We’ve grown accustomed to conventional medicine. Spending a few minutes with a doctor and leaving with a script for a prescription, hoping it will alleviate a symptom. Or, perhaps leaving the office having heard that everything looks normal and you’re healthy! Only to be driving home with the nagging question, “If I’m healthy, why do I feel so lousy?”
We’ve become a little numb, a little misguided in what we now accept as normal and healthy. Headaches, poor sleep, poor mood, and/or low energy are just a few of the common symptoms that often get ignored, or “managed” with medication.
This is where functional differs from conventional.
Symptoms are signals that the body has a malfunction somewhere. Often, by the time the symptom appears the malfunction has been going on for some time and is a much larger problem, on a much deeper level.
Functional Medicine isn’t a widely known term. Many people don’t understand what it is, or how it differs from conventional or traditional medicine.
What makes us different? Here are the top 7 reasons.
- Functional Health Coaches address underlying, root causes.
It looks at the big picture. It’s not about treating the visible symptoms; it’s about going deeper and finding the contributors that lead to and cause symptoms.
Conventional practitioners often don’t have the training, time or desire to work in this way. In many cases doctors will focus on suppressing a symptom – such as inflammation, or pain, instead of going deeper to find the cause of the inflammation. The root cause of someone’s migraines may be a digestive dysfunction. Only treating the symptom will never lead to discovering what the contributors are or the opportunity to truly heal.
- Functional Health Coaches customize health care to the individual not the disease.
Take two people with similar health complaints and similar lab test results. Mainstream medicine will typically label their disease and then treat them with whatever the protocol is for that disease. In the functional approach the individual person is greatly taken into account. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for the other. Even if they have been diagnosed with the same disease, the underlying causes or malfunctions are likely very different.
- Functional Health Coaches use more in depth lab testing.
Let’s take a thyroid test as an example. If your test comes back that you are low on thyroid hormone (hypothyroid), mainstream medicine will prescribe you thyroid hormone.
With that same test result a functional practitioner wants to know why.
- Is this a secondary condition being caused by another system malfunctioning?
- Is the client lacking certain nutrients needed to produce thyroid hormone?
- Are the pathways the hormone is made in being blocked or diverted?
They will ask questions and dig deeper. Often utilizing testing to identify hidden causes that would otherwise take years to discover or possible go undetected, and therefore untreated.
Another good example of this is testosterone. You can’t escape the “low T” ads on television and radio these days. Are they treating the symptom or are they looking for the cause of low testosterone and working to restore function? All of the ads I’ve heard focus on medications to treat the symptoms. The functional approach would be to work to restore the balance and function so the body can once again function normally.
- Functional Health Coaches interpret lab results differently.
On a lab with a “normal” range of 200-400 what number in there is truly normal for you? Maybe you’re at 250 and you feel awful. Mainstream medicine says you are ok. You are in “normal” range.
Functional practitioners look for optimal ranges. Not just for the general population but for the specific individual. It’s also about looking for clues in each test. Clues that may point to a malfunction elsewhere as well.
- Functional Health Coaches spend more time with their clients.
When was the last time that you felt a health care professional really listened to you? More than a simple history and quick exam are needed for a functional approach. Educating clients so they truly understand and can take control of their own health is a large part of functional health coaching. Course corrections and follow ups allow Coaches to support clients all the way to successful outcomes!
- Functional Health Coaches address the whole person, naturally.
Our health is the sum of everything in our lives: Diet; stress; exercise; rest; and environment. These all play a part in our health. People often focus on making big changes in one specific area of their lives. This may lead to some short term success but in the long run the others areas, if left unchanged will bring you right back where you started. Just as the different systems of the body are intertwined and dependent on each other, so are the various other areas of our lives.
It is because of #’s 1-6 that Functional Health Coaches see a high rate of success among their clients. By addressing all aspects of a client’s health and lifestyle, utilizing functional lab work to root out hidden causes and educating and supporting the client, they learn a model of self care that they can use for the rest of their lives.