How Functional Medicine addresses root causes of chronic conditions beyond conventional medicine

I'm Anindita!

I am a Functional Medicine certified Health Coach and AFMC Practitioner. I help women with autoimmune conditions I help women with autoimmune conditions reverse their symptoms with their body as their guide

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Have you ever felt like you’re stuck in a never-ending cycle of doctor visits, medications, and temporary fixes for your chronic health issues?

Well, what if I told you that there’s a different approach to healthcare?

One that that focuses on getting to the root cause of your problems, instead of just masking the symptoms?

It’s called Functional Medicine, and it’s all about understanding how your unique genetic makeup, environment, and lifestyle choices impact your health.

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional Medicine is a personalized, root-cause approach to healthcare.

It focuses on understanding how your unique genetic makeup, environment, and lifestyle choices impact your health. Conventional medicine on the other hand often relies on a one-size-fits-all approach. It also aims to suppress symptoms, while Functional Medicine seeks to identify and address the underlying causes of illness.

As Dr Mark Hyman says

In functional medicine, we want to answer the question “Why?” — not just “What is the right drug for this disease?”

The question isn’t “What disease do you have?” but “Which system or systems in your body are out of balance?”

The goal is to understand what disturbs the normal function of these systems, and how we can best create optimal function. I am not so much interested in helping patients get perfect lab tests, because, as we have seen, these don’t tell the whole story.

I’m interested in helping them identify how the particular systems in their bodies are working or not working, and then how we can get them into balance. This must be done by treating the whole system, not the symptom.

Watch this video to learn more.

What sets Functional Medicine apart?

Functional Medicine takes a comprehensive and integrative approach to healthcare, focusing on the body as an interconnected system. Unlike conventional medicine which targets specific symptoms, Functional Medicine addresses the root causes of health issues by considering the whole person.

In Functional Medicine instead of asking “What disease does this person have?” , we ask

What kind of person has this disease?

A “systems biology” approach

Functional Medicine examines how different systems (assimilation, defense and repair, energy, biotransformation and elimination, communication, transport, structural integrity) within the body interact. For instance, chronic fatigue isn’t seen as a standalone issue but as a potential indicator of broader imbalances.

Practitioners consider various factors such as:

This method doesn’t just focus on treating diseases but looks at the body as an interconnected system.

For instance, if you’re dealing with chronic fatigue, a Functional Medicine practitioner won’t just prescribe a medication to boost your energy temporarily. Instead, they’ll explore various factors such as your diet, sleep patterns, stress levels, and even potential toxin exposure that might be contributing to your fatigue.

Dr Jeffrey Bland is considered to be the father of Functional Medicine. According to him, Functional Medicine has been designed to treat the cause of a chronic illness, not the symptoms and signs that are the effects of the cause.

He shared 5 key tenets of this new approach of this personal health management system in his excellent book “The disease delusion

  1. Our health is not predetermined by our genes – no single gene controls the presence or absence of a chronic disease
  2. Chronic illness is the result of an imbalance in one or more of the core physiological processed
  3. The absence of illness does not necessarily equate to the presence of wellness – a diagnosis of chronic illness comes after a period of declining function
  4. Each person’s physiological response to lifestyle, dietary, and environmental factors is unique to his or her genetic makeup
  5. Drugs effective for the management of acute disease may be inappropriate for the long term management of chronic illness

He also mentions India’s ayurvedic tradition and traditional Chinese medicine as examples where the same concepts have been embraced for thousands of years!

My personal journey with Functional Medicine

As a Functional Medicine practitioner and health coach, I’ve seen firsthand the transformative power of this approach.

My own journey with Functional Medicine began when my daughter was struggling with severe eczema. Despite trying countless conventional treatments, nothing seemed to provide lasting relief.

It wasn’t until I discovered Functional Medicine that we were able to identify the root causes of her eczema and develop a personalized plan to address them.

Through dietary changes, targeted supplements, and lifestyle modifications, we were able to heal her skin from the inside out and and bring her eczema under control.

You can listen to our entire story here.

