What Makes Functional Medicine Better?
Functional medicine is a “whole body” approach which focuses on customized care for each person. Instead of treating the symptoms with short term medications, we identify and address the underlying cause that triggers those symptoms.
We do this by listening to your histories and look at the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that may be influencing your long-term health and chronic disease. Any testing that’s done is then based not just on symptoms or a particular part of the body, but the body as a whole.
As an example, if 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, it may be adrenal, for another it’s an autoimmune disease and another person might have an underlying infection. With functional medicine, we are looking at that person in the context of their whole life. Then we can create a customized plan to restore function.
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..
|Sees the body as one integrated whole, connected system||Separates the body into different organ systems (heart, lungs, brain, etc)|
|Considers every patient as an individual, with unique genetics, environment and lifestyle||Communicates with patients as individuals, but 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 patient 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 or protocol|
|Focus on the triggers of ill health||Focus 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, and designs treatments 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.|
|Uses medications only if supplements and lifestyle changes are not effective enough||Uses medications are the primary treatment option, with suggestions about lifestyle changes|
|Spends a lot of time up front determining the patient history and potential root causes||Only spends 7 – 10 minutes determining symptoms and focusing on those.|
|Good for chronic disease||Good for acute disease, accidents and emergencies|