You may have noticed the term “functional medicine” becoming more popular. What is functional medicine and how is it different from regular medicine? Functional medicine addresses health disorders by looking at their root causes rather than masking symptoms with drugs or surgery.

By looking at root causes, you improve your energy, sleep, vitality, and even libido. This is why seeing a functional medicine doctor for a gut problem can also improve your brain function and hormone issues. Everything in the body works together.

Root causes: Address engine, not engine light

If the engine light of your car comes on, do you find a way to turn off the engine light, or do you investigate under the hood?

That analogy works for functional medicine.

Functional medicine is not about giving you a drug for a symptom, but instead investigating why you have that symptom and working on that instead.

For example, suppose 10 different people have the same complaint, whether it is depression, fatigue, digestive problems, or persistent skin rashes.

Each of those 10 people can have the same symptom, but for 10 very different reasons.

An overgrowth of gut bacteria may be causing depression in one person, while it is a gluten intolerance in another.

Fatigue can be the result of low blood sugar in one person, and autoimmune B12 anemia disease in another.

You must know why you have a health problem

Until you understand why you are suffering from a health problem, chasing after drugs or therapies can keep landing you at dead ends.

Functional medicine relies on published, peer-reviewed science to help us understand how the body works and where breakdowns occur.

Lab tests, questionnaires, in-office exams, and a discussion about your case history help the functional medicine practitioner learn where the root cause lies.

Five common functional medicine root causes

Although different people can have the same symptom for different reasons, functional medicine often finds common root causes. Some of them are:

  • Food intolerances, especially to gluten and dairy
  • Low blood sugar
  • High blood sugar (insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes)
  • Intestinal bacterial and yeast overgrowths
  • Autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue)

Addressing one or all of these factors, depending on the person, can relieve not only the symptom that brought you to the office, but a number of other symptoms as well.

There are no specialties in the human body

The body is a highly complex web in which all systems and parts are related.

The body does not have specialties in the way medicine does. The digestive system — or any other system in the body — does not function independently of the rest of the body.

For instance, if autoimmune disease is destroying the thyroid gland, it’s not just the thyroid you address, but also the immune system. If the gallbladder is acting up, addressing a gluten intolerance and chronic inflammation can sometimes prevent gallbladder surgery.

Functional medicine is about reversing or stopping the progression of disease as much as possible without the use of drugs or surgery (although medication and surgery should not be avoided when needed).

It’s also about feeling as good as you should feel. For more information, please contact my office.

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