What is functional medicine and why is it important to your overall health long term?
For the uninitiated, functional medicine may seem like a misnomer. Why? Because medicine is supposed to be functional—but it is, in fact, a “systems biology-based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease.” What does this mean exactly? The answer to the question, what is functional medicine, is best described as an approach to healthcare that asks “how” and “why” illness occurs.
It views health and illness as part of a continuum in which all components of the human biological system interact dynamically with the environment. This produces patterns and effects that change over time.
Restoring a person’s health involves reversing or improving the factors that contributed to the disease. And because each patient is unique and complex, this requires an individualized approach. This will help to determine the lifestyle factors and “genetic vulnerabilities” that have led to that person’s current health condition.
According to The Institute for Functional Medicine, there are six core foundations to this approach.
Gene-Environment Interaction. Functional medicine seeks to understand the metabolic processes of each patient at a cellular level. This way, doctors can “design targeted interventions” to correct the issues that are at the root of many diseases.
Upstream Signal Modulation. In this approach, functional medicine doctors “influence biochemical pathways upstream” and “prevent the overproduction of damaging end products.”
Multimodal Treatment Plans. A broad range of interventions are utilized to achieve optimal health including diet, exercise, stress management, sleep, nutritional supplementation, and other “restorative and reparative therapies.”
Understanding the Patient in Context. Using a structured process, the doctor will “uncover the significant life events” of each patient. Standardized tools are used to organize clinical data and mediate clinical insights.
Systems Biology-Based Approach.Functional medicine practitioners use systems biology (instead of an organ systems-based approach) to understand how core imbalances can affect different parts of the body.
Patient-Centered and Directed.Patients and doctors work together to find a treatment plan that is appropriate and acceptable. Achieving health goals is a collaborative process.
What Is A Functional Medicine Doctor?
A functional medicine doctor is a qualified health professional who goes beyond the “standard of care” health model. He/she is someone who spends quality time with patients. The goal is to “build a deep relationship” and provides a kind of “personalized medicine.”
He/she uses an “in-depth diagnostic approach” to resolve your health issues. They look at you as a “whole person” rather than just someone with symptoms. A functional medicine doctor is also someone who can be your health coach and mentor. They are focused on achieving long-term and sustainable wellness, so you don’t have to spend time and money on health products and services that only give you short-sighted solutions.
Does Functional Medicine Work?
There is a growing base of scientific evidence that supports the positive therapeutic effects of various factors involved in this approach. This ranges from nutrition and botanicals to exercise, detoxification, manual medicine (massage) and mindfulness techniques (meditation).
Source of Health is a regenerative and functional medicine center in Arizona. If you’d like to know how functional medicine can work for you, contact us now.
About the Author
Dr. Steven Sorr is the founder and chief medical officer at Source of Health in Scottsdale, AZ and has been in clinical practice using regenerative medicine since 2013. He received his doctorate in naturopathic medicine from SCNM and is a licensed healthcare provider in Arizona.
Dr. Sorr brings a huge passion for life and a diverse educational background of food, yoga, and medicine to the Source of Health. His goal is to revolutionize the standard of care mindset by making significant strides in evidence-based therapies that are drug and surgery-free to restore high-level health for all.