Functional Medicine-What is it, and Why use it?
Updated: Oct 23, 2018
By definition, Functional Medicine is a individualized model of care that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. While modern medicine has made extensive progress in eradicating communicable diseases, and improving outcomes for patients who experience major accidents, the western model of care focusing on diagnosing and treating specific conditions fails to address the idea that the the body's systems are intimately connected.
The human race, while continuing to live longer, struggles with aging due to a new set of diseases that affect multiple body systems. These conditions are chronic, and often cannot be cured with a pill or procedure, but require extensive lifestyle changes and professional management. Thats where Functional Medicine comes in. Functional Medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, Functional Medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.
Why does our society need Functional Medicine?
There has been a sharp rise in the number of people suffering from complex, chronic diseases. Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, mental illnesses, and autoimmune disorders are affecting more people than ever. Due to the complexity of these conditions, many physicians are not equipped with the tools or the time to address the root cause of these illnesses.
The current medical system is geared toward an acute care model. Many patients experience symptoms of chronic diseases long before they are diagnosed. Their physicians are not trained in the prevention of these chronic diseases, and so without a proper diagnosis, no interventions are made.
The time gap between new emerging research, and application in clinical practice is, on average, 17 years. So someone diagnosed with diabetes today, may not get exposed to proven treatments until 17 years from now. Functional Medicine practitioners are urged to keep up on current research, and use techniques that may have evidence backing them, but are not universally adopted in the medical system yet.
The specialization of medicine urges physicians to become experts in single organ systems. This is a problem, as so many of todays chronic conditions are multi-system based. Functional Medicine practitioners are trained to look at the person as a whole, and identify root causes for the set of symptoms that each patient is experiencing individually.
How is Functional Medicine different?
When you decide to work with a Dr. Casey, the first difference you'll notice is the time she makes available to you on every visit. Dr. Casey makes sure her patients are heard, and ensures they never feel rushed in their appointments. This allows you to build a better doctor/patient relationship, and dive deeper into the true cause of your condition.
Functional Medicine also uses specialized testing such as genetic testing, stool testing, immune system testing and comprehensive blood testing that looks at Optimal Lab ranges as opposed to pathological lab ranges. This means Casey uses the latest research to determine if your labs reflect optimal human functioning.
Finally, Dr. Casey and functional medicine as a whole focuses on food as medicine. While more and more people become aware that food choices can strongly impact how you feel, few people have the information necessary to choose what type of food plan is best for them. The constant influx of nutrition information available via the internet and through other sources, can be a hard sea to navigate. Dr. Casey uses a functional medicine approach to help you determine what is best for you, and what type of dietary, lifestyle and supplement regimen is going to help you feel your best.