What exactly is Functional Medicine and how do we integrate it into our practice?
Functional Medicine uses an evidence based, systems biological approach to identify and address underlying causes of diseases- and is grounded in the belief that the patient is at the center of their own health journey. In Functional & Integrative Medicine, the patient and practitioner enter into a therapeutic partnership to identify and address the root causes of symptoms and diseases. This includes discussion and modification of lifestyle factors such as sleep and relaxation, exercise and movement, nutrition, stress, relationships and more.
Integrative/Functional Medicine views the body’s systems as interconnected and working together, rather than independently. For example, if you have thyroid issues our providers would examine what nutrients, vitamins, and lifestyle factors may be contributing to this imbalance and address those either before prescribing, or in conjunction with medication therapy. With many health ailments, restoring the gastrointestinal tract can make a huge difference in symptoms. For instance, often neurological or autoimmune symptoms can be addressed through healing the gut. This can be done through a blend of nutrition, lifestyle and supplementation interventions. Our providers believe a healthy gut is essential to a healthy mind & body- and recognize the interdependence of the body’s systems.
“Conventional medicine is the medicine of what — what disease do you have, what drug should I give you. Functional medicine considers the diagnosis, of course, but it also seeks to answer the question why.” -Dr. Mark Hyman Board President of Clinical Affairs, IFM Board of Directors
Conventional Medicine is a building block of Functional and Integrative Medicine. Functional and Integrative providers, such as Dr. Julie and Nurse Practitioner Theresa have education and experience in conventional medicine with additional training in Integrative & Functional Medicine. Our Health Coach Corrie is also certified in Functional Medicine Coaching (FMCHC) to provide extra support in between appointments for patients making lifestyle and behavior changes. Our team blends, or integrates both Conventional and Functional Medicine to provide the best plan for patients to optimize their health. (Referring to the image of the Functional Medicine Tree below) A Functional Medicine approach , sometimes referred to as “root cause medicine”, addresses health issues by first examining modifiable lifestyle and environmental factors (the roots of the tree) and working upwards. Alternatively, Conventional medicine tends to focus on symptoms and diagnosis (the branches and leaves of the tree.)
Our country’s current acute care medical model often only allows providers to spend 5-10 minutes with patients- some with very complex health issues. Providers are often limited by insurance requirements on which medications they can prescribe and what labs they can order. This often results in a “band aid” or “pill for an ill” approach to addressing symptoms. As Dr. Sidney Baker puts it, this “Name it, Blame it, Tame it” approach doesn’t allow the time or resources to take into account all aspects of the patient.
Functional and Integrative Medicine recognizes that every person is different and takes a personalized approach to health and wellness. Functional Medicine practitioners spend a great deal of time with their patients, listening to their stories, validating their concerns, and digging deep to look at the many aspects and interactions among environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors that can influence health and chronic conditions.
“The “whole-person” approach to integrative medicine augments science with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies to treat a patient’s collective mind, body, and spirit. “ -Dr. Julie Reardon
This wholesome patient-practitioner relationship aims to empower patients to take an active role in their health journey. By working with all layers of mind, body, and spirit, we aim to be a resource of guidance and support to remind patients of their resilience. Our team here at Lake Travis Integrative Medicine utilizes Functional & Integrative Medicine to help patients find what optimal health looks like for them and partner with them to guide them on that journey.
I like that functional medicine is a two-part system between the patient and practitioner. Often, the patient is not part of the play. Since the body is so interconnected, I feel this is the only way to solve medical issues.