The Functional Medicine approach to health is based on making the patient, not a list of symptoms or a single diagnosis, the centre of every consultation and treatment plan. We take a deeply holistic approach, listening carefully to the whole patient story. No information is disregarded and our long consultations are often the first time all the relevant information enabling a patient to be understood as a whole, has been put together in a single place.
We use the patient story, combined with our clinical experience and scientific testing, to piece together a picture of the underlying nutritional, psychological, genomic, metabolic, immune and lifestyle issues, which are contributing to a wide range of chronic conditions. Once these contributing factors are understood, we can identify the major root-causes of health imbalance, and work with the patient to devise practical ways to restore health at a deeper level.
While we do work with medications and natural agents to help with symptom suppression, our long-term goal is to help the body to return to a natural state of wellbeing, by removing underlying sources of inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, toxin burdens, stresses and unhealthy lifestyle habits, which are standing in the way of the body being able to function optimally.
Functional Medicine takes the responsibility for management of health out of the hands of doctors and places it back into the control of the patient. The treatment plans we use are based on patient education and empowerment. We typically approach health solutions using diet and lifestyle changes. These are only successful if the clinician and patient can work as a team. Our Doctors, Nutritional Therapists and Health Coaches can point the way, support and cheer you on. But the work, and credit for the health transformations really belongs to the patient themselves.
For Example, a common chronic complaint (such as reflux), is experienced by many different patients. Traditionally this will be treated by a doctor with the same list of medications to relieve obvious symptoms – perhaps with good outcomes in some, and maybe with less success in others. However, some of the patients treated with medication might experience side effects (which may require another prescription), and all will probably relapse if the medication which is suppressing the reflux symptoms (by reducing stomach acid production), is stopped.
However, the Functional Medicine approach would be to consider the combination of root-causes for the reflux which is unique to each patient. This could be due to problems such as an infection of the stomach, bacteria invading the small intestine, inflammation in the digestive tract due to food sensitivities, or loss of the natural movement to empty the stomach due to stress or thyroid problems. By managing each of these issues on an individual basis, the patients would be able to naturally recover from the reflux and no longer require medication to suppress stomach acid. Their digestive systems as a whole would function in an improved way and they would not be at risk of malabsorption of important micronutrients (such as Vitamin B12), due to long term use of stomach acid suppressing medication.
The efficacy of this approach can be difficult to believe for many patients and non-functional practitioners. However, the results from our clinic and those of functional doctors around the world, continue to demonstrate this as a safe and effective method for the treatment of many health problems.