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What is functional medicine?

Functional medicine is an approach to health that views the body as one integrated system, and focuses on identifying underlying causes of illness rather than treating symptoms. It’s about getting to the root cause of your health problems so you can get back to feeling like yourself again.

 

Functional medicine is a personalized approach to health care that recognizes the biological uniqueness of each patient. It’s an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century.

 

Functional medicine is an approach to healthcare that emphasizes the body’s natural ability to heal itself. It looks at the underlying causes of disease, and uses a personalized treatment plan to help restore balance and health. Functional medicine can be used to treat a wide range of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases. If you are not satisfied with your current treatment plan, or are looking for an alternative approach to healthcare, functional medicine may be right for you. But first, finish reading this article and take an informed decision to the next best step in your care.

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What does a functional medicine practitioner do?

A functional medicine practitioner is a healthcare professional who has completed training in functional medicine and is able to diagnose and treat conditions such as; 

 

  • allergies, 
  • autoimmune diseases, 
  • digestive problems, 
  • endocrine disorders or hormonal imbalances, 
  • fatigue illnesses, 
  • functional medicine malnutrition, 
  • lipid disorders /dyslipidemia (elevated cholesterol/triglycerides), 
  • neurological issues (including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease), 
  • obesity, 
  • osteoporosis and vitamin D deficiency. 

These conditions are usually caused by an underlying chronic infection or inflammation which causes molecular mimicry where the body’s immune system starts attacking itself. In functional medicine the focus is on identifying these root causes of illness rather than merely treating symptoms.

 

In functional medicine, functional practitioners work with their patients to identify the root causes of disease, rather than treating only symptoms. Functional medicine is an individualized approach to patient care that addresses the underlying causes of disease.

 

As functional medicine becomes more widely accepted and practiced by conventional medical doctors, functional-medicine-related healthcare organizations are emerging offering products, services and support for functional health practitioners including laboratories providing functional testing.

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Functional medicine practitioners take a holistic, systems-oriented approach to medicine. They believe that the body is an interconnected system and that each part of the body affects every other part. Functional medicine practitioners work to identify and address the root causes of disease, rather than just treating the symptoms.

 

Functional medicine practitioners use a variety of techniques to assess the health of their patients, including tests for food allergies, hormone levels, and gut health. They also often use functional medicine supplements to help restore balance in the body.

What diseases does functional medicine treat?

Functional medicine practitioners use a combination of treatments, including dietary changes, supplements, and lifestyle interventions, to help patients restore their health. They often take a personalized approach to treatment, based on the individual’s unique needs and circumstances.

 

Functional medicine can be used to treat a wide range of chronic diseases, including:

 

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus
  • Allergies and asthma
  • Cancer
  • Digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Skin conditions such as acne or eczema.
woman feeling fatigued and lethargic due to anemia

In functional medicine, the causes of chronic diseases are seen as a consequence of modern lifestyle choices that lead to a failure in maintaining a harmonious relationship between the body, mind, and spirit. 

 

Functional medicine practitioners believe that functional problems cannot be fixed by simply treating symptoms because they have not been caused by one specific event but have developed over time from many different lifestyle factors. 

 

These functional problems can be identified with functional lab testing looking at deficiencies, excesses, and imbalances in key systems:

 

  • Digestion/gut health
  • Hormones
  • Immune system
  • Mind/mood
  • Toxin load

What can I expect from a Functional medicine consultation?

Functional medicine practitioners listen to the functional and structural components of the body, gathering information from multiple sources in order to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan. The functional medicine practitioner will sit and listen (ideally with no distractions) for between 60 and 90 minutes or longer, making notes as they go along. 

 

Each functional medicine practitioner has their own routine when it comes to taking notes during a functional medicine consultation session . They may use pen and paper, electronic devices such as iPads or laptops or recording equipment such as tape recorders or camcorders. 

 

The functional medicine practitioner should be taking copious amounts of notes during your functional medicine session. Functional medicine practitioners listen using their ears but also using their eyes: looking for visual cues that may complement the functional medicine patient’s story.

professional functional medicine practitioner using telemedicine to help patients with their chronic diseases

Functional medicine practitioners are encouraged to ask questions throughout a functional medicine session, not only at the beginning or end of the consultation. Patients should feel able to contribute their thoughts and opinions on functional matters during functional sessions. 

 

These discussions may be benefited by visual aids such as photographs, diagrams, models or even videos that functional medicine practitioners often collect during functional consultations.

