The term Functional Medicine can seem rather unclear to those that have never heard of it but the field is now becoming more mainstream. You are even seeing top clinics, such as Cleveland Clinic, utilizing Functional Medicine. The field of Functional Medicine is completely different than what we are used to in conventional medicine or our standard health care model. To really understand what functional medicine is, it is important to compare it with conventional medicine.
The Standard Model of Care
Traditionally a medical doctor uses drugs or hormones as therapeutic tools to deal with dysfunction or disease. For various conditions including low thyroid, diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and so on, the standard model of care is generally all the same. Your general practitioner could decide to treat you or could elect to refer you to a specialist. The GP and specialist have access to the same basic tool: medication. The training in the standard model of care is to diagnose a disease and match that disease with a corresponding drug. The standard model of care works well for acute diseases, trauma, infection and emergencies. Sadly, it fails in the care of the chronic diseases that affect millions of people.
What is Functional Medicine
So exactly what is Functional Medicine, and how can it help people that are dealing with chronic disease? Chronic conditions – such as allergic, digestive, hormonal, metabolic and neurological problems – which most people suffer from on a daily basis, are finding solutions in the field of Functional Medicine.
A few years ago, I began to Network with an Integrative practice in Toronto. So I had access to Integrative Medical Doctors and Naturopaths. As we began accumulating blood tests and analyzing the data they asked me “What in the world is going on in Northern Ontario? People are sick and the blood work is not good.” Now the question is “Why?” Why do we have such a high incidence of cancer, diabetes and heart disease? And I do have to say these are worldwide epidemics but we have a very high incidence in Northern Ontario. And the answer is, it is basically due to lifestyle – poor diets, sedentary life’s, toxic accumulation, hormonal imbalances, neurotransmitter dysfunction and the list goes on. The next question is, “How and Why have we become this way,” and the simplest answer is lack of education on what it really takes to be healthy. I mean you can’t just supplement your way out of a bad diet or poor exercise choices. If you have disrupting toxins in your body that are affecting your hormones you will never be healthy. If your hormones are out of balance then so are your Neurotransmitters. Today it is terrifying to see how many people are taking antidepressants to support their neurotransmitters when it could be due to a hormonal imbalance!
Five Basic Principles to Define What is Functional Medicine
How can Functional Medicine help to restore health. Here are the 5 basic principles that I use to define what is Functional Medicine
1- In Functional Medicine is all about personalized health. We see everyone as being different; genetically, metabolically and biochemically. It is health care that treats the individual, not the disease. It supports the normal healing mechanisms of the body, naturally, rather than treating the symptoms of the disease.
2- Functional Medicine is deeply science based. The newest research indicates that what happens within us is a complicated interconnected network of relationships are of utmost importance if we are going to successfully change someone’s health and function.
3- Your body has innate intelligence, which means it has the capacity for self-healing and self-regulation. This requires a dynamic balance of all your body systems.
4- Your body has the ability to heal and prevent nearly all the diseases of aging.
5- Health is not just the absence of disease, but a state of optimal functions.
Functional Medicine asks the vital questions that few conventional doctors ask: “Why do you have health problems in the first place?” and “Why has function been lost?” and “What can we do to restore function?” In other words, in Functional Medicine we look to find the root cause or mechanism involved and treat accordingly. It is not about find the drug that matches up with your disease!
This wellness healhty living blog post has been written in October 2016 by Dr. Michel Dupuis a volunteer collaborator to the Destination Temiskaming blog and Clinical Director of New Life Integrative Heath Centre in Temiskaming Shores. He practices both chiropractic and functional medicine; he lives in Haileybury with his wife and two daughters; he enjoys spending time with his family, training for strongman competitions and learning anything that has to do with improving health.