Functional Medicine in a Nutshell

If you found this website, you may already have a firm grasp on the basic tenets of functional medicine; however, many people are still unfamiliar with this term.  What is it?

Your body has an innate intelligence eloquently designed to stave off diseases, to purge toxins from your system, to maintain homeostasis, and to keep you healthy through a variety of mechanisms. When you experience pain, it is your body alerting you to a situation you need to address. Initially, it will simply be acute inflammation. But when things persist, you enter the world of chronic inflammation. That’s a whole other ballgame. Chronic inflammation is the source of autoimmune disease.

With traditional Western medicine, if you go to the doctor complaining of a symptom that you are having, they are concerned with treating that symptom. They don’t necessarily care why or how you got that symptom. They just want to deal with what is currently causing you this problem. They may run tests to see how bad that symptom is. 

With functional medicine, while the doctor wants to provide assistance in easing symptom relief, their ultimate goal is to find out why and how this happened in the first place. Your body was created to alert you of these problems, so you can change what you are doing. It was not meant to live with them.

I got a kick out of a true story a friend of mine told me the other day. She and her husband were driving down the road in a relatively older car, and it was squeaking and creaking with every twist and turn and bump in the road. Her son called it “carthritis.” It was getting increasingly embarrassing and sounded in pain. She asked her husband, “Does the car need oiled or something? It sounds like it’s dying.” He replied, “Yeah, I know. I usually just try to avoid bumpy roads.”

We don’t accommodate sickness. Whatever is causing that creaking is not going away because you avoid those roads. It just isn’t in your face annoying you at every bend in the road. You are ignoring the problem, but I guarantee what caused the squeaking is still there.

Figuring out what it is and fixing it at its source is functional medicine in a nutshell.

So this is where a lot of people begin to get defensive about traditional medicine. They say, “Well, my doctor wants to know what is wrong with me. They send me for tests and try to get rid of it.” 

What they consider the problem, we generally consider the symptom. For instance, you have pain in your shoulder. After running some tests, they discover a tumor. They get rid of the tumor. Great! But what was going on in your body that allowed the formation of a tumor to develop in the first place?

You see, the tumor was not a problem, but a symptom of an underlying issue. And until you discover the reason for that and make adjustments there, you may see other symptoms pop up that are seemingly unrelated… but odds are they aren’t.

Another area of difference in functional medicine is how it is treated. As I said, we believe the body is designed to heal… when it is provided with the right tools. Those tools are things you would expect and have been told your whole life.

Eat well. What that means can vary a little from person to person, but basically, we all know processed foods vs whole foods. Cookies vs. Veggies. Good food = Good health.

Drink plenty of water. Your body is comprised of 50 -75% water. This makes water really important to the functions it is trying to carry out. Your cells need to stay hydrated to do this. It also helps us flush out all of those nasty toxins and waste from our body through sweat and elimination. 

Exercise routinely. This doesn’t mean become Mr. Universe or “No pain. No gain.” This means stay active. Do not live a sedentary life. Avoid sitting for extended periods of time.

Avoid toxins. We are exposed to so many toxins on a daily basis – more than your body was designed to handle. This puts you in toxic load. Choose more natural products over man-made heavily processed products. 

But surely it isn’t as simple as all that?! Well, it isn’t simple at all. Your body converts food into energy, but there are bi-products and chemical reactions. Figuring out what and why something is happening is like sleuthing. Often extensive lab work is needed to see how your body is throwing up signals that you may not be feeling. For instance, you eat a piece of toast and unknowingly antibodies may be sent out. You can’t feel those antibodies being sent out. So unless you experience pain and discomfort when you have the toast, you have no association between the toast and the condition.

Functional Medicine doctors look in-depth at how your body is functioning. 70% of your immune system resides in your gut. Have you had antibiotics that have killed off a lot of good bacteria that helps you fight sickness? Are you getting enough diversity in your diet to feed that flora? Nutrition and nutritional supplements are a key component in rebalancing and maintaining your health. 

At theDr.com, our Clinical Services team has extensive training in Functional Medicine, Nutrition, and the 4 Pillars of Health (Structure, Biochemistry, Emotion and Electromagnetic Field). Through consultations, we offer personalized wellness based on testing and analysis. We give the tools to our patients and empower them to take control of their health and share these protocols, methods, test results, and progress results with other people they have chosen to be a part of their healthcare team. We believe this holistic approach leads to true healing.  

Our bodies were designed to heal, but they were designed long before plastics and wireless phones and cars. Think of yourself just like one more animal you find in nature. That’s our environment, too.

Functional Medicine sifts through all of your symptoms; tests and retests; looks at whether you are improving, declining or if there is no change; and seeks to discover the root cause or causes for your sickness.

It relies on the technology of tests and the wisdom of nature.