 

So what can you expect from a functional medicine session?

You can expect open-mindedness, curiosity and interest about your health concerns during functional sessions. Patients are encouraged to ask questions at all times during functional sessions. 

 

Open dialogue between practitioner and patient is important so patients should feel comfortable asking about anything they want clarification on throughout functional sessions. There is no functional medicine consultation script that functional practitioners must adhere to, rather functional practices should be flexible and open.

 

If you are curious about functional medicine sessions but unsure about scheduling an appointment for one, consider asking your functional medicine practitioner some questions to see how they would respond. Ask them why they chose functional medicine over other forms of health care. If their answer is not satisfactory or if it makes sense to you , chances are this might not be the best functional practice for you. 

 

The same goes if the functional practice does not appear knowledgeable in your area of concern during your initial consultation visit . However, if after speaking with a functional medicine practitioner you feel at ease asking questions and sharing concerns then there might just be a great fit between patient and practitioner that could lead to functional success.

 

Different functional medicine practitioners have different ways of interacting with functional patients during sessions, so it is wise to find out more about your functional practitioner’s unique functional method. You may even want to do some research into functional practices that are available in your area and see who could be the best fit for you.

 

For instance, if you feel you need an expert in allergies, try checking out a functional medicine practitioner who specializes in this area. If you need help with weight loss or diabetes management, make sure your functional practice has experience helping people like yourself.

Is it worth it to see a functional medicine doctor?

It’s a question many functional medicine patients ask themselves, and functional medicine doctors ask their functional medicine colleagues.

 

Functional Medicine is functional because it considers the whole person–the individual characteristics that make each patient different from every other patient.

 

Functional Medicine looks at both disease symptoms and underlying imbalances in metabolism, organ function, nutrition, genetics, stress levels and behavior. This way of thinking about how to diagnose and treat illness can be confusing for people who are used to visiting a doctor only when they are sick. 

 

But functional medicine is not just for people with chronic illnesses; one of its goals is to prevent chronic diseases before they start by taking into account all of these factors that influence how your body functions or doesn’t function (and therefore affects our health).

 

Because functional medicine is a relatively new way of practicing medicine, functional medicine doctors are still working to spread the word about it. This means functional medicine patients often need to search far and wide for functional medicine doctors who can help them.

 

While functional medicine is catching on with more mainstream doctors, many people still view functional medicine as “alternative.” Functional Medicine has received this label because instead of looking at one abnormality (one disease) at a time, functional medical diagnoses consider all the factors that could be causing an abnormal function. 

 

Functional Medicine takes into account many different imbalances in your system rather than just one problem you have right now.

 

Functional Medicine tests look for these imbalances so they can be treated before they become full-blown diseases. This functional medicine approach to diagnosing and treating illness means functional medicine patients often spend more time with functional medicine doctors than they would with other types of physicians.

 

This functional medicine diagnosis process can be time consuming, but functional medicine doctors believe it’s well worth it to take the time needed to find the root cause of a person’s problems because functional medicine treatments are so much more effective than simply treating symptoms.

 

Functional Medicine is helpful for chronic illnesses like digestive disorders, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances and chronic fatigue syndrome, conditions that seem hard to treat and hard to understand.

 

But functional medicine also works on less obvious chronic conditions such as allergies and asthma; migraines and other types of chronic headaches; skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis and acne; and even mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

senior endocrine specialist explaining treatment options online in telehealth platform

In many cases, functional medicine can completely reverse chronic diseases that have been plaguing someone for years. Functional medicine is not a “magic bullet”–no approach to medicine is–but it is a very effective way to get to the root of your health problems and fix them.

 

So is it worth it to see a functional medicine doctor? In our opinion, absolutely! functional medicine doctors are some of the most innovative and effective physicians around, and they are committed to helping their patients achieve and maintain optimal health. functional medicine may not be the right choice for everyone, but if you are dealing with a chronic illness or other health problem that has been difficult to treat, functional medicine may be just what you need.

 

Functional medicine is a relatively new way of practicing medicine, so it’s important to do your research before choosing a functional medicine doctor. There are many different functional medicine practitioners out there, and not all of them have the same level of training and experience. Make sure to ask your potential functional medicine doctor about his or her training and experience in functional medicine before making an appointment.

What kind of certification does a functional medicine doctor have?

