What is Functional Medicine?
Functional Medicine is an evolution that shifts from a disease-centered approach to a patient-centered approach. It addresses the underlying cause of disease and engages both the patient and the doctor in a therapeutic partnership.
Functional Medicine factors in environmental influences that underlie disease. The idea is that when these issues are addressed, the body can return to its natural state of health and balance.
What Principles Support Functional Medicine?
There are six core principles:
- Recognizing the individual genetic uniqueness of each person.
- Support a holistic patient-centered approach to treatment.
- Seeking a dynamic balance between the mind, body, and spirit.
- Acknowledging the interconnectivity of all internal body functions.
- Seeing health as a positive vitality and not just the absence of illness or disease.
- Striving to enhance the health span of each patient and not just their life span.
What is Different About How Doctor and Patient Work Together?
In Functional Medicine, the doctor is a detective. He or she explores the imbalances that give rise to your symptoms. They delve into the root causes, both environmental factors and genetic dispositions, that can influence your health.
Your doctor will use your symptoms as a guide to understanding the underlying imbalances rather than focus on treating the symptoms.
Systemic imbalances develop into symptoms. Your doctor will explore possible imbalances to gain perspective on where the symptoms are coming from. The following systems may be involved:
- Hormonal and nervous system
- Processes of transforming food, air, and water into energy
- Process of detoxifying and eliminating waste
- Immune system and inflammatory response
- Digestive system
- Cellular through musculoskeletal structures
Specific lifestyle choices and toxic exposures can influence your health. Your doctor may ask you many of the following questions.
- Do you get the right nutrients and exercise?
- Have you been exposed to toxic chemicals or radiation?
- Is it possible that you have parasites?
- Do you have allergies?
- Have you experienced trauma?
- Do you have a strong support network?
Environmental factors are filtered through your genetic (physical, mental, and emotional) tendencies. The unique way your body and mind process environmental inputs can influence your susceptibility to less than ideal conditions. Altering your perception of a situation and learning how to better manage stress can significantly aid in your healing.
The Functional Medicine model involves exploring every aspect that could be influencing your health. This model empowers you to take an active role in your healing. Rather than giving you medications to mask symptoms, the goal is to dig to the root of the issue so that you can fully heal.
Notes: Definitions summarized from The Chopra Center.