Functional medicine is a whole-persons, biology-based approach to health with the focus of identifying the root-cause of illness. A functional medicine approach to symptoms or disease will delve beyond merely managing the symptoms to address the root-cause. The goal is to improve health by treating the “why” of disease.
As an example, let’s look at acne. Acne can actually have many different causes, as seen in the graphic below. One common cause is inflammation. But as you can also see, inflammation can cause many different conditions as well. How inflammation manifests is variable among each person because we are unique beings with different genetic codes, lifestyles, and stressors–we are bio-individual.
Bio-individuality is a core concept within functional medicine. Each person is evaluated based upon their symptoms, lifestyle, family history, environment, and more to develop treatment plans. Just as we are all unique individuals, each treatment plan is unique.
Let’s look at acne further. With chronic acne, a common practice is to prescribe oral antibiotics for treatment. But if we refer back to the graphic, we can actually see that acne can be caused by a number of variables, including stress, nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, hormone imbalances, environmental toxins, and an imbalance in the gut bacteria. While an antibiotic may help improve the appearance of acne in the short run, by addressing the why of acne, it’s possible to improve or eradicate the condition by rebalancing the body.
With this approach, many people learn more about their bodies and learn what can trigger their symptoms and what can improve their symptoms. It provides people with a sense of control over their health. It can be empowering and rewarding.
When it comes to choosing a functional medicine provider, there are a growing number of options from physicians (MDs or DOs), nurse practitioners, chiropractors, naturopaths, and even functional nutritionists. This is great for the consumer because it means you have more opportunities to seek out a functional medicine provider. The challenge can be discerning who.
Compassionate & Expert Care
Many people seek out nurse practitioners because of our compassionate and expert care. We are uniquely suited to serving our patients because many of us have experience working with people at their sickest and most vulnerable, usually at the bedside. We care deeply about people and see our patients as more than their diagnosis. Because functional medicine is aimed at health promotion and disease prevention, albeit from a root-cause perspective, nurse practitioners are especially suited to this specialty because we are trained in the evaluation and treatment of the whole person, beyond their diagnosis.