If you have explored using nutrition, diet, lifestyle, and supplements to improve your health, chances are you have come across something called functional medicine. Although it may sound like an obscure thing, it is actually quite logical when it comes to helping patients.
Functional medicine seeks to determine the root cause of certain conditions, diseases, or symptoms. It asks the question, “Why is this symptom/disease/condition happening?”, and then addressing the those causes. In contrast, conventional medicine often treats symptoms vs the underlying cause.
Take a common condition like headaches. A quick fix for a headache is to take pain relievers that will block the pain receptors in the body. A different approach using functional medicine is different. This approach would ask questions such as, are there triggers such as certain foods? Are they hormonal? Is there nutrient deficiencies? Muscle spasms? The list goes on. Symptoms are indicators of an underlying problem. Functional medicine providers seek to identify what these are.
Functional medicine also looks at the body as a whole system, not just independent organs to be assessed. In this form of care, it is the norm to look at gastrointestinal function when assessing a thyroid disorder. That’s right! The thyroid and gut are highly connected, as are the brain and the gut.
A stark difference you will experience when you visit a functional medicine provider is that we spend time listening to the history and developing a detailed timeline of when symptoms began. This timeline combined with assessing: environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors are key in determining the best course of care for the patient. These assessments involve in depth lab testing looking for not just normal lab values, but optimal lab values.
Functional medicine practitioners use extensive lab testing in order to uncover patterns that help to identify underlying causes of conditions. These labs are based on the patient history and can be crucial in formulating the patient’s treatment plan. By focusing on nutrition, diet, exercise, supplements, stress management, and referral for prescription drugs if needed, the patient has an integrated approach to their care that can resolve so many conditions.
Since functional medicine places an emphasis on prevention, all patients can be helped by consulting with a provider who practices under these principles. Contact me to set up a free consultation to determine how you can benefit from functional medicine and “live your best life”.
Dr. Lori Jokinen, DC CACCP CFMP BA