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Functional vs. Traditional Medicine

Traditional MedicineFunctional medicine is a science-based and natural way to bring people back to a healthier state. Functional medicine is patient-centered medical healing. However, instead of looking at and treating health problems as isolated illnesses and diseases, functional medicine treats individuals who have a number of bodily symptoms, imbalances and dysfunctions.

Diseases such as diabetes, cancer and fibromyalgia may appear to just be diseases. However, according to functional medicine, the causes of these disease lie in an altered physiology that is the result of imbalances and dysfunctions within the body. Almost always, the cause of a disease and it’s symptom are related to an underlying dysfunction or imbalance in the body’s systems.If you were to visit with a doctor, conventional medicine is just going to treat the disease or illness. Rarely will treatment with conventional medicine lead to long-term relief and an improved and healthier lifestyle.

With functional medicine, the underlying cause is identified and treated. Because of this, the patient has a much better chance of improving their health. By using scientific principles, functional medicine treatment is able to use advanced diagnostic testing and treatments other than prescription medications and surgery to restore balance to the body.The overall goal of functional medicine? To help ensure a patient’s lifelong, optimal health.

How Functional Medicine is Filling the Gaps in Health Care

It probably comes as no surprise that today’s health care system has gaps. Today’s health care system is in trouble because it follows a medical management model. This medical management model works well when it comes to acute health problems. When it comes to chronic health problems, today’s conventional medicine is much less successful. If you have a heart attack, pneumonia or need life-saving surgery, the quick-thinking used by doctors in modern medicine is something that we are all very thankful for. Life-saving technology, surgery and antibiotics are necessary in certain instances. We should all be very grateful for these interventions should we ever find ourselves in a serious medical emergency or in need of antibiotics to cure an infection.

However, conventional medicine often quickly reaches for medications, surgery and other acute treatment options when another approach is needed. When it comes to those with chronic, debilitating ailments — including heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, a different approach is needed. This is where functional medicine comes into play.

The Functional Medicine Approach to Healing:

To help alleviate chronic medical conditions, the functional medicine approach is grounded in two scientific principles.Add what is lacking in the body to help bring it’s physiology back to an optimal state of functioning.Remove anything that impedes the body from moving forward to a goal of optimal physiology.In short, the goals of functional medicine is to find a natural approach to bringing the body back to a healthy state. In order for the body to be brought back to a healthy state, functional medicine identifies the reasons why the body is malfunctioning. Functional medicine addresses those issues in a way that is appropriate for each individual patient.In many cases, functional medicine practitioners will use advanced laboratory testing to help identify the root causes (or multiple cases) of a patient’s health problems.

Listening to a patient’s symptoms and asking questions of their food choices, activities and lifestyle can also be very helpful in helping a functional medicine practitioner to determine the cause(s) of a patient’s chronic pain. As far as treatment goes, functional medicine practitioners use a combination of natural agents, nutrition changes, lifestyle changes, spiritual counseling, emotional counseling and pharmaceuticals. Natural agents can include supplements, homeopathics, herbs and nutraceuticals. Education also plays an important role in returning a patient’s physiology back to an optimal state. Education helps to empower patients to take charge of their own health. When patients are in charge of their own health and well-being, there is likely going to be much greater success when it comes to treatment.

Functional Medicine and Treating Symptoms vs. Treating the Person

In today’s conventional medicine world, medication is used to get rid of patient’s symptoms. In many cases, the symptoms return when a patient stops using the medications. For example, think of medications used to treat arthritis. When a patient stops taking their medications, they are likely going to experience the pain of arthritis all over again. This is where functional medicine is different. Instead of just masking the problem with medication, function medicine aims at restoring the body’s natural function.

