Functional Medicine doctors considers the unique way in which our individual biochemical and genetic makeup interacts with everything we are exposed to on a daily basis – from the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the environmental pollutants and toxins we absorb, or even the thoughts we have.
We often see that some people tolerate some medications very well but others have significant, even life threatening, reactions to them. Some of us have food allergies that are very common. We may notice that some of our family members get sick, often in winter, while others seldom are sick etc. Each of us is unique; as the saying goes, “one man’s poison is another man’s medicine”.
Functional Medicine views the body as one integrated system, and it looks at how an imbalance in one body system (like the digestive system) can reflect in a completely different area of the body (like skin). Treating a skin problem (like eczema) with steroids may suppress the symptom but will not fix the problem. Once the steroid is stopped, the problem and the rash often return. If the cause is removed, then the eczema is cured and no more medication is needed.
Dr. Mark Hyman of the Institute for Functional Medicine does an excellent job explaining functional medicine and how it differs from conventional medicine.
Functional Medicine looks at the underlying causes of a disease, using therapies that aim to reverse imbalances or other causes of illness in our bodies. For example, instead of treating an inflammation with medication that blocks the inflammation process, Functional Medicine seeks to understand the cause of the inflammation. Maybe a food that you are allergic to, a toxin that your body can not properly detoxify, or a nutrient deficiency is the root cause of the problem.
One of the main principles of Functional Medicine is that health is more than the absence of disease. Maybe you, or somebody close to you, feel that something is not right; energy or sleep have been decreasing, or some new symptoms have emerged. You have seen your provider, maybe even a specialist, and had tests done, but no disease was found. Functional Medicine looks beyond the symptoms and tries to correct the imbalances present at the immune, inflammatory, hormonal or digestive level, in order to restore health and vitality. This approach can alleviate the cause of many problems that the traditional approaches dismiss as psychosomatic or as unrelated to the current symptoms.
For additional information on Functional Medicine, please visit the Institute of Functional Medicine website.