Functional Medicine is essentially preventative medicine. Our current healthcare system places much of the emphasis on diagnosing and treating disease or overt pathology. While this system is excellent for acute symptomatic care, when it comes to chronic “lifestyle” diseases, many patients are failed by the status quo. A patient is often prescribed a drug, which has a side effect, which leads to another drug being prescribed and on and on goes, while the patient’s health continues to deteriorate.
Functional medicine serves as an alternative, assessing increased risk for developing disease and then using more gentle and effective interventions, like diet changes and nutritional supplementation, to prevent disease from developing.
How is this accomplished? Functional medicine doctors use the same basic diagnostic tools- a blood chemistry panel and a cell blood count. The difference is in the interpretation. There are two ranges for “normal” on a lab value: a pathological range and a functional range. The reference ranges provided with the lab test are the pathological ranges. Values outside of the pathological range indicate pathology or disease, or strong potential for such. Functional ranges, in contrast, are smaller ranges that are used to assess the risk for disease before it develops. Much of the research regarding these has been conducted by the well-respected American Association of Clinical Chemists’ (AACC) preventive medicine division.
The analogy I use with my patients is a stoplight. If a lab value is within the functional range, it’s like a green light. If the value is above or below the functional range, but not yet outside of the reference or pathological range, it’s like a yellow light. Outside of the pathological range, that’s obviously a red light.
Many patients are no longer content to wait for disease to develop and then spend years on pharmaceutical drugs to address the problem. More and more patients want to maintain a higher quality of life by preventing disease before it occurs. These patients seek out doctors who define health as more then just “not sick”, but rather, define health as having adequate energy & vitality, healthy digestion, sound sleep and adequate cognitive function.
Powered by Facebook Comments