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What is functional medicine? What do functional medicine doctors do? Click here to find out the answers to your questions about functional medicine!

Think about a typical doctor’s visit. The doctor asks about symptoms, reviews your medical history, and then suggests possible “causes”. The whole thing can last no more than fifteen minutes. At a time when chronic health conditions are on the rise, this model might not be enough to get to the source of your problem. Functional medicine works in a different way and it’s becoming more popular in the U.S.

What is this specialty about and what do functional medicine doctors do? Here we answer your questions.

America the Sick

Millions of adults in this country suffer from chronic health conditions. They include everything from autoimmune diseases and thyroid conditions to fibromyalgia, food allergy, intolerance and sensitivity , anxiety and depression, and chronic fatigue.

Here are some statistics according to the Institute for Functional Medicine :

  • 50% of adults have at least one chronic health condition
  • 25% of adults have 2 or more chronic conditions
  • Chronic diseases make up 86% of healthcare costs ($3.2 trillion in 2015)

The real question…what is causing this increase? Why are we so sick? There is not always an easy answer, but factors can include your genetics, lifestyle, nutrition, and the interaction between nutrients and biochemicals in your body.

What is Functional Medicine?

Traditional medicine is focused on diagnosing a problem. Functional Medicine goes deeper, attempting to address the root cause of medical conditions rather than simply treating symptoms. It takes an individualized, science-based approach where medical professionals work with you to address the cause of disease in order to solve it.

What Do Functional Medicine Doctors Do?

A visit to a Functional Medicine doctor is quite different than a conventional doctor. For one thing, the visit takes longer. Since functional medical treatment is focused on the underlying causes of disease, it looks at the whole person and not simply a list of current symptoms. Functional Medicine doctors take time to listen to you in an attempt to understand your complete medical history.

Factors to consider:

  • Genetics (family history)
  • Medical history
  • Lifestyle factors
  • Environmental factors
  • Nutritional factors

After gathering this information and doing extensive biochemical testing, Functional Medicine doctors take it a step further. In the end, practitioners look at how those factors might influence your health and lead to chronic disease. In this way, the doctor can use all available data to develop a personalized treatment plan.

What Happens During Your Appointment?

Functional Medicine isn’t all about talking and listening. A lot of science goes into the search for a cause of your condition. A functional medicine diagnosis usually includes traditional blood, urine, and stool testing. Your doctor may also perform a saliva DNA test. All of these tests, coupled with the data gathered about your history, help reveal the source of your condition. The treatment protocols do not typically include prescription medication (although they might). Instead, the doctor will focus on getting you “well” through a combination of nutrient therapies, hormone replacements, IV vitamins, and lifestyle changes.

Some suggested therapies can include:

  • Dietary supplements
  • Essential oils
  • Hyperbaric chamber therapy
  • Stress-relieving therapies
  • Chiropractic care
  • Personalized exercise plans
  • Detox regimens

A big focus of your treatment will be on lifestyle and nutrition. Your body has amazing healing abilities, but only if it has adequate nutrients. Your best defense against disease is to ensure your body gets the care it deserves. The key often comes down to your gut health.

Your Gut and Your Health

Medical experts are beginning to recognize the connection between your gut health and overall health. Your body contains billions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi collectively called microbiome or microbes. In fact, there are more bacteria cells in your intestines (your gut) than there are regular cells. These bacteria cells work to rid your body of toxins and keep you healthy. They also help you digest food and fiber, control your immune system, and control brain health.

Once your gut health is compromised it can lead to a number of serious health issues, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Colon cancer
  • Compromised immune system
  • Compromised brain function
  • Damage to the nervous system
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)
  • Anxiety & depression
  • Autism
  • Arthritis

Everyone has a different combination of microbes. Your makeup is based on what you receive from your mother and environmental factors such as your lifestyle and diet. Disease can begin to occur because you have too much of a certain type of bacteria or not enough. As a result, you can become sicker over time.

What Conditions Does Functional Medicine Treat?

A Doctor of Functional Medicine can diagnose and treat a number of chronic conditions, including:

  • Thyroid conditions
  • Irritable bowel conditions (IBS, Crohn’s disease, Colitis)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Migraine headaches
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Food allergies & chemical sensitivities
  • Depression & anxiety
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Dizziness & balance problems

After getting a detailed history and your lab test results, your doctor will examine your “functional ranges” to see if any markers are below or above the normal range. Being outside of the optimal ranges in any one area can affect your health and leave you vulnerable to chronic diseases.

What Kind of Education is Required?

Functional medicine doctors have experience as licensed healthcare practitioners. They might have backgrounds as medical doctors (MD), osteopathic doctors (DO), chiropractors, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered dieticians, and pharmacists. They then go through a training program in order to become certified in Functional Medicine.

Regain Good Function with Functional Medicine

If conventional medicine hasn’t given you the relief you want, Functional Medicine may be able to help. Whether you have a diagnosed condition or an unexplained malady, there is hope to uncover the root of your problem. Once the underlying reason is found, treatment can begin.

What do functional medicine doctors do? They heal.

Bliss Medicine in Rockford, IL can help you unravel the mystery of compromised health. We also offer a number of other comprehensive services, including allergy treatment, male wellness, and family medicine.

Give us a call at (630) 474-6780 or go online to schedule an appointment.