Using Functional Health to Heal Disease
First, we need to define the disease. What do most of us think of when we think of disease? Most of us can gain an intuitive idea of examples like cancer, diabetes or even tuberculosis. What represents a disease can even change over time. Osteoporosis once thought of as just a normal part of aging became classified by the World Health Organization as a disease in 1994.
A textbook definition of disease we find rather useless. It is defined by Webster’s Dictionary simply as “a condition of the living animal…or one of its body parts, that impairs normal functioning and is manifested by symptoms or signs …”.
How Does Functional Health Define Disease?
In a true functional health model, the term function is positioned with the understanding that disease is an endpoint and function is a process. Function is a fluid aspect in time moving both forwards and backward as determined by the interaction of the patient with genetics, nutrition, the environment, and overall lifestyle. The functional health model is concerned less with dysfunction and dis-ease than with the dynamic processes that cumulated in the person receiving a diagnosis for a particular disease.
Seven Defining Characteristics in Functional Health as it Relates to Disease
- Functional health is patient-centered and not disease-centered.
- Functional health weaves a web-like interconnectedness between the various physiological systems in the body.
- It considers a vigorous balance of gene-environment connectedness.
- Biochemical individuality is a paramount consideration.
- There is an emphasis on sustainable health and preservation of organ reserve.
- Health is seen as a condition of vitality not just an absence of disease.
- It is function vs. pathology driven.
Evolution of Functional Health as a Healing Philosophy
A revolution in how functional health behaved and was perceived started in 1994 consistent with the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act (DSHEA) just 3 years after the term was invented by Jeffry Bland in 1991. What was so special about the DSHEA Act that impacted functional health and disease? The act involved allowable structure-function claims on supplements and health products. This formally cemented the concept that function is related to disease processes in the body – processes that may lead to either dysfunction or health.
From Psychosomatic to Healing Integration
The functional health model, once considered to be of psychosomatic origin, is based on the philosophy that strategic interaction between genetics and the patient’s environment would catapult us into an era of outcomes based on functional capabilities and lifestyle decisions. It is further believed that the medical diagnostics of today would be supplemented with personalized therapies that were evidence-based to provide additional tools for the patient to use to heal their diseases systematically and holistically. Such tools include specialized diets, stress management, botany, nutritional supplements, physical therapy, manipulation, exercise therapy, spirituality, and psychological interventions not to mention environmental control against toxins and poisons.
It is not the functional health practitioner’s intent to replace the medical doctor but to complement traditional medicine in the identification and care of diseases in a manner that might result in greater energy, quality of life and even a reduction or elimination of medications.
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