When was the last time you came to a doctor, and you really felt both seen and heard? As a medical doctor, I know that having enough time for each patient is both challenging, but also essential to truly understand what is going on with the patient at a deeper level. This is particularly true when the patient is suffering from a chronic illness.
Throughout the last decades it has been more evident that we need to understand more what is really going on, and how so many of us suffer from debilitating disorders that can be categorized as lifestyle diseases. Diseases such as obesity, diabetes mellitus type 2 and cardiovascular disorders such as arteriosclerosis are on the rise. So what are the reasons why this occur, in a time where we, generally speaking, have access to a surplus of information on how to take care of ourselves. I believe that one of the main reason is the discrepancy between the access to a wide range of health precautions, and the ability to pick out the essential information for one self and put this into action.
Due to this discrepancy, a new medical practice has emerged, called functional medicine. It started with a small group of physicians in America, an organization that is now called Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). Over a course of more than 30 years, this institute has built up an amazing network of functional medicine practitioners, spanning over all parts of the world. Due to rigorous persistence in building up this part of medicine, functional medicine now has proved to be an essential framework in therapy for how to treat people with debilitating, persistent ailments, and give back the ability to function optimally as a human being.
So what is functional medicine? In functional medicine the main ideology is that we look for the root cause for why patients develop their various ailments. So, what differentiates functional medicine from other medical practice is the way we consider the whole person’s natural functions, what you may call holistic. We consider aspects such as the mental and physical aspect of their being. This includes the persons framework of thought and determine wether there are cases of depression, anxiety, chronic stress/insomnia or dementia. A wide array of physical functionalities can be determined, which may be delved into based upon the presenting complaint. These include areas such as gut function, the immune system, the hormonal system, organs such as the kidneys, thyroid, brain and much more. Other essential aspects are how the person lives and their relationships, accommodation and hygiene, and how they exercise and move abouts. In this way the doctor can motivate the patient to work on enhancing the areas we find to be suboptimal. What is also an essential part of functional medicine is the determinance in trying to figure out how symptoms have evolved over time, to figure out what the various triggers and contributing factors that cause the persistence of debilitating symptoms. It is my understanding that only by understanding what has happened in the past can one truly understand why symptoms persist in present state. When all of this information is gathered, it works as an essential part to outline how to relieve symptoms in the future.
Functional medicine is really a fusion of the eastern philosophy of holistic approach with modern western medical practice. Functional medicine practitioners also strive to be in the forefront of new research, in particular the studies on how to promote natural healing in the various systems of the body and mind.
For example, it is important to understand and follow new research about how to eat. New research about diets show that we need to individualize the way we eat, not just use a one size fits all model. To fully understand what ultimately is good for one person, we need to take into account that individuals metabolism, hormonal system, gut flora and gut function, potentially immune reactions to foods or other digestive disorders, to name a few important points.
I believe that the need for functional medicine will only increase in the future, as we see an exponential rise in lifestyle related disorders. If you want to learn more, please follow my page, and I will cover a wide range of topics. Please feel free to ask me to cover any topics that you are particularly interested in.