Functional medicine doctor-Panama City, Florida-Bay Clinic of Chiropractic

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Have you heard of functional medicine, but have no idea what it is? Have you considered visiting a holistic practitioner? Well, before you do, you owe it to yourself to fully understand what functional medicine is about and what a functional medicine doctor can do for you.  And once armed with that knowledge, you’ll wonder why you waited so long! Think of functional medicine as the big picture of health. It uses a systems-oriented approach to examine the intricate relationships of your body, mind, and health.

It engages both you and the functional medicine doctor in a healthcare partnership. Functional medicine practitioners get to know their patients, they do not just listen to your list of symptoms and medical complaints. They open their eyes to all the factors that influence your health—genetic, environmental, lifestyle, nutrition, sleep, exercise, psychological, and more—to understand how they might all work together, and therefore, need to be addressed when formulating a plan to get you healthy and keep you healthy. A 2012 survey found that more than 30 % of adults had used alternative medical care. Sometimes called complementary or integrative care, functional medicine integrates care for the whole person, much like holistic medicine.

Let’s take a look at some basic differences between functional medicine and conventional medicine.

Functional medicine

Conventional medicine

Centered on

Patient

Doctor

Approach

Holistic

Same symptoms/same tests

Cost

Cost-effective

Very high

Aim

Prevention

Making a diagnosis

Treatment

Individualized

Same for everyone with the same condition

Technique

Listen and integrate all aspects of the patient into the treatment plan

Find disease early and treat

Treatment involves

Diet and lifestyle changes, herbs, supplements, cleanses

Drugs, surgery, radiation

Why is Functional Medicine Important?

 What is Functional Medicine-Dr.Tony Salamay

Functional medicine is important because it tries to get at the root of a problem.  Functional medicine has been compared to the roots of a tree and to a balance. Each of these powerfully represents its role in wellness.

A functional medicine doctor will help get to the root of your problem, whether that is related to genetics, the environment, relationships, trauma, microbes or some other cause. It will examine the branches and leaves—your signs, symptoms, triggers, and test results—to find how they are all related and determine the best treatment for you.

You can also think of functional medicine as the force that seeks to balance the positive and negative health influences in your life. Much like prebiotics and probiotics can help restore the balance between good and bad gut bacteria, functional medicine can restore your overall health balance. And it may establish a natural plan to get your gut back in balance, too!

It may be easy to think of the value of functional medicine this way: A conventional doctor may see your symptoms like a stone hitting the water. Clearly, if the stone was removed from the scenario, there would be no problem. And that often is the approach—remove the culprit, kill the cancer, cut out the offending part. But, what if the stone was an indication of something bigger? What if the ripples were what was causing the real problem? What if it was the quality of the water itself? A functional medicine doctor would approach your medical needs that way, by stepping back and seeing the big picture. By changing or modifying some of the parts of the problem, the problem may be solved and others may be prevented from happening altogether.

 

What Can I Expect From a Visit to a Functional Medicine Practitioner?

While some of the mindset of functional medicine doctors may seem intuitive and some of the approaches have been practiced by lay people for thousands of years, modern-day functional doctors are well-qualified professionals. Many types of professionals can practice functional medicine. You may encounter naturopaths, nutritionists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, acupuncturists, and medical doctors who apply functional medicine approaches to their practices.

The Institute for Functional Medicine(2) teaches functional medicine to healthcare practitioners and offers an official certification program to graduates from accredited medical, osteopathic, chiropractic, naturopathic, homeopathic, nursing, dietetics, acupuncture, pharmacy, physiotherapy or nutritional therapy programs. The certification program teaches practitioners how to assess, treat, prevent, and manage patients with chronic diseases.

When you visit a functional medicine doctor, you may be surprised how much more personalized the visit is. A functional medicine practitioner will, first of all, listen. You may be interviewed or asked to complete questionnaires that query much more than your general health. Advanced functional laboratory testing may be ordered to assess the root cause.  Then, all the factors influencing your health will be evaluated so that the functional medicine doctor can develop an individualized treatment plan for you.

