Functional Medicine: The Time to Consider Underlying Issues is Now

functional medicine

It is time for the patients of the U.S. to start questioning their state of health, and the treatment plan that has been prescribed to them. Instead of superficially treating a symptom or disease, it is time to dig deep and gain an understanding of what the true root of the condition is.

functional medicine

Western medicine has evolved at an incredible pace over the last 100 years, marking incredible achievements in life saving procedures, mental health, and surgical accuracy. However, this evolution has come with some structural faults.

The paradigm of “health”care in the U.S. (and much of the Western world) has become decidedly disease-centered. Further, symptoms are isolated and treated as individual incidences, when in reality they are part of a greater interconnected whole: The Human Body/Mind.

Because of this disease-care based model, the idea of preventative healthcare through lifestyle (food, exercise, stress reduction, etc.), spirituality, and love has been reduced in the eyes of Western medicine, and therefore from the majority of American people. The mindset is essentially, “I will live how I want to live, unhealthy or not, and when I get sick, the system/doctor will “fix” it.”.  This is a faulty viewpoint because the overwhelming majority of our 2.8 trillion Dollar healthcare issue in this country is coming from lifestyle based causes.

Safeway Corporation’s wellness programs found that 74% of all costs are related to 4 conditions:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Diabetes
  4. Obesity

Safeway also found that many of these conditions above are preventable with lifestyle intervention including: diet, exercise, stress reduction, quality sleep, etc.  In fact, they found that:

  • Over 80% of heart disease and diabetes is preventable
  • Over 60% of cancers are preventable
  • Over 90% of obesity is preventable

Many of the traditional healthcare systems that have been used for centuries in countries like China and India have proven their merit, and have been time-tested.  Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda (India’s traditional system of medicine), have been at the cutting edge of what we now call holistic medicine.  One of the newer spinoffs, or “modern” equivalents of a holistic system of medicine, which uses western science in a holistic manner is called functional medicine.

The practitioners who are following the path of Functional Medicine are much more in tune with what “healthcare” really is. To be clear from the get go, most functional medicine practitioners and followers are not against conventional care, but rather, wish to strike a better balance between natural remedies and pharmaceutical or conventional treatment.

So, What is Functional Medicine?

According to the Institute for Functional Medicine, functional medicine

addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century (1). 


functional medicineThe institute continues to write that functional medicine is focused on individual patient needs. It promotes “health as a positive vitality” (1). With an implementation of Western medicine to integrative or alternative care, this is medicine that simply has a better mentality behind it. It is focused on the patient, not just his/her symptoms. 

The largest distinction that the mindset of functional medicine has from conventional care is that of its differing view of the cause of chronic illness. Proponents of functional medicine understand that chronic illness has strong roots in lifestyle, genetic background, and environmental factors, and they understand that treatment must account for these components of the patient.

Now this sounds more like patient-centered healthcare that Chinese medicine has been using for thousands of years! Practitioners who adopt this style of medicine are truly at the forefront of Western medicine’s sustainable and effective healthcare in the United States. They understand the scientific importance of Western medicine, while also having a fond respect for traditional healing systems (acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, ayurveda, Yoga, etc.) that were more keen to the human body and soul.

The Integrative Medicine & Holistic Health Association is looking for health providers that believe in the patient-centered care that functional medicine promotes. Integrative practitioners, THAT’S YOU! Acupuncture, chiropractic, functional medicine, massage therapy, yoga therapy… These are all practices that are helping to further the functional medicine mentality, and the practitioners of such modalities are exactly what the IMHHA needs!

By contacting the IMHHA, integrative practitioners can begin to collaborate with others who share the same views towards a whole person approach. Real time collaboration = better care for the patients we love.