What is Functional Medicine? How can it help me?
Cezar Petrea is a Qualified Personal Trainer, and has branched out to further his studies in the field of Functional Medicine. Cezar explains to MotivatePT about this growing craze in greater detail, and shares his views on its benefits over conventional medicine, and how it can possibly help you to fight any ailing illnesses or diseases.
Cezar Petrea – Qualified Personal Trainer & Functional Medicine Practitioner
I have been in the health and fitness industry for almost 7 years now. During this time I have been able to interact with a number of people, from various walks of life. As a qualified personal trainer, I have helped many of them to achieve their goals and to change their life. But, for some, all the things I tried to implement didn’t have achieve the success I had hoped.
To be able to help them further, I had to extend my knowledge and this is when I became interested in Functional Medicine. You might ask yourself what is Functional Medicine? To put it simply, Functional Medicine is an emerging discipline in which the principles of conventional western medicine are combined with those of natural or alternative medicine to deliver the best possible healing outcome.
I’m sure that on a number of occasions you have had food poisoning, or experienced bloating, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux (to name just a few) or many other symptoms that you could not explain. The symptoms can be vary from person to person and can affect each one of us individually. Functional Medicine acknowledges the fact that every person is unique (biochemical individuality), has different needs and that nutrition and lifestyle plays a crucial role in someone’s health. All the body’s systems, hormonal, digestive, detoxification, immune and heart, lung, nerve, muscle and bone, have to work in the right balance so one can achieve a great level of health. Problems can arise in any of these systems, and you can suspect that the others have some issues too. In conventional medicine, the body is compartmentalised and we have a doctor for each of the body parts: dermatologist for the skin, cardiologist for the heart, gastroenterologist for your digestive system, neurologist for the brain and nervous system, gynecologist for a female’s reproductive system, endocrinologist for your hormones, urologist for your kidney, bladder and urinary tract and so on. As you can see there are lots of specialists, but yet, there isn’t really a mechanic that explain how it all fits together.
That’s where Functional Medicine comes into play. In Functional Medicine we view the body as an “interconnected whole” and that, in order to correct a symptom in one part of your body, we may need to focus our attention on balancing a seemingly unrelated part, such as amending your digestion to resolve a skin issue. That’s why as a trained Functional Medicine practitioner, I am able to assist in such a wide variety of health challenges, including;
Sex and reproductive challenges
Aches and pains in your body
Symptoms involving your skin, hair and nails
Now, I want to specify the fact that I don’t consider conventional medicine to be of no use. Quite the contrary in fact, but by working hand in hand with a physician, someone is able to follow the journey with fewer obstacles. The hardest thing I have found, is to find a physician or doctor willing to accept and embrace the power of Functional Medicine.
Now I would like to highlight in only few points, why I think, in some regards, you can benefit from the power of Functional Medicine, where the Conventional Medicine cannot wholly help:
Functional Medicine is investigative, meaning that it treats symptoms by addressing the underlying cause of the problem, which leads to more profound and longer lasting results. Conventional Medicine can be superficial, masking or suppressing symptoms, but does not address underlying cause, which creates almost “patients for life”;
Functional Medicine is holistic, meaning that it treats the body as an interconnected whole, and recognises the importance of these connections in health and disease. Conventional Medicine can be more dualistic, as views the body as a collection of which has its own doctor (i.e. cardiologist, podiatrist, etc.);
Functional Medicine is safe, meaning treatments have mild or no side effects, and other unrelated complaints often improve spontaneously. Conventional Medicine is dangerous, as the treatments often have serious side effects and, sometimes severe, complications;
Functional Medicine is patient–centred, meaning it treats the patient and not the disease. Treatments are highly individualized based on patient needs. Conventional Medicine is disease–centred, treating the disease not the patient. Patients with the same disease get the same treatment, regardless of their idiosyncrasies;
Functional Medicine is participatory, meaning patient is respected, empowered, educated and encouraged to play active role in the process. Conventional Medicine is autocratic, and patient’s opinion is often discounted or ignored, little time is spent on education, and patient may be discouraged from playing active role;
Functional Medicine is integrative, as it combines the best of both modern and traditional medicines and emphasises importance of diet and lifestyle. Conventional Medicine is limited, as it relies almost exclusively on drugs and surgery, in spite of their risks and complications;
Functional Medicine is restorative, meaning the tests and treatments are designed to promote optimal function, prevent and reverse disease, and improve quality of life. Conventional Medicine is palliative, as its tests and treatments are designed to prevent death and manage serious disease, without dealing with the underlying cause;
Functional Medicine is preventive, guided by ancient Chinese saying, “The superb physician treats disease before it occurs”. Conventional Medicine is reactive, as it is focused on managing the disease once occurred;
Functional Medicine is evidence-based, meaning is based on the latest research from peer-reviewed medical journals, and uncorrupted by corporate and political interests. Conventional medicine, I feel, is profit-driven, and based on outdated research that can be heavily influenced by profit-driven pharmaceutical and insurance companies.
Now, after reading all this powerful stuff you might ask yourself how Functional Medicine can help you.
As Functional Medicine practitioners we consider ourselves to be “health detectives”. As I said, we are focusing on identifying the particular symptom or condition.
The usual remedies we seek for symptoms, illnesses, disease, or whatever you choose to call your health challenges, tend to be a combination of getting rid of something that it shouldn’t be in your body (parasites, damaging foods, bacterial or fungal overgrowth, toxins, radiation, stress) i.e. too much of the bad stuff and; the special need for something that should be in your body (nutrients, hormones, friendly bacteria, movement, rest, rhythm, sunlight, love) not enough of the good stuff.
Health rejuvenation can only happen if you find out what bad stuff you need to avoid, and get rid, and what good stuff you need to put back, and add. Through a wide range of variety tools, including modern laboratory techniques (hair, blood, urine, stool and saliva testing), food diaries, simple home measurements, questionnaires and a medical history, we are able to highlight the root cause.
After, we use a series of nutritional therapies, herbal medicine, supplements, stress management techniques, exercise/movement, and detoxification to rejuvenate weakened body systems.
Deep healing and lasting health are only possible when root cause is addressed. Many chronic illnesses may be prevented or even reversed by understanding core body systems, how they affect each other, and how their function can be restored.