Functional Medicine

In the absence of trauma, the body breaks down on the inside before the outside. That means that a lot of our everyday aches and pains stem from the inside of the body. Simple assessment tools can give an accurate picture of what the internal environment of the body looks like. We can develop a custom plan for each client to effectively address their health goals.

Functional medicine is personalized healthcare that deals with identifying underlying causes, rather than treating symptoms of illness. It’s a science-based field of health care that is grounded in the following principles:[list type=”icon-arrow”]

  • Biochemical individuality describes the importance of individual variations in metabolic function that come from genetic and environmental differences among individuals.
  • Client-centered care emphasizes “client care” rather than “disease care,” following Sir William Osler’s admonition: “It is more important to know what patient has the disease than to know what disease the patient has.”
  • Dynamic balance of internal and external factors, taking both into account when planning and executing health plans.
  • Web-like interconnections of physiological factors – research now supports the view that the human body functions as an orchestrated network of interconnected systems, rather than individual systems functioning autonomously and without effect on each other.
  • Health as positive vitality – not merely the absence of disease.
  • Promotion of organ reserve, the ability of one’s organs to experience stress and then return to a healthy state, as a means of enhancing health span, not merely life span.
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Functional Medicine is a holistic model. Instead of viewing and treating health problems as isolated diseases, it recognizes individuals who may have bodily symptoms, imbalances and dysfunctions. The majority of an illness takes place below the surface. A named disease such as diabetes, cancer, or fibromyalgia might be visible above the surface, but according to Functional Medicine, the cause lies in the altered physiology below. Almost always, the cause of the disease and of its symptoms is an underlying dysfunction and/or an imbalance of bodily systems.

If health care treats just the tip of the iceberg, it rarely leads to long-term relief and vibrancy. An approach that identifies the underlying root cause or causes, as Functional Medicine does, has a better chance of successfully resolving a client’s health challenge. Using scientific principles Functional Medicine restores balance in the body’s primary physiological processes. The goal: the client’s lifelong optimal health.

How Functional Medicine Heals a Key Health Care Gap

Today’s health care system is in trouble because it applies a medical management model, which works well for acute health problems, to chronic health problems, where it is much less successful.

If you have a heart attack, accident or sudden lung infection such as pneumonia, you certainly want a quick-thinking doctor to use all the quick-acting resources made available through modern medicine, such as life-saving technology, surgery and antibiotics. We are all grateful for such interventions.

However, drugs, surgery and other acute care treatments often do not succeed in helping those with chronic, debilitating ailments, such as diabetes, heart disease or arthritis. Another, more fundamental approach may be needed.

The Two-Pronged Healing Approach of Functional Medicine

To battle chronic health conditions, Functional Medicine uses two scientifically grounded principles:

Add what’s lacking in the body to nudge its physiology back to a state of optimal functioning.
Remove anything that impedes the body from moving toward this optimal state of physiology.

Plainly put, your body naturally works toward its own health. But it might be missing things which are needed by the body to function at its best, or something might be standing in the way of its best functioning. Functional Medicine first identifies the factors responsible for the malfunctioning. Then it deals with those factors in a way that is appropriate given the client’s particular situation.

Functional Medicine practitioners use a combination of natural agents (supplements, herbs, nutraceuticals and homeopathics), nutritional and lifestyle changes for example to prod a client’s physiology back to an optimal state. In addition, providing the client with an education about their condition empowers them to take charge of their own health, ultimately leading to greater success in health.

Treating Symptoms Versus Treating the Person

In the dominant health care model today, medication is used to treat people’s symptoms. If the patient stops taking the medication, symptoms generally return.

Functional Medicine approaches health problems differently. Instead of masking the problem, it aims at restoring the body’s natural functioning. Although Functional Medicine practitioners may prescribe pharmaceuticals, they are used to gently nudge the physiology in a positive direction, always striving toward a time when the client will no longer need them.

For example, conventional doctors would normally prescribe pharmaceuticals like Prilosec, Prevacid or Aciphex to treat acid reflux or heartburn. When the patient stops taking such drugs, the heartburn symptoms come back. In contrast, a Functional Medicine practitioner might find that a patient’s acid reflux is caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Eradicating the Helicobacter pylori might very well lead to the end of heartburn symptoms, permanently.

It’s also important to note that in Functional Medicine, therapies for similar symptoms might vary tremendously for different clients, according to their medical history and results of laboratory tests. Factors that may effect them from experiencing the same symptoms include toxic chemicals, pathogenic bacteria, parasites, chronic viral pathogens, emotional poisons like anger, greed or envy, and structural factors such as tumors or cysts.

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