WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE?
Maggie Covington, M.D.
Functional medicine is an approach to healing that addresses imbalances in an individual’s biochemistry and physiology that can lead or already may have led to chronic disease. Chronic disease states do not appear overnight; they are often the result of prolonged states of imbalance that go unnoticed or undetected for years before symptoms of the disease actually manifest. Returning patients to health requires reversing, or substantially improving, the specific imbalances that have contributed to the disease state.
Some key principles of functional medicine include:
There are several core imbalances that the functional medicine practitioner may evaluate during his/her assessment of the patient. These include imbalances in hormones and neurotransmitters; energy production; detoxification; digestion, absorption and elimination capacities; the immune system; the level of inflammation in the body; and structural imbalances all the way from the cell membranes to the muscles and bones.
The evaluation also includes a very detailed history, physical examination, and when necessary, specific testing of blood, urine, stool, and /or saliva in order to gain detailed information about the individual’s core imbalances. Treatment plans are tailored to each patient based on all the information gathered from the comprehensive evaluation. Diet and nutrition, vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements, stress management, exercise, along with appropriate conventional medications, are important therapeutic tools used by the functional medicine practitioner.
Many chronic disorders can be effectively treated with a functional medicine approach, including, but not limited to:
Functional medicine is a holistic, personalized, and scientific approach to care that incorporates knowledge across medical disciplines. It is a very effective approach to treating chronic problems, particularly when conventional approaches have failed.