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Let's Discuss...Functional Medicine

You know how it goes when you start small talk with someone. You may discuss the weather. A quick review of recent sports or family chatter. Almost always, the topic moves to how we spend our time; hobbies, vacations, jobs. As a functional medicine provider who works with women, the curiosity follows a pattern. It always starts the same way, eventually the question comes up, "So what is it exactly that you do? What is functional medicine?". I’ve been asked this question more times than I can count and often the assumption of what it is makes me laugh a little. In recent years, thanks to a certain virus mixed with a dash of social media and an era where healthcare is more accessible than ever, there's been a growing interest in holistic approaches to wellness. One such approach gaining more awareness is Functional Medicine. As I often say, it is the approach to health that I’ve searched for my entire career. This innovative approach looks beyond symptoms to treat the root causes of health issues. Your blood sugar is high? Let’s do more than hand you a prescription for metformin and “see you back in 6 months, lose some weight”. In functional medicine, we will be asking many more questions and looking at a few things to see what’s contributing to that elevated blood sugar (hint, it’s NOT always just your diet). We will be investigating what can be done to address those underlying sources. For some clients, they turn to functional medicine when they continue to not find answers. Some may hear, “all your labs look normal”, yet they feel awful; other clients may be given official diagnoses, but not agree with or like the treatment options and want to seek other alternatives. Thru the use of a variety of unique labs paired with personal history and thorough physical examination, functional medicine providers are able to put together puzzle pieces often overlooked in other, brief, limited medical visits. They may investigate several factors causing a single condition, or they may look into several conditions creating one symptom. The standard functional medicine client is usually one who has exhausted all the traditional methods and routes of treatment, not finding relief OR having researched the options, deciding they’d rather find other ways to manage their situation. Some clients are the health-conscious clients who are seeking more data and a thorough review of ways they can maximize their health. So let’s discuss the world of Functional Medicine, its principles, benefits, and how it differs from conventional healthcare.

Here are the basic pieces important to understanding Functional Medicine

1. Root Cause Analysis: Functional Medicine aims to identify and address the underlying (or "root") causes of disease or dysfunction rather than merely band-aid treating symptoms. Practitioners take a patient-centered, whole-body approach to health. We’re not looking at just your heart or just your brain, nor are we looking at just today’s picture. We look at everything from birth to present, as well as your entire physical + social picture to see you as a full being. 2. Individualized Care: Each person's biology and lifestyles unique, and their healthcare should reflect that. Functional Medicine emphasizes personalized treatment plans tailored to an individual's genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. We also strive to keep the client’s goals at the forefront of any treatment plan, that’s why they came to us in the first place! 3. Integration of Science: It integrates the latest scientific research with alternative and complementary therapies. This approach combines the best of conventional medicine with a broader array of treatment options. There is a vast wealth of research on alternative therapies out there, don’t allow a traditional medicine provider to tell you otherwise. 4. Promotion of Wellness: Beyond treating illness, Functional Medicine promotes overall well-being and strives to prevent future health issues through lifestyle and dietary changes. 5. Hormonal patterns: In Functional Medicine, we are interested in your hormonal patterns over time, not a snapshot of where a particular hormone was at 12:31p on Tues Sept 9th. Our hormones follow a fluctuating pattern over days, weeks and months; even years. Women understand this better than anyone. It is crucial to evaluate the patterns of hormone changes, as much as it is the basic level at any given time.

What are the key principles of Functional Medicine

1. Biochemical Individuality: Functional Medicine recognizes that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Treatment plans are customized based on a patient's unique needs. This requires time to understand the patient and time for the provider to think critically. This is not possible in our current 5 min office visits in traditional medicine, so our office visits are often quite lengthy. For some Functional Medicine providers an office visit can be as long as 2-3 hours! 2. Patient-Centered Care: Patients are actively involved in their healthcare journey. Practitioners listen to their patients, taking into account their experiences, preferences, and goals. 3. A Systems Approach: The body is seen as an incredible, complex network of interconnected systems. Dysfunction in one area can affect others. Functional Medicine practitioners investigate how these systems interact and influence health. We seek to answer the question, “where is the imbalance, where is the dysfunction and what’s the best way to bring it back into alignment?”. 4. Prevention is Paramount: Prevention is better than cure. Functional Medicine places a strong emphasis on proactive measures, such as nutrition, exercise, and stress management, to maintain health and prevent disease. The goal is to create optimal health and quality of life for years to come for each and every client.

Of course the next question usually goes something like, " How is Functional Medicine different from conventional medicine?". Great question, so glad you asked.

1. Focus on the Whole Person: While conventional medicine often treats isolated symptoms, Functional Medicine considers the patient's entire health history, lifestyle, and genetic factors. 2. Treatment of Root Causes: Functional Medicine seeks to identify and address the underlying causes of health problems rather than solely managing symptoms with medications. To be clear, medications are sometimes utilized, but with caution and great consideration as to the risks vs benefits. 3. Holistic Approach: It emphasizes the importance of mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, not just physical health. Our minds are a powerful tool in developing optimal health. 4. Patient Empowerment: Functional Medicine empowers patients to actively participate in their own healing process and make informed decisions about their health.

So one of the next questions is, how can Functional Medicine benefit me?

1. Effective Chronic Disease Management: By addressing the root causes of chronic diseases, Functional Medicine can lead to more effective, long-lasting results. This gives patients renewed energy, optimism and quality of life. 2. Personalized Care: Patients receive individualized treatment plans tailored to their unique needs and circumstances. 3. Improved Overall Well-being: Functional Medicine promotes holistic health, often resulting in increased energy, stable mood, healthy weight, better sleep, hormonal harmony and clearer mental capacity. 4. Preventative Health: The focus on prevention can help individuals avoid future health issues and maintain vitality. Growing older by age is impossible to avoid, but losing your quality of life is not.

Functional Medicine represents a significant and desperately needed paradigm shift in healthcare, offering a patient-centered, holistic approach that addresses the root causes of health problems. By treating each individual as unique and emphasizing prevention, it paves the way for healthier, more vibrant future generations. Whether you're seeking relief from chronic conditions or aiming to optimize your well-being, Functional Medicine has the potential to transform your healthcare journey. It's a path toward not just healing, but thriving.

If you are curious how Functional Medicine may work for YOU, schedule a free 15-min call to chat with a provider about what the process may look like for you.

All the best,


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