What is Functional Medicine?

Functional Medicine: Treating the Cause, Not Just the Symptoms

Functional Medicine is patient-centered medicinal healing at its best.  Practitioners address the whole person, their story and experiences and not just an isolated set of symptoms. We use a systems-biology approach and engage both the client and the practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. 

Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, diet, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. At the core of the practice of functional medicine, is the understanding that each patient is unique and requires a personalized approach to reach their peak expression of health and vitality.

Functional Medicine: Core Principles:
  • An understanding of the biochemical individuality of each person, based on the concepts of genetic and environmental uniqueness;
  • Knowledge of the complicated network or interconnections of physiological factors;
  • Your body is intelligent and had the capacity for self-regulation, which expresses itself by bringing balance to all of your body systems.
  • Awareness of the research that supports a client-centered rather than a disease-centered approach to treatment;
  • Find a dynamic balance with the internal and external body, mind, and spirit;
  • Health is not just the absence of disease, but a state of remarkable vitality.
  • Promotion of organ reserve as the means to enhance daily life of each patient.

A patient-centered approach refers to health care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and that ensures that patient values guide all clinical decisions.

The strength of the therapeutic partnership comes from the idea that patients who are active participants in the development of their therapeutic healing plan feel more in control of their own well-being and are more likely to make sustained lifestyle changes.Your body naturally wants to be healthy, but things needed by the body to function at its best might be missing, or some form of toxicity or malfunction might be in the way. Functional Medicine first identifies the factors responsible for the malfunctioning. Then it deals with those factors in a way appropriate to the patient’s willingness and particular situation.

Functional Medicine practitioners use advanced laboratory testing to identify the root cause or causes of the patient’s health problem in tandem with listening carefully to the client’s history of symptoms, activities, and lifestyle.

To correct imbalances, Functional Medicine practitioners use a combination of nutrition and lifestyle first as the foundation then add natural agents (supplements, herbs, nutraceuticals, and homeopathic), health coaching, spiritual/emotional counseling, and may also recommend pharmaceuticals if necessary to prod a client’s physiology back to an optimal state. In addition, educating the patient about their condition empowers them to take charge of their own health, ultimately leading to greater success in treatment.

Functional Medicine: Treating Symptoms Versus Treating the Person

In the dominant health care model today, medication is used to get rid of people’s symptoms. If the patient stops taking the medication, symptoms generally return and new problems may have occurred.

Functional Medicine approaches health problems differently. Instead of masking the problem, it aims at restoring the body’s natural functioning. It is crucial to note that in Functional Medicine, the health plan for similar symptoms might vary tremendously for different clients, depending on their medical history and results of laboratory tests. Factors that can come into play in producing the same symptoms include toxic chemicals, pathogenic bacteria, parasites, chronic viral pathogens, emotional poisons like anger, greed or envy, and structural factors such as tumors or cysts.

Functional Medicine: What to Expect

When you consult a Functional Medicine practitioner, the first step is always your history. Practitioners are trained on how to unravel and make sense of a complicated life line or story. Frequently there are clues in the story lead to the identification of key imbalances.

The next set of clues comes from advanced laboratory testing. Innovative, cutting-edge lab tests help the practitioner look deeply into a client’s physiology to identify how it has been compromised and how physiological balance can be restored.

Bare Roots Natural Health is proud to have Crystal McMillan as a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner. Click here to read Crystal’s biography.

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