What is functional medicine

Functional Medicine: asking “why”? not “what”?

Functional Medicine is a science based medical model that is especially suited to the management of complex chronic disease, ranging from cardio-metabolic disorders such as Type 2 Diabetes, to autoimmune conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, neurodegenerative disorders, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic dermatitis, chronic headaches, allergic disorders and many more.

The model was developed 25 years ago in the United States and has been growing exponentially across the world. Its approach is largely based on scientifically researched nutritional interventions and lifestyle management. It uses the latest available genetic knowledge, and strives to personalise therapy to the individual patient.

Functional Medicine is termed as “upstream medicine”, meaning it focuses primarily on identifying and correcting the root causes of disease, which may lead to suboptimal functioning of a system(s), as opposed to “downstream medicine” where therapy is primarily concerned with managing symptoms. Put another way, Functional Medicine is medicine by cause, not by symptom, medicine by organism, not by organ.

For example, in the conventional medical model, if two people present with chronic migraines, they might well be offered exactly the same treatment. Treating them both with pain killers will possibly remove the symptom but not the cause. In Functional medicine we consider that these are two very different individuals and that the root cause of their headaches are likely to be very different too. We look at their nutritional status, genetic factors, hormone balance, gut health and environmental factors, such as exposure to toxins, to identify the specific underlying causes, and offer a personalised treatment plan.

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