Functional Medicine – Is it For You?
Not too long ago, a friend asked me about Functional Medicine. What does ‘Functional Medicine’ mean exactly? She understood that I work with patients with nutritional supplements and diet and lifestyle habits – but she wondered what the word “functional” really meant when applied to healthcare?
We can think of Functional Medicine (FM) as healthcare to improve how our body systems are functioning on a daily basis. A FM doctor uses advanced lab testing to determine how well your body systems are performing the activities of daily living. Not only does a FM practitioner determine how well your body is functioning, he or she also will help you determine the root causes behind why your body is not working optimally and help you create a corrective plan of action. The goal of Functional Medicine is to identify and correct abnormal physiology.
Functional Medicine practitioners addresses the following questions:
- Are your hormones optimal?
- How is stress really affecting your body?
- Are hidden factors sabotoging your energy like chronic infections or food reactions?
- Is your body digesting and absorbing all the nutrients you’re eating?
- Are you building up your body’s structures faster than they’re breaking down? Or are you aging too quickly?
- Is there a reason you’re taking tums more and more often?
- Do you have sufficient antioxidant levels to neutralize all the toxins you’ve absorbed? Are toxins accumulating in your brain and causing inflammation and brain fog?
- Is your liver in need of more nutrients to get the toxins out of your body? Your liver needs B vitamins, antioxidants and plenty of amino acids.
- Is your immune system under more stress than it should be?
- Are you deficient in key nutrients that you need for peak performance? Are you able to burn fat and carbohydrates effectively?
Advanced Functional Lab Testing
In order to assess these issues, Functional Medicine doctors run advanced lab tests. Besides bloodwork, here are some of the labs often recommended:
- Adrenal Stress Index – a salivary test that measures stress hormone levels. Thyroid and sex hormone ;evels are also assessed. This is how we determine how stress is really affecting you.
- Gastro-Intestinal Testing – a cutting-edge stool test to assess how healthy the GI tract is and if there are any chronic, low-level infections like bacterial, yeast, or parasites, etc.;
- Toxicity and Nutrient Testing – a special urine test called an Organic Acids Profile. Organic acids are the exhaust of your metabolism. Just like the exhaust of your car tells a lot about your car’s engine. Organic Acids reveals much about your body’s physiology.
Specialized tests are run to figure out the root cause behind symptoms so that they can be CORRECTED. Corrections are made with customized recommendations including clinical supplements, dietary and lifestyle changes.
Functional Lab Interpretation versus Traditional Interpretation
Not only are specialized labs run, Functional Medicine practitioners interpret most lab results much differently than traditionally trained doctors. We use lab ranges where people feel their best – the optimal ranges. The reference ranges on most lab reports are averages – the averages for our sick and tired population!
There is a large gap or continuum between optimal wellness and a disease diagnosis. Functional Medicine looks at where you are in that gap. It focuses on assessing where you are and determining what you can do to get back to optimal. It’s about being proactive with your health.
Many people are frustrated with being told by traditional doctors that they’re labs are “normal” when they know they are not feeling their best. This is where Functional Medicine excels.
More One-to-One Time
In order to deliver this level of high-quality healthcare, Functional medicine doctors spend much more time with their patients. We typically spend 60-90 minutes on an initial consultation. We are trained to ask many probing questions in order to do the detective work to flush out the possible root-causes of symptoms. Our goal is to develop a relationship.
Natural Solutions instead of Prescription Drugs
FM doctors use natural solutions as much as possible. These solutions include diet and lifestyle modification as well as customized supplement protocols based on your unique lab findings. Functional medicine is not anti-medication, but we ask what the patient’s most effective option is, and what causes the least side-effects. If a medication fits that criteria, it may be the best option. But it often isn’t.
Relief for Chronic Conditions
In terms of crisis care, emergencies and surgeries, we have one of the best health care systems in the world, but when it comes to chronic health care, the U.S. is one of the worst industrialized health care systems in the world.
Functional medicine helps reverse chronic conditions because it diagnoses and fixes the triggers behind them. When the triggers are dealt with, symptoms begin to resolve.
Functional Medicine in Clinical Trials by Mayo Clinic
“A research team, including Daniel J. Kalish, founder of the Kalish Institute and Susanne M. Cutshall and Larry R. Bergstrom, currently practicing at Mayo Clinic, proudly release a study around functional medicine. The study shows a variety of stress, fatigue and quality of life measures can be improved through functional medicine, a growing field utilizing lab-based supplement programs, including lifestyle and nutritional counseling.”
The study, which was completed in April 2015, has been published in the May 2016 issue of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.
The Future of Healthcare – Functional Medicine
More and more people are fed up with the traditional medical approaches – they want true answers and are looking for alternatives. This new age of healthcare is emerging – patient-centered and root-cause focused – is offering hope to many. Thanks to technology, Functional Medicine can be pursued in-office or over the phone or Skype giving us the opportunity to share functional medicine everywhere.
Why not contact us to schedule a free phone consult to find out if working together will be a good fit. Now is the perfect time to take action to improve your level of health!
Let the future of medicine begin!