What is Functional Medicine?
Functional Medicine is often referred to as Root Cause Medicine. The practitioner of Functional Medicine seeks to identify the underlying root cause(s) of a person’s health challenges using history, biochemistry and physiology. Minimal- or non-invasive lab tests using blood, urine, hair and saliva can be ordered to find the underlying causes. Function = Health.
Patient Focus vs. Disease Focus
What we think of today as modern medicine, is primarily disease focused. The physician generally focuses on minimizing or eliminating the symptoms his/her patient presents with. In Functional Medicine, the disease process is only the tip of the iceberg. Under the surface lies the real information – the Cause! For example, a client presents with high cholesterol as a symptom. This person could be taking statin medications in an attempt to lower the cholesterol levels. A functional practitioner would strive to find out what’s causing the body to produce above-normal amounts of cholesterol; what’s causing a decrease in Function? There could be a number of root causes for this. Some of them are: nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalance, hypothyroidism or Hashimotos and inflammation.
The Healing Approach
It’s quite simple: Add or Remove. Once again, the premise is to identify what the underlying root cause is and restore the body’s optimal function. Some of the things that could be added to a case could be minerals, vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids, water, herbals, dietary changes and sleep. Some of the things that could be removed are specific foods, toxic chemicals, heavy metals, microbial pathogens, stress and glycemic imbalances.
“It’s much more important to know what sort of patient has a disease than what sort of disease the patient has.” – Dr. Sir William Osler, John Hopkins University Hospital