Functional medicine doctors typically have medical degrees from accredited universities and are certified by the Institute for Functional Medicine. They undergo extensive training in functional medicine, which is a holistic approach to healthcare that addresses the root causes of disease.

 

Functional medicine certification requires that functional medicine physicians have an M.D., D.O., N.D., Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited university program in human physiology with specific instruction in functional medicine concepts and training in functional diagnostic methods and laboratory assessment of function. Additionally functional medicine certification requires that functional medicine physicians have completed at least one year of clinical training under supervision with the functional medicine physician sponsor.

 

The functional medicine certification process also requires medical licensure in their state of practice; functional medicine physicians must be either licensed medical doctors (D.O., D.C., N.D., M.D.), osteopaths (A.O.), or naturopathic physicians (N.D.) with full prescriptive authority, pursuant to state law; certification as a specialist through the American Board of Medical Specialties or other similar boards recognized by the American Medical Association, or successful completion of an equivalent board certification process which includes documented proficiency in the functional medicine methodology and case analysis approach for clinical application is required.

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What is the potential of telemedicine in functional medicine?

On a global level, functional medicine is in the position of being a functional health care solution in a time when healthcare costs are soaring and interest in alternative forms of medicine is expanding exponentially. The functional medicine model’s concepts have been used to treat patients by functional medicine doctors for decades, but it wasn’t until recently that telemedicine formats have enabled functional-medicine-focused physicians to increase their patient bases significantly. In addition, functional physicians’ ability to offer consulting services from afar helps expand what was once considered an ultra-localized treatment approach into one that has much greater reach.

 

In functional medicine, telemedicine can be performed using any number of platforms: phone calls, online chats and videoconferencing, and virtual clinical visits. The functional medicine model involves a functional physician spending a period of time taking a comprehensive history from the patient, doing an in-depth review of systems and lab information to determine functional imbalances that may be causing disease or other health issues. 

 

The functional medicine physician then creates a personalized treatment plan for each patient based on this initial telehealth visit. In follow up appointments, functional physicians monitor their patients’ progress via telemedicine technology to help develop treatments that promote improvement in functional parameters such as hormones, metabolites, inflammatory cytokines, intestinal microflora balance and gut permeability.

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In functional medicine, telemedicine is a critical tool that enables functional physicians to see a greater number of patients in a given amount of time.

 

Telemedicine has the potential to eventually become an integral component of functional medicine practice and will likely serve as the model for functional health care in the future. With telemedicine acting as functional medicine’s “handshake,” functional medicine can continue its rapid rise in popularity over the next several years by capitalizing on the technology currently available.

Why is The VIOS Clinic interested in Functional Medicine?

The functional medicine department at VIOS Clinic offers a unique and comprehensive approach to wellness, using advanced diagnostic tools and individualized treatment plans based on your specific needs. Our goal is to help you achieve optimal health by addressing all aspects of your well-being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. We consider every aspect of your life when designing our programs for you because we believe true healing comes from within as well as without.

 

We are passionate about using functional medicine to help our patients achieve their best possible state of wellness. Our doctors have helped thousands of people just like you feel better and live healthier lives by addressing the underlying causes behind many chronic conditions such as weight gain, fatigue, digestive issues, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and more. You don’t have to suffer any longer! Let us help you find out what’s really going on in your body so we can treat it properly with natural therapies that work with your unique biology instead of against it. 

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How Do I Start?

The right functional medicine practitioner can help you manage your chronic disease in a way that’s tailored to the individual. Functional medicine practitioners will take into account your genetic, biochemical and lifestyle factors when choosing treatments for you. Combining with telemedicine is a convenient way to have a long term functional medicine consultation without having to make an appointment or travel far from home. 

 

If you are looking for someone who specializes in treating diseases like diabetes, hypertension or cancer, visit our website today! You’ll find out more about Dr Khalid and his background there as well as how he incorporates this approach into treatment plans at The VIOS Clinic.

 

Click here to make an online booking with Dr. Khalid Shukri, MD and start your health journey, on your terms.

Ismail Sayeed CEO Medical Director ViOS, Inc.

BLOG AUTHOR

Dr. Ismail Sayeed

Dr. Sayeed is the Medical Director of ViOS, Inc. He is a deeply committed physician entrepreneur & medical blog writer. While building the global infrastructure of the VIOS Clinic, he is dedicated to educate people on the potential of specialist telemedicine for managing chronic diseases.

Read more about him in his author bio

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