The Science & Art of Functional Medicine - Enlighten Functional Medicine

The Science & Art of Functional Medicine

Part science. Part art.
Functional medicine considers all the pieces of your health puzzle.

Take the science of genetics, biochemistry and systems-based biology and blend it with the art of individualized patient-care. Welcome to functional medicine.

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is grounded in science. Build on systems-based biology, it looks at the body as a whole instead of in isolated parts. The core of functional medicine is finding the root cause of an illness. It moves beyond simply alleviating symptoms.

Much of conventional medicine focuses heavily on the “what.” It’s diagnosis-driven. In contrast, functional medicine searches for the “how” and “why.”  How did illness occur? Why it is occurring in a certain individual?

The need for Functional Medicine is massive

What we’re doing isn’t working. The disease state of our nation is staggering. According to the CDC, over half of adults and one-fourth of children ages 2-8 have a chronic disease.[efn_note]”Chronic Diseases in America | CDC.” 16 Jan. 2019, Accessed 20 Feb. 2019.[/efn_note][efn_note] “Chronic Conditions – CDC.” Accessed 20 Feb. 2019.[/efn_note]

This isn’t just a health issue, it’s an economic issue.The World Economic Forum projects $47 trillion will be spent on chronic disease over the next 20 years.[efn_note] “The Global Economic Burden of Non-communicable Diseases – World ….” 19 Sep. 2011, Accessed 20 Feb. 2019.[/efn_note]   We need a change.

How is Functional Medicine different in approach?

Prevention and Root Cause at its Core

Functional medicine elevates the role of lifestyle factors such as nutrition, exercise, stress and sleep. It seeks to consider the body as a whole, complex system instead of isolated pieces.

Instead of looking solely at the disease, functional medicine seeks to locate where the dysfunction is occurring that created that disease.

Is it dysfunction and imbalance in the immune system? Gut? Hormones? What system needs to be supported to bring the body back into a place of balance and health?

One diagnosis or condition might have many different causes. One cause might have many different diagnoses and conditions.

Let’s examine this concept.

The same condition with different causes

Take the condition polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), where cysts grow on the ovaries of females. Is the cause a high glycemic diet? Too much alcohol? Too much stress? All these causes can interfere with hormones insulin and testosterone affecting the ovaries.  

Or, maybe the cause is too much body weight producing extra estrogen. This then suppresses hormones needed to start your cycle.

There are many roads to the same diagnosis or condition of PCOS.

The same causes with different conditions

On the other hand, identical causes can lead to different illness.

Stress can lead to different conditions, symptoms and illnesses.

Workaholic Sally has PCOS from her high stress. Her equally-dedicated and on-the-clock business partner Sue also struggles to manage her stress. However, Sue’s body experiences stress-induced acid reflux and migraines instead of PCOS.

Patient-centered, Individual-focused

Functional medicine considers genetics, environment, tissue integrity, body, mind and spirit in its approach. All of these pieces are part of the “puzzle” of your health and give clues to how best bring restoration or ultimate performance.

Your story is central

In functional medicine, your history as a patient is key to unlocking the “why” behind your symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners spend more than a few minutes with patients as is often the standard in conventional medicine.

By working outside of the insurance-based model, functional medicine practitioners are able to dive-deep into your story. In many ways, operating like a detective putting together clues about your health history that have lead you to a place of less than optimal health.

Functional medicine practitioners use knowledge of genetics, biochemistry and a patient’s lifestyle factors to formulate individualized treatment plans.

Weaves the best of Western medicine science with integrative practices

Interventions may include lifestyle modifications, supplements, botanicals, elimination diets, detoxification support. Treatment is science-based. There’s no woo-woo magic wand here.

How will my time with a functional medicine practitioner be different?

It will be a partnership. You matter. You have a role to play.

Your story matters. One of the first differences you may notice when engaging with a functional medicine practitioner is the use of questions: on intake forms, before or during a consult or follow-up appointment.

Your daily actions matter. Because lifestyle factors greatly influence health and disease, what you do each day may be a massive chunk of your treatment plan.

What does this look like? You may need to change your diet, how you manage stress, how you early you go to bed.

Treatment takes time

Because functional medicine seeks to bring balance to the body and restore it to optimal functioning, this isn’t the place for quick fixes and haphazard band aid approaches. Toss any notions of “take this pill and feel better in the morning.” Remember, we’re getting to the root cause.

It took time, maybe years, for your body to get to the point of disarray and dis ease, a.k.a. disease. It will take time to bring it back to balance.

Your treatment plan may surprise you

How your functional medicine doctor approaches your case may look different than you envisioned.

This might feel really frustrating at first. “I came here for help with MTHFR, so why am I being told to change my diet?!” Don’t forget, functional medicine utilizes genetics, biochemistry and lifestyle factors to form a thorough picture of your health and your needed treatment plan. What you eat, think and do has a direct affect on your gene expression.

So, grab a salad, toss the croutons, and take a deep breath. Your functional medicine practitioner is putting in to place all the pieces that form a complete picture of health and vitality. It’s science. It’s art. And the treatment plan may surprise you. But, rest assured, you’re in good hands.

Ready to see what functional medicine can offer your health? Schedule a consult today!

About Enlighten Functional Medicine

Known for her successful treatment of mystery illnesses, Dr. Emily Hecker and her team at Enlighten Functional Medicine combine an integrative, functional medicine approach with the appropriate lab testing.

Our unique approach to diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders recognizes that lasting health depends on resolution of the root causes of your disease. Click here to learn more »

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