Functional medicine differs from traditional medicine in that it takes a holistic approach to health. It considers your individual history, diet, stress levels and overall well-being in order to identify what’s ailing you. In today’s climate of chronic disease, patients need a strategy that promotes healing rather than simply treating symptoms. That is why we’re so thrilled to share with you how Functional Medicine works
An article by Dr Stavy Nikitopoulou | Private GP Services
Functional medicine offers many ways to promote patient health and well-being, but one of the most significant is personalized care. Unlike traditional medicine which often treats symptoms with a one-size-fits-all approach, functional medicine takes into account all factors when creating a customised treatment plan that addresses each individual’s genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.
Functional medicine is founded in systems biology, which emphasizes how genetic makeup, environment and life events interact to form unique health conditions for each person. This personalized, patient-centric approach has revolutionized healthcare by offering patients an effective way to recover from chronic illnesses like COVID Long Haul Syndrome.
Though not yet widely adopted by the medical community, functional medicine has gained acceptance as an effective way to treat and reverse chronic disease. Studies suggest this individualized, patient-centric approach can effectively treat even severe long-term illnesses and conditions.
When patients undergo a functional medicine evaluation, the practitioner reviews their detailed medical history, and genetic testing and assesses diet, lifestyle and environmental exposures. After making an accurate diagnosis and crafting an individualized treatment plan tailored for the individual, they will provide comprehensive care.
Functional medicine practitioners often utilize a combination of medications and supplements to address the underlying cause of a patient’s condition. These may include herbal or botanical extracts, vitamins, detoxification programs and dietary modifications; functional neuro-rehabilitation may also be employed along with stress management techniques.
A personalized care approach to treatment is essential when treating patients with complex or chronic illnesses, as it provides a practitioner with more tools than just pharmaceuticals and surgery. Furthermore, this involves an active partnership between the practitioner and the patient.
Personalized care is an integral component of the new NHS comprehensive model, which encourages people to take control of their own healthcare and well-being decisions. It also connects them with local support services and resources available in their community. Drawing upon lessons learned from social care experiences, this model integrates personalised care into everyday practice.
Identifying Root Causes
Functional medicine is a systems-based approach to health and disease that seeks to identify the underlying causes of illness rather than simply treating symptoms. The theory goes that an imbalance or dysfunction may arise due to various factors like diet, genetics, environmental exposures and lifestyle choices.
This theory helps explain why many medications commonly prescribed to treat chronic disease may only address one aspect of the underlying issue, rather than providing an overall solution. Antidepressants, for instance, may correct chemical imbalances in the brain but won’t address what’s causing depression. Conversely, lifestyle interventions that support a healthy balance of nutrients and inflammation can effectively treat symptoms like inflammation.
Our functional medicine approach seeks to identify the underlying root cause of each patient’s illness or disease by taking into account their genetics, biochemical individuality and environmental exposures. This enables us to craft a personalized treatment plan tailored specifically for each individual’s unique needs and circumstances – ultimately improving their long-term health outcomes.
At our facility, we take an in-depth analysis and offer home inflammation testing, as well as a 1:1 appointment with a functional medicine-trained health coach. Through these processes, we identify the underlying causes of your symptoms, ask questions that aren’t typically asked in doctor’s offices, and identify the most suitable treatments.
It’s essential to remember that our healthcare system has traditionally been successful at treating trauma and acute illnesses; however, it has proven ineffective at preventing or treating more complex chronic health conditions which are becoming more commonplace. Thus, we require a different model of care tailored for today’s world – which is where functional medicine comes into play.
A functional medicine practitioner will take the time to listen closely and learn about you. They may spend considerable effort learning about your family history, nutrition, lifestyle and genetics as well as researching how past illnesses, infections, vaccinations or stress might be influencing current health issues.
Addressing Environmental Exposures
Functional medicine seeks to identify and address the underlying causes of health issues rather than simply treating symptoms. This may involve evaluating diet, nutrition, lifestyle, environmental exposures and genetics. Practitioners collaborate with their patients on personalized treatment plans with the goal of providing them with empowerment through knowledge.
