iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Dr. M.J. Wegmann

GET UPDATES FROM Dr. M.J. Wegmann
 

Health Care: Understanding Functional Medicine

Posted: 11/13/09 03:20 PM ET

Medicine in the US falls under one of three scopes of practice.

1. Emergency medicine is a specialty of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of acute illnesses and injuries that require immediate medical attention. While not usually providing long-term or continuing care, emergency medicine physicians diagnose a wide array of pathology and undertake acute interventions to stabilize the patient. These professionals practice in hospital emergency departments, in the pre-hospital setting via emergency medical service and other locations where initial medical treatment of illness takes place. Just as clinicians operate by immediacy rules under large emergency systems, emergency practitioners aim to diagnose emergent conditions and stabilize the patient for definitive care. The US is ranked #1 in the world of emergency services. Stated another way, this means you wouldn't want to get in a car accident in a third world country.

2. Chronic care management encompasses the oversight and education activities conducted by professionals to help patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, lupus, multiple sclerosis and sleep apnea learn to understand their condition and live successfully with it. This term is equivalent to disease management (health) for chronic conditions. The work involves motivating patients to persist in necessary therapies and interventions and helping them to achieve an ongoing, reasonable quality of life.

3. Functional medicine is an alternative medicine that focuses on improving physiological function as a primary method of improving the health of patients with chronic disease. The Institute for Functional Medicine defines this approach as "personalized medicine that deals with primary prevention and underlying causes, instead of symptoms, for serious chronic disease".

Functional medicine practitioners provide chronic care management with the belief that:

"Diet, nutrition, and exposure to environmental toxins play central roles in functional medicine because they may predispose to illness, provoke symptoms, and modulate the activity of biochemical mediators through a complex and diverse set of mechanisms."

Wellness can be described as a state that combines health and happiness. Thus those factors that contribute to being healthy and happy also will be contributing to being well. Factors that contribute to health and happiness have long been recognized, at least since the time of Ancient Greeks. In order to achieve a state of wellness one has to work on its determinants. The determinants of wellness are: a better understanding of concepts like, health practices, spirituality, family, environment, work, money and security, health services, social support and leisure.

Millions of people in the US run out of function before they run out of life. Traditional medicine accepts that disease, pain, disability, surgery, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, and early death are normal and to be expected as we journey through life.

I have never, and will never, accept this as the truth. I hope you and your family feels the same.