“Functional Medicine determines how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual.
The Functional Medicine model is an individualized, patient-centered, science-based approach that empowers patients and practitioners to work together to address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness. It requires a detailed understanding of each patient’s genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors and leverages that data to direct personalized treatment plans that lead to improved patient outcomes.
By addressing root cause, rather than symptoms, practitioners become oriented to identifying the complexity of disease. They may find one condition has many different causes and, likewise, one cause may result in many different conditions. As a result, Functional Medicine treatment targets the specific manifestations of disease in each individual.” – The Institute for Functional Medicine
Hallmarks of a Functional Medicine Approach
Promoting health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease. By listening to the patient and learning his/her story, the practitioner brings the patient into the discovery process and tailors treatments that address the individual’s unique needs.
An Integrative, Science-Based Healthcare Approach
Functional medicine practitioners look “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. 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.
Fusing Best Medical Practices
Functional medicine combines traditional Western medical practices with what is sometimes considered “alternative” or “integrative” medicine, creating a focus on restoring balance and prevention by addressing diet and nutrient status, inflammation, exercise and movement, stress, toxin exposures, genetic considerations, etc; use of both standard and specialty laboratory and diagnostic testing; and prescribed combinations of nutraceuticals, botanicals, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, and/or stress-management techniques.
How Functional Medicine is Different
Conventional doctors primarily treat their patients with a drug-centered approach, and break the problem into individual components by treating each issue with a separate medication. This is perfect when it comes to acute issues like a broken leg or infectious disease but not so much when it comes to the epidemic of chronic diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, autoimmune issues, etc. Functional Medicine considers all aspects of life including genetics, sleep quality, diet and nutrient status, exercise, environmental and toxin exposures, and stressors to identify the root cause(s) contributing to inflammation, hormonal imbalances, immune dysfunction, and alterations in our microbiomes, etc. And then we treat those imbalances, dysfunctions, and alterations accordingly.