Functional medicine addresses the root cause of disease. It incorporates how all systems work together and this is done in a partnership with doctor and patient. It is less reliant on treating symptoms with medication and more reliant on lifestyle choices. If you want to learn what is functional medicine and if it is right for you let’s use some conditions as examples.
Thyroid Condition or Anxiety
What is functional medicine from the perspective of someone with a thyroid condition or anxiety? The approaches are different. While you may receive thyroid hormone or anti-anxiety medication from a traditional doctor to treat the symptoms, a functional medicine doctor will spend more time with you and look for the root cause.
What is functional medicine and how does it differ from traditional medicine with respect to thyroid disease?
- Since functional medicine practitioners spend a lot more time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors, they can go deeper and look at why the thyroid may not be functioning well. A functional medicine physician will ask about family history, where you grew up and lived, exposures to environmental toxins, your diet and stressors.
What is functional medicine going to do for diagnostic evaluation of thyroid conditions?
- Traditional medicine would measure TSH as well as free T4 (the less active hormone made in the thyroid). A functional medicine doctor would add free T3, the more active form of the hormone, reverse T 3 which blocks thyroid hormone and thyroid antibodies as well as nutrients such as iodine that are necessary to make thyroid hormones.
What is functional medicine going to do differently for treatment of thyroid conditions?
- If iodine is low, you may be told to eat more sea vegetables. Use Celtic Sea Salt that is a natural salt without fillers that contains iodine, or you may be told to take an iodine supplement.
- If reverse T3 is high, a functional medicine doctor will look for reasons such as stress, infection, nutritional deficiencies or trauma. You may be told taught some deep belly breathing, ways to reframe your stressors enhance your nutrition or look further for underlying infections or toxins.
- If thyroid antibodies are high, this is an autoimmune condition. You may be told to do an elimination diet to discover foods that trigger the immune response, take herbs and supplements to detoxify the liver and heal the gut.
What is functional medicine and how does it differ from traditional medicine with respect to anxiety?
- A functional medicine physician will ask about stress but also ask about your environment. Exposure to mold, chemicals, eating a lot of mercury laden fish, a family history of anxiety, whether it occurs with your menstrual cycle if you are female, your diet, where you live and what preceded the episodes of anxiety are all important factors in determining and fixing the root cause of anxiety.
What is functional medicine going to do for diagnostic evaluation of anxiety?
- A functional medicine physician, depending on your symptoms and history may order hormones, look for bad bacteria, yeast or parasites in your gut, measure organic acids which can uncover hidden bacteria, yeast, metabolism and nutritional deficiencies, test for mold and/or toxins among other things.
What is functional medicine going to do differently for treatment of anxiety?
- Assuring a proper diet and enough sleep, looking for food triggers, helping you remove stimulating chemicals from your food and environment, balancing hormones, teaching how to stimulate the relaxation response, removing bacteria and parasites or balancing hormones may be the way to get to the root cause and treat the root cause of anxiety.
As you see, the approaches are very different. It may require more upfront effort and cost on your part, however you may not need medication, frequent doctor’s visits and may avoid more serious complications. It saves time and money in the long run because you will have the tools to prevent or manage most chronic conditions. Discover what is functional medicine and if it’s right for you by scheduling a consultation with a functional medicine doctor.
Dr. Lorraine Maita is a recognized and award-winning holistic, functional, and anti-aging physician and author. She transforms people’s lives by getting to the root cause of illness using the best of science and nature. Her approach is personalized, precision medicine where you are treated as the unique individual you are. If you’re ready to start your journey to a healthier, happier life, schedule your visit today!