Functional Medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, Functional Medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional Medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, Functional Medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual. ~ Institute for Functional Medicine
The practice of Functional Medicine is characterized by an examination of the core clinical imbalances that underlie the expression of disease. Those imbalances arise as environmental inputs such as diet, nutrients, exercise, toxins, and trauma are processed through a unique set of genetic predispositions, attitudes, and beliefs. The core clinical imbalances that arise from malfunctions within this complex system include:
- Hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances
- Oxidation-reduction imbalances and mitochondrial dysfunction
- Detoxification and biotransformational imbalances
- Immune and inflammatory imbalances
- Digestive, absorptive, and microbiological imbalances
- Structural imbalances from cellular membrane function to the musculoskeletal system
Functional Medicine can be characterized as “upstream medicine” or “back to basics”—back to the patient’s life story, back to the processes wherein disease originates, and definitely back to the desire of healthcare practitioners, like myself, to make people well, not just manage symptoms. The Functional Medicine approach leads to therapies that focus on restoring health and functions, rather than simply controlling signs and symptoms.
Functional Medicine acknowledges that chronic disease is almost always preceded by a lengthy period of declining function in one or more of the body’s systems. Returning patients to health requires reversing the specific dysfunctions that have contributed to the disease state. Those dysfunctions are, for each of us, the result of lifelong interactions among our environment, our lifestyle, and our genetic predispositions. Each patient represents a unique, complex, and interwoven set of influences on intrinsic functionality that have set the stage for the development of disease or the maintenance of health.
The short description of Functional Medicine: it’s a process that treats the ROOT causes of disease.