What Is Functional Medicine?

Functional Medicine………The Power of “Why?”

Dr. Sidney Baker, a pioneer in functional medicine, describes the difference between conventional medicine and functional medicine as a fundamentally different way of thinking about health care. It is the realization that making a diagnosis of a specific disease is not the “end of the diagnostic road, but just the first step.”  This diagnosis is to be followed by a thorough consideration of the root cause of the disease process.  Healing the person at that root cause level is the ultimate and optimal objective. The functional medicine approach is grounded in science and it is the latest evolution in health care.

For example, a patient may present to the physician with a rash.  The traditional approach would be to make a codable diagnosis of some sort of  “___itis” and then pick the appropriate pill or topical medication to treat the rash. By some, this may be considered a bandaid approach. It may help relieve the symptoms of the rash, but without treating the underlying cause, the patient will likely have other symptoms pop up elsewhere in the future.

By contrast, the functional medicine provider always asks the question “why.” Why does the patient have the rash?  In this case it may be due to nutritional deficiencies, gut problems, or food allergies such as gluten intolerance.  The functional medicine provider will embark upon a journey to find out why and then will  intervene at the underlying level.  This will often result in better outcomes and may help prevent other problems from popping up down the line.

The root causes of disease may include issues such as hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, stress, poor sleep, infection, inflammation, toxins, emotions, and food or environmental allergies.

Functional Medicine is also “Patient-Centered” rather than “Disease-Centered” and it takes into account the dynamic balance of environmental influences as well as internal and external stressors on an individual’s health.

This patient-centered approach to health care enlists and empowers the patient as an active partner in their journey to optimal wellness,  becoming the “captain of their ship.”

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