What is Functional Medicine?

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Before I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, I had no idea what functional medicine was. Now, I can’t imagine my life without it and I love helping people understand how it could be the answer they are looking for.

What is functional medicine?

a woman holding a green apple in her hand

Functional medicine is a systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of many contributing to an individual’s illness. (Source: Institue of Functional Medicine)

Functional Medicine addresses the idea that there could be more than one cause to symptoms a patient may be experiencing.

When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, which is an autoimmune disease, I was told there was nothing I really needed to do from my primary care doctor. This perturbed me.

a woman holding a sign that says I have hashimoto's

I had just been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and I knew that once you have one autoimmune disease you could develop more than one… so how in the world was there nothing that needed to be done?

I went searching for answers. And I found them.

In regards to Hashimoto’s there is actually a lot that can be done to decrease symptoms and promote healing.

What I have learned since 2020 has blown my mind. I feel empowered and confident that I am taking the best possible care of my body and I know that there are always answers to be found.

Functional medicine is about finding the root cause, not just treating the symptom.

I am no longer interested in just treating the symptom, I want to know WHY. Why is my body responding the way it is? Why do I feel the way I do? How can I take care of myself best from the inside out, and focus on more things than just the size of my body, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.?

I’m not saying those things aren’t important, but they aren’t the only factors in regards to health. Our health is multi-faceted. We have the capacity to change our lives by changing the we care for our bodies, and I believe functional medicine has helped me do that.

What can I expect from a functional medicine doctor?

When you see a functional medicine doctor you are going to spend a significant amount of time with them explaining not only your symptoms but your history, genetics, lifestyle, etc.

I see my functional medicine doctor every 6 months and every appointment is 1-1.5 hours. We discuss my health as a whole, not just a quick appointment discussing symptoms. He addresses all sorts of aspects of my health such as:

a woman sleeping in a bed with white sheets
  • My stress level
  • How much sleep I’m getting
  • What kinds of foods are fueling my body
  • How much, and what kind, of exercise I’m doing
  • Supplements I’m using to help me feel my best
  • Environmental factors such as beauty products, water, air quality, etc.
  • New research or studies he’s educated himself with and how the knowledge learned could help me
  • Detailed lab work pertaining to multiple different areas of wellness (I’ve seriously never had so much blood drawn in all of my life… he’s looked at EVERYTHING)

I finally feel understood.

I finally feel like I have someone in my corner who approaches health the way it feels natural to me.

A holistic approach that focuses on my entire body, mind and soul and not just focused on a symptom.

Many functional medicine doctors do not take insurance. I was able to find a doctor who does, but be prepared that many do not. In my experience, many preventative care health providers do not take insurance. In my opinion, the cost I’m paying now is far lower than the cost I could potentially pay someday by ignoring what’s going on with my body now.

What are the benefits of functional medicine?

Functional medicine has changed my life. The benefits of functional medicine for me are:

  • You create a partnership with your doctor. Working alongside your doctor to discuss health concerns and having an open line of communication for how you can optimally treat the root causes of your symptom. You will learn that prescription medicine may not always be the only answer (doesn’t mean it never is) but also holistic approaches that could be taken in order to heal your body from the inside.
  • It’s not just about decreasing symptoms. Sure, you want to feel better. But, unless you figure out what the root cause is, you could potentially be dealing with the same health concern until you get to the bottom of it. Functional medicine doctors are committed to peeling back the layers and finding out what is really going on, for however long it takes. It’s definitely a slower process because it simply takes time for your body to heal.
  • You develop a customized plan, specific to you. When you sit down with your functional medicine doctor you will leave with a treatment plan that is specific to you based on in-depth discussions, lab work, symptoms, etc. There is no one answer for all people, and they embrace and accept that challenge to help each patient individually.

How do I find a functional medicine doctor?

If you do not know of anyone who has a functional medicine doctor to refer you to, you can visit the Institute for Functional Medicine and search for a practitioner in your area here.

Most people don’t know how poorly they feel, until they feel better.

Mark Hyman, md

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  1. I want to say that I started following you because of balance365, but now I’m even more joyful to share the autoimmune and Hashimoto’s journey with you. I was diagnosed in September of this year and started seeing a functional medicine doctor. My health has been night and day difference.

    1. Functional medicine gives us hope! I hope you continue to heal and feel better as you go through your journey. Thanks for being here 🙂

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