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Functional Medicine Explained: Experiencing the Difference

By |2022-07-14T16:55:44-04:00July 14th, 2022|Categories: Functional Medicine|Tags: |2 Comments

You can find plenty of information on the web about functional medicine — websites, blogs, videos, podcasts, and more. In fact, I’ve even written about it myself (please see The Difference between Traditional Doctoring and Functional Healthcare here on my website).

But based on my 20-plus years of experience as a functional medicine practitioner, it dawns on me that some potential patients may not fully understand or appreciate the advantages of functional medicine until they experience the difference for themselves.

The patients who describe the most dramatic epiphanies say they reached a dead end on the path through conventional medicine just before discovering functional medicine. They arrive at my office only after having “tried everything.” They are frustrated and they say I was the last house on the block in their search for a solution to their health issues.

Even their doctors were losing patience — and patients — because nothing in their many years of conventional medical training offers them any insight as to what’s going on or how to treat it. As a result, these patients often are led to believe that “it’s all in their head” or that the best they can hope for is the ability to manage their symptoms.

Functional; Medicine Graphic

Patients say their first encounter with a functional medicine doctor resulted in a session with someone who not only listens to them but understands and empathizes with them. These health practitioners can describe what’s going on in their patients’ bodies and in their lives and how corrections can be made. They begin to feel a huge burden lifted as their frustration is replaced with understanding and hope.

In this blog post, I explore some of the attributes of the practice of functional medicine that make it so different from conventional medicine. And despite my obvious bias, I will attempt to do so from a patient’s perspective.

Time and attention

One of the big differences you’ll notice when you visit a functional medicine practice is Continue reading…

The Difference between Traditional Doctoring and Functional Healthcare

How exactly does functional and integrative healthcare differ from conventional medicine?

Functional Medicine vs Traditional Doctoring

It’s a question I’m often asked by prospective patients and family and friends alike. Here’s the difference in a nutshell:

  • Conventional medicine treats symptoms and diseases with medication, radiation, or surgery. When you see a conventional doctor, you’ll likely get a diagnosis and then a treatment for eliminating the illness or alleviating symptoms.
  • Functional medicine strives to optimize health by identifying and treating the underlying causes of poor health, which can be traced to interactions among genetics, nutrition, lifestyle, and environment.

For example, suppose you have high blood pressure. You’re likely to have two very different experiences depending on the type of doctor you see:

  • The conventional doctor diagnoses high blood pressure and prescribes a drug to lower it and perhaps another drug to lower cholesterol. To be fair, the doctor may also recommend dietary changes (low-sodium, low-fat) and lifestyle changes (reduce consumption of alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine, and increase physical activity), but if the drug works, few patients are willing to make long-term changes to their diet and lifestyle.
  • A functional medicine doctor interviews you to gather a complete medical history to determine when the symptoms began and what may be causing them. The doctor is likely to order a series of tests to figure out why your blood pressure is high. Underlying causes of high blood pressure include the following:
    • Insufficient physical activity
    • Excess caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol
    • Emotional stress
    • Excess weight
    • Nutritional deficiencies, including biotin vitamin B1, vitamin C, vitamin D, choline, magnesium, or coQ10
    • Toxic levels of mercury
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Excess sodium and insufficient potassium
    • Magnesium deficiency
    • Chronic systemic inflammation
    • Elevated blood sugar
    • Hormone imbalances, such as estrogen deficiency

Functional healthcare targets the underlying causes, which not only eliminates the illness but also restores health and prevents future illness. The table below compares the two approaches side-by-side. Continue reading…