Why Functional Medicine?
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.
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.
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. 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 practices. Functional medicine integrates traditional Western practices with what is 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.
Integrative medicine is a healing-oriented medicine that emphasizes the therapeutic relationship where integrative practitioners partner with patients to address the whole person (mind, body and spirit) and not just symptoms or the disease.
Where evidence shows a benefit, complementary therapies such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, and stress reduction may be recommended as part of the treatment plan. The goal of therapy is to facilitate the body’s innate healing response and to promote health and the prevention of illness.