What is Functional Medicine?
“As the scope of cost of chronic deseases continue to rise, functional medicine takes a comprehensive approach to prevention, health, and well-being; treats root causes of disease; and restores healthy function through a personalized patient experience — all while being a vital partner to conventional medicine.” (Institute of Functional Medicine)
Functional medicine emerged in the late 20th century as a response to the limitations of the traditional disease-centered model of healthcare.
While its roots can be traced back to various disciplines and approaches, such as integrative medicine, systems biology, and holistic healthcare, it gained significant recognition and development through the pioneering work of several individuals and organizations such as Dr. Bland, the founder of the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM).
What does it involve?
Functional medicine doctors aim to understand the unique biochemical and genetic makeup of each individual, as well as their environmental and lifestyle factors. This personalized approach helps them identify imbalances or dysfunctions in the body’s systems that may be contributing to health issues. A combination of conventional medical tests, as well as specialized tests that assess various physiological markers and imbalances may be used.
Based on the information gathered, doctors develop personalized treatment plans that may include a combination of interventions such as nutrition and diet modifications, stress management techniques, exercise recommendations, supplementation, detoxification protocols, and mind-body therapies. The goal is to restore balance and optimize the body’s natural healing mechanisms.
Dr. Kogan, GWCIM Clinical Director: “Our GWCIM team integrates Functional Medicine into larger aspect of the way we practice so that in many cases when underlying route cause of the disease is not just biochemical or what we can functional but energetic, mind body, or biomechanical we have all needed skills to diagnose and treat all route causes.”
One of the key benefits of functional medicine is its patient-centered approach. It emphasizes a partnership between the practitioner and the patient, empowering individuals to take an active role in their own healthcare. Another benefit is its focus on preventive care by prevent the development of chronic diseases and promoting optimal health.
It’s important to note that functional medicine is a an approach that can be used alongside conventional medical treatments. It does not reject the use of medication or surgery when necessary but seeks to enhance the effectiveness of these interventions by addressing the underlying imbalances and supporting the body’s healing processes.
Is it evidence-based?
Functional medicine emphasizes the importance of evidence-based practice and strives to integrate scientific research into its approach. As Dr. Dale Bredesen noted: “.. Virtually every day, mainstream medicine “discovers” something that functional medicine has been reporting for years. Depression and gut health, the therapeutic effect of sleep, multi-factorial treatments for chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, the importance of gut health in autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, the damaging effects of leaky gut, the effects of stress on chronic illness, the beneficial effects of a plant-rich diet, the remarkable effects of exercise, the surprisingly common exposures we have to various toxins, the dangers of processed foods, and on and on. This has led to successful treatments in countless cases in which mainstream medicine had nothing to offer. “