Functional Medicine is a dynamic approach to assessing, preventing, and treating complex chronic disease. Functional medicine is utilized by our doctors at NMR, to identify and ameliorate dysfunctions in the physiology and biochemistry of the human body as a primary method of improving patient health. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, autoimmune disease, cognitive decline syndromes, Alzheimer’s, and many cancers, to only name a few, are almost always proceeded by a lengthy period of declining function and health in one or more body systems. For all of us, such dysfunctions are the result of the life-long interactions with our environment, lifestyle, and our genetics.
At NMR we recognize that each patient represents a unique, complex, and interwoven set of interactions that create the terrain for health or disease. In our approach, we assess core clinical imbalances, fundamental physiological processes, environmental inputs, and genetic predispositions in a highly individualized patient care model. Examples of core clinical imbalances include blood sugar dysregulation, digestive system imbalances, chronic un-tempered stress responses, inactive lifestyle, toxic burden, sleep problems, poor diet and insufficient nutrient status or immune hypersensitivities to regularly chosen foods. These are some of the most common drivers of disease and dysfunction and they are, among others. This model of patient care requires extensive investigation utilizing diagnostic tools such as blood work and imaging, physical examination, health history, toxic exposure assessment, ability to manage stress, sleep patterns, and genetic predispositions. It is probably most suitably called a process-oriented approach to healthcare. Once these individual drivers of disease are identified in a patient, our doctors are then making recommendations and providing therapeutic interventions that are natural, lifestyle based in most cases. Clearly, we are looking to eliminate the driving forces of those imbalances and as well, fortify the body’s efforts to rebuild and heal. If we are only treating symptoms, and these factors are not addressed, they will continue to be drivers for imbalance and lead to further advancement of dysfunction and disease. This approach is not only ideal for disease prevention, but also to arrest and possibly even reverse the progression of the chronic disease.
The American Healthcare system is predicated on the myth that the more we spend on healthcare the better we will be, and this thinking initiated an ongoing romance between our healthcare system and newer more expensive drugs to treat or manage the symptoms of lifestyle created diseases. But this is not a cure by any means. The statistics speak for themselves when it comes to such approach with chronic disease. Based on CDC data in 2018 one in two Americans has one chronic disease, one in four has two or more and one in four children has a diagnosis of chronic disease or obesity. Our healthcare costs have increased to crippling numbers that burden our economy, but American people are only getting sicker.
The functional medicine model looks to identify and address the root cause(s) and mechanisms of dysfunction and disease rather than merely treating symptoms. This healthcare model meets a deep need for not only optimizing individual health but for raising the health of our communities. And clearly in time this approach is what would truly decrease the overall economic burden of healthcare. A genuinely healthier population through education and therapeutic lifestyle changes which support our physiology and ability to be strong and healthy is ultimately the real answer to our healthcare crisis.