What is Functional Medicine? Is it new...a fad?
You may be surprised to learn that Functional Medicine really isn't new at all. Actually, it has just been lost in translation so to speak. The core principles of the scientific healing arts are at the premise of Functional Medicine. It's actually represents a return to the roots of modern scientific based approach to health and wellness. You may or may not have heard of Sir William Osler but while a professor at John Hopkins University School of Medicine he stated:
"The good physician treats the disease; the GREAT physician treats the patient who has the disease."
~ Sir William Osler
"If you listen carefully to the patient, they will tell you the diagnosis."
~ Sir William Osler
State of the Union's Health
The numbers don't argue the fact that our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases. Everything from diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, hormone problems, autism, and more are on the rise.
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 a broken bone or appendicitis. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom, but not necessarily remove the CAUSE.
Unfortunately, the acute-care approach 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 direct influence on the rise in chronic disease in modern Western society.
Functional Medicine Philosophy
The Functional Medicine approach addresses the underlying causes of disease. It is a science-based, metabolic approach to treatment. The guiding principles of this model of healthcare are:
- REMOVE what is causing harm
- RESTORE what is missing
- Assist in REPAIR of what has been damaged
By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more individual-centered and natural approach, we can addresse the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. We can spend time with our 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, we are supporting the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.
A common misconception most people have is that they think of their body as separate pieces functioning independently of each other. An example of this is eczema. Conventional medicine typically gives a patient who has eczema a steroid creme to treat the skin. However, eczema is actually a “gut” issue, and also a “brain or neurological” issue. The human body is very complex and composed of many, many parts. Everything is connected!
Some patients have had the experience of taking one medication for a particular body organ/system only to find out that it has damaged or affected another body organ/system. You cannot treat one part of the body without affecting them all!
To sum it all up, the Functional Medicine model looks at each individual as being unique. We look at the whole person, not just a part of it. We address the CAUSE (or causes) of ill health, not just the SYMPTOMS.