We live in a fast-paced world. With so much demand for doctors, but very few doctors in the field; many do not have time to spend on their patients. As a result, most of the time, they are given treatments in order to alleviate symptoms, without being able to get to the root of the issue. This may cause unnecessary medications to be prescribed and therefore an increased risk of possible side effects or interactions between medications.
The average doctor visit only lasts about 17 minutes or so, not including the vast amount of time spent in an office or waiting room waiting for the doctor. In many cases it is simply not enough time to fully diagnose what is truly going on with the patient – but that’s where functional medicine comes in.
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine is a form of medicine that allows your doctors time to talk to you and be able to understand the underlying causes for your symptoms. The average time a patient spends with a doctor that practices functional medicine can be as much as an hour. A lot of this time is spent talking about the symptoms and asking a lot of questions in order to find the true cause of the problem.
This is done in order to treat the cause, not just the symptoms. For instance, depression is a very common ailment that affects about 8% of people in the Unites States. Depression can be caused by a variety of factors, such as nutrient deficiencies, inflammation, or pre-diabetes. Inflammation can also have a variety of symptoms, such as diabetes and depression. It is very important to understand the causes of a patient’s condition are so that they can be addressed directly.
According to the Institute of Functional Medicine:
“The precise manifestation of each cause depends on the individual’s genes, environment, and lifestyle, and only treatments that address the right cause will have lasting benefit beyond symptom suppression.”
But now this begs the question, does functional medicine actually work?
Is it Effective?
Many might wonder if functional medicine might actually be effective. This is understandable with the amount of pseudoscience that is available online nowadays.
Let’s look at what some science has to say on the topic…
One study of 7252 eligible patients published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network surveyed patients at a Functional Medicine center, as well as a conventional primary care center to see which group had a better quality of life.
They found that after just 6 months, 31% of people at the functional medicine clinic increased their quality of life significantly, as opposed to just 22% of the people who sought conventional care. Meaning that the people who spent more time with their doctor working on treating their root causes of their maladies reported a far better quality of life.
Medicine and Holistic Care
This is not to say that medication is not necessary, sometimes medications are indeed needed in order to cure an illness. Working to fix the root cause of a symptom might help patients to start reducing dosages or even avoid medications that are not necessary altogether.
For instance, physical activity and a proper diet can be extremely beneficial when it comes to treating anxiety and depression. If we can avoid those risks, we can have a better quality of life.
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