The key differences between Functional Medicine and conventional medicine

One of the main differences between Functional Medicine and conventional medicine is the approach to diagnosis and treatment.

Conventional medicine often relies on a disease-centered model. This approach often treats symptoms in isolation without taking into account the interplay of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that contribute to health and illness. This organ centric, acute care model of medicine works brilliantly for infectious diseases and emergencies.

In contrast, Functional Medicine takes a patient-centered approach. It looks at the whole person and considers all of the factors that influence health.

Another key difference is the emphasis on prevention and optimization of health.

While conventional medicine often focuses on managing symptoms and treating disease, Functional Medicine aims to prevent illness and promote optimal health by addressing the root causes of imbalance and dysfunction.

There are countless success stories where Functional Medicine has made a significant difference.

Click here to hear from my client Naila who benefited from a personalized and empathetic support in navigating health challenges

I have also mentioned other practitioners who successfully reversed their own chronic conditions using a Functional Medicine approach and are now helping others to do the same in this post.

Combining the best of both worlds

One of the most powerful aspects of Functional Medicine is its ability to integrate with conventional medicine when needed.

So it’s not really about whether you should follow a conventional OR a Functional Medicine approach!

Sometimes the answer is: BOTH

For example, if you’re managing an autoimmune condition, conventional medicine might offer critical medications to control inflammation and make your symptoms more manageable. At the same time, Functional Medicine can provide strategies to address underlying triggers like gut health, nutritional deficiencies, and lifestyle factors, potentially reducing the need for medications over time.

Plus, one of the most empowering aspects of Functional Medicine is learning about your body’s unique needs.

By understanding your genetic predispositions, dietary needs, and lifestyle factors, you can make informed decisions that support your health and well-being.

This personalized approach can be particularly beneficial for women with chronic conditions, as it considers hormonal imbalances, nutritional needs, and the impact of stress on women’s health.

Closeup of a cheerful young couple picking some fruit and veggies from the fridge to make some healthy breakfast on Sunday morning. Shot from inside the working fridge.

Start your healing journey with Functional Medicine

If you’re ready to take a new approach to your chronic health issues and experience lasting relief, here are three steps you can take to start your healing journey with Functional Medicine:

  1. Find a Functional Medicine practitioner: Look for a qualified Functional Medicine practitioner and/or Functional Medicine certified Health Coach who can help you identify the root causes of your health issues and develop a personalized treatment plan. Many practitioners offer virtual consultations, making it easier than ever to access this type of care.

Here are some websites you can use to find a practitioner/health coach

The Indian Association of Functional Medicine

Institute of Functional Medicine

The School of Applied Functional Medicine

Functional Medicine Coaching Academy

2. Embrace a nutrient-dense, whole-foods diet: One of the foundational principles of Functional Medicine is the importance of nutrition in health and healing. Focus on consuming a variety of nutrient-dense, whole foods and minimizing processed and inflammatory foods. You can read more on this topic here.

3. Prioritize stress management and self-care: Chronic stress can have a profound impact on health and can contribute to the development and progression of chronic illness. Make stress management and self-care a priority. Incorporate practices like meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and regular exercise into your daily routine. You can get some ideas from this post.

If you’re tired of feeling stuck in a cycle of chronic illness and symptom management, Functional Medicine offers a powerful alternative.

By addressing the root causes of illness and taking a personalized, whole-person approach to health and healing, Functional Medicine can help you find lasting relief and optimize your health from the inside out.

Consider exploring Functional Medicine and working with a qualified practitioner to develop a personalized plan for your unique needs.

As Dr Mark Hyman has said

“True healing begins when we understand our bodies and address the root causes of illness.”

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Health Coach, author, blogger, podcaster, mom of two and avid reader

Before you get any further....
Hi, I'm Anindita!

I am a Functional Medicine certified Health Coach and AFMC practitioner. I help women with autoimmune conditions reverse their symptoms with their body as their guide

I work with women who want to go beyond symptom management, reconnect with their bodies and learn how to get well and stay well by tuning into their body's wisdom 

Learn more


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