After nearly three decades of experiences with primary care doctors that left me feeling unheard and patched up, and never truly feeling like I could reach my optimal level of health, I found functional or integrative medicine and nutrition. As I finish my Masters program in Integrative Clinical Nutrition and Herbalism, I’m realizing that there isn’t a clear understanding of what Functional Medicine or Nutrition actually is.
What is it?
Functional Medicine is the evidence and biological systems based treatment of one’s root causes of illness that takes into account the whole person. To break this down, let’s use depression as an example. For instance, with depression there are multiple root causes that can range from inflammation in the body, micronutrient (minerals and vitamins) deficiencies, an imbalanced gut microbiome, high levels of unmanaged stress, a thyroid imbalance or any other preexisting or pending conditions.
How does it work?
Now to figure out the root cause of an individual’s specific experience with depression, functional medicine and nutrition would take a look at your blood work and review your biomarkers that will help inform which nutrients you might be deficient in. A functional medicine doctor can diagnosis you where as a functional nutritionist can support you in identifying when it’s more serious than eating a few more servings of vegetables and taking a multivitamin. In addition to the assessment of your biomarkers, factors in your life such as your work-life balance, stress, physical activity, eating preferences, sleep behavior, leisure activities, mindfulness practices, home and external environments and overall lifestyle are included to paint a full picture of the level of your whole-life wellness.
Why might this be beneficial?
If you’ve been challenged with depression, digestive issues, weight loss, chronic fatigue, an autoimmune disease, or basically anything that lies in the gray of never really feeling your best and you’ve been reduced to taking pharmaceutical medication (they can be helpful if supported with supplements) with no end in sight, you probably want to schedule visit with a functional medicine doctor or nutritionist. Through the use of evidence-based practices, your body’s own healing powers, supplements, herbal medicine (most pharmaceutical drugs are formulated from plants), lifestyle and eating style changes, and other holistic treatments, you work as a team to reach your optimal level of wellness. There isn’t a one formula that fits all with functional medicine and that’s honestly my favorite part.
Please reach out if you have any questions about how functional medicine could support your optimal health.
Strimbu, K., & Tavel, J. A. (2010). What are biomarkers?. Current opinion in HIV and AIDS, 5(6), 463–466. doi:10.1097/COH.0b013e32833ed177
What is Functional Medicine? | IFM. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2019, from The Institute for Functional Medicine website: https://www.ifm.org/functional-medicine/what-is-functional-medicine/