What is Functional Medicine?
Although it may sound "new-age", functional medicine is anything but that. Now more than ever, patients throughout the Western World are turning to a new approach to medicine called functional medicine. But, what exactly does that entail, how is it different from visiting a traditional doctor, and how do you know it will work?
First things first, practitioners of functional medicine receive the same exact schooling, training, and testing as any other doctor, nurse practitioner, etc. In fact, there is practically no distinction in most medical schools and every medical doctor could also be a functional medicine practitioner. However, the difference lies in how that knowledge is applied and what the doctor or medical professional chooses to do with that knowledge that makes all the difference. The most simple explanation is, functional medicine looks at the root cause of the problem and aims to treat the root cause, not the symptoms of the cause. Whereas traditional Western medicine aims to sell you pills and prescriptions to treat your symptoms, thus turning your problems into a lifelong battle that could possibly be solved in much less time for much less money.
The Root Cause
All functional medicine visits begin with your doctor trying to learn more about your life. That is your genetics, where you live, how you live, what your diet looks like, and more. Although some may find that intrusive, it’s highly important to establish exactly why you’re experiencing issues in the first place. As medical science continues to advance, more and more studies are suggesting that genetics and your environment (where you live, what you eat, how you live) play the biggest roles in diseases and other medical problems. Therefore, functional medicine begins by asking lots of questions in the form of patient files, interviews, and most notably different types of tests designed to answer those questions in scientific ways.
To Test Or Not To Test
Functional medicine typically includes general baseline tests that look out for abnormalities within the patient to begin tracking where the root of the cause is. This again varies from traditional medicine because traditional practices may still perform tests like x-rays and blood panels, but they typically only are looking to confirm symptoms and then stop asking questions once they can prove the symptoms. Not so with functional medicine, instead, blood panels, genetic testing, and more are used to narrow down what’s going on but are not used to just verify the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Your Relationship In The Medical Process
Another facet of functional medicine is where the patient fits into the puzzle. In most doctors’ offices, you sit in a chair, get poked and prodded then get told how your life is going to change. Yet, in functional medicine, the doctor or medical staff are equal to the patient. Through empowering the patient, better health outcomes can be reached and treatment can be tailored to individual needs, not just generalities. Functional medicine clinics like Denver Functional Medicine also aim for effective yet less-intrusive means of treatment that transform your life into something more healthy and sustainable over time.