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What Is Functional Medicine?

Generally, allopathic medicine treats the symptoms of a disease, while functional medicine treats the underlying root cause of the disease.

When it comes to the treatment of chronic illnesses, conventional medicine is not the best remedy for all illnesses. Physicians will prescribe a bunch of medicines that some might have to keep taking for the rest of their lives.

Functional medicine, on the other hand, takes a holistic approach. It focuses on answering the question, ‘Why are you ill?’’ to provide you with a personalized and effective cure for your ailments.

The functional medicine (FM) providers will spend hours listening to you and gathering your medical history. They use this information to identify the triggers of your illnesses, such as genetics, toxins, allergens, stress, poor nutrition, and unbalanced gut bacteria.

Once the root cause of your illness is identified, functional medicine customizes a healthy living plan for you. From your physical needs (nutrition and sleep etc) to mental and emotional stressors, a functional medicine plan addresses every aspect of your life.

A 2019 study including more than 7000 subjects evaluated the outcomes of patients treated with functional medicine. Researchers found that patients receiving functional care reported significantly higher improvements in their health as compared to those receiving conventional care.

The foundation of functional medicine is to use food as first-line therapy. Food is not like medicine, it is medicine. Everything your body needs is available in nature. You just have to optimize your diet and living style to help your body heal itself.

Principles of Functional Medicine

The key to functional medicine is to look at what body function has been lost and how it can be restored. The functional medicine model is underpinned by 5 principles that define the treatment of individuals.

Health is more than the absence of disease

Not having any disease is only one-half of health and well-being. Immense vitality, good energy, optimum weight, and emotional stability make the other half. Health means well-being in every aspect of life.

Treat the individual, not the disease

Everybody is unique in their genetics and biochemical makeup. Every individual has a set of healing mechanisms defined by his biological structure. Therefore, functional medicine treats each person as different.

Human body can self-regulate

The human body is amazingly effective at regulating itself. The interaction between different organs of the body is key in creating an equilibrium state of the body.

Human body can heal itself

Science is convinced that the human body has every capability to heal under the right circumstances and even prevent diseases from occurring in the first place. By adjusting your diet and daily lifestyle, functional medicine provides the environment your body needs to heal itself.

Functional Medicine Is Personalized

A functional medicine practitioner spends time with you making a therapeutic relationship and finding out what triggered ill health. Then, they order the right functional advanced lab tests which tells them more about your imbalances for eg. a gut microbiome test or a genetic SNP test. Based on these results they make a step-by-step personalised protocol for you to heal your biochemical imbalances and improving health.

Thinking about using functional medicine to improve your health? Take our 2-minute quiz to get started!

Dr Menka Gupta

IFMCP, MSc, MBBS

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