Functional Medicine asks how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual.
The Functional Medicine Approach:
Functional Medicine is a systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of many contributing to an individual’s illness.
A diagnosis can be the result of more than one cause. For example, depression can be caused by many different factors, including inflammation. Likewise, a cause such as inflammation may lead to a number of different diagnoses, including depression. 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.
The Functional Medicine Model
The Functional Medicine model evolved from the insights and perspectives of a small group of influential thought leaders who realized the importance of an individualized approach to disease causes based on the evolving research in nutritional science, genomics, and epigenetics. These thought leaders found ways to apply these new advances in the clinic to address root causes using low-risk interventions that modify molecular and cellular systems to reverse these drivers of disease.
These Functional Medicine thought leaders were able to apply new research in a way that often brought dramatic results to patients who had previously received unsuccessful treatments. Part of this advance was a return to scientific principles of finding new ways to look for unifying factors at the cellular and systems levels that underlie organism-wide problems.
As others became interested in learning Functional Medicine,it became necessary to systematize the approach so that it could be taught to a wider group of practitioners of differing backgrounds. The IFM approach to applying Functional Medicine is mainly practiced through a set of tools that formalizes both history-taking and mapping symptoms to the categories of root processes that underlie illness. Three of these tools are the Functional Medicine Matrix, Timeline, and the GOTOIT framework.