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Functional medicine aids whole-body wellness

Functional Medicine FAQs: Five Things You Need to Know

Functional medicine is a lesser-known but increasingly popular form of health care. It’s one of the most comprehensive forms of medical care available to determine overall health and wellness. Broadly speaking, functional medicine considers you as a whole – your mind, body, spirit, and lifestyle. It uses a combination of intuitive and scientific therapies to guide you back to health for the long-term.

Functional medicine is less about treating symptoms, and more about treating root causes. By bringing your system back to balance, functional medicine aims to prevent disease before it even happens. It does this by detecting the imbalances in your body that could potentially lead to chronic diseases. 

If you’re new to functional medicine, it can feel like there’s a lot to learn. It’s becoming mainstream, but it’s important to remember that functional medicine is different from the current standard care model. Are you ready to try something different that will help you feel better? Below we answer the top five functional medicine FAQs to help you better understand this emerging field.

Want to take the first step? Schedule a free discovery call today.

1. What Is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine combines techniques from conventional and alternative medicine to address underlying symptoms and imbalances in the body. The holistic approach of functional medicine focuses on your overall health instead of treating one single disease.

Functional medicine is a personalized approach that treats you and not the disease. It looks at your body as a complex, interconnected set of systems rather than a collection of independent organs and parts. Functional medicine restores your wellness by bringing balance back to the entire system. This approach focuses on long-term health solutions, not quick fixes.

Under the functional medicine approach, two patients with the same condition may have very different treatment plans. In other words, functional medicine treats the patient, not the condition.

2. How Does Functional Medicine Work?

Everyone has a unique biochemistry. This means your body functions in a slightly different manner than anyone else’s and reacts uniquely to environmental factors such as toxins and lifestyle choices. The difference may be small, but it can be critical.

While conventional medicine treats signs and symptoms, functional medicine looks at all aspects of your life to determine the root cause of the problem. Functional medicine doctors typically spend more time with you, gathering in-depth data about your medical history, lifestyle habits, mental health, diet and environmental toxin exposure.

They use this information to determine the root cause of your ailments to create and maintain health. Functional medicine doctors also use targeted lab tests to better understand your body’s unique ecosystem. Types of tests can include a blood chemistry panel, thyroid panel, adrenal stress index, hormone panel, food sensitivity test, stool test, and genetic test. You can learn more about our approach here.

As a patient, you will have an active role in your own healthcare. Instead of prescribing medication to address a disease, the functional medicine doctor will work with you to create a tailored health plan that focuses heavily on modifying lifestyle factors, reducing toxins, and improving your mindset.

Functional medicine aims to guide you to make subtle life shifts that will significantly benefit your health. These lifestyle changes most often include reducing stress, exercising, developing healthy eating habits, getting quality sleep, and maintaining healthy relationships in your life.

3. Are Functional Medicine Doctors Real Doctors?

We’ve listed this at number three, but it’s one of the most common functional medicine FAQs we get. It’s normal to be cautious when it comes to your health. Perhaps you’re not sure if functional medicine doctors are “real” doctors. And while anything new can be scary, it’s important to know that functional medicine practitioners are real doctors with advanced training above and beyond their medical degrees.

Functional medicine doctors make recommendations based on years of study and experience treating patients just like you. However, unlike conventional doctors, functional medicine practitioners avoid prescribing medication when possible (though they can write prescriptions if necessary).

Instead, they aim to treat chronic illnesses through a collaborative healthcare relationship with the patient. This means they will work with you to understand the biological, environmental, behavioral, and emotional factors contributing to your ailment. When necessary, functional medicine doctors will work alongside traditional doctors.

Those who practice functional medicine are licensed healthcare practitioners, often with backgrounds as medical doctors (MD), osteopathic doctors (DO), chiropractors, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered dieticians, or pharmacists. To become certified in functional medicine, practitioners go through an additional training program to develop advanced skills and competence in treating patients with a functional medicine approach.

Are functional medicine doctors real doctors? YES. Functional medicine doctors are real doctors who use real scientific methods to treat patients. Read more about Dr. Joseph Radawi’s (MD) background here.

4. What Does Functional Medicine Treat?

The fourth item on our list summarizes a lot of separate functional medicine FAQs. Functional medicine is personalized to you and your specific needs. It is not a “one size fits all” solution. The custom-tailored, whole-body approach is especially effective for long-term, chronic health issues. This is because functional medicine focuses on therapies that have been scientifically proven to get to the deep underlying issues contributing to chronic illness. Everything we do is evidence-based.

A functional medicine practitioner can diagnose and treat many chronic conditions, including:

  • Thyroid conditions
  • Fatigue
  • Gut and Gastrointestinal Issues
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Migraine headaches
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Food allergies and chemical sensitivities
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Depression & anxiety
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Dizziness and balance problems

Ultimately, the goal of functional medicine is to promote health and vitality. Do you wake up every night at 1 a.m. and struggle to go back to sleep? Is your hair thinning? Do you feel fatigued by lunchtime even though your thyroid is normal? Is it difficult to lose weight even though you don’t eat that much?

Functional medicine can treat almost everything, though most practitioners specialize in certain areas. At Tri-Cities Functional Medicine, we specialize in autoimmune diseases, chronic pain and inflammation, hormone imbalances, and thyroid and adrenal issues. Watch our free webinars to learn more.

5. How Is Functional Medicine Different?

Functional medicine is paving the way for a better and more patient-focused approach to healthcare. So, what makes it different from conventional medicine? Here are five of the main things you should know:

  1. Traditional medicine identifies the “what” of illness, while functional medicine explores the “why.”
  2. Traditional medicine is doctor-focused, while functional medicine is a patient-centered approach that is respectful of and responsive to your individual needs and values.
  3. Traditional medicine is disease-centered, while functional medicine is a health-centered approach that treats you as a whole person.
  4. Traditional medicine is broken down into specialties such as cardiology or gastroenterology, while functional medicine is a holistic approach that considers all factors of your body.
  5. Traditional medicine provides generic solutions, while functional medicine provides personalized healthcare based on your unique genetic code.

Have additional functional medicine FAQs? Give our team a call today.

Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout East Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, and Abingdon, VA.