Six out of ten adults in America have at least one chronic disease.
Despite the rising cost of healthcare, the treatment of chronic disease hasn’t improved. Doctors continue to prescribe pills to mask symptoms without fixing the core problems. And, what’s worse, patients still have little to no say in their treatments.
Unlike conventional medicine, functional medicine was designed with chronic conditions in mind. It takes a unique approach toward healing that’s both science-based and holistic.
But does functional medicine work? Here are five things you need to know to decide for yourself.
1) What Is Functional Medicine and What Makes it Different?
Functional medicine is a whole-person approach to healthcare. It focuses on the underlying causes of illness rather than treating symptoms alone. Here are a few traits that separate functional medicine from other approaches.
Conventional medicine can leave patients feeling more like a number than a person.
In contrast, the functional method depends on building a strong doctor-patient relationship. Your provider will listen and work with you to design a treatment plan.
Many conventional doctors try to fit every patient into a pre-made treatment plan. Functional medicine specialists recognize that every person has unique health needs. As a result, they create individualized plans to fit each patient’s exact needs.
The individualized approach means you only pay for the testing and treatment you need. You don’t pay for extra treatments just because they’re “standard.”
The functional method is different from other forms of alternative medicine because it’s based in biology.
To get started, a good functional medicine doctor will complete a detailed assessment. It will cover your genetics, family history, lifestyle factors, and your individual biochemistry. All initial recommendations will be based on the results of this assessment.
Conventional medicine does a fantastic job of treating acute and life-threatening medical emergencies. It’s not as good at treating chronic conditions that aren’t fixable with a pill or procedure. Instead of hoping for a quick fix, functional medicine takes a long-term approach toward healing.
2) Who Benefits From the Functional Approach?
Everyone can benefit from taking a functional approach to their health. However, it makes the most difference in complex chronic, autoimmune, or undiagnosed conditions. Common focuses of functional medicine specialists include:
- Chronic pain
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Gut dysfunction (IBS, Chron’s Disease, Celiac, etc.)
- Respiratory conditions (asthma, etc.)
- Autoimmune disorders (diabetes, arthritis, etc.)
Many people with chronic health concerns experience dysfunction in multiple body systems simultaneously. They may also have multiple diagnoses, making conventional treatments difficult and ineffective.
Conventional medicine fails because it tries to medicate each individual symptom and diagnosis. Functional medicine treats all your symptoms at once by addressing their root causes. As a result, patients receive better results from fewer treatments.
3) What Functional Medicine Provider Is Right for You?
There are many different levels of functional medicine providers. When deciding between them, base your choice on your individual health needs.
A health coach or nutritionist may be the right choice if you’re healthy or only have mild symptoms. They can help you to be proactive in regards to your diet and lifestyle. They are also generally lower in cost and easier to schedule an appointment with.
If you have a serious medical condition, you’ll need a licensed physician to oversee your care. Do your research so you can choose a functional medicine specialist with experience treating any conditions you have.
Perhaps you’re looking for a combination of health coaching and advanced medical care. If so, consider finding a practice like BioDesign Wellness center, which provides functional medicine in Tampa. Their services address everything from weight loss, nutrition, and fitness to neurological health.
4) What Can You Expect From Functional Medicine?
After the initial assessment, your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan. They may begin by prescribing a fitness regimen, changes to your diet, or a supplement routine.
Whatever the treatment program is, your provider will make sure that it works for you and your life. If the plan isn’t working, your provider will work with you until you find one that does.
5) Does Functional Medicine Work?
Functional medicine combines the best aspects of conventional and alternative medicine. In doing so, it can address the root causes of disease.
As time goes on, research continues to show the effectiveness of functional healing.
Many case studies tell the stories of people with a variety of chronic conditions who turned to functional medicine for help. Most saw improvement with fewer medications and lower costs than if they had taken the traditional route.
Does functional medicine work? Yes, as part of a comprehensive approach to wellness. If you want a life where “health” means vitality, not the absence of disease, it may be the right choice for you.
It’s still a good idea to see both a functional practitioner and a conventional doctor. This way, you can also address any concerns that are more immediate or emergent in nature.
If you have more questions about healthcare, make sure to check out our blog.