Functional vs Conventional Medicine

Fatigue

Functional Medicine aims to combine the best of conventional medicine with evidence-based complementary medicine, therapies and lifestyle interventions for the holistic treatment and prevention of disease. It enables medical practitioners and other health professionals to practice proactive, predictive, personalised medicine and empowers patients to take an active role in their own health.

When most people think of medicine, they think of conventional western medicine and heading to the GP. In fact, the term “Functional Medicine” is new to many people.

So what is functional medicine and how does it differ from conventional medicine?

First, let's start with conventional medicine. This approach to health is great in cases of emergency and acute health problems such as pneumonia, appendicitis, heart attacks, broken bones and other emergenices.

This model uses surgery, drugs or hormones to treat chronic illnesses such as such as low thyroid, diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol , allergies, digestive, hormonal, metabolic and neurological problems.

However, for many people, it is less effective in treating and preventing these chronic diseases and is often the point where people start looking for alternate solutions such as those offered by functional medicine.

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional or integrative medicine understands that chronic diseases can’t be solved by drugs or surgery. The solution requires a shift away from suppression and management of symptoms to addressing their underlying causes. It therefore focuses not just on the symptomatic treatment of a problem but rather looks at the underlying drivers of illness.

Functional Medicine Doctors ask: “Why do you have this problem in the first place?” and “Why has function been lost?” and “What can we do to restore function?” In other words, what are the underlying causes or mechanisms for someone’s symptoms and illness?

Why does the distinction matter?

Human biology is complex. Gene expression is altered by lots of influences, including environment, lifestyle, diet, activity patterns, psycho-social-spiritual factors, and stress. Functional medicine therefore explores the interaction of genes, food choices, toxicity, environment and lifestyle. It explores how these factors can push us toward or away from disease by turning genes on or off and attempts to understand the underlying drivers of chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity and dementia.

Functional Medicine aims to combine the best of conventional medicine with evidence-based complementary medicine, therapies and lifestyle interventions for the holistic treatment and prevention of disease. It enables medical practitioners and other health professionals to practice proactive, predictive, personalised medicine and empowers patients to take an active role in their own health.

Dr Peter Holsman is a qualified Medical Practitioner, Naturopath and Professional Speaker who specialises in treating people with fatigue related illnesses including chronic fatigue syndrome, thyroid and adrenal hormone problems.

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