Functional medicine is a science base practice that utilizes the latest laboratory assessments and current nutritional biochemical interventions to effect improvement in the physical and cognitive function of humankind. Our goal is to improve the quality of your life. Functional medicine treats the body as a whole and acknowledges the interrelationships of various systems and processes rather than compartmentalizing the body into various organ systems with different specialists such as urologist or cardiologist as an example.
Functional medicine takes into account factors such as digestion, absorption, nutritional deficiencies, impaired detoxification, hormonal imbalances, immune dis-regulation, pro-inflammatory states and oxidative stress can individually or through various combinations, combine to create a total load on the body which weakens our systems. We seek through physical examination and laboratory evaluation to discover the underlying biochemical breakdowns that are causing less than optimal health and leading us toward disease. We understand that the environment can alter gene expression and that lifestyle does affect health. Obvious examples of this are smokers having higher rates of lung and heart disease while alcoholics having higher rates of liver disease.
We seek to find the underlying cause of your disease or why you don’t feel good. We are not simply trying to identify a disease to which we can match to a remedy. For example, if you’re feeling tired is it because you have thyroid dysfunction, anemia, blood sugar dis-regulation etc. There is not one pill for tiredness. Similarly, if you have high blood pressure, we want to find out why. We don’t want you to just take pharmaceuticals, i.e. lisinopril or natural remedies such as fish oil or Co Q 10. We want to find out if your blood pressure is high due to an overactive thyroid, kidney disease, cadmium toxicity, etc. This does not mean that in the end we may not prescribe fish oil or Co Q 10 for you, it simply means that we want to be more intelligent and precise about it.
Although functional medicine is effective in treating disease, we prefer to treat health issues before they become a full fledged disease process. If we look at disease as a progression from health to sickness, from white to black, then we prefer to deal with your ailments while you’re still in the gray area. Thus, we strive to prevent disease by tackling the problem before it becomes a full fledged disease.
Functional medicine is patience centered and recognizes biochemical individuality. In functional medicine it is said, “it is better to know the patient that has the disease than the disease that has the patient.” We are all different. We have different genetics and different gene environment interaction. We have all had a headache. Some find that when they have a headache Tylenol works best for them. However, others feel that Tylenol is ineffective for them while Advil does the trick. Yet, others may feel that neither of the above are effective and take Aleve. Why does Aleve work for one and not for the other, perhaps it is our biochemical individuality. Our nutritional needs may also vary from individual to individual. We are all unique and when complex medical problems arise our uniqueness needs to be appreciated when seeking a solution.
The functional medicine practitioner will tend to spend more time with you and may be more in depth with regard to discussions regarding your symptoms and your lifestyle. In order to find the causes of your ailment, you may be asked questions regarding your diet, exercise, work, hobbies, supplements, etc. You also may be asked to make changes in the above. Thus, although functional medicine is natural and effective, it may require more effort and involvement on your part. Your treatment may be as simple as taking a few supplements, however, it may require lifestyle changes. This may include exercise and the most difficult of all dietary change. For this reason, your relationship with your functional medicine doctor may be more in depth.
The functional medicine practitioner uses standard laboratory testing as well as specialty lab testing depending on your individual situation. Many times, although the standard laboratory test all performed in a customary way, the interpretation of those tests may be different. The functional medicine practitioner is evaluating for optimum organ function and not just disease. Standard laboratory testing includes blood and urine analysis such as CBC, metabolic profile, thyroid testing, lipid panels etc.. Specialty laboratory testing may include things such as stool testing, blood work testing items such as food sensitivities, amino acid levels and essential fatty acids. Hair, urine and saliva testing may also be utilized.
The ultimate goal of functional medicine is to improve the quality of your health by addressing biochemical glitches, environmental and lifestyle influences which may be producing less than optimal health, ailments and disease.