Functional Medicine – Definition and Benefits

Functional medicine is a scientific, systems-based approach to health and therapy. Through proper medical tests and knowledge of the patient’s history, lifestyle and environment, it focuses on identifying the root causes of symptoms in order to properly manage and eliminate them. It does more than knowing the signs as basis for determining a disease and prescribing medicine to treat it.

Unlike conventional medicine, functional medicine works to treat the patient rather than the symptoms. It is especially effective in treating complex, chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, depression, digestive disorders, and cardiovascular disease, which is one of America’s most serious health problems.

Here are some of the most important benefits of functional medicine:

1. It requires you to work with the doctor to come up with a treatment plan.

Functional practitioners work with their patients in order to discover the root causes of symptoms and develop a treatment plan to alleviate or cure the patient’s health problems, and prevent new symptoms from taking place. These therapies include detoxification, nutrition, bio-identical hormone replacement, natural medicine, and exercise plans.

2. It works to discover the root cause of your health problem.

Conventional medicine examines a patient for symptoms with the assumption that each individual indicator is associated with a different part of the body. In functional medicine, you and your doctor will work together to see how these symptoms affect your body as a whole and figure out the root cause of your problem. The discovery of the root causes will lead to the reduction or elimination of several symptoms.

3. It requires the practitioner to listen to you.

Unlike conventional medicine that focuses on symptoms to treat diseases, functional medicine is a patient-centered approach to healing. It requires your doctor to listen to your concerns. This doesn’t mean that focusing on a health issue is not necessary in order to treat it. But if your doctor is preoccupied only with your disease without giving importance to your concerns, it is possible for him/her to miss out on important information that can be of help in treating your illness.

As a patient-based approach, functional medicine requires your doctor to listen to you, know your story and learn about your lifestyle as part of its process of determining the root cause of your problems. Together, you and your practitioner will work together to devise a treatment plan for your ailment.

4. It looks at all possibilities to determine the cause of your problem.

Functional medicine focuses far beyond symptoms to determine the cause of a health problem. It looks into a lot of different factors which include genetics, medical and family history, lifestyle, and environmental conditions to treat complex, chronic illnesses. By looking at all angles and possibilities, you and your doctor will know more about your health and physical condition. This helps to treat existing health issues and makes prevention of future problems possible.

Conventional medicine is not a bad approach for treating specific illnesses. In fact, it has helped to save millions of lives from various diseases and injuries. While it is most effective in treating acute illnesses, it may not be the best approach for finding the root cause of complex, chronic diseases. Functional medicine on the other hand, requires you and your doctor to work hand in hand to know not just your symptoms but you as a patient. Your history, lifestyle and test results work to help your doctor identify what causes your problems and formulate a plan to reduce or treat the symptoms.

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