While functional medicine practitioners may prescribe pharmaceuticals, these medications are only prescribed to move the patient in the right direction. This is so the patient will not always be dependent on prescription medications. For instance, conventional medicine doctors would typically prescribe a medication like Prilosec for treatment of acid reflux or heartburn. As soon as the patient stops taking this medication, their symptoms will return. On the other hand, a functional medicine doctor may discover that the patient’s heartburn is actually caused by a bacteria. By treating the bacteria and removing it from the body, the heartburn could very well be put to a permanent end.

It is important to realize that with functional medicine, treatment may vary greatly from patient to patient. Another important thing to remember about functional medicine is that is it based in listening to the patient. By listening to the patient, functional medicine practitioners are able to make an accurate diagnosis.

What Is Functional Medicine

Functional medicine is the future of what we refer to today as conventional medicine. The main goal of functional medicine is to identify and address the root causes of diseases. This type of medicinemedicine views the body as one integrated system; opposed to a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialities. Functional medicine aims to treat the entire body, not just specific symptoms of a disease or illness.

It addresses the underlying causes of medical conditions and diseases. Using a systems-oriented approach, functional medicine engages the practitioner and patient in a therapeutic partnership. Functional medicine is an evolution in medical practices and better address the needs of patients more than another other approach to medicine in the 21st century. How is functional medicine so innovative? By switching the traditional disease-centered focus of medicine to a patient-centered approach, functional medicine is able to address the entire person. This form of medicine does not just isolate the symptoms and make a diagnosis. Upon visiting with a practitioner of functional medicine, you will notice that a functional medicine practitioner will spend time with patients, they will listen to their histories and look at the interactions amongst genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that may be impacting their current health and will likely impact the future health of a patient. It supports lifelong health and vitality that is geared towards each individual patient.

How Can It Work for You?

There has been a large increase in the number of individuals suffering from complex medical conditions. These complex medical conditions can include diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, mental illness and autoimmune disorders — such as rheumatoid arthritis.

It can help to identify the root cause of these illnesses.The type of medicine practiced by a vast majority of physicians is geared towards acute care, trauma and illnesses that are short-term problems and urgent medicine — such as treatment for a broken leg or an appendicitis. Physicians use specific, prescribed treatments (such as medications or surgery). These treatments are standard for all patients and aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.The acute-care approach to medicine, that we are all very used to, lacks the tools and methodology to help prevent as well as treatment complex and chronic diseases. In most cases, acute-care does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of an individual or factors such as environmental toxins. Our lifestyle have a huge impact on our health.

There is a large gap between research and the way doctors practice medicine. This gap between emerging research in basic science and integration into standard medical treatment is very large; especially in areas of complex and chronic disease. Some practices that were being used 50 years ago are still put to use today. Most physicians are not adequately trained to access and determine the underlying causes of complex and chronic illnesses. Not all physicians are trained to apply strategies in diet, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes to help treat illness in their patients as well as prevent future illnesses.

What Makes This Different from Conventional Medicine?

Functional medicine does more than just treat the symptoms of an illness. Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention and treatment of complex and chronic illnesses.Patient-centered care plays a huge role in functional medicine.

The focus of functional medicine is patient-centered care and promoting health as positive vitality. Functional medicine goes beyond just the treatment of disease. By listening to their patients, functional medicine practitioners learn the story of their patients. This allows functional medicine practitioners to address the issues that are specific to each individual patient. Remember, each individual patient has very unique needs when it comes to treating and preventing chronic and complex illnesses.

With this type of medicine, you can expect an integrative, science-based approach to healthcare. Functional medicine practitioners examine a patient’s history, physiology and lifestyle choices that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered as well as internal (body, mind and spirit) and external (environmental and physical) factors that affect the entire function of a patient’s body.

Functional medicine integrates the best medical practices. Functional medicine integrates conventional medical practices with what may be considered alternative or integrative medical practices. This creates a focus on prevention through exercise, nutrition and diet as well as the use of the latest diagnostic and laboratory techniques. Functional medicine may also use prescription medications, supplements, botanical medicines, therapeutic diets, stress-management programs and detoxification programs.