Functional Medicine (FM) should be Primary Care (PC), meaning that it allows us to treat individuals in a way that often leads to less prescriptions, less testing over time and better physical and mental health. In Primary Care, prevention can often be overlooked other than standard recommendations on diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol. Many of the treatments are at one diagnosis or are one-dimensional. For example, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), one of the most common complaints that presents to either a Primary Care Provider or a Gastroenterologist, is usually treated by telling the patient to increase fiber containing foods. And if that does not work, maybe a FODMAP diet and then maybe an eventual prescription medication. Many patients do not respond to these treatments, usually months are going by while each stage of “treatment” gets recommended one at a time. In Functional Medicine, providers see there are often multiple imbalances and the IBS was just the presenting symptom at the top and treating the causes underneath are the curative treatment. Did you know that around 70% of your immunity is in your gut? Making these changes not only helps the gut, but also the gut/brain axis and other feedback loops in the body. This often improves both physical and mental health and prevents other chronic illnesses.
How does a FM Provider evaluation differ from PC? The history taken with Functional Medicine patients allows the Provider to see the connections in a matrix of the patient’s own timeline from birth. Once those connections are evident, we can dig deeper utilizing specialized testing/biomarkers unavailable in a conventional PC setting. The treatment plan may consist of: correcting gut imbalance, nutrient deficiencies, adrenal fatigue, hormonal balance, identifying food allergies or pushing/inhibiting bio-chem pathways based on genetic testing towards wellness, and not disease. Nutrition recommendations are directed at your own test results, nutraceuticals are often used, and lifestyle recommendations are made that are directed at self -healing care that is pertinent to you. In Primary Care, history before the first visit is summarized in your Past Medical History (PMH) and connections are not often made as to the relevance of your health now in the present. In Functional Medicine individual past life experiences, such as: trauma, grief, injury, travel, environment, genetics, exposures to toxins or even toxic stress, it all matters and connects to your Current and Future health status. Ready to address the root cause(s)?