WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE?
Functional Medicine addresses the underlying causes of health disorders, diseases, and imbalances. The way functional medicine works is different than modern American medicine methods because it uses a system-oriented approach and engages both the doctor and the patient in a therapeutic partnership. It better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century with its avalanche of complex diseases. Clinical Nutrition Centers chooses to use the Functional Medicine approach because it addresses the whole person by shifting the traditional disease-centered or symptom-centered focus of medical practice to a patient-centered approach. Functional Medical practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their entire histories and looking at their genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality in each person.
WHY DO WE NEED FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE?
- Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases. Many of these diseases were extremely rare, or even completely unknown to man such as: Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, auto-immune disorders, ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and other early developmental or childhood learning problems.
- The system of medicine practiced by 99.9 percent of physicians is solely oriented towards acute care. Most acute care is in response to the diagnosis of an illness or trauma that is in need of urgent care such as an emergency surgery for appendicitis, or an injury like a broken bone. In these cases, physicians apply treatments, such as surgery or drugs, that aim to treat or manage the immediate acute crisis, problem, or symptom.
- Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating a complex, chronic disease. In most cases, modern medicine does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual, or factors such as environmental exposures to toxins. Most physicians don’t realize the aspects of today’s lifestyles have a direct influence on the rise in chronic degenerative disease in modern society.
- There is a huge gap between medical research and the way doctors practice. The gap between emerging research in basic sciences and integration into medical practice is enormous. Doctors and traditional practitioners are still treating patients with complex, chronic diseases with outdated and ineffective medical philosophies, drugs, and surgeries. Armed with this information, individuals suffering from these diseases should demand new healthcare approaches, strategies, and natural non-toxic therapies.
- Most physicians are not trained to assess the underlying causes of chronic diseases. Physicians who practice Functional Medicine learn to apply strategies such as diet, nutrition, and exercise to both treat and prevent these diseases in their patients.
HOW IS FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE DIFFERENT?
Functional Medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and natural treatment options of complex, chronic diseases. Hallmarks of a Functional Medicine approach include:
- Patient-centered care. The focus of Functional Medicine is patient-centered care, not just an absence of disease. By listening to the patient and learning his or her story, the physician brings the patient into the process of finding underlying causes of disease, and tailors treatments that address the patient's unique needs with the most accurate and positively impactful therapeutic approach.
- An integrative, science-based healthcare approach. Functional Medicine practitioners look “upstream” into a patient’s health timeline to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered along with both internal (mind, body, and spirit) and external factors (physical, chemical, and social environment) that affect total health status.
- Integrating best medical practices. Functional Medicine integrates the best of Western medical diagnostic techniques with what is sometimes referred to as “alternative” or “integrative” medicine. This puts a larger focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise. Functional Medicine combines the latest laboratory testing, diagnostic procedures and customized combinations of botanical, herbal, and homeopathic medicines, supplements, diets, detoxification programs, stress management techniques, and — when needed for lifesaving purposes — short-term courses of prescription drugs or emergency surgery.