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What Is Functional Medicine?

 

Have you ever wondered why a “tummy bug” like H. pylori can make you feel tired, grumpy, affect your sleep, cause skin problems or even cause skin problems?

If so, you will be interested in learning about the principles of functional medicine.

Functional medicine is an emerging discipline in which the principles of conventional western medicine are combined with those of natural or alternative medicine to deliver the best possible healing outcome.

Functional medicine is based on six key principles:

  • First do no harm
  • The healing power of nature
  • Identify and treat the cause of the problem
  • Heal the whole person, don’t treat the symptom
  • The physician or practitioners as a teacher, not a preacher
  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

 

What’s the difference between functional & conventional medicine?

The table below summarises the differences between functional and conventional medicine.

Functional Medicine is… Conventional Medicine is…
Investigative. It treats symptoms by addressing underlying cause of the problem, which leads to more profound and longer lasting results. Superficial. Masks or suppresses symptoms, but does not address underlying cause, which creates “patients for life”.
Holistic. Treats the body as an interconnected whole, and recognises the importance of these connections in health and disease. Dualistic. Views the body as a collection of separate parts, each of which has its own doctor (i.e. cardiologist, podiatrist, etc.)
Safe. Treatments have mild or no side effects, and other unrelated complaints often improve spontaneously. Dangerous. Treatments often have serious side effects and complications, including death.
Patient-centered. Treats the patient, not the disease. Treatments are highly individualised based on patient needs. Disease-centered. Treats the disease, not the patient. Patients with the same disease get the same treatment, regardless of their differences.
Participatory. Patient is respected, empowered, educated and encouraged to play active role in healing process. Autocratic. Patient’s opinion is often discounted or ignored, little time is spent on education, and patient may be discouraged from playing active role.
Integrative. Combines the best of both modern and traditional medicines and emphasises importance of diet and lifestyle. Limited. Relies almost exclusively on drugs and surgery, in spite of their risks and complications.
Restorative. Tests and treatments designed to promote optimal function, prevent and reverse disease, and improve quality of life. Palliative. Tests and treatments designed to prevent death and manage serious disease, without dealing with the underlying cause.
Preventative. Guided by the ancient Chinese saying, “The superb physician treats disease before it occurs.” Reactive. Focused on managing disease after it has already reached an irreversible state.
Evidence-based. Based on the latest research from peer-reviewed medical journals, and uncorrupted by corporate and political interests. Profit-driven. Based on outdated research and heavily influenced by profit-driven pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

 

What conditions can we help?

In conventional medicine, your body is compartmentalised – there’s a doctor for every part, but there isn’t really a mechanic who knows how it all fits together:

  • Dermatologists for your skin
  • Cardiologists for the heart
  • Gastroenterologists for your digestive system
  • Neurologists for the brain and nervous system
  • Gynaecologist for your female reproductive system
  • Endocrinologist for your hormones
  • Urologist for your kidneys, bladder and urinary tract

In functional medicine, we view your body as an interconnected whole and that in order to correct a symptom in one part of your body, we may need to focus on balancing a seemingly unrelated part, such fixing your digestion to resolve a skin problem.

This is why Hompes Method functional medicine practitioners are able to assist such a wide variety of health challenges, including:

  • Digestive problems
  • Sex and reproductive challenges
  • Energy problems
  • Aches and pains in your body
  • Imbalanced moods
  • Sleep problems
  • Symptoms involving your skin, hair and nails

 

How does functional medicine help?

Functional medicine practitioners consider themselves to be “health detectives”.  We focus on identifying and addressing the underlying cause of a particular symptom or condition.

The usual reasons for symptoms, illness, dis-ease, or whatever you choose to call your health challenges, tend to be a combination of the following:

  • You have an unmet special need to be rid of something (you have too much bad stuff in your body):
    • Damaging foods, parasites, bacterial or fungal overgrowth, toxins, radiation, stress
  • You have an unmet special need for something (you don’t have enough good stuff in your body):
    • Nutrients, hormones, friendly bacteria, movement, rest, rhythm, sunlight, love

Health rejuvenation can only happen if you find out what bad stuff you need to avoid or get rid of… and get rid of it, and what good stuff you need to put back…and put it back!

As such, we use a variety of tools in our detective investigations, including modern laboratory techniques (hair, blood, urine, stool and saliva testing), food diaries, simple home measurements, questionnaires and a medical history.

We then use nutritional therapy, herbal medicine, supplements, stress management techniques, exercise/movement, and detoxification to rejuvenate weakened body systems.

Deep healing and lasting health are only possible when the root cause is addressed.  Many chronic illnesses may be prevented or even reversed by understanding core body systems, how they are affect each other, and how their function can be restored.

Your body systems are intimately connected. This is why bad bugs like H. pylori that live in your digestive system can cause problems elsewhere. On its own, H. pylori has been linked to the following conditions:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression and anxiety
  • General malaise
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance
  • Heart disease
  • Neurological conditions
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Rosacea
  • Acne
  • Urticaria
  • Chronic ITP
  • Increased morning sickness in pregnancy

 

This list is not exhaustive, but why and how could H. pylori cause these symptoms. Again, H. pylori has been shown to:

  • Reduce stomach acidity in some people
  • Cause vitamin B12 and possibly folic acid deficiency
  • Cause iron deficiency
  • Reduce circulating vitamin C levels

 

A person with a B12 or iron deficiency might expect to experience some of the following symptoms and if the deficiencies are caused by H. pylori then we have to conclude that H. pylori is actually causing these symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Tiredness
  • Light-headedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Depression
  • Pale skin
  • Sore tongue
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Bleeding gums
  • Stomach upset and weight loss
  • Diarrhoea or constipation

If a functional medicine practitioner sees these symptoms in a client, he or she immediately seeks to understand why the symptoms are occurring rather than trying to treat or suppress each symptom using pharmaceutical medications.

If you came to us complaining of these symptoms, we’d want to know:

  • What are you eating or not eating?
  • Do you have a family history of these symptoms?
  • Is your digestive system able to absorb nutrients from the food you eat?
  • Do you have bad bugs in your gut like pylori?
  • How do your stomach acid and pancreatic enzyme levels look?
  • Do you have nutrient deficiencies in things like B vitamins, iron, magnesium and zinc?
  • Is your thyroid functioning on all cylinders?
  • Are your adrenal glands making enough hormones to energise you?

By correcting your digestion, nutrient levels and hormones, I’d bet that we could help you feel like a new person within 3-6 months. That’s the power of functional medicine.

By considering you as a whole, unique human being, by helping you change your nutrition and lifestyle on a step-by-step basis, and by using cutting edge lab testing technology, it’s harder not to get great results!

 

I hope this short summary of functional medicine helps you understand how we might be able to help.

For additional information on how we work with clients, please click here.

To book a case review and initial consultation, please click here.