Functional Medicine is a comprehensive approach to wellness that is science based. It seeks to address your health concerns by supporting your body’s normal healing mechanisms. Functional medicine uses the latest understanding in genetic research, optimizes the body’s metabolic pathways, and thereby addresses the underlying dysfunctions of the body that lead to symptoms and disease.
Functional Medicine approaches your health from a more holistic perspective than conventional medicine in that it considers all body systems, mind and spirit whereas the different conventional specialties focus on individual body systems.
Conventional medicine excels in life threatening situations (i.e. surgery or heart attack) and end-stage disease management (i.e. cancer or kidney disease). Functional medicine is most effective for primary prevention and reversal of early disease states. That said, your primary care provider is also focused on preventing disease with risk factor management (i.e. healthy weight, smoking cessation, vaccines). Functional Medicine is excellent for targeted prevention of any disease, such as a specific concern for developing Alzheimer’s due to a family history.
Treatment protocols used in conventional medicine are based on outcomes of studies that demonstrated improvement in a significantly larger portion of participants than when a placebo was given. While these protocols do improve outcomes for many people, there are always individuals for whom the “proven treatments” do not help, or even cause harm. Because the Functional Medicine approach is individualized, there cannot be large studies and therefore some would not consider it evidence based. However, all recommendations from Jessica are strongly supported by science (i.e. biochemical pathways and studies that are not necessarily double-blind, placebo-controlled). Functional Medicine treatment involves working directly with the biochemistry of our cells to reverse and prevent disease through diet, lifestyle, supplementation and other interventions.
While both approaches take into account personal medical history, the Functional Medicine model looks at a lifetime of influences such as toxin exposures, emotional traumas, medication use, historical nutrition status, etc. These factors contribute to inflammation which ultimately leads to symptoms and disease.
It is important to note that when integrated appropriately, Functional Medicine and Conventional Medicine are extremely complementary and most effective. AFP’s collaborative model supports this harmony.
Further Reading Suggestions
- Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal by Donna Jackson Nakazawa
- Dirty Genes: A Breakthrough Program to Treat the Root Cause of Illness and Optimize Your Health by Ben Lynch ND
- The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity by Nadine Burke Harris
- The Last Best Cure: my Quest to Awaken the Healing Parts of My Brain and Get Back My Body, My Joy, and My Life by Donna Jackson Nakazawa