What is Functional Medicine?
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.
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.
Integrating best medical practices. Functional medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with what are 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, and/or stress management techniques.
Why We Need Functional Medicine
Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases. 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. Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic disease. 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. Functional medicine’s aim is to evaluate, assess, and carefully enfold emerging research in a practical, efficient, and safe manner. 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 illness in their patients.
Working with Functional Medicine
Functional Medicine promotes wellness by focusing on the fundamental underlying factors that influence every patient’s experience of health and disease. The doctors that practice functional medicine consider the following factors when assessing your condition:
Environmental inputs – The air you breathe and the water you drink, the particular diet you eat, the quality of the food available to you, your level of physical exercise, and toxic exposures or traumas you have experienced all affect your health.
Mind-body elements – Psychological, spiritual, and social factors all can have a profound influence on your health. Considering these areas helps Dr. Hall see your health in the context of you as a whole person, not just your physical symptoms.
Genetic makeup – Although individual genes may make you more susceptible to some diseases, your DNA is not an unchanging blueprint for your life. Emerging research shows that your genes may be influenced by everything in your environment, as well as your experiences, attitudes, and beliefs. That means it is possible to change the way genes are activated and expressed. Through assessment of these underlying causes and triggers of dysfunction. Dr. Hall is able to understand how key processes are affected. These are the body’s processes that keep you alive. Some occur at the cellular level and involve how cells function, repair, and maintain themselves. These processes are related to larger biological functions, such as:
- How your body rids itself of toxins
- Regulation of hormones and neurotransmitters
- Immune system function
- Inflammatory responses
- Digestion and absorption of nutrients and the health of the digestive act
- Structural integrity
- Psychological and spiritual equilibrium
- How you produce energy
All of these processes are influenced by both environmental factors and your genetic make-up; when they are disturbed or imbalanced, they lead to symptoms, which can lead to disease if effective interventions are not applied.