Who are Functional Medicine Practitioners?
Fundamentally, functional medicine practitioners are interested in getting to the root or underlying cause of disease. They pursue a health-oriented, patient-centered approach that recognizes and appreciates the biochemical differences endemic to each individual. A functional medicine practitioner also takes a holistic approach, which is to say - considers all possible factors including external impacts and emotional triggers in addition to simply biological. This can include gut health, emotional/mental health, spiritual practices, exercise, supplements, sleep and rest, relationships and nutrition as well as potential detox from harmful additives or chemicals derived from food, drink or products.
Functional medicine practitioners also work to prevent issues from occurring, rather than just treating them once they do. A functional medicine practitioner knows that one condition can have many causes and provides much more ongoing patient support through the process of identifying the root cause.
For example, Sandra Stryker, who founded Restore Holistic Health, holds a Master in Physical Therapy (and other certifications) and was drawn to functional medicine after experiencing her own chronic health issues that were not being successfully addressed by conventional medicine.
Conversely, a practitioner of conventional medicine is more likely to be disease oriented and physician centered. Treatments are much less likely to be customized and a diagnosis is based on symptoms when they lead to a clear answer. When symptoms don't lead to easily identifiable diagnoses, symptoms are simply treated and a patient may be told it's not real, it's due to age, or other dismissive statements. However, early detection of disease is also encouraged through regular checkups such as colonoscopies and mammograms, for example.
Conventional medicine practitioners generally specialize in one area, and therefore can be less likely to take into account all factors that could be contributing to a health issue.