Chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis—are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems. As of 2012, about half of all adults—117 million people—have one or more chronic health conditions. One of four adults has two or more chronic health conditions. (1)
Conventional medicine excels in treating acute medical emergencies such as trauma and serious infections. However, this type of health care accounts for only about 20% of concerns. While medications can be lifesaving in emergency situations, in the long run they can be ineffective, expensive, and have adverse side effects in the treatment of chronic illness.
On the other hand, Functional Medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease as opposed to the traditional approach of treating the symptom. In the functional medicine model, practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease.
The majority of health problems are known as “chronic” or “degenerative” diseases, meaning they accumulate over time, slowly dampening our overall quality of life. Functional medicine is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses these specific needs. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms.
Common health problems are actually SYMPTOMS of imbalances. They generally are not diseases which can be permanently resolved by taking medication. Arthritis, chronic pain, depression, fatigue, headaches, hormonal problems, memory loss, obesity, poor digestion and more can ALL be traced back to imbalances in the biological systems of the body:
* Assimilation ( Digestion, Absorption, Microbiota/GI, Respiration )
* Defense & Repair ( Immune system, Inflammatory processes, Infection & microbiota )
* Energy (Energy regulation, Mitochondrial function)
* Bio-transformation & Elimination (Toxicity, Detoxification)
* Communication ( Endocrine, Neurotransmitters, immune messengers, Cognition )
* Transport ( Cardiovascular, Lymphatic systems )
* Structural Integrity (from the sub-cellular membranes to the musculoskeletal system)
Functional medicine also addresses lifestyle and environmental factors which could be attributing to symptoms, such as:
* Sleep & Relaxation
* Exercise / Movement
* Nutrition / Hydration
* Stress / Resilience
* Environmental Pollutants
Taking all of these factors and biological processes into consideration,
functional medicine treats the root imbalance for permanent resolution.
1. Ward BW, Schiller JS, Goodman RA. Multiple chronic conditions among US adults: a 2012 update. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:130389. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd11.130389