The concept of functional medicine focuses on addressing the root cause of a disease. By using a system-oriented therapeutic approach, functional medicine engages both the patient and practitioner. As a revolutionary idea, functional medicine has shifted the traditional practice of medicine from a disease-centered attitude to a more patient-centered approach. Hence, focusing on an individual rather than a set of isolated symptoms.
Basic Principles of Functional Medicine
Functional medicine stands for one thing: supporting the distinctive expression of health and vitality of every individual. Practitioners who are shifting their focus towards functional medicine lay emphasis on spending time with their patients and fully understanding their medical history. They form a medical opinion after cumulatively taking into regard genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors, which might influence long-term, complex and chronic diseases.
Functional medicine primarily focuses on the following core principles:
- Health is not merely the absence of disease, but is a state of physiological, psychological emotional and social well-being.
- All individuals are unique in terms of their genetic and biochemical makeup. Hence, personalized healthcare must be provided to treat each individual appropriately rather than focus on the disease.
- Functional medicine believes in supporting and exploiting the natural healing mechanisms of the body instead of attacking the disease head-on.
- It is a science-based approach – what happens within our body is the result of a complicated network of physiological mechanisms. Studying the latter will allow us to develop an understanding of how our body functions.
- Functional medicine states that our body is capable of self-regulation, which enables it to maintain a homeostatic (balanced) internal environment.
- Functional medicine suggests that our body can heal itself naturally and prevent the onset of diseases as we age.
- Functional medicine aims to bridge the gap between emerging research in basic science and current medical practices, particularly for complex and chronic diseases.
Why Shift To Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine combines traditional western medicine with ‘alternative modern’ medicine to develop an approach that focuses on healing via dietary, nutritive, and physical interventions. Here are a few reasons why practitioners need to adopt this form of preventive medicine:
- The sharp increase in the incidence of complex, chronic diseases requires a novel set of treatment and preventive measures.
- The normally practiced ‘acute-care medical approach’ does not account for genetic differences, environmental factors or lifestyle choices, hence is an incomplete form of diagnosis and treatment.
- Functional medicine uses latest medical and technological advances to deliver a holistic approach – diagnostic tools, prescription combinations of drugs, botanical medicines, therapeutic diets and supplements, stress-management techniques, etc.
With modern advancement in science and technology, medical practitioners have also realized the void that exists within their disease managing skills. Hence, the integration of functional medicine into traditional preventive and treatment practices will not only relieve the patient from his illness, but will also provide long-term relief due to its holistic effect on health.