We’ve witnessed huge strides in medicine over the last century, from the discovery of antibiotics to the potential for 3-D printed organs. Many once deadly infectious diseases have been eradicated, and life expectancy is higher than ever. But we’re not necessarily healthier.
When you live with a chronic illness, there is a sense of estrangement. Every step is a struggle. Everyone else seems to go about their lives effortlessly, while you have a keen awareness that your body isn’t working the way it should.
As someone with health concerns, you’re likely frustrated with our healthcare system. Your appointments last just 10 minutes, even when your symptoms have worsened. You might be told your problems are age-related or are “all in your head.” You’re referred to yet another specialist for every new symptom.
Over the last 20 years, I have practiced and studied alongside a brilliant, caring, and visionary group of clinicians and scientists assembled at the Institute for Functional Medicine. This organization birthed the term “Functional Medicine” over 30 years ago to describe a heuristic of applied systems-biology medicine and root-cause-analysis in clinical care. It is a beautiful way to practice.
Functional medicine is not really a specialty. It’s an updated way of organizing medical information and practicing medicine. It enables those clinicians that are trained in its methods to understand each individual patient as a complex whole and find the underlying causes of disease and dysfunction.