Functional medicine is different: here’s how.

Did you know functional medicine is different than traditional medicine? Functional medicine is mostly concerned with finding and treating the cause of a particular symptom. Modern medicine is mostly concerned with treating the symptom and is less concerned about the actual cause.

Here is an example: Let’s look at a patient with irritable bowel syndrome. A functional medicine doctor would look at the diet with food sensitivity testing, test for a condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and do a stool analysis. These tests would show possible food sensitivities, overgrowth of bacteria in the small or large intestine, parasitic or yeast infections or a deficiency of digestive enzymes; all of which are potential root causes of irritable bowel syndrome. 

Once the cause is found and corrected many times the condition can be nearly or completely eradicated. Traditional medicine would prescribe something to treat the symptoms of constipation or diarrhea associated with the condition. They may also prescribe something to treat associated anxiety. These medications could help with the symptoms, but never actually treat any of the underlying root causes. They may have effectively controlled the symptoms with a few pills, but the underlying dysfunction remains, and if the pills are stopped the problem comes back again.

Let’s look at another example: chronic sinus issues. Traditional testing would be a head x-ray or CT scan. The usual treatment is an antibiotic for a supposed bacterial infection. It may also include antihistamine or decongestant for sinus congestion. If this doesn’t work then a referral to an ENT doctor is made who may look at possible sinus surgery.

Functional medicine would look at the two most common root causes which are some type of allergy or a chronic fungal infection. We would do allergy testing for both foods and inhalants; many times this will unearth the root cause. A simple elimination of a particular food sometimes can take care of the problem. Sometimes we do a test called a MycoTox profile as this tests if the problem could be caused by a fungal infection. If this is found we know antibiotics are not the answer and the patient needs an anti-fungal protocol instead. We find that rarely are patients with chronic sinus issues ever given proper allergy testing and are almost never tested for fungal infections. Yet research shows these to be two of the most common causes.

Again, functional medicine helps people get to the root cause. For more information, check our all the drop down items under the functional medicine tab on our homepage.