Functional medicine is a patient-centered healthcare approach that focuses on getting to the root causes of each individual’s health issues, and improving the functions that help us thrive and be well. Here are just two of the reasons functional medicine works so well, even when other approaches may have failed:

Functional medicine focuses on improving the physiological function as a primary method of improving the health of patients. Functional medicine deals with addressing underlying causes instead of just a symptom based treatment approach. Regardless of the condition or complaint a patient may have, a physiology based approach is taken. While there are certain universal principles, two patients with the same condition may have very different treatment plans. In other words, we treat the patient not their condition.

A symptom-based approach to medicine may be content to give you a pill to manage a symptom--or worse, to mask it. But the reason you have symptoms is because some system in your body is not working as well as it should. So, functional medicine looks at those systems and seeks to restore them to their ideal state where they are working as they are meant to work. This is called a physiology-based approach, meaning functional medicine addresses your physiology—how the systems in your body function to contribute to your overall health. This makes it different from the condition-based approach of some other medical traditions.

To give an example, a symptom-based approach might look at a high blood sugar level (the symptom), diagnose diabetes (the condition), and prescribe a pill to manage the blood sugar level. This does not address the underlying causes of the high blood sugar level—it just enables you to keep living with the condition without fully experiencing one of its symptoms. Functional medicine looks at you as a person, addresses what functions in your body are contributing to the high blood sugar level, and works with you to correct these functions and restore you to health. The end result is that, not only do you get relief from the symptom, but your body as a whole is functioning in better health.

Symptom-based traditions tend to use a cookie cutter approach to medicine. This goes back to their focus being on the symptom and the condition, not the individual person. But, while functional medicine recognizes certain main principles that apply to most people, the approach is tailored to you as an individual. You and your best friend may both have diabetes, but in functional medicine, how this is addressed may be very different for each of you, because the treatment plan will be developed between you and your functional medicine practitioner based on your particular physiology (how the systems in your body function), blood chemistry, priorities, and needs.

Functional medicine includes many methods and ideas, but three of the most used and important ones are functional blood chemistry analysis, functional endocrinology, and functional immunology. Click on the circles below to learn more about each one.

Now that you know what functional medicine is and how it works, click here to see how functional medicine can help you!