Functional Medicine assesses underlying causes and triggers of dysfunction. The functional medicine practitioner understands how the key processes are affected. These are the body's processes that keep you alive. Some occur at the cellular level and involve how cells function, repair, and maintain themselves. These processes are related to larger functions, such as:
- How your body rids itself of toxins
- Regulation of hormones and neurotransmitters
- Immune system function
- Inflammatory responses
- Digestion and absorption of nutrients and the health of the digestive tract
- Structural integrity
- Psychological and spiritual equilibrium
- How you produce energy
All of these processes are influenced by both environmental factors and genetic make-up. When they are disturbed or imbalanced, they lead to symptoms that can lead to disease if effective interventions are not applied.
How is Functional Medicine Different?
Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease. Hallmarks of a functional medicine approach include:
- Patient-centered care. The focus of functional medicine is on patient-centered care, promoting health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease. By listening to the patient and learning his or her story, the practitioner brings the patient into the discovery process and tailors treatments that address the individual's unique needs.
- An integrative, science-based healthcare approach. Functional medicine practitioners look "upstream" to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient's history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal (mind, body, spirit) and external (physical/social environment) factors that affect total functioning.
- Integrating best medical practices. Functional medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with what are sometimes considered "alternative" or integrative" medicine. The practitioner creates a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, exercise, use of the latest laboratory testing, and other diagnostic techniques. Prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques may also be used.
©2005, 2006, 2007 The Institute for Functional Medicine