What is functional medicine?

Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems approach and engaging the patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. This is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better meets the health needs of the 21st century. By reorienting traditional disease-oriented medical practice towards a more patient-centred approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listen to their stories and examine the interactions among genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex chronic disease. Thus, functional medicine promotes the unique expression of each individual’s health and vitality.

Why do we need functional medicine?

Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people suffering from complex chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, neurological diseases and autoimmune diseases.

The system of medicine practiced by most physicians is geared towards acute care, diagnosis and treatment of trauma or short-term illnesses requiring urgent care, such as appendicitis or a broken leg. Doctors apply specific, prescribed treatments, such as medication or surgery, to treat the immediate problem or symptom.

Unfortunately, the acute care approach to medicine lacks the appropriate methodology and tools to prevent and treat complex chronic diseases. In most cases, it does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or factors such as environmental exposure to toxins and aspects of current lifestyles that have a direct influence on the progression of chronic disease in modern Western society.

Conventional allopathic medicine does not assess the underlying causes of complex chronic diseases and applies few strategies such as nutrition, diet and exercise to treat and prevent these diseases in their patients.

How is functional medicine different?

Functional medicine is about understanding the origins, prevention and treatment of complex chronic diseases. Characteristics of a functional medicine approach include patient-centred care and an emphasis on health promotion as positive vitality beyond the mere absence of disease. By listening and learning the patient’s story, the practitioner engages the patient in the discovery process and adapts treatments to meet the person’s unique needs.

Functional medicine is an integrative and scientific approach to health care. Practitioners of functional medicine look “upstream” to examine the complex web of interactions in a patient’s history, physiology and lifestyle that can lead to disease. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is taken into account, as well as the internal (mind, body and soul) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect overall functioning.

Functional medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with what is sometimes referred to as “alternative” or “integrative” medicine, emphasizing prevention through nutrition, diet and exercise, the use of the latest laboratory tests and other diagnostic techniques, and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or herbal medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs and stress management techniques. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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