Functional Medicine

Functional Medicine

What Is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and evaluating the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.

Why Do We Need Functional Medicine?

Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

The system of medicine practiced by most physicians is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as appendicitis or a broken leg. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.

Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic disease. In most cases it does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or factors such as environmental exposures to toxins and the aspects of today's lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise in chronic disease in modern Western society.

There's a huge gap between research and the way doctors practice. The gap between emerging research in basic sciences and integration into medical practice is enormous—as long as 50 years— particularly in the area of complex, chronic illness. Functional medicine's aim is to evaluate, assess, and carefully enfold emerging research in a practical, efficient, and safe manner.

Most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of complex, chronic disease and to apply strategies such as nutrition, diet, and exercise to both treat and prevent these illnesses in their patients.

How Is Functional Medicine Different?

Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease. Hallmarks of a functional medicine approach include:

Patient-centered care. The focus of functional medicine is on patient-centered care, promoting health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease. By listening to the patient and learning his or her story, the practitioner brings the patient into the discovery process and tailors treatments that address the individual's unique needs.

An integrative, science-based healthcare approach. Functional medicine practitioners look upstream" to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient's history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal (mind, body, and spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total functioning.

Integrating best medical practices. Functional medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with what are sometimes considered alternative" or integrative" medicine, creating a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques.

Reprinted from The Institute for Functional Medicine:

Recent Posts

Top 5 Causes of Your Fatigue

1. Low or high thyroid function (thyroid dysfunction)The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland located in your neck. Thyroid hormone regulates your...

Stomach Pain, Bloating and Indigestion: The after meal pain and suffering

Painful swelling, bloating, gas, and indigestion along with constipation or diarrhea are all issues associated with a condition called small intestinal...

Fix Your Hormones with Fiber - by Dr. Pamela Langenderfer

Many women suffer from hormonal imbalances such as PMS, uterine fibroids, hot flashes, PCOS, and acne. One of the most effective things to help restore...

Is a Leaky Gut Contributing to Your Health Problems?

The gut is the gateway to health. If your gut is healthy, chances are that you're in good health. However, there's a condition called leaky gut that can...

Does Your Child Have Digestive Problems? Some solutions to tummy aches and bathroom issues.

If your child is suffering from these problems, the cause and cure is often diet. Consider permanently reducing or eliminating processed foods. They contain...

Tingling, Painful or Numb Hands: Simple effective care with long term results.

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is an injury caused by a pinched or compressed nerve typically in the wrist but may be associated with the forearm or the...

Diabetes Part 2: Minding Your Micronutrients

Micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, organic acids, phytonutrients) are often ignored, but vitally important for healing, detoxification, energy, and metabolic...

Have you hit a wall in your Type 2 Diabetes Management?

Over the years, my patients and I have found that a few simple steps really make a huge difference in improving blood sugar control, overall health, and...

Athletes Recover Faster with Acupuncture

With Ironman just around the corner triathletes are in their last ditch effort to increase their endurance and delay “the wall.”

Are you suffering from low thyroid function? By Dr. Pamela Langenderfer

The thyroid, also known as your master gland of energy and metabolism, is a small gland shaped like a butterfly, located in the lower part of your neck...