What is Functional Medicine, and what makes it different from conventional medicine?
Here’s a paraphrase of the description found on the Institute for Functional Medicine website:
The Functional Medicine model is an individualized, patient-centered, science-based approach that is designed to empower patients and practitioners to work together in addressing the underlying causes of disease and to promote optimal wellness. Functional Medicine requires a detailed understanding of each patient’s genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors and puts all of that information and data together to create personalized treatment plans which lead to improved patient outcomes and patient health.
With a goal of finding the root cause, rather than symptoms, practitioners focus on identifying what is behind disease (dis-ease). Practitioners may find one condition has many different causes and, likewise, one cause may result in many different conditions or ailments. As a result, Functional Medicinal treatments target the specific manifestations of disease (dis-ease) in each Individual. The entire process is designed to be personal and not general.
A doctor of functional medicine chooses from a wide array of alternative healing studies, that they then incorporate into their practices. Their practice tends to avoid pharmaceutical medications as treatments while searching for the root cause of the malfunction in the normal function of the physical body as a whole. Diet and stress can play a huge part in the cause of any one person’s dis-ease, and Functional Medical doctors focus on how to systematically return the body to a state of wholeness and normal function, rather than simply quieting the symptoms alone. Changes to lifestyle habits may be required to help with solving health problems. A patients “cure” may be accomplished through a process of steps rather than with a quick fix method. In contrast, the U.S. population has been conditioned to expect to take a pill and receive immediate results. In some cases, a patient may need to be willing to wait a bit for results, while staying the course prescribed to them by their Functional Medical practitioner.
Functional Medicine doesn’t replace conventional medicine, but rather brings into conventional medicine proven, successful alternative healing options that western medicine has been known to ignore, for whatever reasons. When a patient can achieve a better quality of life from their time spent at their doctor’s office, and the plan of treatment their doctor sees as beneficial for the patient, isn’t it time we acknowledge that Functional Medicine has a valuable place in our current society?