*Functional Medicine (FM), sometimes referred to as functional nutrition, is a form of personalized health care that focuses on identifying nutritional, diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors that can be changed to improve overall health and wellness. In essence, functional medicine is not traditional medicine. No medications, controlled substances, drugs, surgeries, injections, etc are used. The functional medicine approach is a partnership between the patient and the practitioner. The goal of this partnership is to bring the patient back to health by identifying what lifestyle factors should be changed based on the unique circumstances of the individual.
The philosophy recognizes that each patient is a unique individual with a unique set of genetics and biochemistry, as well as a unique set of environmental and lifestyle factors. These genetic/environment interactions are complex not simple. For example, two people could potentially have the same health issues with a completely different set of causes. Because of this, the approach of functional medicine is to identify how a person’s genetics are at odds with their environment so that they can be educated on how to restore this balance with lifestyle interventions. Some of the the components of the functional medicine approach include:
One of the biggest problems in traditional medicine today is that physicians don’t train in nutrition or physical fitness, yet these two factors are arguably the most important components to preventing disease. This lack of fundamental health knowledge typically leads to the broad application of using medicines to treat symptoms – i.e.
This approach can be dangerous for several reasons. Using medicine to mask symptoms does not lead to resolution of disease. However; masking the symptoms leads to a complacent patient while allowing the underlying disease process to continue unabated. In essence the disease process goes unchecked leading to future complications. Using medications can lead to drug induced nutritional deficiencies. These deficiencies end up causing a whole new set of problems that lead to the use of even more medications. Using medications comes with the potential of creating “side effects” that either cause additional problems, or lead to adding even more medication to “treat the side effects”. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found traditional medical care to be the third leading cause of death in the US.
In essence, mainstream, traditional medicine is drug focused. Drugs are prescribed to mask symptoms without concern for the root cause of the disease. Drug companies have a huge influence over what is being taught in medical schools. Additionally, drug companies are allowed to advertise to consumers directly. Both of these practices are extremely unethical with obvious conflict of interests, and can lead to numerous problems.
My approach is to establish a joint relationship or partnership with every patient. Through communication and specific lifestyle guidance, health and wellness are very achievable. The diagram above represents part of my functional medicine/nutrition paradigm. The bullets below might help you understand more:
If you are tired of a 50 minute wait for the doctor followed by a 5 minute consult and a quick drug prescription fix, FM may be right for you. If you want a relationship focused on nutritional and lifestyle guidance, FM may be right for you. If you want medications, surgery, or quick fixes that require no effort or dedication on your part, FM is not a good fit for you.
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*It is important to note that Functional Medicine is not the same as the practice of medicine. Dr. Osborne is not an MD. He will not prescribe medications. He will evaluate your health from a natural perspective.