What is “Functional Medicine” Anyway?

Have you heard about “functional medicine”

Maybe you’ve seen the phrase used on social media, or have a friend who raves about their new “Functional Health Practitioner”. 

Or maybe that friend is YOU, but you’re still not really sure what “functional medicine” really means. 

Or still yet – maybe you have absolutely ZERO idea what I’m talking about, but now you’re curious. ?

The truth is – while “functional medicine” has become more popular in recent years, it's rooted in natural health principles that have been around for ages. 

According to the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), the goal of functional medicine is to determine how and why illness occurs in the first place and to restore health by addressing the root causes of disease. 

IFM describes the functional medicine model as: 

  • Individualized
  • Patient-centered, and
  • Science-based

Or in other words, functional medicine helps you get to the bottom of why you’re experiencing unwanted symptoms like bloating, acne, fatigue & joint pain, so you can feel your best today, and for decades to come. 

Sounds pretty good right?? 

Let’s chat about it! ?

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine focuses on how your body is functioning – makes sense right?! 

It’s about viewing the entire body as a whole, rather than a bunch of disconnected parts. And looking at unwanted symptoms (dysfunction) as important clues that can help us restore health. 

For example → if a patient comes in with allergies, joint pain, or digestive issues, a functional practitioner views these symptoms as clues that something deeper needs attention, rather than trying to suppress or “manage” the symptoms with quick bandaid “solutions” (e.g. medications). 

Oftentimes, this means running functional lab tests, which involve collecting your blood, urine, saliva, or even your hair! These tests typically offer a lot more information compared to the annual blood work you may have done with a conventional provider. 

So… why is functional medicine becoming more popular?? 

Imagine not just relieving your headaches by popping an Advil, but never having the headache in the first place. Or, instead of suffering through painful periods each month, imagine you discovered the root cause to be an underlying hormonal imbalance, which was easily remedied with some herbal extracts → no more painful periods!!

That’s functional medicine for ya, and it’s gaining popularity in the mainstream health community because quite frankly – it works. 

Okay, so I’ve probably piqued your interest in this approach, but where the heck do you find one of these “functional practitioners”??

How to Find a “Functional Health” Practitioner. 

The first thing to understand is that health professionals of all kinds can draw on functional medicine principles. This includes medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, nurse practitioners, nutritionists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, dietitians… and the list goes on.  

My advice is always to find someone who is evidence-based & aligns with your values. If you value natural health and are interested in getting to the root of your symptoms (rather than masking the problem) then be sure your provider shares this same perspective! And remember, it's ok to ask questions before booking an appointment. 

If you’re local, I am a huge fan of the functional medicine model, and would love to see you! But if you’re not, I recommend searching with your zip code right here

Now, if you’ve landed on this page, my guess is that you value your health, but all too often we let things slide, so if that sounds familiar, keep reading… ? 

The Key is Early Detection + Prevention. 

I don’t say this lightly when I say functional medicine has changed my life and the lives of my patients. And, one of the many reasons for this is that it prevents serious (and costly!) diseases down the road. 

Early detection is the key to avoiding:

  • Expensive hospital visits & medical bills
  • Years of unnecessary medications (+ unpleasant side effects!)
  • Years of wasted potential & joy, living with unresolved symptoms 

And, on top of early detection, functional medicine is amazing for preventing diseases altogether, because it focuses on proactive diet & lifestyle changes. Things like nutrient-dense whole foods, high-quality supplementation, and lifestyle adjustments will help you enjoy life well into your 50s, 60s, 70s & beyond. 

Wondering what it would be like to get started on this new path? 

What Does a “Functional Health” Visit Look Like? 

Great question!

Going to a functional practitioner is a lot different than going to your standard 15 min. appointments with a conventional provider. 

The functional medicine model is investigative, meaning you should expect a lot of questions at your initial appointment, but don’t be nervous. This is a good thing! It means that the practitioner cares deeply about getting all the information necessary to solve the “problem” correctly. 

Here are some topics you can expect to chat about: 

  • Medical History
  • Current Diet & Lifestyle 
  • Daily Routines & Work
  • Family History
  • Current Symptoms 
  • Sleep Patterns 
  • And much more 

Just imagine the difference having this level of information can make – it’s huge!

In my own practice, I usually recommend a few key labs that I think will be most helpful, and we arrange for samples to be collected. Many test kits can even be sent directly to the patient's home, which makes this part really convenient. Labs are a game-changer, and I’m actually planning on sharing some of my favorites in my next Wellness Article, so keep your eyes out! ?

From there, we’ll wait to get the results back, and then I’ll put together a personalized “protocol”, or plan to help my patient reach their health goals. These protocols typically include things like natural herbal tinctures, high-quality supplements, and diet + lifestyle recommendations. Occasionally, we may discuss the use of pharmaceuticals, but this is never the first line of defense. 

The bottom line? 

This entire process is tailored to you, which is part of what makes functional medicine so effective. So, if you have new concerns that come up along the way, just ask! 

Ready to Look + Feel Your Best? 

If you’re interested in learning more about functional health, send me an email! Yes, I really check them and respond. Or better yet, call today and we’ll get you on the calendar for your initial visit!  

 

Resources

  1. https://www.ifm.org/functional-medicine/what-is-functional-medicine/
P. (843) 884-4466
info@ecohealthwellness.com
P. (843) 884-4466
info@ecohealthwellness.com
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