Functional Medicine Is a Science-Based, Natural Way to Become Healthy Again.
Functional Medicine is patient-centered medical healing at its best. Instead of looking at and treating health problems as isolated diseases, it treats individuals who may have bodily symptoms, imbalances and dysfunctions.
As the following graphic of an iceberg shows, a disease might be visible above the surface, but according to Functional Medicine, the cause lies in the altered physiology below the surface. Almost always, the cause of the disease and its symptoms is an underlying dysfunction and/or an imbalance of bodily systems.
If health care treats just the tip of the iceberg, it rarely leads to long-term relief and vibrancy. Identifying and treating the underlying root cause or causes, as Functional Medicine does, has a much better chance to successfully resolve a patient’s health challenge.
Functional Medicine DOES NOT focused on a diagnosis. It is focused on identifying functional impairments on a spectrum of health. Once you see how different systems are functioning on a continuum of health, you can then work with your healthcare provider on unique food, supplement, and lifestyle strategies to actively promote a better place on that spectrum. Using scientific principles, advanced diagnostic testing and treatments other than drugs or surgery, Functional Medicine restores balance in the body’s primary physiological processes. The goal: the patient’s lifelong optimal health.
How Functional Medicine Differs from Conventional Medicine?
As the name implies this branch of medicine focuses on how the body functions and what is causing it to function poorly (dysfunction). The goal is to optimize function whether or not disease is present. Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease by:
1. Using a Patient-centered care model by engaging both patient and clinician in a therapeutic partnership. One emphasis of functional medicine is patient-centered care. Functional medicine practitioners spend time listening to their patients’ histories and identifying the interactions between genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that contribute to long-term health and chronic lifestyle disease. Functional medicine practitioners tend to look for 3 things in the patient’s story;
- what may have predisposed or set the patient up for the problem
- what may have triggered the problem
- what is making it worse or better
This approach helps the clinician determine each individual’s unique expression of disease risk, health and well-being. By actively listening to the patient and learning his or her story, the practitioner brings the patient into the discovery process and tailors treatments to address that individual patient’s unique needs.
2. Using an integrative, science-based and comprehensive systems-oriented diagnostic approach. In addition to a comprehensive history Functional Medicine doctors use various diagnostic testing techniques to determine and understand an individual’s genetic predisposition, environmental and lifestyle risk factors for chronic disease. The doctor also seeks out prevention and treatment strategies for those risk factors as well as managing symptoms. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal (mind, body, and spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total functioning. Functional medicine practitioners look at all these data as a complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness and where effective changes can be made.
3. Integrating best medical and therapeutic practices. Functional medicine integrates conventional medical practices with healing strategies outside the scope of western medicine. These other strategies are sometimes called “alternative” or “integrative” medicine. Together they create a focus on prevention and or mediating chronic lifestyle conditions through use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, exercise, mind-body techniques and stress-management techniques.
The Core Imbalances Addressed By Functional Medicine
There are several core imbalances that the Functional Medicine practitioner may check during the assessment of a patient. The types of dysfunction we look for relate to:
- Hormones and neurotransmitters imbalances
- Energy production/ Oxidation Reduction Imbalance
- Detoxification and Biotransformation Ability
- Food digestion, absorption and elimination effectiveness
- Strength of Immune system and responsiveness of Inflammation in the body
- Structural imbalances from cellular level all the way up to Musculoskeletal level
- Optimizing Mind-Body balance.
Functional Medicine is a Good Approach for:
- Healthy people who want to optimize their health and well-being by learning about their risks and strategies to hold chronic lifestyle diseases at bay
- People who are living with the following conditions, who want to stop chasing symptoms, and want to improve the quality of their lives
Many chronic disorders can be effectively treated and managed with a Functional Medicine approach. Some include, but are not limited to:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Adrenal Fatigue
- Arthritis (Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis)
- Asperger’s Syndrome
- Candidiasis (Yeast overgrowth)
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Fatigue (Generalized)
- Food allergies
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
What to Expect during the Clinical Evaluation
The clinical evaluation of the practice of Functional Medicine includes a very complete history, physical examination, and when indicated, choosing specific tests on blood, urine, stool, and /or saliva in order to get more detailed information about that particular individual’s key imbalances.
Treatment plans are designed for each patient based on all the information gathered from the comprehensive evaluation. The foundation of Functional Medicine therapeutic tools and treatment plans includes diet and nutrition, supplemental vitamins, minerals, and herbs, stress management, exercise, in addition to appropriate standard medications as needed.