Here at the office of Leigh Ann Scott, M.D., we take a functional medicine approach to treating our patients. To understand exactly what that is, let’s first discuss conventional medicine.
Conventional medicine works well for things like trauma, infections such as bronchitis or strep throat, emergencies, acute diseases, and life-threatening illnesses. The conventional medicine practitioner, whether it be a GP, or a specialist, is going to mainly use antibiotics or drugs to deal with any sort of dysfunction or disease. This can be beneficial in many situations, but in many others, this doesn’t address the actual root cause of the problem and instead, just subdues the symptoms of what the underlying contributors may be.
Doctors apply specific, prescribed treatment such as drugs or surgery to treat an immediate problem or symptom. But a conventional medicine environment lacks the approach of preventing and treating complex, chronic conditions.
Additionally, a lot of physicians lack the time, or sometimes the needed specialist training, to address underlying causes of diseases, and therefore, don’t find and address root causes of the symptoms or apply preventive strategies to address them.
Conventional medicine certainly has its place, but many times it is lacking since general practitioners and/or specialists treat with the same basic tools, which are medications and surgery.
This approach just doesn’t work for everyone because so many people are living with chronic conditions, hormonal imbalances and autoimmune diseases that are greatly affecting their quality of life and health. They’re not getting the relief or answers that they need in order to feel good and create a road map for better health. These are just a few of the reasons why functional medicine is becoming such a growing field in the medical community and is considered by many to be the future model of medical care.
One of the biggest differences between the two types of models is that a functional medicine approach asks WHY this problem exists in the first place and then, what can be done to restore function, versus just treating the symptom.
Focus is more on listening to histories and interpreting interactions with genetic and lifestyle factors that can have effects on long term health and vitality for each person.
There is a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, nutrition, exercise, hormone replacement and sometimes medications. Through use of comprehensive lab testing, the detective-like work is done to locate underlying factors that may be causing adverse symptoms. Treatment often consists of prescribed drugs (if necessary), bioidentical hormone replacement, supplements, diets, and stress management techniques.
Functional medicine examines and treats the entire body’s systems together versus just focusing on the area experiencing the symptom. Additionally, the patient is provided with education and tools regarding their condition or disease so that they can take an active role in their treatment.
Functional medicine also recognizes that the body has an ability to heal and prevention for nearly all “aging” related diseases is possible. Patients often say that they feel like a different person and have a renewed outlook on life.
In April, 2015, there was a 28-week study completed by Dr. Daniel Kalish, in conjunction with the prestigious Mayo Clinic. It studied a specific functional medicine approach for improving stress, energy, fatigue, digestive issues, and quality of life in middle aged women exposed to high stress work environments. Over time, their bodies all had dysfunctional hormonal stress responses which led to inflammation, fatigue, immune issues, and poor digestive health. Results of the study were astonishing, with hormonal issues resolved in almost all of the women. 90% received a clear rate for infection/inflammation with many showing a decrease in fatigue and an increase in vitality.
This is a direct reflection of how well a functional medicine approach works as health is not just the absence of disease, but also a state of vitality!
For more information about our approach and philosophy of treatment through functional medicine approach, read more here.