We want to start off this blog with a very serious statement. We completely and totally encourage you to see a medical professional if you are sick/experiencing strange symptoms/do not feel healthy. We do not discourage people from seeing classically trained medical physicians.
HOWEVER, the two of us believe with our entire beings that you have to advocate for your own health.
In our experience we’ve had a lot of doctors tell us we were perfectly healthy, that our symptoms were something we were just going to have to deal with, or that being put on medication was the only answer. This includes hormonal issues, gut health and mental health.
Functional Medicine broadly defined is an approach that looks to find the root cause of a problem. Once the root cause is identified, the goal is to fix the problem from the root through lifestyle changes (food, sleep, stress management, hydration, etc.) and supplementation. This is an alternative to taking a medication for the rest of your life, or a medication with side effects that may cause new problems.
Functional medicine practitioners can be doctors, but are not limited to other holistic practitioners to include naturopathic physicians, integrative practitioners, functional medicine dietitians, nutritional therapy practitioners and holistic health coaches.
These types of practitioners tend to make a diagnosis after gaining an ample amount of background information and medical history, oftentimes using stool samples, blood tests, and/or muscle testing to identify dietary concerns. Extensive paperwork is likely collected as well. They treat symptoms by altering the way you eat, sleep and live. Many will prescribe/suggest a supplemental protocol to help support your body through these changes.
For example, if you develop acne, a doctor who practices western medicine might prescribe birth control or Accutane. A functional medicine practitioner would try to identify potential foundational imbalances such as digestion, blood sugar imbalances, hormonal imbalances or food sensitivities. Another example would be someone who struggles with constipation. A doctor might suggest a laxative and prescribe the patient to use it whenever necessary. A functional medicine practitioner would be more likely to try to understand what is causing the constipation, and then work to fix the problem instead of creating a temporary solution.
We like to call these solutions “bandaids” because although the symptoms might have subsided, the problem causing those symptoms are often still existent only to show up later or in different forms.
One common concern is that these professionals often do not accept insurance. This is an unfortunate reality of today’s medical world. However, we believe that choosing to invest now will prevent you from being forced to invest down the road.
Functional medicine saved our lives, so we hope after reading this, you are empowered to research practitioners locally or online to improve your health journey!