For those who are navigating the wellness community, you may have heard the term “functional” or “integrative” medicine. Functional medicine is a type of medical care that is different from the traditional, western practice and it’s becoming more and more popular for many dealing with health issues, especially autoimmune disorders. If you’re struggling with health issues and looking for a different approach to your healthcare, this may be an area to explore.
When you think of a doctor’s visit, you probably think about explaining your symptoms to a doctor, receiving a prescription, and leaving in under ten minutes. That’s because the healthcare industry today is mainly focused on treating symptoms with some sort of medication and moving along to the next person.
Functional medicine, on the other hand, takes a much deeper approach to healthcare. Instead of treating symptoms individually, practitioners try to look at all the whole system to determine the root of the problem. For example, if you have eczema, a steroid cream may help clear it up, but once you discontinue the steroid, it will likely come back if you don’t treat what is actually causing it. A functional medicine doctor will look at other symptoms you have and then determine what is causing the eczema in the first place. Once they get to the root of the issue, they can begin the healing process.
When you find a functional medicine doctor, you will speak with them in depth about your health and any symptoms you are experiencing. They will also order some robust bloodwork to see if they notice any trends.
During a normal blood work up, doctors look to see if your numbers are in the “normal” range and if there is nothing outside that range, they will presume you are fine. The problem with looking at it from such a black and white perspective is that there could be an issue that trends a certain way but looks normal on the lab scale. For example, you could run high normal in one area and low normal in another. That in itself could signal a problem, but when someone looks at each thing individually, they won’t notice the inconsistency. However, when looking at those numbers in relation to other symptoms, it could help to diagnose the root issue.
After noticing some inconsistencies, the functional medicine doctor will then design a specific-to-you protocol to see if you notice an improvement in your condition. Often, they will determine whether or not you are lacking certain vitamins and minerals or test to see how you reactive to different foods. The idea is to get you to a good baseline so that you can begin to work on a program to follow going forward.
We love learning all about how to take care of our whole body instead of just the symptoms that show up. Here’s a list of some great people to check out on Instagram (links to their pages are available there) who can give you more information about how to get started on your health journey!
Next week, you’ll hear from Jessica, Vessel’s owner, about her personal health journey and how working with a functional medicine doctor has changed her life! Until then, we hope this little bit of information has shed some light on the different options you have for your own wellness!