What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine is a rapidly growing movement in healthcare, poised to transform the way doctors practice medicine. As defined by the Institute for Functional Medicine on their website:
“Functional Medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, Functional Medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional Medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, Functional Medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.”
Why is Functional Medicine a better medical model?
The Functional Medicine movement is, in part, a response to the failures of the acute care model in healthcare. Despite spending alarming amounts of our resources on healthcare, in 2017 we nonetheless find ourselves facing explosions in obesity, diabetes, auto-immune disorders, anxiety, depression, and addictions. But why?
The arrival and development of antimicrobial medicines on the healthcare scene in the first half of the 20th century resulted in a cultural shift within medicine toward the acute care model. In this model, acute symptoms arise in the patient, the patient seeks the services of a physician to address them, and the physician treats the patient, often by prescribing medication. Psychiatry too would undergo similar changes in the second half of the 20th century, when the pendulum shifted away from psychoanalysis, and toward psychopharmacology, in response to the arrival and development of psychotropic medications. But these changes have been accompanied by a shift toward a “one symptom, one pill” mentality of healthcare, further promoted by changes in the way healthcare is described, codified, and reimbursed by relying on large amounts of impersonal data to determine which services are paid for, often at the expense of personalized care.
Functional medicine promises to restore the doctor patient partnership, by allowing a more personalized and thorough understanding of the many contributors both to one’s health and to the development of illness. We now understand the importance of diet, the gut microbiome, stress, inflammatory processes, relationships, and psychological health as key determinants of one’s overall state of health and vitality. See more at: