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, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. The system of medicine practiced by most physicians is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or short-term illness such as appendicitis or a broken leg. Physicians apply specific prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem.
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 consequences of many lifestyle choices that have a direct influence on the rise in chronic disease in modern Western society. There is an enormous gap between emerging, newly discovered and published medical research and the how doctors practice medicine. In the area of complex, chronic illness it can take up to 50 years for the innovations to filter into a doctor’s practice. Most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of complex, chronic disease, nor the knowledge of how to apply strategies such as nutrition, diet, 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 hallmark of a functional medicine approach is Patient-centered care, promoting health as a positive vitality that goes beyond the absence of disease. By listening to the patient and learning about the intricacies of their life, the practitioner brings the patient into the discovery process and tailors treatments that address the individual’s unique needs.