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Functional Medicine: A New Approach To Lasting Health

BY Corey Deacon

Posted on , Reading Time: 4 min

Functional medicine is based on the powerful idea of conquering and preventing chronic illness by addressing the root cause. Unlike conventional medicine or other naturopathic approaches, which focus on treating only symptoms (whether with pharmaceuticals or with herbals/supplements), functional science uses dietary and lifestyle changes to overcome the environmental, emotional, genetic, and lifestyle factors that cause chronic illnesses.

Using our investigative approach, we are able to discover common traits that may actually link many of the health problems you are facing. Our approach includes a detailed understanding of our clients’ health histories, comprehensive laboratory testing, advanced supplementation, nutritional intervention, and proven lifestyle changes. These interventions allow us to create a customized, bio-individual protocol that can help you recover your health more efficiently and completely.

Functional medicine is an incredibly innovative technique of uncovering the cause of ageing and disease. It is synonymous or similar to anti-ageing medicine, preventative medicine, regenerative medicine, and functional science and combines both the intelligence of science with the art and creativity of healing in order to find the reasons why disease, disorders, ageing, and symptoms are occurring.

To put this in a simile, functional medicine is like asking why a garden is not growing well. What is it that is or isn’t in the air or soil that is preventing the garden from thriving. If we look at these underlying problems and fix them, the garden suddenly begins to thrive. Our bodies are capable of the same phenomenon. It is based on a concept called epigenetics. Many diseases, disorders and symptoms are the result of poor gene expression, not the genes themselves. This means that environmental issues, biochemical issues, stress, trauma and other problems are actually causing genes to turn off and on in a maladaptive way. This ‘bad’ expression creates disease. That being said, because it is the way genes are behaving, it is something that can be changed.

Much like a misbehaving child, we can get the genes behaving properly again if we just figure out what is causing them to misbehave in the first place. A great example of this is the way a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. This process occurs not because the DNA of the caterpillar changes but because the gene experssion, the genes that are turned on and off, changes and allows the caterpillar to transform into a butterfly. Disease and health are the same way. We can change the genes that are turned on and off when we are healthy and it will eventually lead to disease or symptoms. But, we can also change the behaviour of our genes to change symptoms or disease back to health again. Isn’t that AMAZING! This change is different for everybody. Even if two people are experiencing the same problems, say for example anxiety, their problems can be caused by completely different issues.

For this reason, functional medicine is also highly individualized and precise. We need to treat the person, not the disease or symptoms to get long-lasting improvements in health. We need to find what is causing your symptoms, not treating you the same as everyone else like traditional medicine techniques do.

Because functional medicine is highly individualized, many techniques are utilized. This includes nutrition & nutraceuticals, hormone replacement, peptides, IV therapy, neurobiofeedback, trauma therapy, structural manipulation, exercise, oligotherapy, and much more. Anything that has scientific evidence and illustrates safety and effectiveness can be utilized. Some therapies work better for some people than they do for others. This needs to be addressed on an individual basis with each person.

Functional medicine is quite different from traditional, conventional or allopathic medicine in that, this allopathic model of medicine utilizes the reactive treatment of symptoms as they occur. It is based on the concept of genetic determinism. What this means is the belief in medicine is that most conditions are caused by ‘bad’ genes and that we are bound to get diseases no matter what we do. This is simply not true.

Very few conditions are truly genetically determinant. The approach is largely based upon drugs, surgery, or even natural therapies used solely as a means to try to trick or block symptoms in the body to feeling better. Most of the time, especially in chronic conditions, this will either fail completely, or fail in the long-term as the underlying reasons WHY the symptoms are occurring is NOT being addressed.To use the garden simile, this is like dumping fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides on your garden in the HOPE that it will thrive. Now, sometimes this works for a short period of time. However over time, the soil will become exhausted and no matter how much fertilizer, pesticides, or herbicides are used, the garden will not thrive.

The other difference between traditional medicine and functional medicine is many more hours are spent educating, investigating, and solving problems. Functional medicine practitioners spend many more hours with their clients than traditional practitioners. We will sometimes spend more than 100 hours per year with our clients compared to sometimes less than 30 minutes per year that are spent with traditional practitioners.

Anybody dealing with chronic problems or diseases like::

  • Neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis
  • Mental health conditions including ADD or ADHD, anxiety, bipolar, depression, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorders, insomnia, emotional regulation issues, cognitive decline
  • Hormone issues such as PMS, fertility problems, menopause, or andropause (male menopause OR manopause)
  • Chronic pain conditions
  • Post-concussion problems
  • Inflammatory conditions like arthritis, gastritis, colitis, encephalitis, and any other conditions ending in ‘itis
  • Autoimmune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, MS, ALS, Hashimoto’s, Crohn’s, Ulcerative colitis, DIabetes mellitus type I, alopecia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Diabetes mellitus type II or metabolic syndrome
  • Lyme disease or other chronic infectious problem
  • And emotional trauma OR physical trauma

Functional medicine is an essential approach for anybody who does not have a diagnosed condition but feels that they are more tired or stressed than they used to be, aren’t sleeping well, feel that their memory or attention has worsened, are in pain, have weight gain or have digestive issues for no apparent reason. Any other problem not mentioned that just doesn’t feel quite right or is creating stress in their lives

It is also essential for anybody who has been told by their doctor that everything is ‘normal’ even though it doesn’t feel that way and anybody interested in prevention or maintenance to optimize health and prevent future problems is an amazing candidate for functional medicine.

Because we work with the underlying terrain that is causing issues it is NOT a quick fix. Usually significant changes can take months to years. Because we take years to get ‘sick’, it can take several years to get better as well. With that being said, since we are fixing the causes, positive changes are more long-lasting and progressive once they begin.