Around 25 to 30 years ago, the only notable practitioners in the field of functional medicine were outliers like homeopaths, acupuncturists, and eastern medicine specialists. These days, traditionally-educated doctors attend functional medicine seminars to learn about methods that require fewer medications and invasive procedures, and more analysis of the body as a whole.
What Is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine, just like traditional medicine, considers the chemistry of the body and requires labs to analyze how multiple, complex environmental factors create an impact on a patient. However, functional medicine focuses more on how toxins, bacteria, and stressors affect the body, rather than just the symptoms of a disease, and aim to bring back balance and restore the body to optimal function.
The treatments in functional medicine are based on natural medicine, such as meditation, exercise, diet, herbal treatments, and nutritional supplements. Functional medicine doctors recognize that the physical health of the body depends on a patient’s emotional and spiritual state, and place their focus on the individual, rather than just the disease.
Traditional Doctors Are Embracing Functional Medicine
Decades ago, most traditional doctors considered functional medicine as another fringe or alternative form of medicine. Now, these same practitioners are attending functional medicine training programs to learn about functional methods to treat patient conditions.
One possible reason for the embracing of functional medicine is the accessibility to traditional doctors. The patient consultations are mostly the same, and both methods require lab work. Functional medicine, however, is more in-depth when it comes to identifying root causes, and assesses a patient’s microbiome, history of stresses, nutrient levels, and amino acid levels.
Alliance between Functional and Traditional Medicines
Most converted conventional doctors practice functional medicine as an area of specialty, such as oncologists, pediatricians, nurse practitioners, and chiropractors. These providers combine their traditional methods with functional medicine. The most dependable source for functional doctors and functional medicine training is The Institute for Functional Medicine.
Recently, a new mainstream network for functional medicine has emerged. The KNEW Health Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) is an upcoming network of functional medicine practitioners across the country, including doctors and nurses who provide care to community members. KNEW Health will combine integrative and functional medicine to provide root cause consultation to patients and allow providers to practice under protection of the network.
As more traditional doctors continue to learn from and collaborate with functional medicine, a less prescription-heavy, whole-body approach to healthcare will enjoy popularity.
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