Using a systems-oriented approach, Functional Medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease by engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. Functional Medicine better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century by having a more patient-centered approach than traditional disease-centered medical practices. By spending time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions, among environmental and lifestyle factors as well as genetics, Functional Medical practitioners can address the whole person and not just the symptoms. In this way, Functional Medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each person individually.
There is a rise in the number of people who suffer from diseases such as autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, as well as complex, chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and mental illness. Unfortunately, most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of these diseases. They are trained in an acute care approach of diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care. Physicians apply prescribed treatments such as drug or surgery that treat the immediate symptom or problem. This approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic disease. A Functional Medicine Practitioner applies strategies such as nutrition, diet and exercise to prevent as well as treat their patients’ illness.
Functional medicine is Patient-centered care. The focus is on promoting health. It involves understanding the origins, prevention and treatment of complex, chronic disease. By listening to the patient the practitioner is able to address and tailor treatments for the individuals’ unique needs. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered along with internal as well as external factors that affect the total functioning. Mind, body and spirit as well as physical and social environment are all taken into account by the Functional Medicine practitioner. The practitioner will integrate traditional Western medical practices with integrative medicine, creating a focus on prevention through exercise, diet and nutrition; use laboratory testing, botanical medicines, supplements, detoxification programs and/or stress-management techniques.