The functional medicine model is an individualized, patient-centered, science-based approach that empowers patients and practitioners to work together to address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness. It requires a detailed understanding of each patient’s genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors and leverages that data to direct personalized treatment plans that lead to improved patient outcomes.
Why Do We Need Functional Medicine?
Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
The system of medicine practiced by most physicians is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as appendicitis or a broken leg. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.
Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic disease. In most cases it does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or factors such as environmental exposures to toxins and the aspects of today’s lifestyle that have a different influence on the rise of chronic disease in modern Western society.
There’s a huge gap between research and the ways doctors practice. The gap between emerging research in basic sciences and integration into medical practice is enormous, as long as 50 years, particularly in the area of complex, chronic illness.
The current conventional health care model tends to only recognize and treat the “Tip of the Iceberg,” and it rarely leads to long-term relief or resolution.
Examples of this in conventional medicine include the solution to high blood pressure and high cholesterol. When someone has been prescribed medications for either of these chronic conditions, what happens when you discontinue taking the medication for a day; or a week?
The answer is simple; both of these markers return to their unhealthy elevated levels prior to the medication. There is an underlying cause to every disease process.
Identifying and correcting the body’s natural physiology has a much better chance to successfully resolve a patient’s chronic health challenge.
In the battle of chronic health conditions, Functional Medicine uses two scientifically grounded principles:
1. Add what is lacking in the body and slowly move the physiology back to a state of optimal functioning.
This is done through a series of understanding the complex series of events that has taken place over a persons lifetime, leading to multiple forms of dysfunction in the body. By understanding what has happened in the body, what it is lacking and why, we are able to restore balance and health at the cellular level.