What is Functional Medicine
In contrast with that of the conventional medicine approach, which strives to diagnose disease and identify drug treatment, Functional Medicine takes an individualised approach to the treatment of disease by focusing on the identification and treatment of the sources of a person’s dis-ease.
Functional Medicine’s focus on the patient seeks to treat individuals experiencing disease as having symptoms, loss or dysfunction and imbalances. The treatment uses a diverse toolkit covering nutritional, exercise, lifestyle counselling, stress reduction techniques, alongside supplementation and conventional medication (if required).
While conventional medical treatment is generally very effective in the treatment of acute disease, infection and trauma, it struggles with effective treatment of chronic disease. Chronic conditions (e.g. Auto-immune disorders, Chronic Fatigue, Gastrointestinal issues and chronic musculoskeletal and neurological conditions) which rob their sufferers of quality of life are finding greater treatment success through Functional Medicine’s comprehensive, systemic approach.
Chronic health conditions respond to the Functional Medicine approach which focuses on identifying and adding what is missing in the body and removing anything that prevents the body from achieving vital health.
7 Principles of Functional Medicine
- The body is intelligent & self-regulating
Functional Medicine believes in the power of the body to create perfect health. Given the right conditions and support, it has the ability to heal and prevent most diseases of ageing.
- We are all individuals with individual needs
Both genetically and biochemically unique. Rather than treating symptoms Functional Medicine strives to support the individual’s body to trigger the natural healing mechanisms rather than just applying medication.
- Patient-centred, not disease-focused
Functional Medicine Drs work with patients in a treatment team. It is understood that the patient’s involvement in treatment is the key to success. The patient is the centre of treatment, but also the centre of recovery. Instead of being passive recipients of treatment patients are encouraged to be completely involved in their treatment with their Dr in a supportive and individually focused environment. The team can also involve other practitioners – nutritionists, physical therapist.
- Guided by the latest science
By using the latest scientific research Functional Medicine practitioners can see the complicated web of interactions of the individual’s biology and environmental factors. Understanding these relationships enables the current functioning of the body to be understood and the best treatment path identified.
- Conventional, Eastern, integrative & alternative medicine combined
This extended toolkit provides patients with the tools and support for truly sustainable health and lasting vitality.
- Health not just a lack of disease
Functional Medicine aims to return the body to a state of vitality and provides the patient with the tools to maintain it.
- Not just about matching a disease label to a drug
The root of the problem is identified by asking “Why has function been lost, what is the root cause of dis-ease”. This question leads us to the best tools to be used to restore this lost function.
By following the principles of Functional Medicine Dr Stavy treats patients in a methodical and supportive way.
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— Dr S Nikitopoulou – General Medical Practioner (GMC Reg: 6092503) London based HomeopathWith more than 15 years in medical practice, she has successfully treated patients with conditions such as infertility, thyroid disorders, hormonal dysfunction, heart disease, digestive disorders, food intolerances (children and adults), chronic fatigue, heavy metal toxicity, depression and other mental disorders. And, in the preventive space, she has been managing patients’ health in the arenas of women’s wellbeing and anti-ageing
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What is a Functional Medicine Doctor & Practitioner?
A Functional Medicine doctor restores normal physiology and normal body “Function” rather than focusing on the treatment of specific diseases. We find, in general, that if we can restore normal body function that most disease processes clear up. So then, what is a Functional Medicine practitioner? Ok, that question takes some explaining.
In a sense Functional Medicine is a area of specialty unto itself. So you could have a medical doctor that practices medicine, internal medicine or geriatric medicine, pediatric medicine or oncology AND practices Functional Medicine also. You could have a nurse practitioner or chiropractor or acupuncturist or naturopath that practices nursing, chiropractic, acupuncture or naturopathy AND alongside that practices Functional Medicine. You’ll have some physicians that only practice Functional Medicine and cease to use their original training. Most docs combine whatever their original training was with the Functional Medicine model.
What do Functional Medicine doctors do in terms of initial workups?
Most follow a similar path. There is an initial new patient consultation, typically an hour or longer where they take a complete history, not just a medical history but a history of your life stresses, working to find the original underlying cause of the health problems you are experiencing rather than solely focusing on your current symptoms. All Functional Medicine doctors will order various types of labs, some used in conventional medicine but most unique to our field. Specialized GI assessments for your microbiome, measuring nutrient levels, amino acid levels, organic acids for brain health the liver detoxification pathways. SNP testing or genetic testing is common as is food allergy testing along with a variety of hormone assays.
What does a functional doctor do?
The most important emphasis is placed on primary prevention of disease (before the disease process has begun). There is much wisdom in the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Once a disease process has started, a determination is made as to which core clinical function is imbalanced and responsible for causing it. Most functional imbalances can be addressed, some substantially improved (treated) and others completely returned to optimal function (healed). Rebalancing core clinical functions always has a significant positive impact on the health of the patient. A large toolbox of available interventions are evaluated and a customized treatment plan is applied for maximal impact on the underlying functionality.
Functional medicine expands the physician’s toolbox beyond pharmaceuticals and surgery. It also includes botanicals, supplements, therapeutic diets, exercise plans, functional neuro-rehabilitation, detoxification programs, stress management techniques and much more.
The physician and patient become active partners. Such a partnership allows the patient to truly be in control of improving their health and achieving optimal wellness.