About Functional Medicine
“Functional Medicine is a science based healthcare approach that assess and treats underlying causes of illness through individually tailored therapies to restore and improve function.”
Functional Medicine – A Deﬁnition
American Board of Integrative Holistic Med.
Functional medicine identiﬁes each of us as biochemically unique. It acknowledges the effect of our environment and lifestyle–including diet, nutrition, exposures, toxins, relationships, stressors, exercise, and emotions–on our personal biochemical and physiological functions. It also carefully considers how these same factors inﬂuence genetic predispositions and interact with our genome (our genetic make up). Identifying that the environment that we live in ultimately determines “function,” is the prevalent theme in functional medicine. Keeping in mind that the concept of environment encompasses the sum and total experiences of the patient from birth to present, and a detailed and comprehensive understanding of each patient’s history is imperative. Special testing–including unique labs and tools are used to assess the processes from which imbalances arise either prior to disease development or in the process of treating chronic illness.
Current medical practice is predominantly focused on seeking a diagnosis from signs and symptoms that a patient presents with. A disease is diagnosed, which then commonly leads to a prescription and/or pharmaceutical intervention. The current trend of “diagnosis, pill, diagnosis, pill” is perpetuated. Side effects from pharmaceuticals are experienced by the vast majority of patients who take them. Though symptoms may be temporarily mitigated by the drugs prescribed, the process by which they developed has not been sought or treated. Often, new symptoms arise as the body attempts to adjust to the “new”environment created by the drug.
Functional Medicine however, seeks to shift this paradigm away from “disease, diagnosis” and look for underlying dysfunctional systems and imbalances that may have contributed to the development of illness. In other words, functional medicine is considered to be “upstream” medicine —ﬁnding imbalances at their point of origin prior to the onset of symptoms or disease. If disease already exists, functional medicine tools help analyze the complex web of connectedness between all physiologic functions and seeks to restore maximal function to all systems in a dynamic way–respecting that each bodily system is dependent on the other, not existing is isolation. Underlying physiologic and biochemical imbalances are then restored and the development of disease is terminated.
By identifying imbalances prior to the onset of symptoms–functional medicine is ideally suited for for prevention and early assessment of disease. Correcting core imbalances and restoring optimal function on multiple levels/multiple systems can also aid in the management of chronic disease. The goal, again, is to eliminate the processes by which disease or imbalance developed in the ﬁrst place. For more on Functional Medicine please read the attachment published by the Institute of Functional Medicine and visit their website at www.functionalmedicine.com.