Chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, obesity, and even allergies have increased to be several of the top ten causes of death as of 2010. Heart disease and cancer accounted for 48 percent of all deaths. Modern medicine may handle illness effective, but it has failed to stem the tide of chronic illness.
How does modern medicine handle chronic illness?
In addition, studies imply that two-thirds of patients feel disrespected by their doctors, where 44 percent believe doctors do not spend sufficient time with them and a quarter believe doctors don’t answer questions and don’t adequately involve them in treatment choices, and use medical terms with no proper explanation.
Numerous health programs have gained prominence in the West as options to what’s called mainstream or biomedicine. Naturopathy, Massage Therapy, Ayurveda, Chiropractic, Chinese medicine, Acupuncture, Homeopathy and Reiki have arisen as alternative healing methods. The latest National Health Interview Survey estimates are currently spending $34 billion annually and that up to 40 percent of Americans have tried one or more of these alternatives.
Saved From Within with Functional Medicine
Change is also happening within the health care profession itself. Functional Medicine (FM) is a relatively new approach that’s grown from within mainstream medicine and challenges its reductionism and method of care. FM is not an alternate. Rather, it is a reform movement that is calling for a paradigm shift toward a holistic model of illness prevention and treatment based on the scientific area of systems biology. Systems biology holds that the sum is greater than its parts. Living organisms are complex, interactive and whole systems and not a conglomeration of parts. Systems biology gives an accurate and elegant understanding of who we are and how chronic disease needs to be treated and prevented. This position is embraced by functional medicine and its practitioners.
What is Functional Medicine?
The notion of functional medicine was made in 1990 by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, called the father of FM, to meet the growing challenge of chronic ailments with advances in modern medical science and systems biology. In 1991, he and his wife Susan created the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) to implement FM within the healthcare sector of society.
Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, not only its symptoms as mainstream medicine is more likely to do. FM is an application of systems biology that sees every person as an integration of mind, body and environment if you will. It treats the whole person and attempts to establish endurance and a dynamic balance within each individual. In this manner, it is holistic. A main goal of functional medicine is to promote each patient’s health and energy. An FM practitioner is a doctor with special training and looks at each patient’s:
- Personal lifestyle
- Unique biochemistry
- Genetic predispositions
- Environmental factors and toxicities
From the FM version, a disease may have multiple causes that include: indoor and sedentary lifestyle, chronic anxiety, genetics, poverty and lack of medical insurance, aging, significant families and community dysfunction, environmental toxicities, and nutrient deficiencies.
Regina Druz, MD, a practicing integrative cardiologist and FM practitioner in Mineola, NY, clarifies FM in quite pragmatic terms: “FM is root cause medication. It relates disease symptoms and ailments to biochemical and genetic processes that govern states of health and disease.”
Public Health Concerns
Since disease prevention is a top priority for FM, attempts are made to associate with individuals and communities to advocate for social change. As Dr. Druz explains: “Public health plays a very prominent part in the Functional Medicine domain as it concentrates on prevention and early intervention of chronic ailments.”
The systems strategy highlights the social origins of disorder and needs moving beyond a purely in-the-clinic version and advocates for changes in such things as food coverage (GMOs, industrial food production, etc.), poverty, and ecological degradation while supporting stable families. To be an effective medication for the 21st century “Prospective clinicians, if they are to be integrative healers, need to be outside where the folks are and to take part in environmental and social policy change.”
Functional Medicine Treatment Outline
Forging bonds with individual patients entails functional medicine practitioners spend much more time with patients than traditional doctors. It is typical to bring a patient history whilst in determining treatment choices involving the individual. The GOTOIT strategy is essential to accomplishing this. Jones and Quinn identify the GOTOIT procedure as a logical way of “eliciting the patent’s entire story and ensuring that treatment and assessment are in accord with this story.”
G = Gather Information
O = Organize Information
T = Tell the Complete Story Back to the Patient
O = Order and Prioritize
I = Initiate Treatment
T = Track Outcomes
The FM practitioner enters all of this information to a Functional Medication Matrix which allows for all pertinent information to be followed and changed as need be more than one time. This process necessitates interaction between patient and physician and can be extremely crucial when determining the proper treatment plan.
The Future of Functional Medicine
Many in the field of FM believe it’s the future of medicine. Regina Druz states, “Functional medicine is the way of the future. My prediction is that we’ll come to complete force within the next 5-10 decades.” She adds that FM will make it possible for the “prevention of chronic illness and cancer to begin in-utero and continue throughout one’s lifetime.” Druz considers that this is possible as epigenetics, genomics, toxicology and biochemistry contemplate new interventions and expand our abilities to comprehend the way the body/mind functions.
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By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Wellness
Overall health and wellness are essential towards maintaining the proper mental and physical balance in the body. From eating a balanced nutrition as well as exercising and participating in physical activities, to sleeping a healthy amount of time on a regular basis, following the best health and wellness tips can ultimately help maintain overall well-being. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can go a long way towards helping people become healthy.
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