Functional Medicine addresses the underlying cause of disease using a systems-oriented approach that engages the patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century.

By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long- term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.

Assessing the cause of disease

In Functional Medicine, practitioners assess the underlying cause of disease through a detailed history, physical examination and laboratory testing. Laboratory testing may include blood, urine, stool and saliva. In addition, the practitioner considers multiple factors including:

Environmental inputs- The air you breathe and the water you drink, the particular type of diet you eat, the quality of food available to you, your level of physical exercise, and toxic exposure and traumas you have experiences all affect your health.

Mind-body connections- Psychological, spiritual, and social factors all can have a profound influence on your health. Considering these areas helps the functional medicine practitioner see your health in the context of you as a whole person, not just your physical symptoms.

Genetic makeup – Although individual genes may make you more susceptible to some diseases, your DNA is not an unchanging blueprint for your life. Emerging research shows that your genes may be influenced by everything in your environment, as well as your experiences, attitudes, and beliefs. That means it is possible to change the way genes are activated and expressed. Through assessment of these underlying causes and triggers of dysfunction, the functional medicine practitioner is able to understand how key processes are affected. These are the body’s processes that keep you alive. Some occur at the cellular level and involve how cells function, repair, and maintain themselves. These processes are related to larger functions, such as:

  • how your body eliminates toxins
  • regulation of hormones and neurotransmitters
  • immune system function
  • inflammatory responses
  • digestion and absorption of nutrients, and health of the digestive tract
  • structural integrity
  • psychological and spiritual equilibrium
  • how you produce energy

Approach to Treatment

Most imbalances in functionality can be addressed; some can be completely restored to optimum function, and others can be substantially improved.

Prevention is paramount. Virtually every complex, chronic disease is preceded by long-term disturbances in functionality that can be identified and effectively managed.

Changing how the systems function can have a major impact on the patient’s health. The functional medicine practitioner examines a wide array of available interventions and customizes a treatment plan including those with the most impact on underlying functionality.

Functional medicine treatments. Treatments may include combinations of drugs, botanical medicines, nutritional supplements, therapeutic diets, or detoxification programs. They may also include counseling on lifestyle, exercise, or stress-management techniques.

The patient becomes a partner. As a patient, you become an active partner with your functional medicine practitioner. This allows you to really be in charge of improving your own health and changing the outcome of disease.