What is Functional Medicine?
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 relies on 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.
By addressing root cause, rather than symptoms, practitioners become oriented to identifying the complexity of disease. They may find one condition has many different causes and, likewise, one cause may result in many different conditions. As a result, Functional Medicine treatment targets the specific manifestations of disease in each individual.
The Functional Medicine Approach
Functional Medicine is a systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of many contributing to an individual’s illness.
As the graphic illustrates, a diagnosis can be the result of more than one cause. For example, depression can be caused by many different factors, including inflammation. Likewise, a cause such as inflammation may lead to a number of different diagnoses, including depression. The precise manifestation of each cause depends on the individual’s genes, environment, and lifestyle, and only treatments that address the right cause will have lasting benefit beyond symptom suppression.
How Functional Medicine is Different
- Patient-centered care. The focus of functional medicine is on patient-centered care, promoting health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease. By listening to the patient and learning their story, the practitioner brings the patient into the discovery process and tailors treatment that address the individual’s unique needs.
- An integrative, science based healthcare approach. Functional medicine practitioners look upstream to consider the complex web of interactions in the client’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, spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total functioning.
- Integrating best practices. Functional medicine practitioners integrate both traditional Western practices along with a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of laboratory testing and a combination of drugs and or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification program, or stress management techniques.
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