The Future of Medicine
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.
Do What Works
Functional Medicine vs Conventional Medicine
Here lies the clear distinction and definition of Functional Medicine. Instead of asking, “What drug matches up with this disease?” Functional Medicine asks the vital questions that very few conventional doctors ask: “Why do you have this problem in the first place?” and “Why has function been lost?” and “What can we do to restore function?” In other words, Functional Medicine looks to find the root cause or mechanism involved with any loss of function, which ultimately reveals why a set of symptoms is there in the first place, or why the patient has a particular disease label.
See The Bigger Picture
Treat The Cause
Conventional medicine starts treatment when symptoms arise and then utilizes drugs to manage symptoms without addressing the cause of the symptoms. This is a short-term, ineffective approach to healthcare. Functional medicine identifies the underlying causes of symptoms and utilizes a systematic approach to effectively address them resulting in long-term solutions.
Pillars of Functional Medicine
Functional Medicine views us all as being different; genetically and biochemically unique. This personalized health care treats the individual, not the disease. It supports the normal healing mechanisms of the body, naturally, rather than attacking disease directly.
Functional Medicine is deeply science based. The latest research shows us that what happens within us is connected in a complicated network or web of relationships. Understanding those relationships allows us to see deep into the functioning of the body.
Functional medicine focuses on treating systems opposed to covering up symptoms. Symptoms are not the problem, they are a result of the problem. Functional medicine addresses the actual cause of symptoms resulting in a long-term solution.
Functional medicine utilizes a patient-centered rather than a disease-centered approach to treatment.
The human body has an innate ability to heal itself. Functional medicine aims to enable the body to work at its highest level, maximizing its self-healing abilities.
Meeting The Need In Health
Why do we need functional medicine?
Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
The system of medicine practiced by most physicians is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as appendicitis or a broken leg. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.
Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and addressing complex, chronic disease. In most cases it does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or factors such as environmental exposures to toxins and the aspects of today’s lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise in chronic disease in modern Western society.
Furthermore, there remains a huge gap between research and the way doctors practice. The gap between emerging research in basic sciences and integration into medical practice is enormous—as long as 50 years—particularly in the area of complex, chronic illness.
Most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of complex, chronic disease and to apply strategies such as nutrition, diet, and exercise to both address and prevent these illnesses in their patients.
The Seven-System Approach
Functional medicine practitioners look at seven biological systems that affect imbalances in the body. These core imbalances are the foundation in which functional medicine practitioners evaluate the mechanisms, along with the symptoms and diagnoses, of disease. The key here is that an issue does not always derive from a single imbalance but often, a combination of them.