Functional Medicine has become the innovation in medical care in the 21st century. It is actually not new knowledge, but an interpretation on the basic knowledge that has been taught for many years in medical school. It focuses on the basic physiological and biochemical processes that, when working properly, create health, and when dysfunctional, create illness. As medicine became more reliant on the use of pharmaceuticals, physicians failed to apply these basic sciences in practice. They became too concerned with getting the name of diseases and the appropriate drug therapy, rather than the understanding the imbalances in basic physiologic functions.
The "disease centered" approach is appropriate in the treatment of acute conditions, which requires quick identification of the problem and quick interventions to suppress symptoms and prevent further damage. This approach is less appropriate when applied to chronic illness. Long term suppression of body functions always leads to other problems and never allows for full recovery.
The "patient centered" approach of Functional medicine is less focused on naming the disease, but more on understanding and correcting the imbalanced functions. The interventions to restore normal functions are emphasized along with appropriate acute measures to control symptoms in the short term. This combination is more promising for long term recovery.
" A falling leaf may just be the symptom of problems
at the trunk and root of a big tree "
The analogy of the leaf can be applied to our own cells and tissues. Imbalance at a biochemical level cannot be easily be seen, but the end result can. A dying leaf may be an indication of a problem at that leaf, but a diligent gardener will assess the whole tree and the soil. A Functional Medicine physician similarly will not look at a skin rash or headache and search for a suppressing medication, but will assess the whole body, diet, environment and more to understand why the body failed to keep itself healthy.
Health problems shown in one part of the body or one organ system is are clues to the deeper imbalance. Instead of emphasizing on isolated symptoms Functional Medicine practitioners spend time investigating all possible factors, listening to the patients history and evaluating the interaction of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that contribute to the condition. Treating this group of patients is to look at the whole system and to support the unique expression of health and vitality for each person.