What is Functional Medicine and How it can Help Me?

Functional Medicine


Functional Medicine

In this post, we discuss all there is to know about functional medicine. Read on to find out how this approach to healthcare can help you achieve optimal health.

What Is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is an individualized approach to health that is centered on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease instead of only treating the symptoms. Getting to the root cause is effective because medical diagnoses aren’t cut-and-dry conclusions.

One symptom can have different causes. Similarly, one cause can result in many symptoms. For example, the Institute for Functional Medicine says that inflammation can result from a combination of multiple factors, including depression, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and external injuries like cuts. Conversely, depression can be caused by inflammation, genetic vulnerability, antibiotic use, and stressful life events.

Functional medicine practitioners understand that each patient is unique. The doctor will not only identify but also treat the root cause of an illness, increasing the chances of properly treating the patient. Functional medicine clinics use state-of-the-art diagnostic testing and treatments and scientific principles to restore patients to optimal health.

How Does Functional Medicine Differ From Conventional Medicine?

Functional Medicine Picture. Source: Unsplash

As we’ve said, functional medicine is an integrative and personalized approach to healthcare that addresses the root causes of an illness. It differs from conventional medicine in that conventional medicine mainly focuses on treating the symptoms, often with expensive medications and invasive surgeries.

Functional medicine helps patients prevent primary diseases before the disease manifests, while conventional medicine focuses on early detection when the disease process has already begun.

Functional medicine analyzes how all the components of the human body work and how they interact with the environment. Contrast this with the hyper-specialization of conventional medicine. You have to see a new doctor for every new issue. It focuses on a patient-centered approach and addresses the whole individual — not just their symptoms.

What Is the Functional Medicine Model?

According to the IFM (Institute for Functional Medicine), the functional medicine model is a personalized, patient-centered, and science-based approach that allows patients and functional medicine practitioners to team up and address the underlying causes of disease and achieve optimal wellness. The model embraces a personal relationship between doctor and patient.

This model has gained massive popularity because it provides a solution for individuals who are suffering from chronic diseases, as well as individuals who have a propensity to develop a chronic illness due to family history.

What Can Functional Medicine Do For You?

Functional medicine focuses on the following five principles which can help you attain a healthier life:

1.  Offer Personalized Healthcare

Functional medicine emphasizes the fact that every person is biochemically and genetically unique. One treatment or medicine cannot have the same results for every single person. It also seeks to treat the whole person — not just the symptoms or disease.

Functional medicine doctors work with the patient to identify the underlying cause of the disease and help the patient attain optimal function. They also look at the patient’s genetic history, as well as environmental and lifestyle factors that can contribute to their chronic disease or affect their overall health. They then use this information to establish an individualized treatment plan.

2. Treat Illnesses with Science-Based Medicine

Functional medicine uses new research to establish a wellness plan that suits the patient.

This helps the functional medicine doctor pinpoint why the patient is exhibiting certain symptoms.  Various factors can influence the development and progression of some chronic illnesses. Functional medicine uses natural methods backed by science to treat the root cause of disease within each patient.

3.  Seek an Active Approach to Healing

In general, functional medicine seeks to prevent illness before it happens. Through nutrition, exercise, and personalized therapies, functional medicine optimizes the functioning of tissues and organs and heals and prevents age-related diseases.

4. Re-Balancing Body Systems

The human body can naturally self-regulate and re-balance its internal systems. Functional medicine corrects an imbalance of substances within the body, which may have been brought about by health issues, medication, or lifestyle factors.

5. Optimizing Health and Wellness

The ultimate goal of functional medicine is to optimize a person’s health, wellness, and vivacity. This approach prevents, treats, or slows the progression of several degenerative diseases. We want you to be feeling your best no matter your stage of life.

Can Functional Medicine Work for Me?

If you have unexplained symptoms or chronic disease and have exhausted all other treatment options, you should explore functional medicine. Functional medicine physicians encourage each of their patients to participate in their own health. They educate a patient about their own body and how it works, which, in turn, gives the patient a higher chance of successful treatment and leading a healthier life post-treatment.

Functional medicine follows a truly holistic approach that is often more effective than traditional medicine. Chronic diseases can be caused by different factors; therefore, using one approach to treat them is not the best way to bring healing. The functional medicine approach involves determining what isn’t functioning within an individual person’s body. It’s not about addressing generalized symptoms held by a large group of people.

How Long Does Functional Medicine Take to Work?

On average, it takes a patient around six to twelve months to see the results of functional medicine. The functional approach is not a quick fix. It is a process that takes work and requires the patient to participate in the program for it to be successful.

What Does a Functional Medicine Doctor Do?

A functional medicine doctor uses specialized training to identify the underlying causes of complex diseases. Functional medicine doctors look at your full medical history, conduct a physical examination, and perform laboratory testing to identify the underlying cause of an illness. They generally spend more time with patients than conventional doctors because they collect in-depth information.

A functional medicine practitioner may ask you about:

  • Life Stressors
  • Nutrition
  • Sleep Patterns
  • Physical Activity
  • Emotional Wellbeing
  • Personal Relationships

They then establish a treatment plan to manage the causes of chronic conditions, which may include supplements, prescription drugs, or other therapies. Lastly, they assess whether the treatment is working. If it is not, they explore other treatments tailored to your specific condition.  

What Conditions Does a Functional Medicine Doctor Treat?

A functional medicine doctor solves complex health problems. Examples include depression, inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic pain conditions like migraines. The unique processes used by functional medicine doctors can help patients manage their symptoms of chronic disease. These processes also focus on preventative care.

We Offer the Best Functional Medicine Services to Improve Your Life

If you are looking for a holistic healthcare center that offers personalized, patient-centered care, Dr. Cheryl Winter, DCN, FNP-BC/APRN, RDN, IFMCP, is here for you. Her practice focuses on treating the whole individual — not just the symptoms, and we work collaboratively with each patient to identify the root cause of the sickness. We use specialized techniques to help you get healed naturally and lead a pain-free life. We are ready to tune you up and get you feeling happier, healthier, younger, and more vital.  Schedule and purchase your initial consultation by calling us at 832-327-9332 or visiting our physical location at 303 Longmire Rd., Suite #1001, Conroe, TX, 77304.