Functional Medicine focuses on identifying the underlying factors found in disease, or disharmony, by holistically integrating conventional and alternative approaches to health. Functional Medicine is taught and practiced by naturopathic physicians and is a source of continuing education for conventional medical physicians and practitioners interested in integrative medical training. The practice of Functional Medicine (FM) is very comprehensive, looking in depth at how your biochemical individuality reacts with the environment, diet and lifestyle to shape your level of health. For instance, many people have similar complaints such as arthritic joint pains or IBS, but the treatment approaches may be very different based upon how your system functions at the epigenetic, genetic, biochemical, and physiological levels. Some people simply require more vitamin D than others because their receptors do not bind the vitamin D well, just like one person may be fine on 6 hours of sleep but another may need 8 hours of sleep to function optimally.
The goals of FM are to naturally restore proper physiology and biochemistry to optimize health. Functional Medicine examines the complex web of relationships between symptoms, organ systems (including your mind, body, and emotions), biochemical individuality and the environment to better understand how you function as a whole. You are unique and each part of a treatment plan should be geared to how best to help you achieve wellbeing. Functional Medicine also realizes your body has an inherent healing capacity if it is given what it needs to function appropriately. Health is more than just the absence of disease; it is a state of high vitality and adaptability. Symptoms occur when that adaptability is limited.
Many symptoms and disease processes can occur from lack of certain nutrients. Hence, determining the best diet, supplementation, and other treatment modalities based upon Functional Medicine will give you the best picture of how to regain your health. Fatigue in one person may be from iron deficiency while another may suffer the same symptoms from vitamin B12 deficiency. Furthermore, the iron deficiency could actually be coming from vitamin C or copper deficiency. FM can easily examine these and other nutrients to determine why you may be so tired all of the time. The best part of FM is that it can easily be used to help anyone who suffers from any number of complaints (from skin to internal organs and even emotional health issues) because it is focused on how your body is reacting to the environment, instead of lumping you into a group and hoping the treatment fits you.
You don’t have to be “sick” to benefit from Functional Medicine. Many patients come to get into a better state of health. The FM process looks at amino acid, organic acid, neurotransmitter, and nutritional testing to determine if you require additional nutritional support to better balance your body functions. Whether you are thinking about paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, ketogenic, detox, alkaline, genotype diets or any others, you first want to consider looking at it from a FM perspective to determine which nutrients you can properly absorb and utilize. One person may function fine with high protein and vegetables while others may require some carbohydrates to be truly healthy. FM helps you to better understand your body, what works right for you, and helps you be more proactive to achieve better health and vitality.