Functional medicine is personalized and individualized medicine.
It treats the entire system, not just the symptoms.
Functional medicine was born around the beginning of the 90s in the United States. The proposed concept was a practice that did not assess only isolated symptoms to diagnose and treat patients, but to investigate causes and enhancers in different clinical conditions. By changing the traditional focus of medical practice – traditionally centered on the disease – to a patient-focused view, functional medicine aims to see the person as a whole, and not just an isolated set of complaints.
Functional medicine professionals spend more time with patients, listening to their stories and observing the interactions between genetic, environmental, lifestyle and dietary factors. This practice aims to understand what can influence long-term health, facilitating vulnerabilities and even leading the body to develop complex chronic diseases.
When we have a health problem we want to be mapped so that we can discover not only the problem, but mainly its cause. And this is what functional medicine does: discover the origin of each patient’s dysfunction, acting not only on the symptom, but on its source, at the root.
Functional medicine considers the environmental factors in which the patient is inserted: daily habits, impulses and unconscious behaviors that can affect the gastrointestinal, immune and endocrine systems. In this line of treatment, food and its interaction with each individual play a fundamental role in understanding the clinical picture.
Listening to patients, understanding their genetic orientation in line with their lifestyle, and investigating their history are all part of the diagnosis. Functional medicine takes a careful look at the immune system, allergies, and how the intestines of patients work. Cancer and autoimmune diseases have largely and historically been due to the malfunction of these mechanisms.
The digestive and cardiovascular systems are also central to the functional medicine approach. They represent very important structures in everyone’s bodies, and are usually consistent villains in health and the pursuit of quality of life.
It is still common to see some errors of understanding about this line of treatment. Functional medicine integrates traditional, western, medical practices with what can be seen as “alternative” or “integrative” medicine, creating a focus on prevention through nutrition, hormonal balance, physical exercise and meditation. But just like any other practice, we use the latest laboratory tests, advanced analyses and other diagnostic techniques for scientific verification and analyses of results.
Prescribed combinations of medicines, vitamins and minerals, ancient botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detox programs and specific stress control techniques are as effective, if not more, as traditional allopathic medicines.
In a world where contemporary, pharmaceutical drugs have the ability to cure and intoxicate at the same time, functional medicine aims to review habits and analyze results with the most advanced tools that exist, and in this way to map the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
This ensures an even more accurate diagnosis and effective treatment that does not sacrifice the health or quality of life of patients. It also avoids a very common situation these days, which is the use of medications to correct metabolic problems.