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© 2015 The Institute for Functional Medicine.
Functional Medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention and treatment of complex, chronic disease. Hallmarks of a functional medicine approach include:
Patient-Centered care. The focus of Functional Medicine is on patient-centered care, promoting health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease.
An integrative, science-based healthcare approach. Functional Medicine practitioners look "upstream" to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient's history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal (mind, body & spirit) and external (physical & social environment) factors that affect total functioning.
Integrating best medical practices. Functional Medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with what are sometimes considered "alternative" or "integrative" medicine, creating a focus on prevention through lifestyle medicine; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, stress-management techniques and/or pharmaceuticals, etc.
Functional Medicine is an evolution in the practice of medicine that expands the paradigm which addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. 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.
Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders.
The system of medicine practiced by most physicians is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as appendicitis or a broken leg. This is a much needed form of medicine, but with the increase in chronic disease, now being seen in younger populations as well, care options need to be expanded. Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic disease.
Many physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of complex, chronic disease and to apply strategies which apply to reestablishing a basis for health which can be utilized to both treat and prevent these illnesses in their patients.