What Is A Functional Medicine Assessment?
Functional Medicine (FM) is a holistic, integrative approach to health and well-being that evaluates how each biological system is working and supporting the health of the whole, interconnected body.
Physicians who use this approach look for signs of imbalance and areas of health that can be optimized. If deficiencies are found, FM doctors investigate the root cause of the deficiency by looking at the patient’s environment, thoughts, diet, lifestyle, possible infections, medications, levels of activity, social support (family, friends), and level of stress, as all of these factors could be supporting or exacerbating the disease.
Functional Medicine differs from Conventional Medicine in that while Conventional Medicine is excellent at treating acute and urgent conditions, it tends to treat symptoms and not the underlying cause of those symptoms.
Functional Medicine physicians assess six major areas of health.
In looking for clues that may be contributing to symptoms of illness or disease we systematically assess and optimize the following six major areas of health:
- Immune system: We look for signs of inflammation and auto-immune diseases (including Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, pain, allergies/sensitivities, etc.).
- Energy systems: We assess for factors that may be depleting your body’s energy, including your mitochondrial (energy part of cells) health, nutrient deficiencies and excesses.
- Heart and metabolic systems: We evaluate for signs of heart and vascular disease and abnormal blood sugar values.
- Hormone systems: For women, we assess for signs of PMS, fibroids, perimenopause and menopause, estrogen dominance, and other conditions of hormone imbalance; and for men, we assess for signs of loss of motivation, focus, low libido, andropause (low testosterone), erectile dysfunction, poor work-out recovery, poor exercise endurance, fatigue, and other conditions of hormone imbalance.
- Detoxification system: We assess for signs of toxin overload or the inability to release toxins from your liver and body. This system is key for optimal health of the body as well as maintaining a youthful appearance and vitality.
- Gastrointestinal/digestive systems: We look for signs of inflammation in the gut, food sensitivities, and infections. This system is also vital to all other systems operating effectively and preventing autoimmune diseases, weight gain, and inflammation throughout your body (joints, sinuses, lungs, thyroid, etc.).
What a Functional Medicine Assessment entails
- listening to what your concerns are and asking questions that help and reveal any issues.
- performing an exam to assess for any physical signs of deficiencies or signs of excess that may be supporting disease in your body.
- ordering tests that will look at how effectively your body is performing certain functions. Some tests include:saliva tests to evaluate your body’s ability to respond to stress and maintain healthy sleep and energy levels;
- hormone tests that show if your body is releasing optimal amounts of hormones to support your energy, mood, sexual health, brain clarity, bones, focus, energy;
- thyroid tests that can demonstrate if you are producing the proper levels of thyroid hormones to support mood, energy, weight, skin/hair/nails, brain clarity, and more;
- stool analysis that reveals if your gut and immune system are sufficient to support your digestive and immune system needs;
- food sensitivity and allergy testing that may uncover an unhealthy gut and foods that are contributing to brain fog, bloating, constipation/diarrhea, IBS, weight gain, and more;
- lipid profile that assesses if you have the type of cholesterol molecules that lead to cardiovascular disease;
- inflammation profiles that evaluate the level of inflammation that your body is dealing with;
- and many more tests are available if needed.
Why would you do a Functional Medicine assessment if you’re healthy?
Because of its whole health approach, an FM assessment and its recommendations can help prevent illness while optimizing your current state of health, so you can:
- enjoy vitality, longevity and a youthful appearance at every age;
- maximize your energy and mobility to live the life you choose;
- prevent unnecessary weight gain;
- maintain healthy heart function;
- allow smooth transitions into each phase of life, i.e., young adult years, reproductive years, retirement years, menopause/andropause, etc.;
- maintain hormone and thyroid health;
- support your immune system to prevent illnesses;
- optimize your gut health to support your immune system, weight, and tolerance to different foods and prevent disease;
- support healthy mood and mental health;
- encourage healthy sleep and rejuvenation;
- prevent metabolic disorders like diabetes and insulin resistance;
- and so much more!
We’ve gathered all of this information, now what?
Functional Medicine’s approach is patient-centered and patient-directed; once we’ve gathered all of your information, we listen to you. Together we’ll discuss and prioritize your unique wellness goals. Once those are established we can start working towards the areas that will best help your major wellness goal first, then systematically addressing all other issues, as supporting longevity and wellness relies on improving all facets of your health.
This approach typically utilizes several modes of treatment, including stress reduction & management, mind-body tools, improving nutrition, healing your gut, supporting detoxification, exercise, acupuncture, herbs/botanicals, supplements, manual medicine, and when needed, medic