What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine is root cause medicine where we use sophisticated lab testing and extensive health history to uncover and fix the underlying causes of disease and dysfunction as opposed to just masking the symptoms. It is a smarter, sustainable, science-based, natural way to restore balance, vitality and provide optimal health.
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine is root cause medicine where we use sophisticated lab testing and extensive health history to uncover and treat the underlying causes of disease and dysfunction as opposed to just masking the symptoms. It is a smarter, sustainable, science-based, natural way to restore balance, vitality and provide optimal health.
How is Functional Medicine different from conventional medicine?
Addressing symptoms versus addressing root cause.
Function Medicine is about asking the ‘Why’ question. Why are your body systems being compromised, causing you to feel the way you do? It’s about getting down to the root of the problem whereas conventional western medicine is primarily focused on acute care. We need both. If you have a brain hemorrhage or heart attack you will certainly want to use all the latest medical technology to treat you. In this way, modern medicine is highly successful. However, when it comes to treating the most common 21st-century health issues like chronic or debilitating pain, chronic fatigue, infertility, gut issues, depression and brain fog, and the inability to lose weight, this type of care fails.
When it comes to these chronic health issues, conventional western medical treatments address the symptom which is essentially equivalent to putting on a band-aid. While the pain may be masked by this approach, leaving you feeling better in the short-term, it fails to address the root cause and thus removing the band-aid results in the return of symptoms. For example, conventional medicine would typically prescribe anti-acid pharmaceuticals like Prilosec to treat acid reflux or heartburn. A Functional Medicine approach, however, would be to look for reasons that have caused the body’s natural ability to deal with stomach acid to have gone awry and would potentially look for food intolerances and/or unwelcome gut bacteria and would then design a wellness plan to remove the deleterious food or bacteria and restore healthy bacteria which would likely lead to the end of heartburn symptoms, permanently.
Because conventional medicine does not address the underlying root cause there is no exit plan or end to prescribed treatments, which in most cases consist of pharmaceutical drugs. Thus people find themselves taking blood pressure meds, insulin, and anti-depressants for years with no end in sight. Long-term use of these medications eventually leads to other health issues, requiring more drugs and more disease and a decrease in the quality of life.
Symptoms, such as those listed above, are signs that the key body systems that are designed to keep you healthy are not functioning well.
When these body system are compromised symptoms appear. We chalk it up to ‘getting old’, but yes, if you don’t address the root cause, over time a new symptoms will likely appear. Disease doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years and years, sometimes, decades of dysfunction before disease appears. When left untreated, over time, these imbalances may result in disease.
Why do these body systems fail? The answer is because of lifestyle factors such as:
Diet and nutritional deficiencies
Exposure to environmental toxins
Unremitting mental/emotional/physical stress
Hidden infections in the gut or mouth or imbalances in the microbiome.
These lifestyle factors wash over our genes and influences their expression, turning them on or off. This is called epigenetics. Epigenetics is the influence of our environment on our genes. Your genes are not your destiny. It is how you engage with your environment that will determine whether or not you have health or disease.
As a functional medicine provider, my job is to help you identify what your triggers are and which body systems they are affecting. We do this through a detailed health history, careful evaluation of your lifestyle and through functional labs. Functional labs look for proper function. Remember, it is years and years of dysfunction before disease appears.
Conventional medicine is really good at diagnosing and treating disease. But they are not looking at the underlying mechanisms of the key body systems that drive disease. This is why they may tell you, you are perfectly fine, but you don’t feel fine. In many cases they won’t see the dysfunction until disease shows up.
Typical functional programs consists of a combination of natural agents (supplements, herbs, nutraceuticals, and homeopathies), nutritional and lifestyle changes, and spiritual/emotional counseling to nudge your body systems back into optimal state, so that they can do their job of keeping you healthy. The goal is to replace any nutritional deficiencies and repair any damage to the body systems that are designed to keep you well.
Functional medicine views the body as an integrated system
Functional medicine views the body as an integrated system where seemingly unrelated issues and body systems are actually related. Seeing a functional medicine provider about depression or anxiety will likely result in them wanting to explore your gut health. From the conventional point of view, you may not think your gut health had anything to do with your mood issues, but in fact they are inextricably linked. You absorb nutrients that drive the various body systems that contribute to your mood, behavior and cognitive ability through your digestive tract. Further, the majority of your microbiome, which has been linked to almost all aspects of human health, including our mood and behavior, resides in our large intestine. Seeing a conventionally trained doctor for these same mood issues would more than likely result in a prescription for an anti-depressant without any guidance on how your lifestyle factors and digestive health may be contributing to your condition.
The Functional Medicine Partnership
An important piece of the Functional Medicine approach is to educate you on how your body works.
When you understand how your body works you have greater ability to keep yourself healthy and in balance.
Thus, programs include empowering you with information and lifestyle changes that help you remain in this equilibrium even in the presence of an occasional stress (as there will always be periods of stress in life) ultimately leading to greater success in the program as well as long-term health and vitality.