Functional medicine seeks to address the root causes of health problems rather than seeking to offer a ‘quick fix’, as can often be the case when using conventional medicine alone.
Your body is made up of cells which form tissue and organs and are then formed into systems, such as cardiovascular, digestive, immune and neuroendocrine. The body is totally dynamic and inter-connected; we can't departmentalise it. However, modern medicine has, in many ways, tried to do just that. If you have a persistent ‘digestive’ complaint such as chronic constipation and bloating, you will invariably receive a referral to see a gastroenterologist. There is no place to consider that the bloating, distention and constipation you are feeling may actually all be symptoms of a poorly functioning thyroid, for example.
All our systems operate via complex biochemical pathways. If these become functionally slow or halted, there is an effect at a cellular level and if left unchecked whole systems move away from their natural, optimal balance - homeostasis - resulting in a domino effect of system dysfunction. Disease can be,and often is a long way off or may not ever materialise, but the balance of homeostasis may have been tipped enough to result in a sub-optimal dysfunction, or, put simply, ill health.
When blood test results are analysed, parameters often fall into reference ranges and the client is informed that everything is "normal". However, the trained functional medicine practitioner can often see patterns and flags that indicate potential problems that can be analysed further. I frequently recommend a Functional Comprehensive Metabolic Blood Chemistry after every first case review appointment as it is the single most efficient and effective tool for evaluating all these interconnecting systems, and therefore your overall health. It screens for a wide range of foundational potential triggers and system assessments, including several types of anemia; indications of gut, viral and bacterial infections; insulin resistance and hypoglycemia; liver and kidney issues; and a comprehensive thyroid profile.
Many of these conditions can only be illuminated when interpreting the results with the patterns analysis model that functional medicine uses. Such a model recognises that the bodily systems are not separated silos but are interconnected through our biochemistry of hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes and chemical reactions that are constantly in flux and have a causative effect upon each other.
Most of the clients I see do not have a full blown "disease", but they certainly have enough symptoms to indicate that a number of systems have moved away from their optimal level. Functional medicine is about removing the causes of system dysfunction, recalibrating bodily systems and restoring optimal function. In other words, excellent health!