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What Is Functional Medicine? A Quick Guide

functional medicine

We all want to have the best health we possibly can. But getting there can be a challenge. The average person in the US spends $1,011 on prescription drugs each year, yet most of us still don’t feel in peak condition.

Functional medicine takes a different approach to healthcare. Rather than simply treating individual diseases and their symptoms, it looks at the root cause. Functional medicine keeps an open mind and has one goal – to promote personal wellness.

Let’s take a quick look at what functional medicine involves and how it can help you.

What Is Functional Medicine?

There’s no doubt that conventional medicine has its place. In fact, in acute situations such as a heart attack or a severe infection, we need medical intervention immediately. But many of us are suffering on a daily basis with ongoing conditions that can’t be successfully addressed simply by popping a pill.

Functional medicine looks at the person as a whole. Rather than defining you by a disease, it takes a holistic approach. It is firmly rooted in science and is practiced by highly-qualified naturopathic doctors.

It examines the underlying causes of chronic health conditions. The goal is to alleviate the long-term symptoms. By helping the body to right itself, functional medicine can help you to achieve long-term results.

Traditional medicine may provide short-term relief, but functional medicine aims to help you heal. It can include a range of approaches, such as:

  • Changing your diet
  • Natural medicine
  • Acupuncture
  • Counseling

Functional medicine recognizes that we don’t all get sick for the same reason. Chronic conditions develop over time and causes include our genes, lifestyle, and environmental factors. It looks at how the body’s systems interact and supports them in ways that benefit the whole body.

The goal is to support your body’s systems to work at their optimum level and complement each other.

What Conditions Can Functional Medicine Treat?

Functional medicine can effectively treat some of the most common conditions affecting Americans today. Currently, the leading cause of death in the US is heart disease. Other top diseases include Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Functional medicine can successfully treat these serious, life-threatening conditions that develop over a period of time. It can also treat conditions that may not be immediately life-threatening but curtail your enjoyment of life. These include:

  • Thyroid conditions
  • Allergies
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Women’s health problems
  • Adrenal disorders
  • Arthritis
  • Digestive problems

Identifying and Addressing Root Causes of Disease

Functional medicine doctors are trained to listen carefully to their patients and ask the right questions. They combine feedback from the patient with clinical observation and laboratory testing to make their diagnoses.

What Happens At a Functional Medicine Consultation?

For the functional medicine doctor, knowledge is power. Gathering this information starts with a pre-consultation questionnaire.

Medical History

The pre-consultation questionnaire will ask you about your current and past medical history. You’ll be asked to provide details about your lifestyle, family history, and environment. It will also ask about your sleep, relationships, and stress triggers.

First Appointment

Your doctor will review this information with you. They’ll then give you a physical exam and may order lab and blood tests if needed.

Remember that your mental and emotional health is just as important as your physical health. You can feel free to open up to your doctor about any concerns you have in these areas. Functional medicine can be used in a powerful way to help you enjoy the best possible mental health.

In this form of family medicine, the patient is firmly at the center of the process. You’ll discuss your health goals and aspirations. They’ll also take time to help you to understand the philosophy behind functional medicine.

This first appointment will take some time. But it’s crucial to help your doctor get an overall picture of your state of health and how they can help you.

Follow Up Visits

When your lab work is back, you’ll have a second consultation. Your doctor will talk you through the treatment options. This could include using food as medicine or embarking on a course of natural medicine.

Your doctor will schedule regular visits to monitor your progress.

Frequently Asked Questions About Functional Medicine

It’s natural to have a few questions about functional medicine and whether it’s the right choice for you. Here are the top questions people want to find answers to about this powerful approach to well-being.

Are Functional Medicine Doctors Real Doctors?

Yes, they are! Look out for the designation “ND”. This tells you that they are a qualified, naturopathic doctor.

Naturopathic doctors complete four years of graduate education, take board exams, and are licensed by the state in which they practice. They’re fully qualified to diagnose, treat, and manage both acute and long-term conditions.

The approach that they use may be different from a regular doctor, but you can rest assured that they are extremely well qualified. They take a scientific approach to their work. They use treatments that have been rigorously tested and proven to be effective.

Is Functional Medicine Suitable for Children?

Yes, functional medicine can be just as effective for children as for adults.

Some naturopathic doctors specialize in pediatrics. Such doctors can help your child by providing tailored advice on nutrition and treatments. They can also order laboratory testing, making them a one-stop service for family medicine.

How Long Will It Take to Get Results?

Every patient is different so results vary from person to person. It probably took years for your conditions to develop, so putting them right will also take time. You may feel dramatic improvements or you may gradually feel improvements over an extended period of time.

Ready For Your Consultation?

Functional medicine may be able to help you gain relief from conditions that have troubled you for years.

Whether you’re struggling with your physical, emotional, or mental health, functional medicine may be the answer. At Fairbanks Family Wellness, we provide family medicine that’s suitable for people of all ages. We’re keen to work with you to help you achieve your optimum level of wellness.

Call us at (907) 479-2331 or reach out online to schedule your first appointment today!