Functional medicine aims to find the root cause behind health issues, examining genetics, environment, diet and lifestyle factors. It asks not only how, but why is this health concern occurring? It looks at every person as individualized and considers all components of human biology and how they interact with the environment.
With more than 75% of healthcare costs coming from chronic illnesses, functional medicine offers a new care model that has the potential of providing long term solutions and reduced cost of care. Mainstream healthcare focuses on masking symptoms, with interventions such as pharmaceuticals, often leading to long term dependence on drugs. Although this approach can work well for acute care, it has been less than ideal for chronic conditions. Most primary care doctors have little knowledge about nutrition and its impact on the body's physiology. The food and drink you choose to consume, the amount you sleep, your activity and stress levels all have a profound effect on how your body performs. Many chronic illnesses are a result of poor diet and lifestyle factors, such as cardiovascular disease, lung disease, diabetes and fatty liver disease.
Functional medicine investigates where your body is struggling and uses conservative, natural interventions to optimize your body's own physiology to facilitate wellness. This model also recognizes the idea that one condition can have many different causative factors and stems more from dysfunctions in your physiology and the biochemistry of the human body. Detailed testing is often used in conjunction with very thorough history taking to accomplish this. There is the perception that all lab work is the sam, but functional practitioners usually utilize more in depth testing. Not all labs are created equal and the standard screening panels often are short versions of tests checking for states of disease. Functional testing investigates vitamins, minerals, physiological processes such as amino acid breakdown and absorption, neurotransmitter production/metabolism, urea cycle and ammonia detox, glutathione production, inflammatory markers, methylation, exposure to toxic elements, energy production, circadian rhythm/adrenal stress index testing, plasma fatty acid profiles, liver detoxification, food allergies, microbiome panels, stool analysis, comprehensive hormone panels and more. This in depth testing really allows for a more complete picture of how your body is behaving and oftentimes reveals blocks in your body's performance that must be addressed.
Functional medicine is an excellent in depth, systems oriented health model. That being said, it is also a team approach, involving both the patient and the practitioner. This model aims at shifting habits, addressing diet on a long term level, understanding genetic components, lifestyle and environmental factors to get the body’s physiology working the best it can. This is what makes functional medicine a personalized, effective and long term solution to promote optimal health.