What Is Functional Medicine?
Functional Medicine in not medicine at all. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, “functional medicine is the model that transforming healthcare by addressing the root causes of disease, and using diet and lifestyle change to create wellness.” Functional medicine is focused on what is causing or driving dis-ease and discomfort in the body. Dis-ease and discomfort usually precede full-blown DISEASE, and can be caused by a blockage, impairment or dysfunction, which leads to uncomfortable symptoms. We need to see our symptoms as a GIFT – a call for help, so we can reflect and see what we need to do differently to resolve them. Medication can be lifesaving and necessary. That said, we should not be medicating ourselves to merely manage or suppress our symptoms. Doing so is like disabling your car’s warning lights because their flashing annoys you, and not take it to the mechanic. Symptoms left untreated can spiral downward in a multi-layered, multi-factorial fashion and become a formal disease that is diagnosable. Functional Medicine starts looking at the first signs of dysfunction in the body to try and prevent full-blown disease.
Functional Medicine also focuses on the dynamic at play in a disease state. There is usually not just one cause, or a cookie-cutter way to remedy, reduce or reverse it. Functional Medicine practitioners see each person’s disease dynamic as unique and individual. We give fully customized support, treatments and remedies. We look “up-stream” from your disease to find and address the root-cause.
How Does Functional Medicine Differ from Conventional Medicine?
In conventional medicine, you are fine, nothing wrong until you cross over the “line”, and then your symptoms are diagnosable. Functional Medicine looks to PREVENT disease by looking at symptoms as an imbalance in the body and working to bring the body back into balance.
Conventional medicine teaches is that our level of wellness or sickness is already determined by our genetics, and in many ways our of our control. In other words, our genetics affect our biochemistry (the chemical reactions and processes within our bodies). Functional Medicine sees our wellness or illness as highly dependent on our CHOICES. You have more control over your level of health than you may believe you do! Our choices have a direct impact on our biochemistry. Our environment – what we see, think, say, do, eat, drink, etc.- directly influences our genetic activation, which also has an impact on our biochemistry. Functional Medicine acknowledges that all of the body’s different systems are highly interactive and affect each other. Conventional medicine separates out the body’s systems into “specialties”.
Functional Medicine also looks at your bloodwork / lab test results from a different perspective. Conventional medicine only looks at lab values outside the “normal” range with the goal to diagnose and treat disease. That range is wide, and is based on the statistical norm of a population. That population includes healthy AND sick people! Functional Medicine ranges are narrower and are designed to look for OPTIMAL functioning, not just the absence of disease.
To sum it up, Functional Medicine is a new kind of health care. It is the care of health and the return to wellness.