In my previous post, I tried to give you an understanding of how functional medicine differs from conventional medicine. In this post, I will walk you through our process from start to finish.
You may become a patient in several different ways. You may book online, in which we will call you and get some basic information so we can send you our online history tool called the Living Matrix. This is a beautiful tool that allows us to understand, in great detail, how you ended up at this point in your health history. It takes into account your entire life of events and exposures, your diet, stressors, current supplements and medications, your current symptoms, as well as your willingness to change. This will conveniently be broken down on a timeline and into the functional medicine matrix. If you book over the phone, we will similarly collect necessary information so we can send you the Living Matrix link. The third way is that you do the free health assessment, and we schedule a time in person or over the phone to talk about your current situation and determine if you would like to move forward with us.
We always start with an initial new patient consultation, which generally lasts one hour. During this time, we review your living Matrix data, we use this data to then take a complete history and make sure no stone is left unturned. If you have previous records from your other physicians, this would be the time to look over that data as well. This may include lab results and imaging studies done previously. Our goal with this time is to get to know each other, to determine in order of importance what is troubling you, and to start uncovering the original underlying cause of the health problems you are experiencing rather than solely focusing on your current symptoms.
We then with all of this information, will generally order a battery of urine, blood, stool, and saliva lab tests. We are looking at all necessary areas of your personal biochemistry to get a complete picture of your current level of function or dysfunction. This may include an assessment your blood counts, electrolyte levels, inflammatory markers, your intestinal microbiome, nutrient levels, amino acid levels, and organic acids for neurotransmitter function and liver detoxification pathways. We can also do genetic testing, food allergy testing as well as a variety of hormone assays. We order what is necessary for your situation, and this is NOT a one size fits all approach.
At this point we generally recommend 1-2 lifestyle changes, more if you are really motivated, and we wait for the laboratory studies to come back.
On the initial follow up visit, we generally then spend a full hour revising your current symptoms, goals, as well as successes or challenges with the initial lifestyle changes. Then we dive deep into your personalized laboratory results. Physician or Doctor in latin meant teacher and we want you to understand what is happening to you in as simple or deep terms as you prefer. We explain how the lab findings explain your current health situation, and we then make very specific recommendations on your biochemistry. We prefer not to guess when it comes to your health. However, if the lab testing is too difficult or expensive, we would be happy to treat you empirically based on our years of clinical experience.
A functional medicine program in some ways is quite simple, improved nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress reduction, and social interactions. Some programs may be quite complex and lengthy depending on your personal situation. For example, a simple case of GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease may be treated with a 1-2 month program, but a case of chronic fatigue syndrome caused by adrenal dysfunction, intestinal dysbiosis, nutrient deficiencies, mitochondrial dysfunction, and heavy metal toxicity may take 12 months or longer to resolve the situation.
At Integra, we have a defined clinical model. Everything is done in a stepwise approach based on years of clinical experience.
The ultimate goal of our practice is to get you in tip top shape and function. You take your basic multivitamin/multimineral with Omega 3s, you eat well, are physically active, and you are emotionally and spiritually well. At most you come to see us once a year, we order some basic labs and make any needed minor tweaks to your program. If life throws you a curve ball or you fall off the wagon, we are there for you, every step of the way.