21st Century Health Care Solutions: The Functional Medicine Approach to Chronic Illness

Danh NgoBrain Health, Gut Health, Holistic Medicine Division, Lymphatic-Liver Health, Thyroid

Chronic illness impacts over 125 million Americans.

While so many people suffer from chronic illness, many don’t get the treatment they need. When it comes to chronic illness, too many people live with the aches, pains, and discomfort associated with it.

The reason for this is that symptoms of chronic illness can often look like acute conditions that are able to be treated with medication. Well, functional medicine makes relief a possibility! 

Functional medicine offers an approach that traditional medicine fails to offer patients.

To learn about why functional medicine is the best option for coping with chronic illness, keep reading!

What Is Functional Medicine?

Where traditional medicine focuses on prescribing medication for chronic illness, functional medicine takes a more holistic approach.

The goal of functional medicine is to identify the cause of chronic illness. To do this, a doctor specializing in functional medicine will take a look at all the symptoms you’re experiencing. Then, they will determine a possible cause.

The doctor will examine your lifestyle habits and genes to determine what the cause is. Once they have an idea, they’ll work with you to incorporate lifestyle changes until you’ve found relief.

Coping with Chronic Illness Using Functional Medicine

Functional medicine is the best way to cope with chronic illness.

Here are some of the reasons:

Functional Medicine Focuses on the Person Specifically

If you go into your primary care doctor and share the symptoms you’ve been experiencing, your doctor often makes a diagnosis based on that.

They may prescribe medication or they may refer you to a specialist who will prescribe you medication. The problem with this is that each person is different. When patients are treated as if a symptom only comes from one condition, medication may not help.

Functional medicine focuses on each person as an individual because of this. They examine your history, health, lifestyle habits, and anything else that can help them uncover the cause of your ailments.

Many Doctors Aren’t Equipped to Treat Chronic Disease

Many doctors are only trained briefly in each area.

For example, your primary care doctor may prescribe you ibuprofen 800 if you’re experiencing headaches. If your headaches are caused by chronic illness, your doctor isn’t trained to diagnose that. Sure, they may send you to a specialist, but your specialist will likely treat you with medication as well.

When chronic illness impacts your life, there are ways to ease symptoms holistically. For example, maybe your headaches are worse when you don’t eat well. Eating a clean diet may help reduce or eliminate headaches.

A functional medicine professional will guide you in this case.

Traditional Medicine Lacks the Proper Methodology to Treat Chronic Disease

The methodology of functional medicine includes looking at the entire person.

With functional medicine, the person is not just the symptoms that they’re experiencing. With traditional medicine, only your symptoms are treated. 

Your doctor will typically not go in-depth to understand the full picture before prescribing medications and sending you on your way. Chronic disease can be complex and often requires quite a bit of digging to understand the cause.

Your functional medicine doctor is willing to do this. Then, they will come up with a treatment plan that actually deals with the cause, rather than masking it.

The methodology of traditional medicine works great if you have an acute condition. For example, appendicitis, infections, or any other emergency condition. These conditions require medication or surgery to treat, which is what traditional medicine takes care of.

Chronic illness can not effectively be treated this way.

Functional Medicine Uses a Science-Based Approach

A functional medicine doctor will dive into each factor that impacts your health.

This includes internal and external factors. How much you exercise, the type of exercise, as well as your diet will be looked into. 

Are you getting enough cardiovascular exercise? Should you be practicing a form of exercise that helps your aches, like yoga? Is your form making your pain worse? 

These questions can all be explored by a functional medicine doctor to uncover pain associated with chronic illness. 

Is there a correlation between the food you’re eating and how you feel? Maybe you need to eat fewer preservatives, fat, or carbohydrates to notice your energy spike.

Aside from diet and exercise, your functional medicine doctor will study your environment and family history. If you have a history of arthritis in your family, that may be the cause of your joint pain. 

If arthritis is responsible for your joint pain, your doctor may recommend getting acupuncture or massages regularly, in addition to better eating and exercise habits.

 Functional Medicine Focuses on Prevention

Functional medicine will focus on prevention once the root cause of the ailment is identified.

While your chronic illness may not be able to be eliminated, you and your doctor can find ways to help you manage the symptoms. If you have a family history of diabetes and you’re showing pre-diabetic symptoms, your doctor will help you create a prevention plan.

Or, if you suffer from lupus, your doctor may recommend avoiding stress and alcohol, as well as getting plenty of vitamin D. Prevention is meant to help your symptoms before they get so bad that you have to take a bunch of pills to function.

Relying on prescription medication can be problematic, as some people develop an addiction. So, if there are ways to naturally alleviate symptoms, those are recommended.

Find Relief for Your Chronic Illness

If you’re suffering from a chronic illness that interferes with your daily life, it’s time to try another approach.

All that your prescription medication is doing is masking the issue. The condition isn’t being properly treated. Plus, you may develop a habit associated with the medication, as well as damage in the brain, liver, or lungs.

Choosing to consult with a functional medicine doctor will allow you to get on a treatment plan that’s specific to your needs. There’s no need to just become another number with the same symptoms but no relief.

If you’re ready to try functional medicine, reach out to us today!