Functional Medicine: Medicine for the 21st Century
Nov 27, 2013 01:24PM
By Patrick McCabe, Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, MS
The system of medicine practiced by many physicians today is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as appendicitis or a broken leg. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.
Our society has experienced a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic disease, e.g. diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, liver disease, mood disorders and chronic fatigue. Unfortunately, the acute care approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic disease. In most cases it does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or factors such as environmental exposures to toxins and the aspects of today’s lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise on chronic disease in modern Western society. It’s a system that is broken.
Everywhere one looks, we see advertisements for the latest, greatest drug intervention that may provide symptomatic relief for XYZ diseases. If you have acid reflux, take Zantac. If you have high blood pressure, take a calcium channel blocker like Norvasc. If you have anxiety, take a Prozac. And the list goes on and on. The truth of the matter is that we are not suffering from a Prozac deficiency or a calcium channel blocker deficiency or any other prescription drug deficiency. The problem or imbalance lies deep in the body’s natural physiology. Drugs interfere with the body’s chemistry in one way or another, and interfering in these delicate processes will have its consequences over time. Just like the red warning light in your car flashing when there is a problem with your engine, the body gives a physical symptom as a signal telling you that an imbalance has occurred and a health problem is brewing and needs to be investigated and corrected. Treating a symptom without uncovering the cause is like placing a piece of black tape over the blinking red warning light. The consequence in the long run will soon be you paying for an expensive engine overhaul!
Many discerning health consumers are ready and hungry for real answers to chronic diseases. Research shows 37 percent of Americans use "alternative medicine" regularly. People are spending billions of dollars on naturopathic physicians, chiropractic physicians, and acupuncturists. There is a willingness of the consumer to seek non-drug related solutions to improve their health.
We are finally beginning to understand how the body works and how to use this information to treat illnesses and improve overall health. The world is on the brink of witnessing an important revolution in the history of modern medicine as healthcare is on the verge of a major paradigm shift.
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional Medicine is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, Functional Medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional Medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, Functional Medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual. The focus of Functional Medicine is on patient-centered care, promoting health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease. By listening to the patient and learning his or her story, the practitioner brings the patient into the discovery process and tailors treatments that address the individual’s unique needs.
Functional Medicine is a comprehensive and scientifically based approach treatment. Most imbalances in functionality can be addressed; some can be completely restored to optimum function, and others can be substantially improved. Prevention is paramount. Virtually, every complex, chronic disease is preceded by long-term disturbances in the patient’s health. The Functional Medicine practitioner examines a wide array of available interventions and customizes a treatment plan including those with the most impact on underling functionality. Functional Medicine expands the clinician’s tool kit. Treatments may include the combinations of naturally occurring hormones, botanical medicines, nutritional supplements, therapeutic diets, or detoxification programs. They may also include counseling on lifestyle, exercise or stress-management techniques. The patient becomes an active partner with their Functional Medicine practitioner. Improving your own health and changing the outcome of disease is the ultimate outcome.
For more information on Functional Medicine and to make an appointment with a functional medicine practitioner, contact Orthomolecular Nutrition & Wellness Center, 727-518-9808 or visit OrthoLiving.com. See ad page 55.