Is Functional Medicine the Solution to a Broken Healthcare System?

In many ways, our medical system in America is broken. Referred to as conventional medicine, it is definitely effective for infections, trauma, medical emergencies, and acute diseases. However, because conventional treatment focuses on diagnosing the symptom and then prescribing a corresponding medication or recommending surgery, this approach fails millions of people each year, especially those with chronic diseases. Early in my career, like many other doctors, I spent less than 15 minutes with each patient. This leaves little time for understanding about the condition they have or why it is happening. This was incredibly discouraging, for me as the doctor. Even more so as a patient, especially if you are one of the many who have been shuffled from specialist to specialist and eventually treated with pain management, without any hope of a cure. I was reminded of this when I recently saw a 14-year-old girl who had seen 50 doctors in the past year. Our current system leaves doctors exhausted and unfulfilled in their professions and produces patients who are frustrated and at a dead-end health journey. The good news is that I am here to tell you that there is a better way. It’s called Integrative & Functional Medicine and it empowers the doctor and allows the patient to achieve optimal health. I am excited to share more about it with you.

Broken Healthcare System

A Better Approach to Medicine

In the last few decades, an increasing number of people discovered that integrative medicine offers care and treatment which improves their health and quality of life in ways that conventional medicine has not been able to. Integrative medicine brings the best of what the evidence teaches us in conventional medicine and combines it with the insight and wisdom of Eastern Medicine. It uses a holistic approach that takes into account your lifestyle, nutrition, and environment, not merely your symptoms. We treat the mind, body, and soul of the patient. The practitioner and patient partner to find a plan that promotes the patient’s overall health and wellness. Functional medicine pairs the integrative model with a rigorous scientific and systems-based approach that aims to understand the root cause of diseases. By using Western and Eastern medicine methods, functional medicine can provide a more comprehensive, personalized, and science-based care plan to promote the health of each patient.

To highlight the difference between conventional medicine and functional medicine, imagine you have a headache. In conventional medicine, after interviewing and possibly examining you to rule out life-threatening causes of the headache, the doctor most likely would prescribe some form of pain-relieving medicine to treat the pain. The actual cause of your headache would not be explored any further.

Alternatively, if you were a patient of a functional medicine practitioner at Temecula Center for Integrative Medicine, you would be asked a myriad of questions leading to an in-depth discussion about many areas, including your family history as well as your individual history. Some of the areas your doctor would focus on are systems of your body, toxic load, genetics, your individual environment, gut function, cardiovascular history, diet and nutrition, what environmental toxins you may have been exposed to, what drugs and supplements you are taking, and your menstrual history if you are female. We can then begin to formulate a hypothesis about the underlying cause. Could the cause be related to food or environmental sensitivities, or an imbalance of the microbiome (all the bacteria and other things that live and interact in the gut)? Could it result from stress from an overwhelming divorce or job? Perhaps the cause is systemic inflammation from environmental toxins triggering negative effects on the brain? After a thorough, yet focused, exam, treatment focused on the underlying cause would be targeted to prevent your headache from returning and to improve your overall health.

A Holistic, Systematic and Personalized Approach Toward a Healthier You

Functional Medicine

Functional medicine is a fundamentally different approach from the treatment you typically receive when seeing a conventional doctor. This is why it has gained popularity. With functional medicine, you will not be referred from specialist to specialist. You will not be prescribed unnecessary, potentially dangerous, and possibly addictive medication. You will not be treated as just another person with a similar disease or symptom.