How many times have you seen your doctor for an ailment, only to have all your X-rays, blood tests, and other diagnostic tests come back normal? You know you’re suffering, and so does your doctor, but what can they do?
Sadly, this is a common scenario, but why? One problem is that modern healthcare has always focused on treating acute diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis, with chronic conditions such as autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and heart disease being new to the game.
Thankfully, non-traditional medicine is beginning to expand its focus with the introduction of functional medicine. A functional medicine doctor uses a different model and approach to prevent and manage complex, chronic illnesses. Instead of treating a cluster of symptoms, these doctors instead treat the entire individual.
A functional medicine physician focuses on the cause, not the symptom and treats the organism, not the organ. He or she realizes that the same disease in multiple people may have differing causes and therefore, those people should have different treatments.
How Functional Medicine Works
A functional medicine doctor spends more time with their patients. They discuss the patient’s lifestyle, biochemical, and genetic factors in addition to medical symptoms. They will then use this data to discover the underlying causes of the illness and come up with a treatment plan. This could include searching for the following factors that affect how the patient’s body functions:
- Environmental influences such as toxin exposure
- Lifestyle choices including activity, diet, and stress
- Genetic background
The key to functional medicine is determining the root causes. There may be more than one imbalance causing your disease that needs treatment. For example, imbalances in environmental toxin exposure, exercise and diet, genetics, gut flora, hormones, and inflammation may result in obesity. In addition, one imbalance, like inflammation, may lead to many conditions. A functional medicine physician studies these complexities and restores health by restoring balance.
Conditions That Functional Medicine Treats
People who are on medication that has side effects or doesn’t fully control their disease are excellent candidates for functional medicine. If you’ve been treated by your doctor and still feel sick, functional medicine may be for you.
Functional medicine can treat a wide variety of conditions, including:
- Hormonal Issues – menopause, chronic fatigue, thyroid conditions
- Skin Problems – eczema, acne, psoriasis
- Autoimmune Disorders – celiac disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis
- Digestive Issues – diverticulosis, acid reflux, chronic pancreatitis, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome
- Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders – migraine headaches, attention deficit disorder, depression
- Cardiometabolic Conditions – heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes
Customizing a Functional Medicine Plan
The ultimate goal of your functional medicine physician is to restore normal function through balance. Your personalized care plan might include:
- Nutritional supplements, botanical medicines, and prescription drugs
- Detoxification programs
- Lifestyle, diet, and exercise changes
- Stress management
The plan you and your doctor come up with will be designed to reverse your specific imbalances and eliminate your chronic condition or disease. With the help of functional medicine, you can make a healthy future your reality.