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What is Functional Medicine?

What is Functional Medicine?
Image © National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

One of the alternative forms of medicine that continues to gain traction, especially for middle-aged and older women, is functional medicine – but what is it, and how does it differ from traditional or integrative medicine?

W

hen a lot of people go to the doctor, the process usually goes like this: they schedule their appointment, they show up and spend an eternity in the waiting room, get about ten minutes of face time with the doctor, and then walk out of the door with a prescription. Too often, physicians don’t even ask about your lifestyle or factors that could be contributing to your ailment – which can be a major problem if you suffer from a chronic illness.

So, what is functional Medicine?

The drive-by approach of traditional medicine is exactly what functional medicine seeks to solve. Rather than just aiming to solve a patient’s symptoms, functional medicine asks, “Why are you experiencing these symptoms or this illness?”  

Functional medicine aims to treat the patient, not just the disease – and doctors may do this by combining treatment from Western, alternative, and Eastern medical practices.  

Doctors who practice functional medicine aren’t going to spend ten minutes asking about your symptoms and send you on your way with a prescription. They may do a deep-dive into your lifestyle, medical history, and family history to discover the root of your ailment, and to come up with an individual and effective treatment plan.  

The one downside to functional medicine is that it’s not always covered by insurance, but a functional medicine practice is usually able to work with you so that you can receive the care that you need.  

Integrative Medicine vs. Functional Medicine: What’s the Difference?

At first glance, functional medicine may sound similar to integrative medicine, which is a holistic medicinal approach that also focuses on patient-centered care. While there is some overlap between the two, there’s a couple of differences – integrative medicine only deals with the lifestyle of a patient (not their family or previous medical history) andisn’t used as often as functional medicine for chronic illnesses and autoimmune diseases.  

How Can Functional Medicine Help Women?

Many women are already at a disadvantage of having their health concerns dismissed by a doctor, and this only becomes more of an issue if they’re only getting ten minutes or less of face time at their appointments.  

With functional medicine, the focus is on the patient – not just their list of symptoms or their disease. For midlife women with autoimmune diseases or other chronic illnesses, functional medicine can put them at a huge advantage.  

Most of the time, a functional medicine doctor is going to spend more time with you than a conventional doctor does, and they’re interested in learning about the nitty-gritty details of your disease and your lifestyle.  

Disclaimer: This article provides general information only, and does not constitute health or medical advice. If you have any concerns regarding your health, seek immediate medical attention.

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