What Is Functional Medicine Anyway?
I like to think of functional medicine as a personalised approach to healthcare that focuses on preventative medicine as well as focusing on identifying and addressing the underlying causes of chronic disease at an individual level.
It offers a different viewpoint to that of conventional medicine. We, as functional medicine practitioners, are always asking WHY?
We want to get to the bottom of the WHY:
WHY are you suffering brain fog?
WHY are you constantly fatigued?
WHY are your joints painful?
WHY do you have stomach issues?
WHY isn't your thyroid functioning properly?
WHY are your hormones imbalanced?
We get our Sherlock's hat on and delve deeper than other healthcare professionals have the time or expertise to do. We spend the time that is required to understand your body, lifestyle, stresses, environment, and other areas that can affect your health and wellness. It is often a road of discovery from health questionnaires, to comprehensive testing, to understanding the results and spotting the imbalances in your body.
Once we understand the WHY, then comes the HOW:
HOW do we help to correct imbalances and deficiencies found?
Functional medicine is based on using natural, holistic means to recover wellness and optimal health. Therefore prescription drugs are seldom part of the armoury (although they do have their place), we concentrate on other methods including lifestyle changes, appropriate targeted supplementation, stress management, emotions and many others.
Functional medicine also offers HOPE.
Functional medicine also offers HOPE.
When it comes to chronic health issues, our healthcare system is not really set up to cope with them. In the UK, our NHS is great at dealing with trauma, injuries, and other acute medical conditions. BUT, over the last 20 years there has been an explosion of long term chronic health problems that has gradually gotten worse and grinding people down. The conventional method of dealing with this is to cover up symptoms with drugs, often relieving pain and discomfort short term but never getting to the root cause of the issue.
Many of my clients have an "AHA!" moment when I explain test results or give reasons why they have their symptoms. Suddenly they have been listened to, and actually had tests explained to them fully with the implications of what they show. So many people tell me, even when they've felt ill for months or years, that the Dr kept saying their tests were "Normal" when they felt anything but!
I very often see a weight lifted when clients realise they were right, it wasn't all in their head! Their health was not "NORMAL" even though that's what some have been told time and time again by healthcare providers.
HOPE can bring BELIEF, and BELIEF can be very powerful as it leads to CONFIDENCE, DETERMINATION, PERSERVERANCE and eventually HEALTH.
The principles of functional medicine include:
- Patient-centered care: We focus on the person as a whole, taking into account individual factors, environmental factors, lifestyle (food/drink/sleep/stress, etc.) that may contribute to their health issues. Functional medicine practitioners partner with you on your health journey, and health plans are tailored to your specific needs and goals.
- One size does not fit all: Every person is unique, and therefore requires a customised approach to healthcare. Functional medicine practitioners take this into account to create a personalised plan.
- Balance and resilience: Functional medicine aims to support the body's natural healing processes by addressing imbalances and deficiencies. This involves identifying and addressing the root causes of disease, rather than simply treating symptoms.
- Dynamic balance: We recognise that health is a dynamic state, and that it is constantly changing. Therefore, treatment plans may need to be adjusted over time as a person's health status changes.
- Functional medicine is evidence-based: Grounded in scientific research and seeks to integrate the best available evidence into clinical practice.
- Collaborative and integrative: Functional medicine practitioners work in partnership with the patient. Working together to provide support and accountability to give comprehensive care that addresses all aspects of a person's health.