Medicine is constantly exploring new avenues of health care, and the old paradigms of thinking are making way for the evolution of a new practice of medicine that is a blend of lifestyle and medicine. These styles merge the principles of traditional medicine along with preventative and integrative techniques that look at ways in which lifestyles can be modified and chronic diseases can be managed holistically.
Rather than focusing on organ system diagnosis, Functional Medicine goes deeper and recognises that several key clinical imbalances are capable of causing multiple organ system imbalances at the same time. For example, a clinical imbalance of the gut, e.g. leaky gut, leads to systemic inflammation, which can result in imbalances of the lungs, joints and endocrine system, manifesting as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and insomnia.
A conventional doctor would usually treat you with medications, such as an inhaler for the relief of asthma sypmptoms, corticosteroids for rheumatoid arthritis and anti-depressants for depression – while a Functional Medicine practitioner would instead focus their attention towards healing the gut, which would lower the systemic inflammation and thus resolve all the other issues simultaneously.
They may do this by addressing your diet to remove inflammatory foods, improving your intestinal microflora with probiotics along with digestive enzymes or extra stomach acid, etc. The ultimate aim, however, is to address what is causing the problems, rather than manage the symptoms that appear downstream.
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 result in chronic disease.
Functional Medicine practitioners work synergistically with your medical doctor to achieve your health goals.
A functional approach to health means supporting the body in such a way that it can thrive despite the challenges of living, not just survive.
For a deeper understanding of Functional Medicine, visit The Institute of Functional Medicine.