What is functional medicine? This question always makes me laugh. It implies that those who do not profess to practice “functional medicine” by default, practice “dysfunctional medicine”. But that little joke aside, Functional Medicine refers to a way of incorporating sophisticated Western diagnostics with natural therapeutics such as Western herbs, diet and nutritional supplementation. Functional Medicine also denotes a deeper understanding of how different organ systems relate to each other. For example, sub-par thyroid function can cause increased cholesterol and infertility, even if commonly ordered blood tests show the thyroid hormones to be in the normal range.
As a doctor who practices Functional Medicine, a key aspect of my practice is incorporating Western laboratory results and imaging reports with Western and Chinese herbal therapy, Western and Eastern dietary guidelines, nutritional supplements and acupuncture treatments.
Two somewhat modern health problems that benefit greatly from a Functional Medicine approach are thyroid and adrenal disorders. Our thyroid glands are easily damaged by toxins and our environment is FILLED with toxins in an unprecedented way in human history. Our adrenal glands are constantly being activated by daily stressors. They will respond with hormone output until they are depleted and can’t react to stress appropriately anymore. At first we were edgy and wired, now we are overwhelmed by fatigue.
How many people do you know that struggle with fatigue?
A Functional Medicine approach to thyroid and adrenal health entails detailed laboratory tests (can be both blood and saliva) and a complete health history. Functional Medicine with the addition of Oriental medicine perspective and treatments is very powerful! People may even be able to wean off their thyroid medication (depending on diagnosis, response to treatment and under medical supervision). When combined with Oriental medicine diagnostics and treatments, the sky is the limit in terms of how much people can change their health!