Updated: Mar 30
After integrating Functional Medicine into my naturopathic practice much more intensively over the past 6 months, I have to say that I am really appreciate having another lens and perspective to view health and disease. Having trained as a Naturopathic doctor, the concepts of treating the cause, and patient-centred medicine are certainly not new, but the framework and systems in functional medicine are especially helpful when we’re looking at chronic illness.
Chronic illness is on the rise:
Our current medical system is very good at treating acute disease and trauma, where a quick, symptom-based treatment is necessary. It is not very well equipped however to deal with chronic illness, and these conditions are becoming much more common. In fact, I see far more of these conditions on a daily basis:
Type 2 diabetes
Autoimmune diseases (Hashimoto’s, Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s, Ankylosing spondylitis, Lupus, Multiple sclerosis,…)
Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue
Chronic Lyme disease
Inflammatory bowel disease
Asthma, allergies, eczema
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
With each of these conditions and more, simply ameliorating symptoms is not going to cure the condition, and often the symptomatic treatment itself will eventually lead to more symptoms and disorder in the body when used on a long-term basis. We can look at the very simple example of painkillers, which can be extremely useful in the short-term, but then cause major issues with stomach and gut lining or liver function if used for a prolonged period of time.
Instead we need to understand the causes, which systems are involved, and create a long-term plan to not only minimize the discomfort and symptoms, but more importantly change the course of the disease. This requires a whole-body approach, rather than a narrow specialist view. Remember that all of your body systems are interconnected.
Categorizing illness based on cause not symptoms:
What if instead we categorize health conditions based on cause rather than symptoms? You can see how powerful this is, and how we are removing the imbalances that created the chronic condition in the first place. For example if we look at Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, causes such as selenium deficiency, intestinal dysbiosis and leaky gut and gluten sensitivity may be the most significant causes. Here we can focus on nutrition and the gut especially to allow the thyroid to function optimally.
Here are some of the more common causes of chronic illness:
issues with hormonal regulation
mitochondria damage or dysfunction
chronic stress or nervous system imbalance
blood sugar dysregulation and insulin resistance
When we treat the cause, for example clear infections, support gut health, balance hormones and improve nutrition, we are not only treating the chronic disease, but creating an environment where it can no longer take root. The body knows how to heal if you remove the obstacles.
The ultimate goal is to create a healthy body, so illness doesn’t happen. This means looking upstream – at your personal health history, current stresses, health events, family history and susceptibility, with a focus on prevention. Its so powerful to flip the focus to restoring and maintaining health, instead of constantly managing symptoms. It means that we have to know all of the details about your habits, history and susceptibilities to create your personalized wellness plan. This degree of precision is possible!
If you’re ready for a new look at your health, shifting to health-focused, patient-centre and evidence-based care, please book in for a Functional Medicine assessment.
If you have become a new patient since mid-June 2019, we have already started this journey together. If you are a returning client, simply book in for a 45 minute functional medicine assessment and the full Living-Matrix intake forms will be sent to you in advance.
Please note that content on this website is intended for informational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, not is it meant to diagnose or treat a health problem, symptom or disease. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on this website. Information provided on this website DOES NOT create a doctor-patient relationship between you and any doctor affiliated with our website.