Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, no longer are we keeling over in droves from acute infectious diseases. Instead, we of the modern world, are rapidly becoming ridden with conditions of a more chronic nature, and not for lack of attention and effort. With spending on healthcare in the USA being greater than 17% of GDP (https://www.commonwealthfund.org/), we have declared war on ‘disease’ of all kinds, from obesity and diabetes to heart disease and cancer. With the incidence of chronic conditions increasing at a rapid clip, these are wars we are losing convincingly, despite the decades-old, and the perpetually alluring promise of technology that will ‘save us’.
The unfortunate reality is that we are trying to treat conditions of society and lifestyle in the same way as infectious disease and thus are doomed to failure. No matter how much we would like it, one can’t take a pill to ‘fix’ obesity born of inactivity, or diabetes caused by excessive sugar intake. Eventually, we must – just as in all areas of life – treat the cause of the problem, and yet the cry for holistic health care is not a new one, with traditional health modalities abounding. The problem is that by very virtue of their tradition, these modalities have fallen short when it comes to integrating into with our evidence-based and newfound scientific understandings of health.
If you are interested in health, then at this point the words ‘Functional Medicine’ are probably some you have run into, and if you hadn’t, you have now, and will increasingly do so going forward.
Functional Medicine is the modern evolution of holistic health care, and the future of effective chronic health care.
Functional medicine is not a health modality; it is a methodology. It is about fitting the pieces of a patient’s health jigsaw together so that it all makes sense; a collaborative mission between patient and practitioner to find and restore a balance of health. It moves the paradigm from symptoms as being the focus of treatment, to symptoms as being indicators of disturbance in complex underlying systems, which – thanks to science – can be reasoned through, and thus inform correct action.
Functional medicine requires taking the time to understand the patient; exploring their health story in detail, and filling in the remaining gaps with modern functional pathology testing. This in-depth investigation aims to uncover the underlying root cause(s), and thus reveal what needs to change. By emphasising educating the patient so that they understand what is going on, and what changes need to be made, they become more than a passive recipient in their own health trajectory; they become empowered to step-up and take ownership of their own health journey.
Functional medicine is grounded in recognising that what we need is not magic, but evidence-fuelled wisdom, and guidance. We live in truly amazing times, but in a society increasingly encumbered by chronic disease, we need to wake from the fantasy where the health we hold is borne not of the life we lead and is somehow the responsibility of doctors to ‘fix’. The quest for the ‘magic pill’ to cure all ills has heretofore proven elusive.
Doctors are not wizards.
Our health is our own.
The medical model we embrace needs to be functional.
This is Functional Medicine.