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What is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is an exciting and emerging field that looks at health in an entirely novel way. We can compare the modern healthcare system as a fireman that rushes to the scene of a fire to extinguish the blaze whereas functional medicine is more akin to a builder who is more concerned with restoration and maintenance.

Functional medicine addresses the restoration of health by looking for common factors among various symptoms and diagnoses which can be improved by holistic and lifestyle intervention. This model looks beyond the symptoms to restore function and move the body towards a state of health. This moves us away from the conventional model which looks at simply treating the symptoms of a chronic disease to healing the underlying causes of the disease. To achieve this functional medicine adopts a holistic approach.

Functional medicine looks at the pattern of dysfunction underlying chronic diseases by investigating all the way down the molecular level and beyond. It looks at our genes and how they can be manipulated by the environment. The guiding principle is that if we can change our environment and our behaviour, we can change the way our genes perform.

A central pillar of our environment is the lifestyle we adopt. This lifestyle permeates all aspects of health whether beneficial or harmful. The aim is to expose ourselves to the benefits of the former and reduce interactions with the latter.

Itís all about balance. Imbalance causes the chronic diseases which lead to the debilitating symptoms associated with ill health. This is the bodyís way of telling us that something is off kilter. Functional medicine aims to restore the natural balance bringing the body back into harmony with health. By restoring homeostasis or balance, functional medicine hopes to alleviate not only the symptoms but reverse the chronic disease process.

By focusing on the individual, functional medicine does not rely on the one size fits all model of conventional medicine but rather pursues an individualised or bespoke approach, because at the end of the day we are all different.

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