What Is Functional Medicine?

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Often confused with terms like holistic, 417 INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE and natural medicine, Functional Medicine is an evolution in healthcare that addresses the origins and prevention of complex chronic disease. The opposite of conventional medicine, which is primarily concerned with treating disease and suppressing symptoms with drugs, this type of healthcare focuses on optimizing wellness by addressing lifestyle strategies such as diet, exercise, sleep and stress reduction.

To get to the root of a patient’s health concerns, practitioners take an in-depth personal and family history of each person. This is then organized and prioritized using a tool called the “Functional Medicine Matrix,” developed by The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). It acts as a web decoder, organizing what may seem to be unrelated health issues into an overall story of a person’s health.

The Role of Nutrition in Functional Medicine: Fueling Your Body for Optimal Health

This approach allows a functional medicine practitioner to better understand how one condition can be caused by many other factors, such as vitamin D deficiency, low thyroid and antibiotic use. This knowledge allows the practitioner to then make connections between seemingly unrelated symptoms and diagnose the root cause of a person’s health problems.

This understanding is then used to formulate a comprehensive treatment plan for each individual, which includes specific dietary and lifestyle changes as well as supplements and other natural therapies that are designed to support the body’s innate healing process. It is also important for functional medicine practitioners to work closely with other professionals, including nutritionists and mental health counselors, so patients can get the support they need to optimize their overall wellbeing.

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