As a systems-based approach, functional medicine focuses on treating the underlying symptoms of disease. It focuses on the patient as a whole and takes into consideration the role that genetics, lifestyle, and the environment all have on an individual. Here’s what you need to know about functional medicine and its benefits for mind-body wellness.
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine practices use a systems biology approach to identify the underlying causes of a disease. By focusing on treating the patient as a whole, functional medicine is a highly personalized form of therapy that balances the body by kickstarting its innate healing mechanisms.
Practitioners of functional medicine look to a patient’s complete medical history to identify the root causes of a disease. They place focus on enhancing a patient’s physiological, cognitive, and emotional well-being and provide solutions that help tackle the underlying causes of illness instead of just identifying and treating the disease itself.
What Are the Different Types of Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine is highly individualized, and treatment differs from one patient to the next. Lifestyle choices, nutrition, and the environment can all play a role in the formation of disease in a patient, which is why functional medicine takes these into consideration when formulating a plan of treatment. It is particularly useful in treating patients with autoimmune and cardiovascular disease, as well as depression, chronic pain, IBS, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
There are many different types of functional medicine treatments. Some common ones are:
- Traditional Chinese medicine
- Tai Chi
- Herbal medicine
What Are the Benefits of Functional Medicine?
There are multiple benefits to opting for functional medicine therapies to address the onset of disease and illness. As a form of personalized medicine, functional medicine treatments are also non-invasive and drug-free. Some types of functional medicine like traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture have been used by practitioners for centuries to diagnose and restore balance to a patient’s body, mind, and spirit.
What to Expect During a Functional Medicine Appointment
If you’ve never been to a functional medicine appointment, you might be wondering what to expect. A trained provider will begin with an extensive medical history to determine the root cause of your current symptoms of the disease.
Your provider will ask in-depth questions about your lifestyle, your family history, mental well-being, and environmental factors. This session may be up to three to four hours in length and can also include a physical examination, as well as lab and imaging tests. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your provider may also recommend different types of functional medicine such as acupuncture, massage therapy, and tai chi—these treatments are all personalized to the patient in question.