Historically, medical care in the United States has been disease-centered. Patients are treated for their symptoms and doctors do not dig deeply to explore the underlying causes of chronic illness. More often than not, a visit to the doctor’s office results in a diagnosis and a prescription drug to treat it. Functional medicine is turning this idea upside down. Doctors practicing functional medicine take a holistic, whole body approach to help people optimize their health and to treat chronic illness. Functional Medicine is about discovering and solving underlying health problems, not just treating symptoms. People often turn to functional medicine as a solution if they are unsatisfied with their treatment or unable to find the answers to their health problems.
Functional medicine represents a transformation of the healthcare field; here are 5 reasons why:
1. Functional medicine gets to the root of the problem:
Do you suffer from chronic fatigue, depression, insomnia, or joint pain? Have you felt disheartened by doctors who have told you that your symptoms are not indicative of illness? Do you suffer from a chronic disease and still experience symptoms, despite medication? Perhaps it is time for you to turn to functional medicine.
Those who practice functional medicine do not accept that there is no explanation for your poor health and they will work with you until they uncover the cause of these symptoms. Practitioners believe that some type of inflammation or imbalance in your body is what leads to health problems and chronic illness. Health problems and chronic disease can stem from food intolerances or an unhealthy diet, exposure to environmental toxins, infections, genetics, or stress. Extensive lab testing, elimination diets to weed out food intolerances, and exploring your personal history will help to uncover these hidden sources and provide you with a solution.
Lab results are also examined differently in functional medicine. Practitioners delve deeply into the results and rather then going by the standard definition of what’s normal. They will examine all of your symptoms and look carefully at the results to identify any patterns or abnormalities.
2. Practitioners take a personalized approach:
In functional medicine, finding a solution and treating a complex medical problem requires a personalized approach and treatment plan. There are no blanket diagnoses and no ‘one size fits all’ treatments; practitioners treat you as an individual and recognize that each body functions slightly differently. This approach dictates the way practitioners interact with their patients, the way they interpret labs, and ultimately shape the treatment.
3. Partnerships, not prescriptions:
Can you remember the last time you spent more then ten minutes in a room with a doctor? Practitioners of functional medicine spend extensive one-on-one time with their patients to learn about their background and health history and explore various parts of their lives to determine the cause of illness. Gone are the days of going to a doctor with the goal of being written a prescription to cure your ailment. Think of a practitioner of functional medicine as your personal disease detective, they will discover the source of your symptoms and become your partner on your path to better health and wellness.
4. A whole body approach:
Did you know that digestive upset, lethargy, and headaches can all be related? Rather than looking at each separate part of the body and each symptom as an individual problem, functional medicine examines the connection between all of the body’s systems. This systems-approach looks at the similarities and how these symptoms are related, rather than looking at them as independent problems requiring individualized treatment. By looking at the whole picture, practitioners can identify and diagnose underlying autoimmune disorders, food sensitivities, possible exposures to environmental toxins, nutrient deficiencies, and other factors that undermine your health.
5. Holistic prevention and sustainable treatment:
Treatment plans often meld together aspects of traditional medicine with more natural and holistic approaches. A treatment may involve medication, but it will also include the use of herbs and supplements as well as dietary and lifestyle changes that focus on whole body health and wellness.