Why Do We Need Integrative and Functional Medicine?
Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, chronic fatigue and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
The system of medicine practiced by the vast majority of physicians is oriented toward acute care only. This being the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is 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.
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 in chronic disease in modern Western society. There’s a huge gap between research and the way doctors practice. The gap between emerging research in basic sciences and integration into medical practice is enormous—as much as 50 years—particularly in the area of complex, chronic illness. Most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of complex, chronic disease and to apply strategies such as nutrition, healthful eating, and exercise to both treat and prevent these illnesses in their patients.
How is Functional Medicine Different?
Functional Medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease.
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.
An Integrative and Functional Medicine is a Science-based healthcare approach that looks “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal (mind, and spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total functioning.
This approach integrates traditional western medical practices with various more holistic medicine approaches, creating a focus on prevention through nutrition, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques.