How is Functional Medicine different from Conventional Medicine?
Functional medicine is a form of alternative medicine that is based on the essentials of Chinese medicine, modern western concepts and highly advanced medical and scientific research. Practitioners of Functional medicine study and explore the effects of environment agents, lifestyle choices, dietary habits and physical factors on the gastrointestinal, immune, and cardiovascular systems of the body in order to prevent and treat health issues.
How is Functional Medicine different from conventional medicine?
Functional medicine aims at identifying the factors that can contribute to a health issue instead of traditional medicine that primarily deals with treating the symptoms (or masking the effects of underlying disease process).
Functional medicine utilizes the fundamental approaches in the identification and screening of risk factors that may lead to diseases (long before the symptoms of illness become evident). People who adopt functional medicine tends to live a longer, healthier and happier life filled with love.
Due to in-depth and system-oriented approach, both practitioner and patient enjoys a more healthy and positive therapeutic partnership as opposed to traditional medicine. The practitioners tend to spend time with their patients, paying attention to their case histories and discussing the factors that can influence pathogenesis of complex and chronic diseases.
According to several research scientists, concepts of functional medicine are geared more towards the health care needs of 21st century. Functional medicine targets the whole individual rather than focusing on just symptoms.
For example; meet Karen, Kim and Patrick who shares a common complaint—heartburn or dyspepsia. The intensity of discomfort is moderate to severe and is interfering with their personal, social and professional aspects of life.
—Karen is a stock broker who works around the clock. A lot of times she doesn’t even get time to take a proper lunch break.
—Kim is a thin, lean and attractive woman in her 30s. She is a yoga instructor who just loves coffee (needless to say she needs a lot of it to remain functional throughout her tiring schedule).
—Patrick on the other hand is a stay-home dad who spends most of his day in front of the television or computer. He writes for a marketing company and has recently adopted smoking.
Imagine if three individuals visit a healthcare professional for the management of heartburn, it is very likely that all three patients will receive an antacid to suppress the disabling symptoms of heartburn and to maintain the quality of life. But is this the right course of action?
It is very likely that these individuals are experiencing the symptoms due to their lifestyle choices, dietary or genetic factors. Every individual is different and therefore should be treated differently (according to the nature of illness and pathogenesis of the symptoms).
It is quite possible that practitioner of functional medicine approach the symptom of these patients differently. He may advise Patrick to quit/ control smoking, Kim to control her caffeine intake and Karen to modify her lifestyle to have ample time for rest, relaxation and regular nutritious meals.
It is sufficient to say that functional medicine has successfully transformed the focus of medical practice from disease-centered to patient-centered approach.
Why do we need Functional Medicine?
Due to several epidemiological, behavioral and environmental changes, today the need of a more schematic and preventive medical approach has become overwhelming.
A few of these factors are:
- A rising prevalence and incidence of complex and chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, mental illness, auto-immune disorders like arthritis etc.
- Most of the physicians follow acute system of care. The diagnosis and treatment of diseases is usually brief with the help of potent drugs, surgical interventions and other therapeutic protocols.
- For preventing complex and chronic diseases the acute system of treatment offers minimal help as it does not take into consideration the genetic components, environmental toxins and life style choices that plays an integral role in the pathogenesis of chronic health issues.
- Most doctors are not sufficiently trained to find out the underlying reason of complex chronic diseases and to suggest strategies such as exercising, nutrition or diet.
What are the key components of Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine encompass origin, prevention and treatment of complex and chronic diseases. The functional medicine includes the following characteristics:
- Focusing on patient care: the focus of functional medicine is on patient-centered care to encourage health and fitness.
- Amalgamated approach: the functional medicine practitioners are trained to study and associate patient’s physiology, history and environmental factors that may be causing the disease. The patient’s genotype is also taken into account together with both internal i.e. mind, body and spirit, and external factors i.e. physical and social environment.
- Creating a hub of best practices: Functional medicine combines western’s traditional practices with alternative and integrative medicines, thereby driving the attention towards prevention via nutrition, diet and exercise. It also includes the use of latest diagnostic techniques and combination protocols (drugs and supplements), detoxification programs and stress management techniques.
About the Author: Christina Marino, DAOM, L.Ac. She is licensed by the State Acupuncture Committee with a Doctorate in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Dr. Marino is also a Homeopath, Nutritionist, Functional Medicine Practitioner and an Intuitive Energy Healer. Christina's practical and philosophical approach to healing the whole person demonstrates that physical healing is inseparable from the mental, emotional and spiritual healing of an individual.
Dr. Marino is owner of Alternative Health Care Concepts in Los Angeles, CA. She can be reached at (818) 505-9511. To learn more about alternative medicine please visit www.alternativehealthcareconcepts.com and Christina’s Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Alternativehealthcareconcepts