Traditional models for practicing modern medicine tend to be reactive and isolationist. Doctors wait until their patients begin to exhibit symptoms, then they find ways to cure or manage individual diseases or disorders. Functional medicine works differently, and it can offer a wealth of benefits to health-conscious Americans’ overall lifestyles.
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine offers a different approach to preventing or managing complex illnesses. It’s proactive rather than reactive and involves working with teams of experts to evaluate lifestyle, biochemical, and genetic factors to create treatment plans.
A functional medicine doctor receives not just traditional medical training but also additional certifications, so they have all the same knowledge as traditional doctors. They just put that knowledge to work in different ways.
The Benefits of Functional Medicine
Functional medicine won’t work miracles, but because the focus of functional medicine is on health and wellness rather than sickness, it offers distinct benefits over the traditional American system of medicine. Those benefits include:
1. Focus on Patient-Centered Care
In functional medicine clinics, patients work with their practitioners to create effective, customized healthcare plans. While traditional approaches function only on symptoms, functional medicine views patients as whole people by taking into account not just their personal and family medical histories but also their unique lifestyles and life circumstances. By providing patient-centered care instead of just looking at symptoms, functional medicine doctors can often discover underlying causes that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.
2. Multi-Disciplinary, Broad-Based Approach to Healthcare
Functional medicine can be especially helpful for patients suffering from chronic conditions because it combines traditional medicine with alternative treatments. Traditional medicine does not always offer the tools required to manage chronic medical problems successfully, so functional medicine practitioners are always willing to explore other options and combine approaches to create treatment plans. These plans often involve changes in diet, exercise, and behavior and, depending on the needs of the patient, may incorporate alternative treatments such as acupuncture, herbalism, and meditation.
3. Help With Resolving Underlying Problems
Part of the reason that conventional doctors have difficulty treating patients with chronic conditions is that they don’t typically consider whether lifestyle or environmental factors could be playing a contributing role. Instead, they identify symptoms and prescribe medicines to treat them. With functional medicine, the process of treating a patient begins with identifying potential underlying problems, and it continues every step of the way until the person has achieved optimal health.
4. Focus On Health and Wellness
Functional medicine isn’t just for the chronically ill. Healthy patients can also benefit from functional medicine practitioners’ abilities to identify potential stressors, detrimental lifestyle choices, and environmental issues that could negatively impact a patient’s wellness. They can then work with patients to minimize risk factors for diseases and create a more vibrant, sustainable sense of health and wellness.
Signs It’s Time to Make the Switch
Not sure if it’s worth starting over at a new clinic? It may be time to make the switch to a functional medicine practitioner if patients:
- Suffer from one or more chronic conditions
- Have many doctors that don’t seem to communicate
- Feel like their concerns aren’t being heard
- Want to play a more active role in their own treatment
Schedule an Appointment
Not everyone believes that functional medicine can provide highly effective, long-lasting results. The best way for anyone holding onto doubt to find out what all the fuss is about is to schedule an appointment with a local practitioner. Even skeptics must admit that there’s no harm in exploring options, and once they’ve been introduced to functional medicine, most never go back.