In recent years, there has been a shift in the way that many people view their health. Rather than merely treating symptoms with medication, more and more people are interested in addressing the root cause of their health problems. This approach is known as functional medicine.
Functional medicine is a form of care that focuses on preventing disease through lifestyle and diet changes, rather than merely providing treatment for existing conditions. It is based on the principle that our bodies have an innate ability to heal themselves, but this ability can be impaired by factors like poor diet, stress, and toxins. Functional medicine practitioners work with their patients to identify and address these underlying causes of disease.
How Does Functional Medicine Differ from Conventional Medicine?
Conventional medicine focuses on treating the symptoms of a disease or condition. While conventional medicine has its place, many patients find that it falls short when it comes to chronic or complex conditions.
Functional medicine focuses on finding and addressing the root cause. In order to do this, practitioners take a comprehensive approach that includes looking at all aspects of a person’s life.
Care plans may include:
– Lifestyle changes such and diet and exercise
– Stress management tools
– Detoxification programs
– Nutritional supplements
– Botanical remedies
By taking all of these factors into account, practitioners can develop targeted plans that will address each patient’s specific needs.
-Functional medicine is health-orientated; Conventional is disease-oriented
-Functional is patient-centered; Conventional is doctor-centered
-Functional is holistic; Conventional is specialized
-Functional focuses on prevention; Conventional focuses on disease detection
What Are Some of the Benefits of Functional Medicine?
There are many benefits of functional medicine. Perhaps one of the most significant benefits is that it can help prevent chronic disease. By addressing the root cause of a person’s health issues, functional medicine can help stop various diseases or conditions before they even start.
In addition, functional medicine can also help improve overall health and wellbeing. Because practitioners take an integrative approach that looks at all aspects of a person’s life, they are able to identify imbalances that may be contributing to various health issues. Once these imbalances are addressed, patients often find that they have more energy, better sleep, improved digestion, and fewer mood swings.
What Does Functional Medicine Treat?
Functional medicine can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions, both acute and chronic. Some common examples include:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Digestive disorders
- Mental health conditions
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Hormonal imbalances
In addition to treating specific conditions, functional medicine can also be used as a preventive measure. By addressing underlying imbalances and addressing risk factors for disease, functional medicine practitioners can help patients reduce their chances of developing serious health problems down the road.
How Does Functional Medicine Work?
The functional medicine approach is tailored to each individual patient. After taking a detailed medical history and conducting tests to assess health status, functional medicine practitioners develop customized treatment plans that may include dietary changes, supplements, lifestyle modifications, and more. The goal is to support the body’s natural ability to heal itself and restore balance.
The Core Systems
When addressing specific conditions, functional medicine addresses a number of core body systems to encourage natural healing.
Optimizing nutrition is vitally important to bring the body back into balance.
The right balance and quality of macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates), and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) can kickstart the body’s natural healing process. A diet high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and processed foods can cause the immune system to be overactive. A diet rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients from all the colorful pigments in plant foods, on the other hand, can restore balance. Following a diet that works for your lifestyle can provide the body with the fuel and protection it needs.
Hormonal balance is another core body system addressed through functional medicine. Hormonal imbalances can have a significant impact on one’s health. Some symptoms of hormonal imbalance include weight gain, fatigue and depression to name a few. Functional medicine utilizes various tests in order to confirm whether an imbalance is present or not; these range from blood profiles to urine samples–all providing invaluable information about one’s health.
Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection. It helps protect the body from foreign invaders, but an overactive response can cause illness. Functional medicine addresses inflammation by correcting nutrient deficiencies and hormonal imbalances.
Digesting, absorbing, and assimilating all the food and nutrients we eat is critical for health. A breakdown anywhere in this process creates illness. Our bodies are fueled by the foods we eat, which is why addressing issues of the digestive system is something that functional medicine takes seriously. The balance of the microbiome, the beneficial and harmful bacteria in the gut plays a tremendous role in our health. By properly balancing the gut bacteria, many symptoms can be lessened or dissipate altogether.
The body is intelligently designed to eliminate toxins; however, today’s highly processed diet and chemical-filled environment can overwhelm the detox organs.
Functional medicine addresses issues with toxic burden and enhances the body’s natural detoxification processes. Dr. Ryan likes to follow a quarterly detox protocol for optimal health.
Because functional medicine addresses more than just physical well-being, reducing stress is also an essential aspect of disease prevention.
Any number of stress reduction techniques can be utilized depending on what will fit into your personal lifestyle. A daily meditation practice, breathing exercises, or yoga are some recommendations to help reduce stress. Finding natural outlets for reducing stress are an essential aspect of wellness.
Functional medicine is often called the medical care of the future because it takes conventional medicine to a new level. It uses more holistic ideas and methods that focus on restoring balance in the body.
Find the health and wellness you’ve been looking for. Schedule your session with certified Functional Medicine Practitioner Dr. Ryan Wagner here.