Introduction to the Functional Balance in Health and Healing
Our good health is a function of many background processes that occur without our awareness. These background processes are essential to well being and optimum function in life. When we are ill the correction of background processes that are imbalanced will help restore health. I refer to these processes as the Functional Basis of Health and Healing. The areas of interest include Gastrointestinal Function, Hepatic Function, Reduction of Toxic Load, Glucose Insulin Metabolism, Hormonal Balance, Single Carbon Metabolism, Immunologic Balance, Control of Oxidative Stress, and Control of Inflammation.
The concept that background processes can affect health is not new. The difference between background events such as the Functional Processes we will discuss and foreground Symptoms, Signs and Diseases creates a dynamic that energizes the debate between Conventional Medicine and Integrative, (Complementary/Alternative), Medicine. Conventional Medicine has focused on the problem of Disease Diagnosis and Management. Integrative Medicine, at its best, focuses on the background processes, that when disrupted, result in the development of signs, symptoms and diseases. There are many schools of healing that work from this perspective. Typically, these disciplines have arisen from traditional cultures and include Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, American Indian Medicine, Western Herbal Medicine, and Indian Aryurvedic Medicine. This list does not exhaust the traditional healing disciplines from which we derive inspiration as well as practical knowledge in the attempt to integrate the best of Conventional Medicine with Integrative Medicine. The concept of Functional Medicine has been developed by a group of Health Care Practitioners over the last twenty years. I believe that Functional Medicine attempts to integrate the best of the healing disciplines.
Functional Medicine is a scientifically based field of health care that employs assessment and intervention to improve biochemical, metabolic, physiological, emotional/cognitive, and physical function. It is a systematic and patient centered approach to understanding and improving health. While functional medicine emphasizes the principles of molecular medicine and modern nutritional biochemistry, it acknowledges and integrates all fields of health care. This includes regular medical practice as well as alternative/complementary fields of health care, (thus Integrative Medicine).
Functional Medicine has the following characteristics:
Biochemical individuality is a fact that requires us to recognize the uniqueness of each person as they present themselves with concerns about their health.
Patient Centered Diagnosis and Treatment is the natural outcome of the fact of biochemical individuality. This concept places the patient at the center of our diagnostic and therapeutic recommendations. We recognize that we are treating a person and not a disease. This makes the patients experience paramount in the therapeutic process.
Dynamic Balance is the process we continuously undergo as we adapt to our environment. The ability to maintain biochemical, physical and psychological flexibility provides resistance to disease and allows us to maintain robust health.
Web-like Connections is a concept that recognizes the interconnectedness of the mind/body experience. While we recognize diagnostic categories we attempt to understand the functional cause of the symptoms. We seek to identify how the entirety of an individuals experience contributes to their state of health.
Health as a Positive Vitality is a state that is unique to each person. The absence of a diagnosed disease or discomfort does not denote the presence of health. The goal of the Functional Medicine Practitioner is to support vitality and wellness throughout life.
Achieving Balance is our goal. The process will be unique for each patient. Each patient will have an integral role in defining and redefining the experience of Balance.
In the ensuing discussions we will examine the functional approach to health care. This information is designed to empower the reader to reflect on the relationship between underlying functional processes and their experience of health or illness. Examples of symptoms and signs that may reflect functional imbalance will be provided. The specific diagnostic testing, or probes, that I use will be discussed from the point of view of accuracy and reliability. Finally, therapeutic options will be discussed. This is not done in an attempt to create a self-help manual but rather to create a synchronicity or common language between the individual and our practitioners. A common language and a shared process will optimize the chance that you will benefit from your experience with the practitioners at Integrative Medicine at Crossroads.
A community of health care practitioners developed these concepts. I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the key contributors to this field. Drs. Jeffrey Bland, Leo Galland, and Sydney Baker have worked in this field for more than two decades. Donnie Yance is a teacher and practitioner who has provided invaluable information in the development of these ideas. Their efforts have provided a foundation upon which many others have built.