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When most of the world treats illness today, it focuses on isolated symptoms and diseases. And it makes sense at first glance: Suffering from an illness? Take a medication that treats the illness. Need surgery? Book yourself in for that! However, this approach fails so many people in failing to look at the bigger picture. That’s where functional medicine comes in.

What is functional medicine?

The term ‘functional medicine’ or ‘functional diagnostic medicine’ is, simply speaking, a patient-centered, systems-oriented approach to health. Instead of just treating symptoms or diseases as isolated events, it looks at the person as a whole, to uncover the root causes of disease, and to uncover underlying imbalances and dysfunctions leading to illness.

The key to understanding functional medicine is in realising that the body works as a set of inter-dependent systems. Restoring balance within and between these systems is crucial for treating the underlying reasons for the arrival of illnesses, and the key to ongoing better health. In fact, when functional medicine is applied to your health, it aims to not just cure but prevent illness – helping you to lead a healthier and happier life, now and well into the future.

Functional medicine works by utilising our knowledge of both biochemistry and physiology (from conventional medicine) and the latest research about how our genetics, environment, and even diet and lifestyle play a role in our health.

How does functional medicine differ from conventional medicine?

Functional medicine doesn’t pooh-pooh the wonders of modern medicine – far from it! There’s no denying that the fast-acting interventions of modern medicine are life-saving. However, when it comes to treating ongoing, chronic, and debilitating disease – modern technology, equipment, surgeries, and medications often fall short of truly solving the issue for the better health and wellness of the patients concerned. In this sense, functional medicine is neither conventional nor alternative. It instead encourages looking deeper into health issues, treating the body as a whole, and working for better mental and physical health.

Thanks to ongoing research in the fields of nutrigenomics and epigenetics, we know quite a lot about how our genes, as well as our diet, exercise, and the world around us, can affect our health – from our weight to our likelihood to develop diseases, to chronic pain, and more. Rather than the quick-fix, 10-minute doctor’s visits we’re all so used to having – functional medicine practitioners spend time listening to their clients, gathering information, and formulating a response as a part of a therapeutic partnership. The hope is that, rather than just treating symptoms and masking problems, a holistic solution for improved health can be found.

What can functional diagnostic medicine be used to treat?

Functional medicine does a thorough job of identifying potential imbalances within the body by doing a series of laboratory tests. These may include blood, saliva, stool, hair, or urine tests and help us to gain an insight into our client’s genetic predisposition, current nutritional status, heavy metal toxicity, digestive function, allergies or intolerances, hormones, detoxification capacity, and more.

After running tests and having thorough consultations with our clients, our findings can be used to address all manner of concerns, from chronic pain to allergies, weight gain/weight loss, chronic illness and disease, asthma, autoimmune conditions, cancer prevention, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, women’s health (including PMS, menopause, and PCOS), and more.

Our holistic approach

Have a specific concern you’re looking to address? At Integrated Health Specialists, we use functional diagnostic medicine as a part of our holistic approach to health, and we understand that your health, your body, and your goals are entirely unique. That’s why we’ve developed a range of programs, each individually tailored to you, to address a variety of concerns. Here are just a couple of examples of how we can help you to achieve better health, using our functional diagnostic approach:

Holistic wellness program: This, our signature program, is designed to improve your overall health by changing the way you approach health altogether. Utilising a psychologist, naturopath, and fitness coach, this program is tailored to help you reach your goals – be they weight loss, better fitness, or improved overall health. We employ a range of the latest techniques and technology to take a deeper look into your health and your body, to uncover underlying issues that might be having a negative effect on your health and wellness. These include bioimpedance analysis assessments, nutrigenomics (DNA testing), hypnotherapy, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), and more!

Metabolic typing: Research has found that there is no one diet that is healthiest for everyone. In fact, way back in the 1930s, dentist W A Price set off on expeditions around the world to uncover just that – and to also discover a link between modern eating habits and chronic degenerative diseases. He found that everything from the local climate, to environmental conditions, local produce, heredity, genetics, and even culture were too diverse to prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach to better health through diet. In later years, this research was furthered by others, and to this day, is a key area of interest in genetics and nutrition.  We utilise metabolic typing to determine the ideal diet for you, depending on a range of factors, to help you optimise your weight and improve your overall health.

With the right nutrition, combined with lifestyle and behavioural modifications, we can help you to take charge of your health, prevent and treat chronic conditions, tackle weight loss, and start living your healthiest life. If you’re ready to overhaul your health and start living better, contact us today. Let’s get started on your journey to wellness!

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen