Why Don't ALL Doctors Practice Functional Medicine?

Medication Bottle pills spilling out

Its fascinating to look back how our medical system came to be as it currently stands. I would like to briefly review how our system of medical care evolved and why we think there is a better way to address your medical care...

In what has now become the standard medical approach, traditional doctors will evaluate you for a given complaint or finding - working hard to put your complaints/symptoms into a box (that we call a "diagnosis"), and from there render a solution aimed at treating your symptoms. If they can do this - great! ... they have now identified medications to prescribe, or consultants to refer you (of course, those consultants themselves are working to find a medication to treat in most cases).

This model of medical treatment grew to dominance after it was discovered that a chemical (later called penicillin - the first antibiotic) could actually alter the course of an illness (now known to be  infectious disease) that previously was typically terminal. Once it became apparent that this treatment was possible, the search was on for the next chemical, and the next !!  - the pharmaceutical industry was born.

Obviously it was VERY impressive to behold how your loved one would no longer (typically) die when an infection was upon them (well, at least some of them). Honestly, this was a great discovery, and was very much needed. Antibiotics are, of course, at times very much needed today as well (even though we are also creating multiple levels of problems due to overuse). 

My concerns stem from the fact that this general thought process ... ie of working hard to find the next great drug that will address a given symptom or specific issue (such as blood pressure, diabetes, etc) has evolved to became the dominant method of thinking about and rendering medical care.

Thus was born the current basic paradigm in modern medicine ...  work to identify a disease that fits a given symptom list ... identify the drug/medication that is designed to address that disease (or symptom) ... or refer/consult if a solution can't be identified. We now call that "a pill for every ill".

What's missing is the focus on the drivers of symptom production, the fundamental status of the underlying physiology and what is causing that underlying physiology to have become unbalanced (and thus produce symptoms). 

Many resources are focused on the "pill for every ill" methodology - both by the pharmceutical industry, as well as the government (remember that the government is the primary driver on where medical dollars are spent) and indeed the majority of the medical-industrial complex. 

 

Over time, I honestly feel we have lost our way as physicians. 

 

Functional Medicine was born out of a collective frustration by many of us that this singular approach to medical care was woefully inadequate - and the data continue to support this thought.

Chronic disease continues to be a major issue - I don't have to cite statistics concerning the continuing onslaught of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, cancers, dementia, memory issues and on and on. 

WHERE ARE the pills that solve these problems? What else does the traditional medical system have to offer in regard to these ongoing vexing problems if not looking for more medications?

In a word - not much - and THAT is the primary reason I (and many many others) have moved to exploring the Functional Medicine approach to medical care. 

 

My next post will explore the "why and how" when practicing medicine using Functional Medicine principles. Putting a method to the "madness" (as it were) of the complex interplay of tremendously complicated underlying physiology that in the aggregate defines your degree of health and wellness. 

 

FoundationMED is a medical practice based in Raleigh, NC where functional medicine principles are our foundational principles. Board Certified trained physicians with extensive added functional medicine training (IFM, A4M, Bredesen Protocol, others), along with Certified Integrative Health Coaches form the core of a powerful approach to helping our patients "assess and address" the drivers of disturbed or imbalanced underlying physiology.

Author
Michael Citron, MD Michael Citron, MD, is a functional medicine specialist practicing at FoundationMED, located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Dr. Citron has been practicing medicine for over 30 years and is committed to helping patients address the underlying conditions that impact their health. Dr. Citron began to explore how physicians might do better at preventing the need for visits to the emergency room and discovered functional medicine. Now, he focuses his practice on identifying and then eliminating or minimizing the root causes that eventually lead to health problems and the need for reactive health care.

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