What is Functional Medicine?
Our Naturopath recently completed further training with The Institute of Functional Medicine, from the USA. So what exactly is Functional Medicine, and what can it do for you?
Functional Medicine is the medicine of ‘why’. It keeps asking ‘why’ you have a certain condition, and when it finds the answer to that, it asks ‘why’ that came about, and then it asks ‘why’ that came about and so on – you get the drift right? It’s also the medicine of ‘relationship’, in that it looks at how everything relates to everything else in the body.
Patient centred approach
It’s a patient-centered approach to medicine, as opposed to a disease-focused approach. It addresses you as a whole person rather than a set of isolated symptoms. You are in the drivers seat and the practitioner is coming along for the ride – its a therapeutic partnership! Functional Medicine, just like Naturopathy, takes into account your history, your whole life story, even considering your prenatal life, as this is where a lot of health programming takes place. We don’t focus solely on the symptom/s as they stand now, nor do we focus on your ‘diagnosis’. We address the underlying cause, or ‘drivers’ of disease.
Take depression as an example, for which there are differing causes. From a conventional point of view, treatment generally involves an anti-depressant, regardless of the cause. From a Functional Medicine point of view, we aim to understand what the drivers are by obtaining a full history. To do this, we head upstream to where it all began. Was it inflammation, or an infection that kicked it off, or was it a thyroid imbalance, or heavy metal toxicity etc. If someones depression is caused by heavy metal toxicity for example, treating it with an antidepressant will not remove the dangerous heavy metals, and ultimately, this is what needs to happen.
As Dr Mark Hyman, one of the biggest names in Functional Medicine, puts it “there are only so many ways for the body to say ouch” – so very true! There are many different diseases, but in reality, not too many different causes. Ultimately, a disease or diagnosis, is the end result of a bunch of underlying imbalances. These ways of saying ‘ouch’ can be traced back to:
- Toxicity & assimilation (how well we absorb food, poop, etc)
- Structural problems
- Energy production
- Cell communication and transport.. etc.
History and cause
Functional Medicine puts a lot of emphasis on understanding the origins, prevention and of course, the treatment of complex, chronic diseases. We jump right into the complex web of your life in order to unravel it, and understand your historical ‘time line’ and all of the underlying imbalances and causes.
The interaction of the environment to your genetic make up and any predispositions you may have here is important. The interactions of your history, physiology and lifestyle are important. Understanding your ‘mind, body and soul’ is important. Understanding your overall functioning, or otherwise, is important. This is what Functional Medicine is all about.
Saltuary Wellness Talk
Our next community Wellness Talks event is being held on Wednesday 18th of April from 6 – 7pm. Join Tiina, our Naturopath, and Gillian, our Chiropractor for an evening all about Functional Medicine. It’ll cost you a gold coin donation to one of our favourite charities (edgarsmission.org.au) and you’ll get an hour of amazing information in return! Bookings essential, and can be made online or by calling 9713 8688.