Functional medicine seeks to determine how and why an illness occurs and works to restore a patient’s health by treating the root cause rather than only targeting the noticeable symptoms. It differs from conventional medicine by looking at a patient’s entire medical history to identify underlying causes or symptoms that traditional medicine may have ignored and taking the patient’s total well-being – mind, body, and spirit – into consideration. Chiropractic medicine, massage therapy, and body movement therapies are all branches of functional medicine.
Functional medicine does not base treatment on symptoms the way conventional medicine does. Two patients may exhibit similar symptoms, but those symptoms can have completely different causes that require differing treatments. There is also an increased focus on identifying early warning signs of latent or developing conditions.
For example, functional endocrinology works to detect hormone levels that are not considered indicative of a current disease, but that may be trending toward future pathologies if left untreated. Abnormal hormone levels can come with various symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, depression, trouble falling or staying asleep, and difficulty gaining or losing weight. Many people don’t realize that hormonal imbalances can cause such a wide variety of symptoms, meaning that patients may go years without treatment or proper diagnosis.
Functional medicine works to help patients recognize symptoms of underlying conditions and get to the root of them to improve their well-being as a whole rather than treating the individual symptoms as they arise. Unlike many conventional medical practitioners who prescribe treatments that work by suppressing your body’s natural functions, functional medicine practitioners work with you to help your body rebalance itself. This is not to say there is no need for conventional medicine and treatments, especially for patients with life-threatening illnesses or conditions.
If you’re experiencing symptoms that conventional medicine either ignores or attempts to solve by treating the symptom rather than tracking it to its source, functional medicine could be the answer to improving your overall health and well-being.