Practitioners are qualified to investigate the connections between a patient’s environmental exposures and health effects. This may involve analyzing when exposure occurred in order to determine its connection with symptoms, as well as its potential effect on specific body systems.
The environment plays a significant role in the development of many chronic illnesses and conditions. For instance, toxic chemicals found in drinking water and air pollution can lead to chronic illnesses like asthma, autoimmune disease, allergies, and cancers.
Additionally, toxicants found in food and beverages have been linked to weight gain, depression, and obesity. Furthermore, these chemicals may lead to other illnesses like heart disease or liver failure.
Clinicians must be able to recognize and assess environmental toxicant exposures in order to provide optimal patient care. This necessitates training on chemical toxicity assessment, best practices for taking an exposure history, as well as interpreting laboratory results to diagnose and treat toxic-related diseases.
Unfortunately, few clinicians possess specialized education in environmental medicine (EM). In the United States, two distinct groups of EM physicians exist: integrative medical practitioners (IPs), who take a patient-centric approach in private practice; and occupational and environmental physicians (OEPs), who apply public-health principles to workplace settings.
Both groups of Emergency Medicine physicians possess different perspectives and educational backgrounds, using different methodologies to assess toxicant loads and patient health effects. But one thing they all share is a solid foundation in clinical medicine as well as expertise in toxicants, nutrition, and genetics.
Medical educators and other members of the healthcare team should integrate environmental science into their clinical practice to improve patient care. Not only will this improve patient outcomes, but it also helps prevent future illness and lessen existing disease burden.
Many patients with chronic health conditions, such as autoimmune disorders, contend with infections at the source of their symptoms. These infections, often referred to as pathogens, attempt to bypass our immune system in various ways: they can adhere to cells’ surfaces or form biofilms which make them unrecognizable to antibodies.
Infections often go undetected until they become severe. They may begin with a minor or occasional symptom like joint pain or food intolerance, but as the infection spreads symptoms can range from fatigue and headache to extreme muscle or joint pain.
One of the most prevalent pathogens is Borrelia Burgdorferi or Lyme disease. Individual symptoms may differ but typically include a rash around the site of the tick bite.
However, in some cases, the infection may not manifest at all. In such cases, a Lyme disease diagnosis may not be accurate; other infections such as Bartonella or Babesia could be present instead.
Mycoplasma, a less common but highly infectious pathogen, is another less well-known but extremely dangerous option. These highly pleomorphic microorganisms exist in an intermediate physical state between bacteria and viruses that make them difficult to detect and most traditional allopathic antibiotics ineffective at treating them.
Once inside the body, these pathogens release toxic agents slowly as their primary method of attack. They scavenge our immune system’s resources and cause an ongoing state of toxin overload. Furthermore, they have the capacity to repopulate areas where conventional antibiotics cannot reach.
Eventually, this excessive toxic load becomes too much for the body to handle and it detoxes itself, creating a toxic buildup and stress within the system – such as adrenal fatigue or liver overload.
Treating pathogens requires stabilizing the body, strengthening the immune system and optimizing adrenal function. This is accomplished through a combination of nutritional and herbal remedies.
Treatment should be a gradual, holistic approach that includes lifestyle and nutrition modifications as well as supplementation. This requires patients to dedicate themselves to recovery with an entire body commitment. The plan should begin by strengthening the adrenals as a foundation before working to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Eventually, this will help break down pathogens’ biofilms so our immune system can eliminate them effectively.
Dr Stavy is a specialist registered general partitioner, master of science in holistic medicine, qualified functional medicine doctor, classic homeopathic doctor and medical acupuncturist who provides comprehensive private general medical care to adults and children. Operating her own private internal medicine practice in London, Dr Stavy maintains a unique approach to patient care by utilizing the latest, most effective medical treatments, combined with old-fashioned concern and respect for the patient as an individual and their overall well-being. Read more here