What is Integrative or Functional Medicine and Why Should You Care?
The type of healthcare you choose is going to be based upon what you believe about healing and health. If you want to learn how to reverse your symptoms and disease to heal your body and mind or at least put the disease process into remission and slow it down dramatically, you will have to change your mind regarding what you’ve been taught.
In general, we are all taught that we need medication to control the diseases that show up in our body and that once we get a disease that is chronic, we just have to learn to live with it and be on medication for the rest of our lives. We are taught that we have no control over getting sick.
We are taught that we need flu shots for what used to be called, ‘the common cold’. There is so much controversy on this issue that you will just have to decide for yourself what is the truth or not. I personally, have never received a flu shot – and I’ve done just fine, thank you.
We are taught that aging equals disease. That our genes are our destiny and there’s nothing we can do about those affecting our health. Wrong again. We are taught that calories are calories and that carbohydrates are carbohydrates, that fats are fats – so not true.
Gulping down high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) sodas carbs – that by the way, HFCS can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease big time, and this is the leading cause for the need of a liver transplant these days – these carbs are very different carbs than those found in sweet potatoes or green veggies.
And, all fats are not the same – the source matters, the animal’s treatment in farming matters to the quality of the protein, whether or not pesticides and chemical processing were used – all matters to disease formation in your body!
Do you realize that a sickly, depressed, antibiotic-filled cow can be affected by environmental conditions and its epigenomic expression changed by its farming conditions, and this, in turn, can affect yours? These are theories emerging right now in the field of epigenetics.
So, now you start to feel the cow’s depression…oh, oh. Your genes are not your destiny! Your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and environment affects the expression of genes affecting your health and well-being. This is true for the cow and it is true for you also.
Clean food is good medicine.
Integrative and functional medicine are new terms and can mean different things to different people. Integrative is defined as serving or intending to unify separate things. It is a type of systemic approach, it is seeing the whole picture and the whole person. It may bring in some of the old ways that are useful, but discards what is not.
It looks at the spirit, the mind, emotions, and body as a whole unit. There are some things from the traditional model of medicine that may be helpful. If so, we can integrate it into newer more effective ways of healing.
Functional medicine would include this approach. It, however, is not focused on symptoms and labeling people with diagnosis and then covering these symptoms up with medication. Instead, it is the search for the root cause.
It looks at the whole environment of the person, both internally and externally. It looks at food choices and symptoms that could be associated with foods. The thoughts, feelings, behaviors, triggers, environment, including people and even chemicals – that affect the patient/person being examined. It all matters.
The goal of functional medicine is to bring back homeostasis and balance, to bring back a healthy body and mind functioning. Not simply tick off a checklist of tests for the annual physical exam. With this existing traditional or allopathic model, doctors often watch and wait until a disease process gets bad enough that it is equally a threat to the life of the individual as the side effects of the medication.
By just waiting and watching, let’s say for example in osteoporosis, it is more difficult for functional medical approaches to heal the process, but still, it would be important to the process. Why wait until you are crippled, or even worse, dead?
Why suffer like this? You do have options, contrary to what you probably think. Don’t wait and watch, see a functional medicine physician!
Using medication for depression and anxiety without teaching the patient how to shift their thinking or without addressing the potential underlying gut-brain imbalance will potentially just lead the person down a deep, dark hole of chemical imbalance and dependency on drugs. Yes, sometimes it may be needed acutely, but this is not the long-term solution by any means.
A functional medicine approach addresses what is the underlying causes for the mood issues or anxiety.
Why should you care?
If you don’t care, and stay in the existing disease care system that is the model of healthcare in the U.S., hopefully, you never develop chronic disease. The odds are, you will, due to our environmental toxins, poor food quality for the masses, and high-stress levels without good teaching of self-management skills.
We understand our cell phones operating system better than we do our own brain’s! And we can simply learn the basics of how to do this in ways that are extremely self-empowering!
The outcomes and statistics, the financial burden of this system, are the worst in the world when it comes to chronic disease.
Also, when you work with a knowledgeable functional medicine physician, you can re-educate yourself about food and empower yourself to stay healthy. To not gain weight with aging. To lose weight and keep it off if you have gained weight already. To feel more energetic and vital than you ever thought possible.
And, you can grow your bank account instead of having it drained by over-the-top, nightmarish, hospital medical bills. Even more importantly…you can avoid suffering and pain.
Ultimately, we all have choices to make. You can choose to keep doing things the same way, and keep the brain fog, the leg cramps, the anxiety, the depression, the low energy, the bowel and digestive problems, diabetes, thyroid and other autoimmune issues, weight gain, and general malaise – or you can take back control of your health. Integrative/Functional medicine is the best path to your best life – and puts you back in control.