Functional MedicineNon-genetic factors that are modifiable, including diet, obesity, inactivity and environmental exposures such as smoking, account for 70-90% of mortality in the US. Despite this knowledge, physician education, training, and reimbursement are all focused on treating disease using drugs and surgery rather than comprehensive patient-centered treatments focused on the individual. This emphasis should give us all cause for serious concern, because it is perpetuating a system that is far too costly and increasingly ineffective for the prevention and management of chronic diseases whose root causes are to be found in a much more complex perspective on patients’ lives.
Unlike traditional medicine, which focuses on disease, and symptom relief, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just a particular set of symptoms. In this approach to medicine, significant time is spent listening to patients, and finding the interactions among genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health, and contribute to complex, chronic disease processes.
Many chronic diseases are quite responsive to lifestyle and dietary interventions. However, practitioners without these skills continue to be at the mercy of the pharmaceutical industry, where the “pill is the cure for everything”.
Functional medicine is truly patient centered care.