When we’re sick, we go to the doctor’s office for a diagnosis and medication to treat our illness. However, sickness shouldn’t be the only reason why we visit the doctor. Functional medicine visits are becoming increasingly popular as they work to evaluate the antecedents, triggers and mediators of disease, even before they begin. These visits are one of the most comprehensive forms of medical care available to determine overall health and wellness. During the examination, your individual genomic makeup, personal health history, family history and environment will be evaluated to identify what is affecting your health. Prepare for your next functional medicine visit with these tips!
Understanding Functional Medicine
All of us have experienced a conventional medicine visit in which we get sick, go to the doctor, receive a diagnosis and begin treatment, usually through some form of medication, and then go home. The literal definition of conventional medicine is the treatment of human disease using medication or surgery. Some examples of conventional medicine include prescribing medications for diabetes, heart surgery, chemotherapy and things of that nature. However, many patients don’t want to rely on medicating themselves to get better or pay an exorbitant amount of money for surgery. For this reason, alternative medicine has become more popular to give patients, as the name says, an alternative to conventional medicine and surgical treatments. One of the more popular forms of alternative medicine is functional medicine, which relies on extensively evaluating a patient’s antecedents, triggers and mediators of disease so that they can be treated in more natural ways. A functional medicine visit is the most comprehensive evaluation out there to understand what is going on in your body and how it is related to your genomic makeup, environment and medical history. Functional medicine seeks to identify the risks of developing a certain condition before it does and treating those symptoms to prevent it from occurring. For example, if your blood sugar levels come back elevated or are continuously fluctuating, functional medicine would seek to stabilize those blood sugar levels before diabetes even develops.
To determine why you’re experiencing the symptoms that you have, many functional medicine providers use the GOTOIT method. GOTOIT means “Gather, Organize, Tell, Order, Initiate, Track”, and it helps providers identify unhealthy problems and propose specific treatments and lifestyle modifications to treat the patient’s medical problem. Over the process of a few weeks, this system helps develop rapport with the patient and allows the provider to get to the root of the problem by working hand-in-hand with the patient.
What To Expect During A Functional Medicine Visit
Be prepared to examine your lifestyle and personal habits when you schedule a functional medicine visit. These visits aren’t just to diagnose your problems, give you meds and send you out the door; they’re meant to evaluate how your environment is interacting with your genetic makeup and health history and why that combination is causing you health problems. A functional medicine package is specific, detailed and involves four different visits (about 5.5 hours in total) to treat your symptoms. During the first visit, you’ll meet with the provider for two hours for a physical exam and to create a timeline of your health history. Your second visit will last for an hour with the RN nutritionist who will develop diet and lifestyle support plans that you will be expected to complete throughout the process. The third visit will be with the same RN nutritionist but you will only be discussing your GUT health, or gastrointestinal issues. The fourth and last visit will last for an hour and a half in which the provider will tie everything together and implement hormonal support. By this point, you should have a greater understanding of the triggers that are causing your illness and why they’re occurring.
At the beginning and throughout your functional medicine treatment, you will have labs taken that typically aren’t done in conventional medicine. Some of these labs include organic acids testing, food allergy testing, nutritional assessments and testing of the salivary hormones. There will also be an aggressive cardiovascular health screening performed along with breath, stool and urine samples to determine your gut health. Nutritional panels that identify your vitamin, mineral, fatty acids and antioxidant health will be performed, as well. Four body composition measurements will be taken throughout the process to see how well your body is coping with the dietary and nutritional changes, and your adrenal, thyroid and sex hormones will be monitored to identify any abnormalities.
Committing To Your Health
As mentioned previously, make sure that you are ready to fully commit to your health and be willing to make strict dietary and lifestyle changes before participating in functional medicine. We will not diagnose your issues and tell you what medications you need to take to improve; we expect your willingness to participate in the recommendations we make, according to what your exams and lab work show, so that you can contribute to your own recovery. Some changes that will be required will include those regarding your diet, sleep patterns, stress management, hormonal health and nutrition. If you have questions or concerns, communicate those to your functional medicine provider and they will work with you to address them. Functional medicine visits will not provide patients with a “magic pill” or initiate instant recovery, so be prepared to work hard to recover from your illness and restore your health again.
Schedule A Functional Medicine Visit
If you’re wanting to naturally heal your body and are interested in a functional medicine visit, call Balanced Well-Being Healthcare at (970) 631-8286 to schedule a consultation. Dr. Alessi and her staff focus their approach to wellness through the lens of functional medicine, and their experience helping patients is second-to-none. Call today to learn how to prevent illness from developing and safeguard your health for the future!