Functional Medicine Treatments

Functional Medicine Treatment Panama City Florida

One of the primary aims of functional medicine treatments is to support the immune and endocrine (hormone) systems. To accomplish this, you might receive these types of treatments:

  • Nutritional therapy can be delivered after intracellular vitamin and mineral testing is done to determine the need for different micronutrients. Micronutrients are vitally important to health and almost all bodily functions but because they are only needed in small quantities, their importance can be overlooked and micronutrient deficiencies occur. 
  • Detoxification therapy can remove toxins and heavy metals from the body. Toxins and heavy metals can affect the nervous system and organ function (especially the thyroid) and contribute to chronic fatigue and other diseases. Your functional medicine doctor may prescribe a detoxifying diet rich in green leafy vegetables, vitamin C-rich foods, herbs, garlic and onions, chia and flax seeds, and lots of water. You may also be given chelation therapy to bind the toxins so they can be removed from your body by excreting them in the urine and bowels.
  • Customized dietary support can include a healthy diet of whole foods, as well as nutraceuticals.(3) Nutraceuticals are foods that have both nutritional and medicinal benefits. Examples of nutraceuticals are prebiotics, probiotics, fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants.
  • Herbals and homeopathics have been used to treat ailments for centuries. Homeopathic agents use tiny amounts of natural substances, like plants and minerals, to stimulate the healing process. Both herbs and homeopathics can be used to treat conditions like allergies, migraines, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, and irritable bowel.

 

Structural and neurological treatments may also be done to reestablish neurological (brain and nerve) function.

  • Chiropractic therapy(4) helps the body heal itself. Chiropractors use their hands to make adjustments and manipulate the body to improve movement, alignment, and function.
  • Brain-based therapy is used when physical, emotional, or chemical stress upsets the delicate balance between proper brain function and your overall health and well-being. Chiropractic adjustments, as well as sensory stimulation, heat, eye exercises, and other types of treatments are used to increase brain function.

Where Has Functional Medicine Been and Where is it Going?

 

Functional medicine is both the future and the past. The ancient practitioners of Chinese medicine, acupuncture, herbal medicine, ayurvedic medicine, yoga, homeopathy, and meditation have been using a holistic approach for thousands of years to heal the body and the spirit.

They realized that the human body was a complex balance between nature and our surroundings. And they used that knowledge to formulate approaches to health, approaches centered on the whole patient and on nature’s remedies.

 

It took modern society a long time to realize that conventional medicine is a self-perpetuating field. If patients keep getting sick, they will continue to need more medical care—and more expensive tests, drugs, and procedures.(4)  While there is no denying that, thanks to marvelous scientific and technological advances, we have conquered some diseases, like smallpox, by diverting our attention away from the big picture, we have created a whole new set of health problems, like type 2 diabetes, leaky gut syndrome, and chronic fatigue.

 

In a 1999 research paper, the authors pointed out that diseases like:

  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • fibromyalgia
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • interstitial cystitis
  • benign prostatic hypertrophy
  • posttraumatic stress syndrome
  • attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder
  • autistic spectrum disorder
  • multiple chemical sensitivity
  • premenstrual syndrome
  • polycystic ovary syndrome
  • metabolic syndrome
  • essential hypertension
  • cognitive decline syndrome, non-ulcer dyspepsia
  • noncardiac chest pain
  • atopy (the tendency to develop allergies)

 

were all functional diseases without recognized causes.(5) Then, who better to treat these functional diseases than functional medicine doctors?

 

An approach based on wellness recognizes that our behaviors, exposures, lifestyle, mindset, and many other factors help to get us sick and keep us from achieving good health. While specialized testing and procedures have helped clinicians for years to diagnose and treat diseases, it gives tunnel vision to healthcare and the treatment of diseases. It has set up medicine as a global field with specialties and subspecialties that can far remove the doctor from what might really be happening with the patient. And it often does not lend itself to individualizing disease diagnosis or therapy.(6)

 

That’s where functional medicine comes in! It addresses all those factors that influence our life and incorporates them into a plan to rebalance, achieve, and sustain good health. A holistic approach, coupled with natural, comprehensive, and preventative treatment is the key to understanding and solving some of the mysterious functional diseases of today that have baffled modern science.

 

If you are frustrated with the depersonalization, over-specialization, automated, expensive medical care you’ve been receiving or you want more holistic and preventative healthcare, visit a functional medicine doctor today and start down the road to a healthier whole you!

References

Bland J. (2015). Functional Medicine: An Operating System for Integrative Medicine. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.)14(5), 18–20. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4712869/

Das, L., Bhaumik, E., Raychaudhuri, U., & Chakraborty, R. (2012). Role of nutraceuticals in human health. Journal of food science and technology49(2), 173–183. Retrieved from 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3550857/

Loscalzo, J., & Barabasi, A. L. (2011). Systems biology and the future of medicine. Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. Systems biology and medicine3(6), 619–627. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3188693/

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Chiropractic. Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/chiropracticNational Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2018). Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name? Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/integrative-health

The Institute for Functional Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.ifm.org/

The Institute for Functional Medicine. The Problem of Health Care: High Cost and Dependency. Retrieved from https://www.ifm.org/functional-medicine/why-functional-medicine-matters/

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