Functional Medicine Primer
Functional medicine is a form of healthcare that focuses on identifying and addressing the root causes of chronic diseases rather than simply treating symptoms. It is a patient-centered, science-based approach that emphasizes the individuality of each patient and uses a holistic approach to address the complex web of interactions between genetics, lifestyle, environment, and other factors that can contribute to the development of chronic diseases.
Functional medicine practitioners use a variety of tools, including comprehensive medical history taking, physical exams, and laboratory tests, to identify underlying imbalances or dysfunctions that may be contributing to a patient's symptoms. This approach differs from conventional medicine, which often relies on diagnostic tests and pharmaceutical drugs to manage symptoms without addressing the underlying causes.
Functional testing is an essential component of functional medicine. These tests can help identify imbalances in various bodily systems, such as hormones, gut health, detoxification, and immunity. Functional testing provides a more in-depth and comprehensive understanding of a patient's health status and allows for a more personalized treatment plan.
One example of functional testing is the GI MAP test, which evaluates the microbiome and digestive function. The microbiome is the collection of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that live in the human gut and play a critical role in digestion, immunity, and overall health. The GI MAP test can identify imbalances in the gut microbiome, such as an overgrowth of harmful bacteria or yeast, which can contribute to a variety of health issues, including autoimmune diseases, mood disorders, and skin conditions.
Another example of functional testing is the Adrenal Stress Profile, which assesses the function of the adrenal glands and the body's stress response. Chronic stress can lead to adrenal fatigue, a condition in which the adrenal glands are unable to produce sufficient levels of hormones, such as cortisol and DHEA, which can result in fatigue, sleep disturbances, and other symptoms. The Adrenal Stress Profile test can help identify imbalances in adrenal function and guide the development of a personalized treatment plan to support adrenal health.
Functional medicine has gained popularity in recent years, with more and more patients seeking a more holistic approach to their healthcare. Functional medicine practitioners often work collaboratively with other healthcare providers, such as nutritionists, acupuncturists, and chiropractors, to provide a comprehensive and integrative approach to patient care.
In summary, functional medicine is a patient-centered, science-based approach to healthcare that focuses on identifying and addressing the root causes of chronic diseases. Functional testing is an essential component of functional medicine, providing a more in-depth and comprehensive understanding of a patient's health status and allowing for a more personalized treatment plan. By addressing the underlying imbalances and dysfunctions that contribute to chronic diseases, functional medicine can help patients achieve optimal health and well-being.
The Institute for Functional Medicine. https://www.ifm.org/functional-medicine/
Bland J, Hyman M. A Systems Approach to Functional Medicine. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014;13(1):14-19.
Adrenal Stress Profile. https://www.gdx.net/product/adrenal-stress-profile
Hyman M. The Role of the Microbiome in Functional Medicine. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2016;15(5):14-16.