Why Functional Medicine?
I have seen an influx of new patients recently who have never seen a Functional Medicine practitioner, many of them health professionals themselves. Why Functional Medicine now? Many report they just know something is off and they aren’t getting answers from their conventional care team. Something I hear commonly is, “I saw my PCP, they checked my labs and they said everything is fine but I still feel ____________.” Fill in the blank: tired, anxious, bloated, can’t sleep, moody, etc… I like to tell these patients this is where Functional Medicine comes in. It is getting to the root cause of any symptom (or symptoms) and figuring out what to do to reverse this – often utilizing lifestyle medicine (nutrition, movement, sleep, stress management) in combination with supplements and medications when needed.
This is not at all a knock on conventional providers. I work at the University of Colorado alongside some brilliant and caring providers but the system is set up for sick visits, not true preventive well care. Providers are also trained in this system of diagnosis, prescribe, repeat with too short of visits to truly get to know a patient and get to the underlying cause and figuring out what is optimal for each individual patient. There is still a time and a place for conventional medicine and like I said, I still practice in a conventional setting and utilize a wide variety of treatment modalities including some breakthrough pharmaceuticals that are changing patients lives. This is just not the only way to practice and why functional medicine is gaining traction, especially when patients are not being heard by their primary care team and their symptoms seem like a puzzle or they are looking for true, cutting edge preventive care to promote longevity, this is where Functional Medicine comes in.
Many people associate Functional Medicine with expensive in-depth laboratory testing and tons of supplements and while some patients may need a deeper look at hormones, nutrients or their gut microbiome what I do mostly in my practice is take a deeper look at standard labs that are covered by insurance to see where things may be off. I will often look at a patient’s labs that were done by their primary care team and deemed to be “normal” and look to see what is optimal for that patient. Utilizing targeted supplements and medications, when needed and making lifestyle shifts to promote better sleep, balanced nutrition, daily movement and mindfulness to create the ultimate lifelong health plan.
I also like to remind patients that, most of the time, they did not get unwell overnight and it takes time to heal. I know this firsthand, my journey to health has been YEARS in progress and I am still working on it every single day. It is a lifelong pursuit of health and balance. If you have been curious or wanted to know more about functional medicine, I have another blog post here. I also still have just a couple of new patients spots open for August so book a free 15 minute call to see why Functional Medicine might be right for you!