Functional medicine is an approach to health that has been a meeting place for many different types of practitioners: MDs, Chiropractors, Nutritionists, Acupuncturists, Herbalists and Naturopaths, to name a few. Functional medicine is rooted in biochemistry. So whether it is Lipitor that alters the biochemistry of cholesterol synthesis or Red Yeast Rice, the biochemistry is the same. Conventional medicine tends to look at biochemistry one piece at a time and alter it with pharmaceuticals, whereas functional medicine looks at the body as an interconnected whole. It is wholistic medicine rooted in science, including the fact that the major systems of the body effect each other. For example, stress plays a role in blood sugar management (diabetes), an unhealthy gastrointestinal system can impact thyroid function, and nutritional deficiencies impact many pathways since vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and phytochemicals are cofactors playing important roles in the "function" of your body.
There are as many approaches to functional medicine as there are practitioners, however some of the common tools are:
- A primary importance on the foundation of diet, exercise and stress reduction.
- Testing that is advanced compared to "basic blood work", such as:
- Expanded blood panels which are read using narrow lab values and with an eye toward a wholistic approach and early intervention
- Micronutrient panels that identify vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Comprehensive gastrointestinal panels that may identify infections, dysbiosis and dysfunction
- Toxin and Heavy Metal panels that can identify environmental burdens
- Immune panels that can identify problematic patterns and subclinical autoimmunity
- Lastly, a willingness to continue to learn and a respect for each patient as unique
Personally, I owe a great debt of gratitude to the many functional medicine luminaries that I have learned from, including Datis, Kharrazian, Jeffrey Bland, David Brady, Dicken Weatherby and Functional Medicine University.
Please contact me for a complementary conversation to determine if I can help you achieve optimal health.
Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncturist