We live in a complex world, in the fast track lane slogging to meet ends meet ignoring the fact that our pursuit to make our lives better is taking its toll on our health.
It has been duly observed that in our society there is an ever increasing number of people suffering from various ailments such as such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
When people suffer from such ailments they general consult a physician or a general practitioner who examines them and prescribes them medicine for immediate relief or cure.If the ailment is serious the patient is referred to a specialist who in turns conducts tests to determine the nature of the problem.
All this is part of what is called conventional medicine which deals with the immediate disorder and its immediate cure and treatment.
However, Functional medicine is that branch of medicine which delves into the root cause of the problem exploring in depth as to what brought the disorder in the first place.
“Prevention is better than cure“ is a well heard saying or proverb which unfortunately many people do not take heed of. If an ailment and its root cause are detected at an early stage then it can be easily nipped in the bud Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease and is a more patient-oriented approach.
It effectively serves and addresses the healthcare needs of the community in the 21st century.
Functional medicine engages both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It deals with the whole person and not just an isolated set of symptoms.
It explores patient history spending time with patients studying their lifestyles and factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.
In every aspect of life whenever a problem arises it is better to try to discover the cause of the problem rather than just taking care of the matter. Children are told not to play with sharp objects which can hurt them, mothers tend to keep infants and toddlers out of the kitchen lest they are victims of some unforeseen hazard.
Similarly, functional medicine goes for the root cause and it’s early and permanent cure rather than let the effects linger on too long term problems.
There are many who would argue what is the point of functional medicine when conventional medicine does the job easily.
Well, the answer to the question is several. Let we examine the need for functional medicine.
As mentioned earlier our society is afflicted with all sorts of diseases which are increasing day by day, the system of medicine.
There are six core principles of functional medicine which can be outlined as under;
#1 An understanding of the biochemical individual of each human being based on the concept of environmental and genetic uniqueness.
#2 To be aware of the evidence which is patient centered and not diseases centered.
#3 Approach to treatment ;Search for dynamic balance among the internal and external body, mind, and spirit.
#4 Familiarity with the web-like interconnections of internal physiological factors.
#5 identification of health as a position vitality not merely the absence of disease emphasis. Those factors that encourage the enhancement of vigorous physiology.
#6 Promotion of organ reserve as the means to enhance health span not just the lifespan of each patient.
Proper methodology is lacking in the acute care approach to medicine and the tools for preventing and treating chronic disease.
Most physicians are concerned with immediate care and treatment of the problem at hand and prescribe medicines and drugs or recommend surgery as the case may be.
There are a huge or tremendous gap between research and practice by doctors at least 50 years especially in the case of chronic illness.
Most Physicians are not qualified to deal with the long-term causes of chronic illness and disease. And to apply strategies such as nutrition , diet, and exercises to both prevent and treat these diseases.
If you can prevent something unhealthy and dysfunctional from happening in the body by exploring the root cause of the problem in its initial stages then the problem of will not grown at all.
An expert on Functional Medicine, Dr. Mark Hyman, an author whose book was on the NYT best selling list gives a clear perspective on functional medicine.
In the case of cancer,doctors only conventional methods are applied.
Doctors tend to cut the malignant tissue, cauterize it or burn it or remove it with surgery or radiation therapy.
Making a prognosis or diagnosis does not entirely cure the disease. It merely eases the pain or suffering temporarily.
Conventional medicine focuses on naming diseases based on geography, body location and specialty, instead of by the cause, mechanism or pathway
Functional medicine is a personalized model of diagnosis, It involves a doctor-patient relationship which means engaging the patient to discover the root cause of the disease afflicting him or her.
This method enables and empowers patients and practitioners to achieve the highest expression of health by working collaboratively to address the causes of disease.
As an analogy, functional medicine doctors can be compared to soil farmers: They create a healthy soil, so pests can’t come and weeds can’t flourish. A healthy soil means disease can’t take hold. With cancer, a functional medicine practitioner would say that yes, we still need radiation and other conventional approaches, but what else can we do?
How can we properly cultivate a healthy soil? Cancer results because of an imbalance in the system, so many people are walking around with tumors and don’t know it. We can do something to prevent them from growing by maintaining a healthy soil.
The core causes that can result in chronic diseases is explored in a larger context from the functional medicine perspective. If the root cause of a disease can be identified, isolated and treated in its early stages then thousands of lives can be protected.
Cancer is scary and most people when hearing that they have the disease are panic stricken. It is important to realize what works with you and develop a plan to stick with it. Cancer should be thought of differently.
Dr. Hyman has effectively suggested five cancer prevention tips which we will study as under.
# Dump the Sugar:. Sugar feeds cancer and creates diabesity, a form of diabetes associated with obesity It is estimated that diabesity affects ver 1.7 billion people worldwide. The number one thing one can do to prevent or control cancer is to control insulin levels with a high-fiber diet rich in real, fresh, whole foods and minimize or eliminate sugary, processed, insulin-raising foods.
# Eliminate food sensitivities: In a major study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, hidden gluten sensitivity was shown to increase the risk of death by 35 to 75 percent, mostly by causing heart disease and cancer. By just this mechanism alone, more than 20 million.
Americans are at risk for heart attack, obesity, cancer, and death. Dairy and gluten are the most common triggers of food allergies that are linked to insulin resistance. Cutting them out of the diet allows the inflamed gut and an inflamed body to heal.
# Inflammation: Inflammation is the common thread connecting most chronic disease, including cancer. In fact, out-of-control inflammation causes insulin resistance, which, as we now know, is the main factor in all these diseases, apart from autoimmunity and allergy. The insulin resistance then creates, even more, inflammation and the whole biological house burns down. Besides removing sugar and food sensitivities like gluten and dairy, we want to eat plenty of anti-inflammatory foods, including omega-3-rich foods like wild fish and flaxseeds.
# Improve gut health: Cancer often originates in your gut. Not just colon cancer, but with many cancers. We are currently studying about the gut microbiome and breast and prostate cancers. Beyond avoiding inflammatory foods, adding in probiotics, prebiotics and lots of phytonutrients, like curcumin (found in turmeric) and resveratrol (found in grapes), can reduce gut-based inflammation.
# Reduce toxic exposure: The average newborn has 287 chemicals in her umbilical cord blood, 217 of which are neurotoxic (poisonous to nerves or nerve cells). The chemicals these infants are exposed to include pesticides, phthalates, bisphenol A, flame retardants and heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic.
These chemicals have a broad range of negative effects on human biology; they damage the nervous system and increase the risk of cancer, and now they have been shown to contribute to obesity. Going clean and green means becoming more aware of how environmental toxins affect your health.
I encourage you to visit the Environmental Working Group to learn more.
# Change your thoughts: Change your thoughts to change your immune system. This bonus strategy is often overlooked, but it’s just as important as the other strategies above.
Science is now proving what we all knew intuitively – that how we live, the quality of our relationships, the food we eat and how we use our bodies determines much more than our genes ever will. There are numerous strategies to combat or prevent cancer, including getting sufficient sleep, controlling stress levels and exercising regularly.
The above guidelines of Dr. Hyman should be followed if one wishes to remain healthy.