Despite being in an age of robotic surgeries and nanomedicine, the world is facing an epidemic of chronic diseases. Conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, etc are burgeoning each year.
Despite the exceptional advances in research in the field of medicine, drugs, and surgery, there seems to be no complete cure or even real relief from symptoms in most cases of such chronic disorders.
The increasing frequency of diseases and their incurability have led more and more individuals to live at the mercy of life-long medication. Statistics show that nearly 81% Americans take at least one medication every day.
Despite this there does not seem to be any improvement in the overall disease status of the population. On the other hand, it seems to gradually worsen.
Identifying the gaps of Conventional Medicine
When it comes to the traditional approach of treating diseases, it involves diagnosing the disease based on an identification of symptoms. Once diagnosed, treatment involves medications that remedy the symptoms, which indicates that the disease has been cured.
This approach works fine for diseases like flu, cough, jaundice, diarrhea, etc. However, it fails when chronic conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, thyroid disorders or psychological diseases like ADHD come into picture.
The chief concern with traditional medicine is that it often lacks a holistic approach to the person. It is important to understand that no action taking place in our body occurs in an isolated set up. All the systems in our body and their functioning are interconnected and interdependent.
Just like a simple act of holding an object involves the coordination of the eyes, hands, and brain at the least, the inability of production of insulin is not limited to the panaceas but is a product of a combination of myriad genetic and biochemical abnormalities.
Thus, giving insulin injections to a diabetic does help in alleviating symptoms, but it does little to treat the root cause of the disease. Similarly, for a patient suffering from high cholesterol, ideal treatment should aim at lowering the increased production of cholesterol and not only to clear the high levels of cholesterol from the body.
Conventional medicine lacks answers on many of these fronts yet.
What is Functional Medicine?
As discussed above, conventional medicine has is a disease-centered approach of practice. On the other hand, functional medicine takes a more patient-centric approach, where the whole individual rather than a particular disease is targeted.
It is important to know that functional medicine is not an entirely new discipline, but it can be better defined as an evolution of medical practice that is more suitable for the healthcare needs of the current population.
In contrast to the traditional approach where treatment of the condition is the sole responsibility of the practitioner, in functional medicine, responsibility of treatment lies in the hands of both the doctor and the patient.
Principles of Functional Medicine
- It uses a bottom-up approach rather than a top-down approach where the pattern that causes the dysfunction before manifestation of the disease is identified first.
- It believes in a systems-approach where the individual and the disease is seen as an integrated system and not as independent organs.
- The uniqueness of every individual as regards genetics, biochemistry, and physiology are accounted for when considering treatment. Functional medicine believes that there is no one-size-fits-all.
- Functional medicine takes a holistic approach when it comes to treating diseases. Healing of the mind, body, and spirit in totality is considered as being vital.
- This is an integrated approach with uses a combination of modalities along with conventional medicine. These include chiropractic, traditional Chinese medicine, yoga and meditation, physical therapy, etc.
- Functional medicine acknowledges that diseases are a manifestation of the genome with the environment. Thus lifestyle factors such as stress, nutrition, physical activity, sleep, etc. are accounted for in the treatment regimen.
Why do we Need Functional Medicine?
We can without any doubt say that medical science today is at its very best in all the centuries that mankind has witnessed.
With path-breaking research, advent of modern technology, and large scale studies being conducted throughout the globe we are better able to process and implement the knowledge being generated. In spite of that, the rate of complicated chronic diseases is on the rise.
No modern medicine or intervention is able to completely cure diseases like diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders, etc. This can be attributed to the acute intervention approach of conventional western medicine.
It often does not address the root cause of the disease and focuses on treating the symptoms as in the case of diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease.
On the other hand, functional medicine treats every patient as an individual with a unique set of problems and does not classify patients based on their diseases.
Thus, not all patients with diabetes will be given the same treatment regimen. Treatment of the patient will be considered after studying his genetic makeup, lifestyle, his and his family’s medical history.
It also takes into account the emotional and mental history of the patient as it impacts the patient’s health.
Today ample data from research shows that conventional western medicine when combined with alternative therapies like functional medicine helps to achieve better patient outcomes.
Thus, functional medicine can be considered as a truly modern medical science that provides the best treatment approach to patient keeping overall health in mind.