Mark Hyman believes that functional medicine is the way of the future, and that we can only improve medicine if we understand the body’s system, not just symptoms.
Why do we need functional medicine?
- Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis & Lupus.
- The system of medicine practice by most physicians is oriented towards acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as appendicitis or a broken leg. Physicians that apply a specific, prescribed treatment such as drugs or surgery that aims to treat an immediate problem or symptom.
- Unfortunately the acute care approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic disease. In most cases it does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or factors such as environmental exposures to toxins and the aspects of today’s lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise in chronic disease in modern Western society
- There’s a huge gap between research and the way Doctors practice the gap between emerging research and basic sciences and integration into medical practices is enormous – as long as 50 years – particularly in the area of complex chronic illness.
- Most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of complex chronic disease and to apply strategies such as nutrition, diet, and exercise to treat and prevent these illnesses in their patients.
- How is functional medicine different?
- Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease. Hallmarks of a functional medicine approach include:
- Patient centered care. The focus of functional medicine is on patient – centered care, promoting health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease. By listening to the patient and learning his or her story, practitioner brings the patient into the discovery process and Tailors a treatment that addresses the individual’s unique needs.
- An integrative, Science – based healthcare approach. Functional medicine practitioners look “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal (mind, body, and spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total functioning.
- Integrating best medical practices. Functional medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with what is sometimes considered alternative or “integrative medicine”, creating a focus on prevention through nutrition diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and or other diagnostic techniques; and prescribe a combination of drugs and/or botanical medicines, Supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress management techniques.
Definition of Functional Medicine according to Dr. Mark Hyman MD., medical director at the Cleveland clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine:
The underlying cause of disease: toxins, allergens, infections, nutrition, & Stress.
“Functional medicine” addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It’s an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st-century. By shifting the traditional disease centered focus of medical practice to a more patient centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.