The disclaimers are in the fine print.
But oftentimes--desperate patients have shelled out thousand of dollars before they've realized what they've signed up for.
So-called 'functional doctors', advertising treatment for illnesses, usually reserved for licensed medical doctors.
A months long Bulldog investigation found non medical doctors--often chiropractors--claiming qualifications in 'functional' medicine--and sometimes promising to "reverse" conditions--such as hypothyroidism and diabetes.
"Living with it is challenging."
A Type 2 Diabetes patient asked we not identify him.
He contacted the Bulldog Investigative Team after seeing an add in an Atlanta newspaper. It was an invitation to a free dinner with the implied promise of reversing his diagnosis.
"I am skeptical of reversing diabetes, but I was curious," he says.
Once at that dinner--along with about 50 other patients--he says Dr. Michael Anderson, made a pitch. Bottom line: $10 thousand dollars for an all inclusive treatment program.
"You’re in a vulnerable position," said the man.
Dr. Anderson, a chiropractor, not a medical doctor, calls himself a 'functional medicine practitioner'.
He leads a clinic called the Georgia Integrated Health Center. His online bio says he has 'extensive post-graduate training in the areas of neurology, clinical nutrition, functional endocrinology and internal disorders.'
And on his website, he clearly boasts he can "treat and reverse your diabetes naturally." And there is a link to sign up for a dinner seminar on, "how to reverse my condition in 6 months or less."
The patient we talked to was skeptical and walked out. Skeptical too, are some medical doctors.
"If anybody’s making a claim of curing a disease, that certainly can be a red flag," said Endocrinologist Dr. Scott Isaacs.
"The functional doctors tend to base their diagnosis and treatment on theories, where-as traditional doctors base their diagnosis and treatment on research and on evidence based medicine."
In Dr. Anderson's case, while registered as a chiropractor, he is not registered with the state medical board, which certifies medical doctors.
The board also tells us, 'Functional Endocrinology' is not recognized.
On his website--where he implies he can teach you to "reverse" a diabetic condition--there is a tiny disclaimer at the bottom that reads: "the statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, reverse, or cure any disease."
So which is it?
We asked Dr. Anderson for an on camera interview to explain his practice. He declined. Rather, sending us written statements, saying in part:
"I don't promise reversal of type 2 diabetes or any condition because every case and situation is different. With health, it is not possible to promise a cure to anyone."
When we asked about claims his programs cost upwards of ten thousand dollars as one patient alleged, he replied:
"Every person's care plan is individualized based on their situation and type of care that they need."
He aside--we asked if his clinic has any medical doctors on staff. he replied:
"No, we do not."
Meanwhile, diabetes sufferers, like the patient we spoke to, have this advice, no one can dispute.
"Become informed--really informed--before handing out your hard earned money."
We checked with the diabetes association, which does not mention chiropractic care or other alternative medicine as an advised form of treatment for diabetes.
We also reached out to the Georgia Board of Chiropractic Examiners--a state appointed panel that regulates the industry in Georgia. They did not respond.
Finally, during our investigation, we found a handful of so-called 'functional doctors' practicing in our area, selling implied promises of treatment usually reserved for licensed medical doctors. Those informational dinners which end up in a sales pitch are a hallmark of some of these doctors.
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