There is a buzzword in health right now that we’ll be hearing more of: Functional Medicine. This is an approach to health care is gaining attention due to the astonishingly high prevalence of chronic illness in North America. Practitioners trained in Functional Medicine shift away from the symptom or disease-centered focus and instead utilize a patient-centered approach where the connectedness of their concerns, body system health, lifestyle, diet, environment, health history and family history are all assessed to determine treatment options.
Functional Medicine is very much like Naturopathic Medicine, where practitioners are taught to find common links in their patient’s concerns, understand the unique health expression for that individual and work with their patients. Similarly, trained practitioners examine nutrition, the use of natural remedies, gut health, food allergies, hormone balance and the fundamentals of health (i.e. sleep, energy, mood). This collaboration empowers patients and leads to better treatment outcomes.
Training in Functional Medicine occurs after a practitioner has gained their healthcare degree. Practitioners that seek training include medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, osteopaths, acupuncturists, physiotherapists, dentists, nurses, nutritionists, dieticians and pharmacists.
It is exciting to see some new buzz around a methodology that focuses on holistic patient care. My hope is that we see more conventional health care providers practicing this way and working in tandem with like minded health care providers from different disciplines to create a patients health team. This type of united care has the potential to significantly and positively change the landscape of health in North America.