The Functional Medicine Revolution Leads Toward True Healing by Sylvia Panitch
There is a revolution occurring in America and around the world. The standard paradigm of allopathic medicine has shown us that it can be ineffective, costly and cumbersome. Patients often see too many doctors and get prescribed too many medications. Then they may not feel better from the condition or from the side effects of their medications.
Functional medicine is about identifying physiological mechanisms that have gotten out of control before they become illness and finding the root causes of illness and not the end effects. The traditional model of medicine serves us well in acute situations like heart attacks, strokes and infections, but not chronic conditions. Patients may have many illnesses at the same time, and six to10 minutes per visit is not enough to address them all.
Patient-centered functional medicine focuses on understanding why and how people get sick. It is about lifestyle, environment, nutrition and genetic predisposition that can alter our health and cause disease. All our organs are connected, but by seeing one specialist after another that don’t talk to each other, we are wrongly acting as if our body is the sum of its different parts.
In the case of irritable bowel syndrome, for instance, symptoms may include bloating, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea, but the root cause is much more complicated. A functional medicine doctor might investigate the possibility of infections due to bacteria, viruses, yeast or parasites (a stool test analysis is very helpful); food allergies; liver detoxification; nutrient deficiencies (vitamins, minerals, amino acids); deficiencies of digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid or good bacteria; and stressors in patient’s life, encouraging mind-body therapies, etc.
But it is much more than that, so the treatment will be very specific. Functional medicine is really detective work because the doctor needs to understand the imbalance and develop a personalized program for that patient. Diagnoses are not what really matter. It is the understanding of the imbalances that lead to disease.
Sir William Osler’s adage has never been more accurate: “It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease that what sort of disease a patient has.” The revolution is already here. Come and join in.
Dr. Silvia Panitch, M.D., is the owner of Lakeview Integrative Medicine, located at 3344 N. Ashland Ave., in Chicago. For more information, call 773-525-6595 or visit LakeviewIntegrativeMedicine.com.
Panitch, Dr. Silvia, M.D. “The Functional Medicine Revolution Leans Toward True Healing.” Natural Awakenings, November, 2015, p.18