Functional Health 101

It’s a science-based, natural way to become healthy again.

Functional Health is patient-centered medical healing at its best. Instead of looking at and treating health problems as isolated diseases, it treats individuals who may have bodily symptoms, imbalances and dysfunctions.

Traditionally in western minded medicine, a physician uses drugs or hormones as therapeutic tools to deal with dysfunction or disease. For various conditions including diabetes, blood pressure, thyroid (high or low), cholesterol elevation and even hormonal imbalance, the standard model of care is a cookie-cutter mold. Your general practitioner could decide to treat you, or could elect to refer you to a specialist. A GP and specialist have access to the same basic tool: medication. The training in the standard model of care is to diagnose a disease and match that disease with a corresponding drug. The standard model of care works well for acute diseases, trauma, infection, and emergencies. Sadly, it fails miserably in the care of the chronic diseases that affect over 125 million Americans.

If health care treats just the tip of the iceberg, it rarely leads to long-term relief and vibrancy. Identifying and treating the underlying root cause or causes, as functional health does, has a much better chance to successfully resolve a patient’s health challenge.

Using scientific principles, advanced diagnostic testing and treatments other than drugs or surgery, functional health restores balance in the body’s primary physiological processes. The goal: the patient’s lifelong optimal health.

Here are 5 basic principles that define Functional Medicine:

1) Functional health views us all as being different; genetically and biochemically unique. This personalized health care treats the individual, not the disease. It supports the normal healing mechanisms of the body, naturally, rather than attacking disease directly.

2) Functional health is deeply science based. The latest research shows us that what happens within us is connected in a complicated network or web of relationships. Understanding those relationships allows us to see deep into the functioning of the body.

3) Your body is intelligent and has the capacity for self-regulation, which expresses itself through a dynamic balance of all your body systems.

4) Your body has the ability to heal and prevent nearly all the diseases of aging.

5) Health is not just the absence of disease, but a state of immense vitality.

Here lies the clear distinction and definition of functional health. Instead of asking, “What drug matches up with this disease?” Functional Medicine asks the vital questions that very few conventional doctors ask: “Why do you have this problem in the first place?” and “Why has function been lost?” and “What can we do to restore function?” In other words, Functional Medicine looks to find the root cause or mechanism involved with any loss of function, which ultimately reveals why a set of symptoms is there in the first place, or why the patient has a particular disease label.

Sir William Osler functional medicine

The History of Functional Health

You may be surprised to learn that functional health isn’t new. It actually represents a return to the roots of modern scientific medicine, captured in this statement by Sir William Osler, one of the first professors at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and later its Physician-in-Chief: “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.”

Another important saying by Osler is “If you listen carefully to the patient, they will tell you the diagnosis.” This encapsulates the importance placed in functional health on taking a thorough history from the patient.

I created Sustainably Healthy out of a passion for bringing back a patient-doctor relationship. When my boys were very ill, we were left with a sense of puzzlement at the lack of good information received from our doctors. Instead, each visit was like sitting at a revival run by pharmaceutical companies.  My goal is to empower YOU to leave no stone unturned in a relentless research to pinpoint the causes of your conditions.

When you work with a functional health expert, the first step is always your history. Practitioners are trained on how to unravel and make sense of a complicated story. Often clues in the story lead to the identification of key imbalances.

The next set of clues comes from a comprehensive physical examination, which includes many nearly forgotten examination procedures used by famous diagnosticians (both living and long gone), such as chapman reflex points, ankle brachial reflex and nail inspection.

The final set of clues comes from advanced laboratory testing. Innovative, cutting-edge lab tests help the practitioner look deeply into a patient’s physiology to identify how it has been compromised and how physiological balance can be restored.

After finding some answers, a functional health patient can expect his or her symptoms to diminish in severity, with a renewed sense of well-being and significant increase in health and vitality.

My DESIRE is for you to find your health and live a happy, prosperous, and spirit-led life.

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The information on this email/blog/post/correspondence is for educational purposes only and it is my life story. It is not intended to prescribe, diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please educate yourself and address any health or medical needs you may have with your physician.

references and more reading:

Institute for Functional Medicine

Mind, Body, Green 

The Medical Detective 

 

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