What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine is a multi-systemic and comprehensive approach to wellbeing, which takes into account that many conditions result from the complex interplay between our genes, our social and natural environments, and our thought patterns. A functional approach to psychiatry seeks to address imbalances in other systems in the body as possible sources for symptoms that are chronic or difficult to treat.
What are the key components of Functional Medicine?
- Prevention: virtually every complex, chronic disease is preceded by long-term disturbances in functionality that can be identified and effectively managed.
- Personalized Treatment Plans: Functional Medicine examines a wide array of available interventions and customizes a treatment plan including those elements with the most impact on underlying functionality.
- Expanding the Clinician’s Tool Kit: Treatments may include combinations of pharmaceuticals, botanical medicines, nutritional supplements, therapeutic diets, or detoxification programs. They may also include counseling on lifestyle, exercise, or stress-management techniques.
- Patient as Partner: Patients play an active role in improving their own health and changing the outcome of disease.
How does Functional Medicine facilitate long-term wellness?
Though individual genes may increase susceptibility to certain diseases, DNA is not an unchanging blueprint; emerging research in the field of epigenetics shows that our genes can be turned on or off by environmental inputs, diet, sleep, experiences, attitudes, and beliefs. This means that it is possible to change the way genes are activated and expressed by changing our lifestyles. Functional medicine considers various components of the mind-body connection, including psychological, spiritual, and social factors, in order to see health in the context of the whole person, above and beyond physical symptoms. In this way, most imbalances in functionality can be addressed; some can be completely restored to optimum functioning, and others can be substantially improved.
With the rising epidemic of chronic diseases, functional medicine provides a new lens for considering the body and the healthcare system. By assessing health as a whole, rather than focusing on treating acute conditions, functional medicine applies a preventative, personalized, and more cost-efficient approach to medicine.
For more resources on Functional Medicine, please visit our Reading List.