Although functional medicine has been around for quite some time, it seems that this systems-based approach is just now getting the recognition it deserves.
Given that functional medicine is a new concept in mainstream media, you might be wondering what it’s all about, how it differs from conventional medicine and even if this approach is right for you.
What is functional medicine?
Functional medicine takes a science and lifestyle-based approach to healthcare. It’s the process of treating a patient by first looking at the environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors that could be contributing to a health condition.
Functional medicine seeks to answer the why behind disease. Where conventional medicine is usually interested in treating the symptoms, functional medicine digs into the underlying causes of the condition, and then how best to treat based on each unique individual.
What is taken into consideration during assessment?
Everything! Functional medicine practitioners will want to know all about your history on a genetic, environmental, social and educational level. They may want to know what it was like growing up in your environment, if you broke any bones as a child, how stressed you are at work, what activity you’re doing when you feel your best, and more. The initial assessment may be a long one, but it’ll be well worth the time.
What tests are used in functional medicine?
Functional medicine is more than diving deep into your background; labs are done so doctors can get a better perspective on just how the body is actually doing, despite how you may feel. Examples of tests performed include: hormone testing, stool and urine analysis, food antibodies panel and a thyroid test, as well as the basic biometric screening (cholesterol, sugar, fat, white blood cell count).
What treatments do functional medicine practitioners subscribe to?
Most functional medicine doctors also practice in conventional medicine so in certain circumstances, surgery or a more serious course of treatment may be the best course of action for a condition. However, those who practice in functional medicine try to treat an issue without the use of long-term medication. Supplements, botanical medicine and nutritional support that are specific to your condition and body makeup are all typical treatment plans.
Functional medicine is an interesting approach that you may benefit from trying if you’re suffering from a condition, or if you simply want to see what your body levels are at and how to improve your system. It may turn out to be the approach you need to feel at your best.