02 Mar An Introduction to Functional Medicine
The concept of Functional Medicine is one that’s generating a great deal of interest in the world of health care. In a world where the typical doctor’s visit means long queues, crowded waiting rooms, hurried appointments and hasty prescriptions, more and more people are turning towards health care solutions that offer a more personal and nurturing approach. Functional medicine is “patient-centered” healing, which places the focus of treatment on the patient rather than on the disease affecting them.
Here are a few fast facts about this health care movement:
“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?’” – Dr William Cole, writing for MindBodyGreen
Principles of Functional Medicine
The functional medicine movement is founded on the following principles:
- Your body is smarter than you give it credit for; it has the capacity to heal and regulate itself if your system is properly in balance.
- Each of us is genetically and biochemically unique. Functional medicine is a highly personalised solution that treats the individual patient rather than the disease.
- Functional medicine is designed to support the body’s own natural healing capabilities, rather than attacking the disease directly.
- The body’s intestinal, endocrine and and immune systems all work together in a delicately balanced relationship to keep your body healthy and functioning; functional medicine looks at the best ways to help keep these systems in balance.
- Possibly the most important principle, and one we should all bear in mind, is: Health is not just the absence of ailments, but the presence of great vitality.
Functional Medicine treatments may include a combination of prescription medications, botanical medicines, nutritional supplements, healing-focused diets, or detox programs, all based on the patient’s individual needs.
Benefits of Functional Medicine
- In a functional medicine practice, the patient becomes an active participant in their own treatment plan.
- Practitioners focus on prevention as well as cure; helping patients to establish a healthy way of living that works to prevent illness in the first place.
- Functional medicine takes a two-pronged approach to healing the body; not just removing the bad stuff (bacteria, viruses etc) that impede our body’s functioning, but also adding what might be lacking (vitamins, minerals & other nutrients), in order to help the body and mind function optimally.
- Practitioners give each patient a great deal of personal attention, focusing on physical and emotional factors to determine the underlying cause of an ailment.
The Future of Functional Medicine?
While the Institute for Functional Medicine in the US was first founded back in 1991, it’s still a new concept to many of us across the pond. However, there is a definite and growing need for health care practices that empower us to make active choices in our own wellbeing, and to take charge of our healing with the guidance of a caring professional who looks at each problem holistically. With that in mind, it sounds to us like the functional medicine movement is one to watch!
What are your views on the functional medicine movement? Have you ever consulted a functional medicine practitioner? We’d love for you to share your experiences and opinions with us!
For more information on functional medicine in South Africa, visit Functional Medicine SA.