Functional Medicine: What Patients Can Expect
Functional medicine offers solutions for patients with chronic illness. It enables patients with chronic health issues to identify the root causes of multiple symptoms and address them directly to achieve optimal wellness. What is the process like for the patient?
A functional medicine practitioner seeks to understand the patient and create a partnership, so the initial visit centers on talking with the patient to thoroughly understand the situation.
Functional medicine is built on specific testing protocols so this is an important starting point for formulating a treatment plan. Conventional blood panels are used, as well as state of the art, cutting edge technology in salvia and urine analysis. The typical panel used will access the neuroendocrine, gastrointestinal and detoxification system. These will address 75% of chronic illness.
For many patients, a genetic profile is also useful. This may be delayed until the three month mark after the patient is seeing some progress (to lighten up the testing process at first).
In many situations, to gather comprehensive data with blood testing can be a hassle. For example, in cases of infertility, it’s ideal to track seven different hormones with different samples over the course of the cycle. It would not be convenient for someone to come in to get this many blood draws (and cost-prohibitive). With a home saliva kit, the person gets multiple test tubes in which they easily collect the samples (which they then can send in via express delivery). Similarly, cortisol levels change throughout the day naturally and the ideal protocol is to take four samples during the day which can be done easily with in-home test kits.
Here is a basic outline of the patient process in functional medicine treatment:
1. The initial consultation: history review, discussion of concerns, and testing recommendations. The patient then completes the recommended tests (just now offered in China, thanks to a partnership with experienced U.S. labs).
2. After getting results from the tests, the patient and doctor meet to discuss and start the treatment protocol. The protocol is divided into 3 phases. Phase 1 addresses the neuroendrocrine system. Phase two deals with the gastrointestinal system. And finally, phase three addresses detoxification. All treatment recommendations are specific to the patients’ unique needs. The treatment method is whole food supplements (medicinal food) which will address where the body has a unique need. Fortunately, these supplements are now available for the first time for import to China. Phase 1, 2 and 3 are all at one month intervals.
3. During the course of treatment, coaching and education help the patient to build long-term wellness through lifestyle.
4. At the end of the 3 months when all 3 phases of care have been addressed, the patient will get a test kit to assess progress. This gives an objective before and after to determine if care is complete or further investigation is necessary.
For patients who might have gotten little relief for their symptoms via “traditional” treatment methods (and sometimes being told that perhaps symptoms are psychosomatic), functional medicine may be a great alternative. The patient usually begins feeling better fairly quickly during treatment. The treatment is a partnership, so the doctor and patient work together to adjust and make sure all the underlying problems are addressed. As the patient starts to see positive progress, she or he can more easily implement important lifestyle changes that support a healthy life.
In the end, naturopathic medicine is not about simply eliminating disease. It is about ensuring the optimal functioning of the body for vitality. Feel free to contact us to make a consultation appointment with Andrea to find out how naturopathic medicine can help. Andrea offers consultations in our Century Park Clinic – Pudong. Andrea specializes in holistic healing protocols that address female hormone imbalances.