Differences Between the Functional Health Model and Your MD
The kind of medicine practiced by Medical Doctors is termed allopathic medicine. By definition, this refers to a medical doctor using pharmaceutical drugs, radiation, and/or surgery to treat disease. Only a medical doctor can practice medicine. Other terms for allopathic medicine are Western, orthodox, mainstream and conventional. The term “allopathy” originated in 1810 to discern between homeopathy and conventional medicine. Homeopathy is a much-disputed treatment of disease by administering small amounts of a substance that would normally cause the disease and falls under the classification of alternative medicine.
So, What is Functional Health?
Functional health, on the other hand, is a form of medicine practiced by all forms of practitioners including medical doctors. Functional Health was born in 1991 fathered by Jeffry Bland, a chemist. Jeffrey Bland and his wife, Susan, recognized that disease was born out of a cesspool of genetics, environmental influences, and lifestyle choices and that by modifying these variables health might be regained and the body energized. Their overall philosophy centered around understanding how these variables interacted and developing an individualized treatment plan that addressed the risk factors.
In functional health the body is not seen as a dysfunctional array of organ systems, but rather as a whole person with roots to the pathophysiology of their illness that can be addressed through an integrated treatment plan involving lifestyle medicine, botanicals, nutrition, environmental control and other variables in the matrix of personalized assessment and care planning.
The goal of functional health is to move the patient away from a disease-centered symptom approach to a path of optimum wellness nurtured by a patient empowered healthcare system that deals with the root causes of illness. Functional health addresses these root causes of illness in a system like approach with the patient and practitioner engaged in a therapeutic relationship with common goals.
Why the Need for Functional Health?
The number of individuals suffering from chronic illnesses is rising at an unprecedented rate. Our rate of obesity is close to 40% nationally now, up from 33.8% in the year 2000. Obesity-related diseases such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease have climbed as well. All of these conditions have notable systemic risk factors associated with them that are preventable or repairable.
The system of medicine practiced by most physicians revolves around “acute” care such as appendicitis, a tonsillectomy, bronchitis or the flu. These conditions are of short duration and require little systemic intervention unlike chronic illnesses such as diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure. Treatment for acute conditions often requires pharmaceuticals, surgery or specialist referral. The acute care approach does not work for long term chronic conditions that need behavioral intervention.
Most physicians are not adequately trained to treat chronic diseases in the areas of nutrition/diet, exercise or behavioral therapy that are so drastically needed to begin the healing process of these illnesses. The first line of therapy for diabetes is nutrition except in the rare case where blood sugars are so high insulin is immediately prescribed. Yet, patients are lucky if their MD has even one course in nutrition.
Functional health integrates the concepts of allopathic medicine into its expansive program of nutrition, botanical, supplemental, detoxification and stress-management toolbox thus providing the patient with a more comprehensive approach to chronic disease care.
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