What is Functional Medicine?
The term “Functional Medicine” can seem rather ambiguous. The term and field of Functional Medicine refers to something completely different than what we have now come to know as conventional medicine or the standard model of care. To fully understand what functional medicine is, it is important to contrast it with conventional medicine.
Traditional, or allopathic, doctors use drugs or hormones as therapeutic tools to deal with dysfunction or disease. They are trained to put a name to the condition and match that condition to a prescription medication. If the medication does not work, another medicine may be prescribed. This model of care works well for acute diseases, trauma, infection, and emergencies, but it is less effective in the care of the chronic diseases affecting over 125 million Americans today.
Functional Medicine addresses the underlying cause of disease, rather than addressing symptoms only. One patient with diabetes does not have the same physiology, or altered physiology, as the next patient with diabetes. We need to ask, “What functions or systems are out of balance”, and “Why has the physiology been altered in the first place? Treating the symptoms with pharmaceuticals only does not address the true cause of the illness and will not lead to health and vitality for the patient.
A Functional Medicine doctor will look for the root cause or mechanism involved with the disease process – what nutrient is lacking in the body, or what toxicity is blocking proper function – and attempt to correct the imbalance with nutrition, lifestyle changes, and counseling.
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 looking at 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.
CORE PRINCIPLES OF FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE
Functional medicine has long been guided by six core principles:
1. An understanding of the biochemical individuality of each human being, based on the concepts of genetic and environmental uniqueness;
2. Awareness of the evidence that supports a patient-centered rather than a disease-centered approach to treatment;
3. Search for a dynamic balance among the internal and external body, mind, and spirit;
4. Familiarity with the web-like interconnections of internal physiological factors;
5. Identification of health as a positive vitality not merely the absence of disease emphasizing those factors that encourage the enhancement of a vigorous physiology;
6. Promotion of organ reserve as the means to enhance the health span, not just the life span, of each patient.
A patient-centered approach refers to health care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and that ensures that patient values guide all clinical decisions.
At Family Chiropractic & Nutrition, patient-centered care is at the center of what we call the therapeutic partnership, the relationship that forms between a patient and clinician that empowers the patient to take ownership of their own healing. The power of the therapeutic partnership comes from the idea that patients who are active participants in the development of their therapeutic plan feel more in control of their own well-being and are more likely to make sustained lifestyle changes to improve their health.