What Makes Functional Medicine Better?
Functional medicine is a "whole body" approach which focuses on customized care for each person. Instead of treating signs and symptoms with short- and long-term medications and conventional medical treatments, we identify and address the underlying cause that triggers those signs and symptoms.
We do this by listening to your histories and looking at the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that may be influencing your long-term health and chronic disease. Any testing that is done is then based, not just on signs and symptoms, or a particular part of the body, but on the body as a whole (spiritual, emotional, mental, physical).
As an example, 10 people go to the doctor complaining of chronic fatigue. The goal is to come up with different testing and treatment models for each individual, depending on the other variables at play.
Each person has a different reason for feeling fatigued. For one person, the cause may be the adrenals. For another person, it could be an autoimmune disease. And for another person, it could be an underlying infection. With functional medicine, we are looking at that person in the context of their entire life. Then we can create a customized plan of balancing the whole person.
How Functional Medicine Compares to Conventional Medicine
A lot of people ask how functional medicine is different. The chart below will help you understand the primary differences.
|Functional Medicine||Conventional Medicine|
|Sees the body as one integrated whole, connected system||Separates the body into different organ systems (heart, lungs, brain, etc.)|
|Considers every client as an individual with unique genetics, environment and lifestyle||Communicates with clients as individuals, but with investigations and treatments very often standardized|
|Good at looking at underlying processes which cross medical specialties (inflammation, stress, etc).||Good at looking very deeply at the details of separate organ systems|
|Is client-focused||Is disease-focused|
|Determines what the needs of the body are (better nutrition, exercise, rest, etc.) and what needs to be eliminated (poor nutrition, stress, smoking, etc.)||Works out the differential diagnosis through history, examination and investigation. Treats as per guidelines and/or protocol|
|Focuses on the triggers of ill-health||Focuses on the consequences of ill-health|
|Asks why this disease is happening in the first place and how can we undo this?||Asks what is this disease, and what can we do to alleviate symptoms and prevent progression?|
|Uses first principles of biology and physiology to understand primary drivers of disease, as well as designs a healthy lifestyle to disable the drivers, often leading symptoms to resolve themselves||Uses first principles of biology and physiology to help make a diagnosis and design treatments to alleviate symptoms of disease|
|Believes that lifestyle changes are effective||Uses medications as the primary treatment option, with suggestions about lifestyle changes|
|Spends a lot of time up front determining the client history and potential root causes||Only spends 7-10 minutes determining signs and symptoms and focusing on those|
|Good for chronic disease||Good for acute disease, accidents and emergencies|