Functional Medicine is the Way of the Future.
Many people have asked me about the term ‘functional medicine’. What is functional medicine? We welcome this new ‘breed’ of practitioners who are using this terminology when describing how they practice. Their services do well in finding solutions and adequate care for people suffering with chronic conditions, no matter what system of the body is affected.
Functional medicine looks at the underlying causes of disease by using an approach that involves both the patient and practitioner in a therapeutic relationship. As far as I see it, this approach is much better at dealing with the healthcare needs of people living in the 21st century.
It means that there is a shift from the traditional disease-centered focus of attention that we used in medical practice historically, to a more patient-centered method. Functional medicine looks at the whole person, and not only an limited set of symptoms. This is very much like the homeopathic approach when looking for an individual’s ‘constitutional’ remedy.
Functional medicine practitioners also spend more time with their patients. They listen
carefully to their histories and look at the interactions of genetic, environmental, and
lifestyle factors that may contribute towards their long-term health as well as the
complexities of their current chronic disease. You see, functional medicine practitioners value the individual expression of a person’s health and sense of vitality. Their idiosyncratic response is most important.
As you know, today there is a major increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, mental problems, and autoimmune disorders. Unfortunately, the type of medicine that is practiced by most traditional allopathic physicians is directed towards acute care and the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, like, appendicitis or even a broken leg. Physicians use specific treatments of drugs or surgery to treat the immediate problem or symptom without addressing the underlying causes.
This allopathic approach does not look at the patient in a comprehensive way; not really
looking at preventing disease nor addressing complex, chronic disease. Most of the time, the unique genetic makeup of each individual is not looked at, nor are issues like environmental exposures to toxins and other parts of today’s lifestyle that very often have a direct influence on the increase in chronic disease in our modern Western world.
Unfortunately, the gap between recent research in basic sciences and integration into medical practice is huge, especially with regard to complex, chronic illness. Most physicians are not trained to make the evaluation needed to address the underlying causes of chronic disease which is usually very complex. They are also not trained to be able to use alternative options like diet, nutrition, and exercise, whether its to be used immediately to treat current conditions or to prevent these illnesses from occurring in the future.
Now there is an urgent need for functional medicine practitioners who can treat conditions utilizing an approach that includes their understanding of the origins, the prevention, and the treatment of complex, chronic disease.