling good, rather than what the numbers tell me. The blood tests will always change.
“Even if I do a genetic test, the environment will change the way the body will behave. If there is trust and I know how the patient feels, I’m more confident that I could tweak certain things and go beyond what the numbers say.”
His only frustration is that he needs to train more caring doctors.
Imparting the knowledge of advanced medicine is easy, but can malasakit and pag-aaruga be taught?
“How do you teach rapport, encouraging patients, remembering their birthdays or hugging them? It’s a tough job,” says Doctor Gloria.
Royal Preventive Medical Clinic is at Aboitiz Building, 110 Legazpi St., Legazpi Village, Makati; tel. 8447798, 845-0725.