Coach GP

What exactly is Functional Medicine?

Did you know that approximately 70% of modern health problems are lifestyle-related chronic diseases such as obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus?

Did you know that lifestyle interventions such as optimal nutrition, physical activity, stress reduction and rest lower the risk of these chronic diseases and are also an essential component for treating and managing such chronic conditions, even if you already have them?

Lets explore what Functional Medicine is and how it approaches chronic diseases in a different way.

According to The Institute for Functional Medicine:

“Functional Medicine is a systems-based, science-driven approach to Individualized Medicine that addresses the underlying causes of disease by using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both the patient and the practitioner in a therapeutic partnership.”

It reflects a Personalized Lifestyle Medicine approach to organize the patient’s story and determine appropriate interventions for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease.

So, lets look at Functional Medicine from a few different aspects.

Functional Medicine as Personalized/ Individualized Medicine. Functional Medicine treats each patient as a unique individual and takes into account the totality of the patient’s personal history, family history, environment and lifestyle, genetic background,  and mind/body/spirit. Then, interventions are tailored to each patient and adjusted based on the patient’s individualized response.

As a result, Functional Medicine uses Systems Biology at the main core of its practice. The NIH (National Institute of Health) explains System Biology to be a field that seeks to study the relationship and interactions between various parts of a biological system (such as metabolic pathways, organelles, cells and organisms) and to integrate this information to understand how biological systems function such as the human body.

Consequently, Functional Medicine does not use Organ System Diagnosis as we currently use it in the Allopathic Medical Model. This is where a collection of symptoms are given a name based on a dysfunction in an organ system, be it the cardiovascular system, endocrine system or the gastro-intestinal system.

Then, the named disease is cited as the cause of the symptoms the patient is experiencing. This bit of circular logic avoids any discussion of the systemic or underlying causes of dysfunction and also treats all people with “Disease X” the same. This is despite the fact that 2 people with the same collection of symptoms may have completely different underlying physiological causes for the symptoms they display.

For example, lets look at a scenario with two patients that come to you for help.

Patient A is a slim, athletic executive who is conscious of his diet and exercise, BUT, unbeknownst to him, he has Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus because of the highly stressful work he has and poor sleeping habits. 

While, Patient B is a mother of 6 who is very busy taking care of her kids, feeds them on take out everyday and spends the evening watching TV. She is found to have Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus because her diet and sedentary lifestyle are not supporting her health.

So both Patient A and Patient B have developed Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, the same disease, but each has developed the chronic illness from a different set of causative factors, which they might react to differently.

In conclusion, we have seen how Functional Medicine uses Personalized/Individualized Medicine and a Systems Biology approach to get to the underlying “ROOT” causes of disease, thereby removing the root cause of chronic diseases rather than use the current Organ System Diagnosis that Allopathic Medicine utilizes.

This is one of the main reasons why we have a chronic disease epidemic on our hands today.  There is literally “a pill for every ill.”

It is my hope and dream that every person and family will know about Functional Medicine so that they can decide which model of care best suits their health needs.