Functional Medicine is patient-centered medical healing at its best. Instead of looking at and treating health problems as isolated diseases, it treats individuals who may have bodily symptoms, imbalances and dysfunctions.
As the following graphic of an iceberg shows, a named disease such as diabetes, cancer, or fibromyalgia might be visible above the surface, but according to Functional Medicine, the cause lies in the altered physiology below the surface. Almost always, the cause of the disease and its symptoms is an underlying dysfunction and/or an imbalance of bodily systems.
If health care treats just the tip of the iceberg, it rarely leads to long-term relief and vibrancy. Identifying and treating the underlying root cause or causes, as Functional Medicine does, has a much better chance to successfully resolve a patient's health challenge.
Using scientific principles, advanced diagnostic testing and treatments other than drugs or surgery, Functional Medicine restores balance in the body's primary physiological processes. The goal: the patient's lifelong optimal health.
The Two-Pronged Healing Approach of Functional Medicine
To battle chronic health conditions, Functional Medicine uses two scientifically grounded principles:
- Add what's lacking in the body to nudge its physiology back to a state of optimal functioning.
- Remove anything that impedes the body from moving toward this optimal state of physiology.
Plainly put, your body naturally wants to be healthy. But things needed by the body to function at its best might be missing, or something might be standing in the way of its best functioning. Functional Medicine first identifies the factors responsible for the malfunctioning. Then it deals with those factors in a way appropriate to the patient's particular situation.
Very often Functional Medicine practitioners use advanced laboratory testing to identify the root cause or causes of the patient's health problem. Old-fashioned medical diagnosis helps too, in the form of listening carefully to the patient's history of symptoms and asking questions about his or her activities and lifestyle.
For treatment, Functional Medicine practitioners use a combination of natural agents (supplements, herbs, nutraceuticals and homeopathics), nutritional and lifestyle changes, spiritual/emotional counseling, and pharmaceuticals, if necessary to prod a patient's physiology back to an optimal state. In addition, educating the patient about their condition empowers them to take charge of their own health, ultimately leading to greater success in treatment.
Over 500,000 Americans suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and millions more suffer from severe exhaustion or adrenal dysfunction. If you find yourself relying on coffee, sugar or other stimulants to get you going in the morning, you may be experiencing adrenal dysfunction. This feeling is often accompanied by one or more of the following:
- Morning fatigue
- Craving salty or fatty foods
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Muscle aches
- Increased irritability
Stress can age the body very quickly. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones including cortisol from your adrenal glands. Cortisol is also important for regulating blood sugar, electrolyte imbalance and the production of other hormones.
It is difficult to know what your cortisol levels are with symptoms alone; therefore, it is important to test to determine an optimal treatment plan. Salivary testing is the only way to accurately measure the pattern of cortisol release throughout the day. Saliva testing also allows measurement of the fraction of the hormone that your body can use, and is convenient and painless.
Please visit our 'Thyroid Page' to get more information on all the ways the thyroid can dysfunctions and natural ways to treat it.
Attempting to lose weight without addressing the hormonal component is like going to the gym and then eating a big piece of chocolate cake. Focusing on whole foods, reducing refined carbohydrates, exercising as prescribed by your doctor and treating any hormone imbalances will help you successfully lose weight and keep it off. Here are a few symptoms of imbalanced hormone levels:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Memory loss
- Mood swings
- Low sex drive
- Irregular periods
- Breast tenderness
- Increased skin wrinkling
- Weight gain
We use saliva testing which is proving to be the most reliable medium for measuring hormone levels. Hormone levels in saliva accurately represent the amount of hormone delivered to receptors in the body, unlike in the blood which represents hormone levels that may or may not be delivered to receptors of the body. Clinically, it is far more relevant to test the amount of hormones delivered to the tissue receptors as this is a reflection of the active hormone levels of the body.
Food Sensitivity Testing
The food we eat nowadays are ladden with chemicals and preservatives so when we ingest them, our body considers them as foreign and creates an immune response towards them. See, a food allergy is completely different from a food sensitivity. In an allergic response, which is usually an immediate response (IgM), you immune system creates an anaphylaxis or a rash and you know within a short time that you are reacting to something. In a sensitivity, it is usually a delayed reaction... what happens is that you could eat a banana today and three days later you get some ache in your knees, but by then it could be hard to put your finger on what created that. That is why we test over 100 different foods to see what your body could be reacting to.
From what we have seen in our office, it is usually the foods that you eat on a regular basis that cause your immune system to react. A food allergy and sensitivity are both immune mediated responses, which means that they cause your immune system to be heightened. When you constantly keep putting foods that your body does not like, or reacts to, it causes your immune system to stay on an 'alert' state and that creates inflammation! This inflammation has been known to create over 80% of all the chronic illness and auto immune conditions.
So if you are suffering from any chronic condition (like arthritis, fibromyalgia or sinus trouble) or have an autoimmune condition (like MS, rheumatoid arthritis or Hashimoto's thyroiditis), you owe it to yourself to get tested and see if there are any food sensitivities that may be the cause of your condition.
Neurotransmitters are natural chemicals that regulate numerous physical and emotional processes such as mental performance, emotional state, physical energy and pain response. These chemicals play a very important role in allowing the body to function properly and sustain optimal mental and physical health. Neurotransmitters help the brain balance emotions, and manage the hormonal signals that are sent throughout the body. When neurotransmitters are properly balanced, concentration and focus are enhanced, and feelings of direction, motivation, and vitality are increased. Conversely, if neurotransmitters are unbalanced these energizing and motivating signals are decreased resulting in feelings of stress, sluggishness, and confusion.
Neurotransmitter imbalances are associated with many chronic symptoms and conditions including:
- Mood concerns like depression and anxiety
- Appetite control, insulin resistance
- Poor mental focus, ADD, and ADHD
- Low physical energy and stamina
- Addiction and dependency
- Fatigue and sleep disorders
- Depressed libido
- Sexual dysfunction
- Low pain tolerance
After testing, rebalancing neurotransmitters can be done with a combination of natural treatment options. Rebalancing can help you:
- Feel energetic, inspired and motivated
- Have a healthy sex life
- Be less sensitive to pain
- Maintain good mental focus and concentration
- Manage cravings and have a healthy appetite
- Control addiction and dependency
All facts about Functional Testing were adapted from: