I was in Sixth grade when I first discovered how awesome the human body is. I started to learn about the complex interconnection of physiology and anatomy. From that point on, nearly everything I did was with the goal of medical school in mind. Once able to (finally!) treat patients, I was so excited to heal people. But after years of dosing out the proper pharmacological treatment that I was taught to, no one really got better. Once the person started on a blood pressure medication, sure the blood pressure came down, but they were stuck on that pill for the rest of their life. Others got worse: The more insulin a person needed, the worse their diabetes got. Intuitively, I had always suggested to my patients to make lifestyle changes to improve their health. It was these changes that I noted would bring back vitality. Then a few years ago, I discovered Functional Medicine, and I learned that without even knowing it, I was practicing the basic principles of functional medicine.
Nearly half of the US population currently has one or more chronic diseases such as hypertension or diabetes. Seven of the top 10 causes of death in the US are chronic diseases. And nearly 50%of people are considered obese or overweight. The CDC reports that 86% of all health care spending was for people with one or more chronic medical conditions. In 2012, the cost of treating diabetes alone totaled more than $245 billion. Americans spend the most money on healthcare, and have the poorest outcomes and lowest life expectancy of almost every other developed country. Clearly, our approach to treating these chronic diseases, giving a pill for every ill, is not working. Clearly, we need a change.
Functional Medicine is that change that we need. Function Medicine can restore health. Functional Medicine has the potential to fix our nation’s health care crisis.
Functional Medicine has been touted as the future of medicine, available now. Where conventional medicine focuses on diseases, Functional Medicine focuses instead as the body as one integrated utilizes a systems based approach
The Institute of Functional Medicine uses an illustration of a tree to represent the principles of functional medicine. Imagine a tree with lots of leaves, a large trunk and huge system of roots underground. Consider the top of the tree, where each leaf represents either a symptom of illness or a disease: cancer, autoimmune disease, depression, diabetes, weight gain, fatigue – ANYTHING! Conventional medicine tends to only focus on the leaves. If the leaves are brown, it will try to paint them green again, or even try to glue fallen leaves back on with drugs. Functional Medicine physicians instead start with the foundation of the tree: the soil and roots. Instead of focusing on the name of the symptom or disease, they examine factors such as nutrition, sleep, exercise, stress levels and genetics first to determine the overall health of the patient. Functional medicine views the body as one integrated system, and utilizes a systems oriented approach to find the underlying cause of the symptoms or disease.
Functional Medicine has been touted as the future of medicine, available now.