What is Functional Medicine? Functional medicine is a health field that primarily focuses on utilizing blood tests and other lab work to identify root causes of health concerns and treat them using diet, exercise, and supplements. A Functional Medicine Physician can help find answers to some of the most challenging health concerns that the health field has to offer. Additionally, it can help you stay proactive and put your body in a place to optimally fight off disease. But how does it work? Functional medicine works by both controlling the body's immune system and looking at the biochemical pathways within the cells that both make up, and allow, our body to operate. All biological processes of the body involve these path ways. The body will take a molecule created from different structures within the body then use something called a "enzyme" to form a new molecule. This process is completed over and over again until specific end products, such as the hormone 'Cortisol' or a molecule, such as ATP (your body's base unit of energy), is created. Once seeing how these processes are being carried out by your body, we are then able to use tests to find where specific steps in an operation might be getting stuck.
These processes can get stuck in many different ways. One way a step might get stuck is because the body does not have the materials it needs to create the base building-block molecule in the first place. Another way these processes can get stuck is if the body doesn’t have the proper materials in the body to allow the “enzyme” to complete its reaction with the building-block molecule into something new (for instance, the enzyme could need a vitamin, mineral, or a different cofactor all together to reach the desired end product). Or, these processes could get stuck because the same materials needed for one pathway could be needed by another pathway, causing supplies to be redirected for a process in the body that has more urgency because of an unwanted stressor. Also, a pathway can get stuck because of your genetics. Genetics will decide how many of each enzyme your body will create and how well they can operate.
One, if not the most, important factor in the function of your body is the health of your immune system. Your immune system is a team of cells and chemicals created to answer your body’s every need. This team of cells, when deployed, is commonly called "inflammation".
Inflammation is a common term used and may make you think of swelling or redness. These thoughts wouldn’t be wrong, however, they are only a result of inflammation. What inflammation itself is is much greater. We can think of inflammation as an all-in-one task force within the body that is an expert at many things, including building, repairing, fighting off invaders like viruses and bacteria, sending messages, and much more. Because of the massive uses for these “inflammation cells” in the body, every cell of the body has receptors that enable them to interact with inflammation! Immune system health is controlled by specific organs in your body and is under great influence by the presence of foreign invaders, such as viruses, parasites, and objects unknown to the body.
These things can all be tested for through advanced functional medicine labs, thus revealing a map for your functional medicine physician to restore proper immune function and cellular performance to the body, allowing the cause of the cause to be identified and restored to its proper state.
Conditions commonly benefited by Functional Medicine
Psoriasis is a condition where improper immune system function causes the body to create new skin cells in a fraction of the time that they are intended to be built in. This causes excess skin cells to form thick, scaly patches.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a condition where individuals are constantly tired, have trouble concentrating, and/or often have joint or muscle pain. Chronic Fatigue has different causes for each individual suffering from the disease that range from hormonal imbalances, immune system dysfunction, viral infections, and/or trauma.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a condition where individuals experience cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, and irregular bowel movements. Causes of IBS vary and can stem from unhealthy bacteria living in your large intestine, stress, infection, and nervous system abnormalities.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a condition where the body's immune system forms an immunity against the joints of the body, causing painful swelling in many joints simultaneously.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread muscle aches, constant fatigue, and increased pain reception. Causes include genetic variations, immune system dysfunction, infection, and stress.
Functional Medicine utilizes many cutting-edge diagnostic tests that include:
Food sensitivity testing
Gut biome testing
Organic acids testing
Bacterial breath tests
Toxin exposure testing
Oxidative stress markers
And much more.
Because of this, we are able to focus on the proper function of the body, granting benefits to many widespread health conditions that are not listed above. If you have any questions on if Functional Medicine could be beneficial to you, or a loved one, please feel free to give us a call at 407-542-7785.