This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Functional Medicine — a systems-based approach to addressing the fundamental causes of disease and distress.
Both of us have been immersed in the functional medicine movement for years — Dallas as a practitioner and Pilar as a health journalist — and we both see it as a science whose time has come.
Here, we talk about what functional medicine is, and why this science- and lifestyle-based approach represents such an exciting evolution in healthcare.
We touch on the tools, methods, and philosophy that make functional medicine so different. We explore functional medicine’s practical but revolutionary strategy for addressing chronic diseases of all kinds, from digestive disorders and depression to autoimmunity and Alzheimer’s.
Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you assess whether functional medicine might hold promise for you and those you love.
“Functional Medicine” Episode Highlights
- Addressing the root causes of diseases to help the body heal itself — the “thing” that sets functional medicine apart from other healthcare models
- Why the conventional “whack-a-mole” approach of using prescriptions to make lab results look better is keeping people sick
- How the functional medicine timeline seeks to identify clues in your medical history (or even your parents’ or grandparents’ history) that may be causing your current disease manifestations
- The functional medicine matrix: Mapping body systems and symptoms to visually illustrate how symptoms might be linked
- Why the gut is often the starting point, and how healing digestive problems often makes other seemingly unrelated issues disappear
- The dysfunctional U.S. healthcare system — when the bottom line is profit, there’s no incentive to eliminate disease
- Why functional medicine is great at addressing certain chronic conditions and imbalances: Obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, skin conditions, digestive disorders, and many types of cancer, for example
- The effectiveness of functional medicine’s mind-body approach to healing neurological and mental health diseases
- Finding a functional medicine practitioner, and using self-directed care, including elimination diets, to address the long wait lists at clinics
- Understanding and accepting that functional medicine isn’t magic, that it isn’t a quick shortcut solution, and that a conventional approach may be the most appropriate in some situations
- The differences between functional and other complementary and integrative medicines
- Common functional medicine laboratory tests
Read one of the articles on functional medicine in the Resources section below and think about how your lifestyle choices might be affecting your quality of life. Question how the dots can be connected (for example, job stress is causing insomnia) and start an intervention.
1) If you’re plagued with significant health issues, fill out a functional medicine timeline (linked in the Resources section below) and see what it reveals.
2) If you’re really motivated to make a change, try an elimination diet for a month. Keep a journal and notice if and how things improve.
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- From Experience Life magazine: “Functional Medicine: A Science Whose Time Has Come” and (find Functional Medicine Timeline model here) “The Functional Medicine Matrix”
- The Institute for Functional Medicine website, and their Find a Practitioner database
- Revolutionary Act #7: Practice Medicine Without a License — Pilar’s concept of “self-directed care”
- Dr. Rangan Chatterjee’s book, How to Make Disease Disappear, and his TEDx Talk of the same title
- Dr. Mark Hyman’s functional medicine approach to curing diabetes, The Blood Sugar Solution
- The Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine website, and results of some of their conventional medicine/functional medicine comparison studies treating asthma and diabetes
- Examples of elimination diets: The Whole30 program, The Autoimmune Protocol, Functional Medicine Elimination Diet
- Parsley Health and kNew Health — healthcare, lifestyle, and nutrition team approaches
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