Functional Medicine is about addressing the root cause of what is at the bottom of your health challenge. It’s called “functional” because that is exactly the perspective – what is it that is not functioning optimally in your body, your diet and your lifestyle? In our day and age, the main health challenges are chronic conditions – cardiovascular disease, diabetes or auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. These are conditions that affect the quality of your life, slowly but surely, over a period of years. What you see and/or feel are the external symptoms – digestive issues, eczema, brain fog, fatigue, aching joints. Or maybe you’re starting to feel the effects of menopause. Regardless of what the condition might be called, the ethos of Functional Medicine is to work upstream, so that instead of working on the symptoms, it looks to what may be contributing to the condition in the first place – the root cause. It also looks at the body as an integrated whole and the aim is to help bring the body systems back into balance as much as possible, on a personalised basis.
So, for example, if someone has a chronic inflammatory condition, a conventional doctor may treat that by suppressing the inflammation with a drug. On the other hand, a Functional Medicine doctor or practitioner will look at the whole person and their story, and look to identify the root cause of that inflammation. If, for example, that inflammation is being caused by their body’s sensitivity to certain foods and a high level of stress, then the “prescription” might then be to identify exactly which foods are causing the inflammation, and to reduce levels of stress. In other words, instead of resolution being through medication only, the solution may be through changes in diet and/or lifestyle.
Watch and listen to Dr Mark Hyman, chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, talk about Functional Medicine, The Medicine of Why. What he tells us at 11:46 is astounding.
I believe that is why the practice of Functional Medicine is taking off and seeing such positive results. For example, the Cleveland Clinic opened a Functional Medicine faculty in late 2014, headed up by Dr Mark Hyman. By early 2016, the waiting list exceeded 1,100 individuals.
In the UK, “Doctor In The House” Dr. Rangan Chatterjee talks about how disease can be reversed.
If you’d like to read a research paper about personalised lifestyle medicine, click here.
To read about Functional Medicine Health Coaching, click here.