“In Functional Medicine we don’t treat symptoms. We treat patients.”
— Dr. Mark Hyman
The Problem: Chronic Disease
Medical sciences have improved significantly, and most diseases that claimed millions of lives a few decades ago, have been conquered today. However, the incidence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases (stroke, coronary heart disease), metabolic disorders (diabetes), mental health disorders (depression, schizophrenia) and cancer (lung, breast and cervical) account for a significant disease load.
In its Chronic Diseases Report WHO predicts that by 2030, chronic diseases will cause three of four deaths in India. By 2030, more people, before the age of 60, will die of coronary heart disease in India than in Russia, USA and China combined!
Conventional medicine has undoubtedly revolutionized the healthcare system, but has failed to curtail rise of chronic diseases. The conventional medicine system focuses on treating the symptoms of a disease rather than the underlying causes. It takes a disease-centered approach and the actual needs of the patient are neglected. This has led many medical practitioners to review the disease-care approach of conventional medicine and revise their perspective of health and wellness.
The Road to Wellness
In attempting to understand health as a life-long pursuit, in contrast to a particular physiological state, health care professionals open up avenues towards new forms of therapy and medicine, which focus on preventing disease and health complications, rather than simply reacting to them
Most of us believe that care should be provided only when disease is present – a view acquired from conventional medical care. Human beings and their diseases are complex.
- Many disease conditions may emerge from a single cause
- Individuals have their own pathways toward a disease—one person’s asthma, diabetes, or heart disease is not the same as another’s.
- Outcomes are not predictable; what works for one person will not necessarily be effective with the next.
The Solution: Functional Medicine
Chronic disease management cannot be successful until the root cause of the disease is identified and rectified. Attempting to mitigate the symptoms through drugs or surgery can only be a momentary remedy. Instead, the fundamental imbalances in the body’s physiological processes that cause the disease should be identified. It is at this juncture that Functional Medicine becomes most crucial as it plays the key role in predicting, preventing and treating most chronic diseases. Current research on genetics and nutrition has yielded insights as to how the body works.
More is known now than ever, on biochemical mechanisms and environmental factors that influences an individual’s disposition to chronic diseases. It is also evident that lifestyle interventions and dietary changes can not only reverse the symptoms but also can proactively prevent illness. This is one of the approaches of Functional & Integrative medicine.
Functional Medicine practitioners identify factors responsible for any complication unique to the patient’s individual health condition through advanced laboratory testing. This information is used to formulate customized treatments to restore balance and effect a cure by alleviating symptoms, preventing the progress of, or improving the management of chronic medical conditions.