Chronic disease has reached epidemic proportions. Millions of people suffer from chronic conditions such as chronic pain, fatigue, diabetes, obesity, depression, autoimmune disorder, fibromyalgia and chronic headaches (to mention a couple). A new approach might help you if you’re among these.
What medical approaches can help ease chronic disease?
“We are pioneers in extreme care in this nation. But we are in a chronic care crisis,” says Melissa Young, MD, Head of the Center for Integrative Medicine. “I feel an integrative functional medicine approach that focuses on the individual and on treating the underlying cause of disease can better address the chronic care catastrophe.”
Treating Patients As a Whole
Many healthcare professionals unite functional medicine and integrative medicine within their practice. The two areas complement, rather than replace, conventional medication. In integrative medicine:
- You and the professional are partners in the healing procedure.
- All factors that affect your well-being, health and disease are considered. This includes not only your own body, but also your mind, community, and spirit, also.
- Treatments should be effective, natural and less invasive whenever possible.
- Both traditional and alternative methods help to facilitate the body’s inherent healing.
Functional medication additionally supports a partnership between you and the professional, and worries that you take ownership of your own healing. But it delivers a brand new way to evaluate, treat and prevent chronic illness.
Uncovering the origins of chronic disease
Functional medicine looks at the interactions among genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that can affect your long-term health. These variables can lead to complex, chronic illness. There’s often the common concern that integrative functional medicine experts are not primary care doctors. They are a part of the healthcare team headed.
The initial visit with an integrative functional medicine specialist starts with an extensive health history which includes:
- A detailed medical history
- A comprehensive exploration of your diet, physical activity, nutritional supplements, vulnerability to environmental toxins, sleep habits, stressors and life-shaping events
- Determining your health goals
- Creating a treatment plan That Will Help You work toward these goals in step-wise style
Functional Medicine Diagnosing and Testing
“We see a whole lot of patients that do not feel well despite normal blood work and physical assessments with their primary care doctors. But the absence of disease doesn’t denote health and wellness,” says Dr. Young. “Integrative medicine and practical medicine have the resources for deeper evaluation and therapy.”
Functional medicine testing involves lab tests for nutrient and biochemical imbalances. Diagnosis and testing is individualized according to the patient’s symptoms and clinical history.
“We could also check for imbalances in other regions that give us special information to make a personalized treatment program for each individual,” says Dr. Young. Examples include:
- Detoxification and biotransformation imbalances
- Hormone imbalances
- Underlying causes of inflammation
- Digestive and absorptive imbalances
- Imbalances in gut microbiota
- Genetic mutations such as MTHFR that influence methylation pathways
We’re More Than Our Genes
Dr. Young believes nutrigenomics is a significant part of the puzzle. “Food provides information that can affect genes,” she states. “Our ideas (positive vs. negative self-talk), physical action and how we manage stress also affect whether certain genes are turned off or on.
“Lifestyle education and support are key in this age of fast food, sedentary lifestyles and overabundant anxiety. It’s necessary to understand that we are not completely our genetics. The lifestyle choices we make every day may significantly influence our health.”
Healing is Based on Balance
Nutritional supplements and diet might help correct any nutrient imbalances that are found. Healthier lifestyle options and a functional medicine approach to wellness can support recovery of body, mind and soul.
Four to six months after the initial one-hour visit, healthcare professionals should meet with patients to describe results and also to adjust the treatment plan. Treatment may consist of lifestyle recommendations, an elimination diet, nutritional supplements, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, holistic psychotherapy or chiropractic care.
Normally after three weeks, patients go back for a visit to learn how they’re reacting to the treatment program. As soon as they reach their first goals, the healthcare professional typically sees them yearly to make certain that everything remains in balance and to address some new symptoms. “We’ve seen amazing improvement in quality of life, and improvement and resolution of symptoms with functional medicine approaches,” says Dr. Young.
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By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Wellness
Overall health and wellness are essential towards maintaining the proper mental and physical balance in the body. From eating a balanced nutrition as well as exercising and participating in physical activities, to sleeping a healthy amount of time on a regular basis, following the best health and wellness tips can ultimately help maintain overall well-being. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can go a long way towards helping people become healthy.
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