Functional Medicine: A Guide

One approach to medicine that has been growing in popularity in recent years is that of functional medicine; a lot of people are choosing to try this approach to their health. Functional medicine is a form of alternative medicine; it is about looking at the interaction between internal and external factors to cure what ails you. If you are considering a new approach to your health, then read on to learn more.

What is Functional Medicine?

The idea of functional medicine is all about putting the patient in the center. It seeks to provide personalized care for every patient. First, time is spent listening to the patient and gathering a comprehensive family medical history. This is then used to get to the root cause of the illness, including any triggers.

Once the triggers have been identified, the patient can receive a customized treatment plan specifically designed to target their triggers. Although the plan is usually incredibly detailed, it addresses a lot of different aspects of your life, from your nutrition to your exercise to your social life. The foundation of functional medicine is that food can be used as a treatment combined with lifestyle and behavioral interventions to help you to take charge of your health and wellbeing.

An Overview of the Process

Different internal medicine practitioners will take different approaches. That being said, there is a general process that they tend to follow. Their first step is to get to know you, not just your symptoms or your illness. After that, they tend to ask for a full medical history, including any genetic predispositions or hereditary conditions; they also carry out a lifestyle assessment. This is so that they have the bigger picture when it comes to your health.

Most places, including the Ruscio Institute, have a team of trained caregivers to support their patients on their health journey. They offer both in-person and virtual meetings to ensure that their services are accessible and not limited by locale. Most functional medicine providers tend to focus on chronic conditions.

Examples of Conditions Treated by Functional Medicine

As mentioned above, most functional medicine providers tend to prefer to treat chronic conditions; this may be because it offers a better baseline against which the efficacy of the treatments can be measured. Some of the most common conditions treated are:

  • Arthritis
  • Cardiovascular Issues
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Asthma
  • PMS
  • PCOS
  • Menopause
  • Dementia
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Digestive problems
  • Food allergies
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Adrenal disorders
  • Thyroid disorders

Those are the most common problems that functional medical practitioners encounter, but they aren’t the only ones. If you have a chronic health problem not listed, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be seen or treated. Reach out to a functional medicine provider for their advice. They can advise you on the best course of action.

The First Appointment

While an overview of the process was provided above, it is worth digging into the first appointment in a little more depth. This means that you can be prepared for your appointment and have everything you need to hand. Usually, in preparation for your first appointment, you will receive an extensive medical history questionnaire. You need to be completely honest because the information that you provide forms the basis of your treatment. It is used by doctors to investigate your symptoms to discover the root cause. As mentioned above, the questionnaire will delve into your lifestyle; this includes your diet, exercise level, job, and any hobbies. In addition, it asks for your genetic background, including a look at any hereditary physical and mental conditions. Finally, it takes a look at your environment, too; this is to check whether or not you have been exposed to any toxins or allergens that could contribute to your illness.

Then during your first appointment, you can expect your provider to go through your history with you. Next, a physical exam is performed, during which they will also take some blood which is sent to a lab and tested for a variety of things. They will likely also go through their medicinal philosophy with you too. Finally, they will take the time to identify your long-term health goals with you. After this, they may suggest some treatments or follow-up care depending on the results of your tests.

The Bottom Line

Functional medicine can really make a change to your overall health and wellbeing from the inside out. It is no secret that what you put into your body affects how you feel. However, most people focus on the negative aspect of this idea, but it can be truly transformative too. If this approach to wellness is something that you want to try, then it is paramount that you do your research beforehand. Your choice of healthcare provider can make or break your experience of functional medicine. Do your due diligence, ask questions and shop around before you make your choice.


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