What is Functional Medicine?
Updated: Oct 29, 2020
"AKA Root Cause Medicine. AKA The Medicine of Why."
The Functional Medicine model is an personalized, patient-centered, evidence-based approach that empowers patients and practitioners to work together so they can address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal health.
It requires a detailed understanding of the patient’s antecedents, triggers, mediators, assimilation, structural integrity, cellular communication, nutrient transport, defense and repair, metabolic energy, biotransformation and detoxification. We pair this critical information with the patient's mental, emotional and spiritual health, as well as modifiable personal lifestyle factors. We then systematically analyze that data in order to create and direct ultra-personalized treatment plans (health roadmaps) which lead to improved patient outcomes.
Let me give you an example of how a conventional practitioner handles hypertension. Don't get me wrong, this medical provider is likely an honorable, well-meaning person. The practitioner takes vital signs prior to seeing the patient. He or she notes that the blood pressure is elevated above the recommended guidelines. The practitioner re-checks this value as they should at a separate occasion. If again found to be elevated, the practitioner makes a diagnosis. Great, you have hypertension. Ideally, per guidelines, they should recommend "lifestyle modification" and to recheck in 3 months (depending how severe it is). Unfortunately, oftentimes this does not happen, and a prescription for a medication is given. The practitioner follows up in 3 months to re-evaluate. You now have hypertension, no investigation is done as to why. You are just an ICD 10 code in the chart and the patient is left feeling like a hopeless victim. Per guidelines, it is not until you have a diagnosis of "Resistant Hypertension" which means you are uncontrolled on as many as five medications is a deeper workup done.
A functional medicine doctor on visit number one, will try to dive deep into why you have hypertension. Could there be a genetic defect? Could you have an environmental or toxic exposure? Do you have a hormonal imbalance? Could it medication, supplement or food induced? Could it be due to stress, pain or anxiety? Are you deficient in a key nutrient important for vascular relaxation? Are you overweight or obese? Do you have sleep apnea? Do you have dysbiosis? Do you have endothelial dysfunction? If you have endothelial dysfunction, why? Could it be excess oxidative stress, inflammation, insulin resistance, ADMA excess, insulin resistance? And on and on and on. This is not something you have to memorize, or know, although we can teach you about many of these things. The bottom line is we want to know WHY. Plain and simple. So we can correct the imbalance, and you can be taken off of your Hydrochlorothiazide, your Lisinopril, your Amlodipine, your Metoprolol or whatever else you're on, and you can go on with your life without that nasty ICD 10 code of hypertension and the future cardiovascular risk that comes with it.
And just to be clear, although we may use specific diet plans, functional foods, exercise, stress reduction, targeted nutrient therapy, and at times herbs or nutraceuticals. It is always the goal to get you off any and all medications, natural or synthetic, whenever it is indicated and safe.
And just on a personal note, my practice style as a conventionally trained, board certified internal medicine M.D., I will always work alongside your primary care doctor, family doctor, internist, cardiologist, gastroenterologist, oncologist, rheumatologist, etc. I practice convention, functional and integrative medicine, so when the time is right I will refer clients to my conventional colleagues, to chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, nutritionists, personal trainers, psychologists, and physical therapists.