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What Is Functional Medicine?

  • Christa Rymal
  • Mar 15, 2018

What Is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is an approach to looking at the nature of chronic diseases. This biology-based model sees your body as an integrated system, not just an assembly of different organs. This approach also recognizes that all of us are biochemically and genetically unique. Thus, functional medicine seeks to identify the underlying cause of a disease and design a personalized care for each patient.

Functional Medicine: A New Approach Based on Solid Research

Advancements in nutritional science, systems biology and genetics have paved the way for thought leaders to incorporate new insight into their approaches to medicine. With the sharp rise of chronic and degenerative ailments like heart disease, cancer and diabetes, pioneers of functional medicine recognize the need to design interventions that address complex chronic diseases.

Since functional medicine is patient-centered, you will assume a proactive role in the treatment. Practitioners will take the time to sit down with you to have a thorough look into your personal, medical and family history. They may also take diagnostic tests and conduct a physical exam to elicit a clearer overview of the interaction of genetic, lifestyle, physiological and genetic factors that contribute to the progression of any disease.

A Balance of Medicine

This approach leverages not only the best medical practices to treat diseases, but also those that promote overall wellness and vitality. This treatment uses a broad range of interventions, which could include a combination of prescribed medications and lifestyle changes, with a strong focus on nutrition, sleep, movement and restoration. However, the formula will not be the same for everyone.

The treatment program for someone with diabetes could include prescribed medications, supplements, as well as a stress management program, exercise guidelines, and dietary education. This personalized program is designed to address the underlying causes of disease (stress, sleep issues, unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, and environmental toxins) to manage blood glucose levels.

Nurses, dietitians, health and wellness coaches, personal trainers, integrative practitioners, meditation instructors, and culinary chef educators can work in collaboration with your functional medicine clinician to develop the most comprehensive approach to managing your disease. They'll also continue to work with you to ensure that you follow through with the necessary therapies and lifestyle modifications that will prevent, treat, and reverse complex health issues.