Dr. Carmen Solano’s office is welcoming, its main centerpiece has a low table with four chairs facing each other. Soft, relaxing music plays in the background.
Solano’s practice is unique in other ways. Solano practices a philosophy of medicine known as “functional medicine,” a type of medicine that factors in a patient’s entire medical history before giving a diagnosis.
The idea is that when all familial and other histories are accounted for, the more accurate and successful diagnosis of a patient will be.
“The foundation of the process is a very comprehensive health history,” Solano said. “We ask questions all the way from birth to now in terms of their medical history, their lifestyle… their stressors, their environmental exposures, family history, all of that. That information is gathered before a patient’s first visit.”
Solano graduated from the University of Texas Medical School and has practiced family medicine for 18 years as a board-certified doctor. She opened her practice in Los Alamos in 2015. Recently, she was approved to accept Blue Cross Blue Shield medical insurance, the largest medical insurer in Los Alamos County.
“That’s we’re a first heard of functional medicine. He explained what it does and that’s when I said ‘that’s the kind of medicine I want to practice,”’ Solano said. “I always liked the more integrative approach to medicine rather than just the pharmaceutical approach.”
Solano said functional medicine allows for a more individualized, holistic approach to a cure, something that would include advice on diet, exercise, stress management in combination with traditional medicine, if that’s what the treatment calls for.
“The underlying cause can be anything from nutritional deficiency, to toxins to gut dysfunction to hormone imbalances,” Solano said. “I look to correct those with a holistic approach, but if prescription medications are needed, we will use them, but in a context where we’re addressing all those other lifestyle factors.”
Solano lives in White Rock. Having lived in large cities, such as Albuquerque, Solano said she appreciates the small town, rural atmosphere the county offers.
“It’s a nice change. Up here in the mountains, if you want to go for a hike, it’s close by,” Solano said.
Living in a smaller community also helps her get the functional medicine approach across to her patients, as a patient’s support network is much smaller and closer, which helps her patients stay on track with their regimen.
“That wouldn’t be happening in a much larger city,” Solano said.
It’s not a specialty as of yet. She has received additional training through the Institute for Functional Medicine. Solano is originally from Mexico City and when she was young, developed a liking for the sciences, especially biology, which was one of the things that put her on the path to becoming a doctor. Her brother also had asthma, which also played a part.
“When I was young, that’s when I decided to be a doctor, because I wanted to help people who became sick,” Solano said.