Functional Medicine is a whole body, patient-centered approach to achieving and maintaining optimal health. It aims to investigate, assess, and reverse disease states with the goal of significantly restoring health and returning vitality. Traditional physiology and biochemistry are the foundations of this science, with the added focus on the body as an integrated, interdependent whole vs. a collection of separate, medical specialties.
Each patient is unique, an “n=1”, and as such, an accumulation of environment, genetics, nutrition, lifestyle choices, and experiences unto themselves. Many patients may have the same diagnosis, but the actual root causes of that disease (and the specific interventions and lifestyle changes required to reverse it) are unique for each individual. The application of functional medicine in clinical practice is also often proactive and preventive, acknowledging that diagnosable chronic disease is almost always preceded by a lengthy period of declining function (what we call dis-ease) in one or more interconnected body systems that can be addressed in order to prevent that eventual, downstream diagnosis.
The mission of the Functional Medicine approach is to identify and remove – sustainably – the true root causes of disease, not to merely treat symptoms or manage diseases after diagnosis. The goal is that a patient be able to both get fully well and stay well. It focuses on the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, to establish the opportunity to uncover all factors contributing to illness and customize an intervention plan for the patient’s unique needs, preferences, and strengths. An assessment through the functional medicine lens considers all aspects of the unique patient’s body, life, environment, history, and mindset, as these all overtly contribute to our overall state of health and disease.