What is Functional Medicine? 

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Functional Medicine is a biology-based approach to health that considers an integrative view of an individual’s health to find the underlying root causes of a disease or symptoms. It is an individualised approach that treats every patient’s health as a unique case as multiple factors can influence health and well-being. 

Different factors are taken into account to identify what prevents the body from optimal health and functioning, such as lifestyle, environment and genetics. Functional medicine focuses on treating the root cause of the disease or dysfunctional health and not only the symptoms. 


What is a Functional Medicine Model? 

A Functional Medicine model aims to restore the body’s overall wellness and health. 

A functional health model focuses on integrative health areas where risk factors are identified. These risk factors are all taken into consideration with the symptoms a patient is currently presenting with or an illness a person is diagnosed with, which include: 

  • Lifestyle 
  • Genetics
  • Environmental factors 


The first step is to seek professional medical guidance that could help identify what the potential root causes of the problem could be, keeping in mind that not all disease origins can always be identified. Functional Medicine practitioners make use of medical testing of different biomarkers in the body to find underlying pathogens, bacteria and viruses. Tests can also identify nutrient deficiencies and dysfunctional gene pathways. 

There are multiple health practitioners and doctors who can help you once the root factors have been identified, including specialists and doctors to dieticians and physiotherapists. It is also important to consider mental health, as healthy cognition also forms a part of functional medicine. 



Lifestyle habits include your daily activity level and physical exercise, diet and nutrition intake, microbiomes in and on your body, mental and emotional stressors, sleep and rest. These integrative factors are all important to maintain a healthy body to function optimally. Nutrition is used as first-line therapy in functional health. 



Genetics include a medical history of your family’s health. Any physical and mental conditions should be taken into consideration. Medical history alongside current symptoms is used to identify the state of health, and this is where genetic testing can give a science-based measure of health risks. Genetic testing can be used to identify risk factors for illness, as some genetic patterns can show potential vulnerability to disease. This knowledge through genetic testing helps motivate healthy lifestyles and preventative care. 


Environmental Factors

These factors include external triggers such as toxins and allergens that can potentially be toxic to the body. This is not something that first comes to mind when thinking about what factors can affect your health. 

A buildup of toxins in your body can happen due to exposure of toxins or dysfunctional excretion of toxins. Through certain blood tests, toxins circulating and accumulating in the body can be identified. This includes heavy metal toxicity, pesticides or endocrine disruptors which can cause inflammation. 


What is a Functional Medicine Doctor? 

There are multiple functional medicine doctors, who use different techniques and testing to identify the root causes of disease. Their approach is more holistic, taking physical, mental and emotional health into consideration.  Medical professionals work together to treat the different causes of pain, disease, symptoms or any aspect that influences optimal health. Functional Medicine Practitioners in the UK, are registered at the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). 


Can Functional Medicine Treat Chronic Diseases? 

Functional medicine focuses on finding the causes of chronic disease. A chronic disease is broken down into different factors that work accumulating to cause chronic disease. The integrative imbalances in the body are treated as a whole to improve overall health. Functional Medicine treatment includes a personalised treatment plan with lifestyle changes, herbal medicines, supplements and nutrition intake, detoxification programs, specific diets according to disease, mental health care, and traditional medicine.  Traditional medicine is not excluded in Functional Medicine, but rather part of the integrative treatment plan where necessary.  


What Chronic Diseases Can Be Treated With Functional Medicine?

Many chronic diseases are treated through Functional Medicine practitioners including:

  • Immune system disorders: auto-immune diseases, chronic fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. 
  • Gastrointestinal system disorders: Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), food intolerances, diarrhea, constipation, reflux, ulcerative colitis etc 
  • Alzheimer's disease 
  • Diabetes 
  • Anxiety and stress 
  • Skin issues: acne, allergic skin reactions, eczema, hives, psoriasis
  • Insomnia
  • Allergies
  • Weight gain and metabolic disorders
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain 
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Hormonal imbalances 
  • Cardiovascular disease: high cholesterol, hypertension, etc 
  • Adrenal disorders: Cushing's Syndrome and Addison's Disease


Benefits of Functional Medicine 

The most outstanding benefits of Functional medicine are the following:

  • Integrative health approach 
  • Personalised patient care
  • Focus on long-term aspects to improve health
  • The impact of lifestyle can be seen and motivates the patient to take responsibility for health improvement 
  • Functional medicine also focuses on preventative care
  • Science-based 


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