Functional Medicine is the future of conventional medicine – available now.
But what is it really, and why are medical professionals around the world adopting this philosophy to treat chronic illness?
Functional Medicine seeks to identify and address the root causes of disease, and views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties. It treats the whole system, not just the symptoms. Just as a gardener will seek to treat the roots of a tree to correct any issues with the trunk or leaves. It is a holistic approach.
Conventional Medicine wishes to find out the endpoints (or symptoms) of the problem and deal with it at the symptom level only.
Dr. Torsak Tip-pairote at Better Being Hospital (BBH) for example sees many different patients on a daily basis. Their conditions can range from a mild cold to a debilitating and degenerative disease such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Despite the vast differences between these two conditions, he will ask them both the same question; “How is your diet?”. Functional Medicine practitioners are not concerned with your condition because it is merely the symptom of some other imbalances, and it is more important for the medical team to find and correct these imbalances which are causing the patient so much distress.
It is an evolution of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. Using a systems-oriented approach which engages both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, Functional Medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Doctors like Torsak and his team at BBH spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, Functional Medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual. It is also an education process which aims to not only correct the problems they have today, but work to prevent them form happening again in the future.
Why do we need 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, 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 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 long 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, 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. Hallmarks of a Functional Medicine approach include:
- Patient-centered care. 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, science-based healthcare approach. Functional Medicine practitioners look “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, body, and spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total functioning.
- Integrating best medical practices. Functional Medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with what is sometimes considered “alternative” or “integrative” medicine, creating a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, 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.
It is the Functional Medicine approach that really stands out at Better Being Hospital, and was a main factor in the partnering of Beike Biotechnology and BBH. Functional Medicine ensures that the patients physical condition is the best atmosphere for Beike’s adult stem cells to target the appropriate areas of infection or disease and differentiate appropriately. As one Functional Medicine practitioner put it, “Functional Medicine starts the healing process. Adult stem cells accelerate it.”
Video by Dr. Mark Hyman