Functional medicine assesses, prevents, and treats complex chronic disease. By identifying the body’s physiological and biochemical dysfunctions that occur leading up to the disease, functional medicine helps reverse those specific dysfunctions to return patients to health. Dysfunctions could result from environmental interactions, lifestyle, and genetic predispositions.

Similar to functional medicine, anti-aging medicine also assesses and attempts to prevent chronic disease, but does not specifically deal with reversing disease and its associated dysfunctions. Rather it focuses more on slowing the aging process, which is similar to but not the same as the development of chronic disease.

Now that healthcare costs are skyrocketing because of the increasing development of chronic illness, the adaptation from conventional medicine, which just treats the chronic disease, to functional and anti-aging medicine is necessary. Functional/anti-aging medicine doesn’t just treat symptoms like conventional medicine; it is proactive, addresses the causes of illness, and optimizes your body’s physiology.

Functional and anti-aging medicine offer a personalized, patient-centered approach. By focusing on what imbalances we have as a result of our environment and lifestyle, this approach can then correct those imbalances which ultimately lead to chronic disease.

It’s a new way of practicing medicine, not a new procedure or treatment. Chronic disease accounts for 78% of healthcare costs; we need to focus on health by preventing chronic illness to improve the healthcare system and decrease the cost of healthcare.

The Specifics of Functional Medicine

Functional medicine is an emerging diagnostic discipline in which practioners view symptoms as indicators of biochemical dysfunction for which the most effective and safe treatment involves optimal nutrition, the removal of harmful toxins, and the optimization of the body’s own complex restorative mechanisms.

Important tenets of the Functional Medicine perspective

  • Patient Uniqueness: Patients are unique psychologically and emotionally, as well as physically: genetically, metabolically and biochemically (for example: neurological communications among the body’s organ systems). Upon this rests a…
  • Patient-centered approach to wellness: Functional medicine practitioners consider a patient’s attitudes, beliefs and motivations in addition to physical, mental and emotional aspects of the patient.
  • Total Patient Wellness: Health and vitality are not merely the absence of disease but the result of optimal environment, nutrition, and lifestyle leading to maximized function of our body.
  • Chronic illnesses: Small problems, unattended over time, have a tendency to cascade or “snowball” into more difficult chronic forms. Because of this, the key to Total Patient Wellness is…
  • Preventative Medicine: Focusing on the root causes, rather than the symptoms of an illness prevents the cascading effect to promote long term total wellness.

Dr. Terlinsky uses this functional approach to treat modern disorders such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, irritible bowel syndrome, and women’s issues including menopause, perimenopause and hormonal problems.

Integrative Medicine

Certain existing “alternative”, and/or “holistic” (mind-body) methodologies have been revitalized by new research and technological progress. This integration of old and new and of conventional and alternative medicine forms the basis for IM’s core beliefs, which include:

  • The body’s natural healing ability.
  • Emphasising prevention over treatment.
  • Doctors and patients as “partners” working toward a common goal.
  • “Conventional” and “alternative” medicine working together toward the common goal.
  • Using natural, less invasive interventions whenever possible.

Integrative physicians, while guided by good science, remain open minded to alternative strategies like:Drug Therapies, Nutrition and Dietary Supplements, Botanical Medicine, Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Massage and Physical Therapy, Mind/Body Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Conversely, IM practicioners lend credance to these “alternative” methods by their embrace of “conventional” precepts such as sound scientific procedure. For a good example of Integrative Medicine in action, check out: IM Clinical trials at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

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