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What is Functional Wellness?

Functional Wellness addresses the underlying causes of disease and health issues, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner as a therapeutic team. It is an evolution in the practice of healthcare that better addresses the needs of Americans. By shifting the traditional symptom-centered focus to a more whole wellness patient-centered approach, functional wellness addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms.

Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases such as diabetes, gastrointestinal issues, heart disease, obesity, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. 

The National Institute of Health has confirmed that the health and wellness of Americans has declined over 69% since the 1990’s.  Research states that 68% of Americans think that they are healthy and fit, but only 13% are actually considered fit. These statistics should be staggering to most people. Yet most people proceed blindly on their current journey of poor health until they are stricken with the next disease and blame it on something out of their control like family history and heredity or simply the stressors they experience.  It is time to open eyes and change lives!

The system of medicine practiced by most physicians is still oriented toward acute care,the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as appendicitis or a broken leg. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.  Conventional medical care does not even believe that once you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease, gastric reflux or autoimmune disease that there is anything you can do to reverse it. They believe it is just there, often indicating that it is hereditary. On the contrary, the functional wellness approach lays out a plan of nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle alterations that support the body, allow it to recover and function at a higher and optimal level. 

High cholesterol is a classic example. Most patients who test with rising cholesterol and triglyceride levels are told it is familial in nature and they will have to take statin drugs to lower the cholesterol levels or face cardiovascular disease. The functional wellness approach is to determine what is causing the rising cholesterol levels and implement a plan to reverse the causation. It is a simple approach really. There must be a reason the cholesterol levels are rising, which is usually nutrition, diet, activity and lifestyle. It is true that the same familial genetics may be susceptible to physiology that results in high cholesterol levels. It is also true that members of families tend to live the same lifestyles including the things they eat, activities they engage in and so on. It stands to reason that if you do they same things that your father with high cholesterol did, then you will eventually have the same high cholesterol levels. If it was totally genetic, then you would have been born with high levels. 

The acute-care approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic disease. In most cases, it does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or factors such as environmental exposures and the aspects of today’s lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise in chronic disease in modern America. Lifestyle is often the key factor in these chronic diseases. Conventional medicine will tend to simply make a diagnosis and apply a drug as treatment. 

Unfortunately, you cannot drug yourself out of health issues that you have lifestyled yourself into.

Functional wellness is a true combination of healthcare, nutrition, exercise, human physiology and scientific research. It combines the philosophy of balance and how to restore function from alternative medicine and the knowledge of biochemistry and physiology of western medicine with the latest scientific research about how our genetics, environment and lifestyle all interact with each other. Functional wellness focuses assessment and intervention at the root levels of metabolic imbalance and is an evolution in the practice of healthcare that addresses the needs of the 21st century by focusing on prevention and uncovering the underlying causes of serious chronic disease. Instead of just suppressing symptoms, it deals with the root causes of disease and is less concerned with making a diagnosis and more concerned with the underlying imbalances, which are the mechanisms of the disease process.

An example would be gastric reflux. Recently we have had 3 people complaining of reflux symptoms come to see us. All had been given acid reducer medications like Nexium by their doctor.  After evaluation, one was having the reflux due to her diet and altering the foods she was eating eliminated her problem within 2 weeks. The second client needed probiotics and nutrients along with an altered diet to reduce inflammation and heal the lining of his gastrointestinal system. The third person ate a proper diet but his test results showed he did not produce adequate stomach acids to digest the food he was eating.  Upon giving him Hydrochloric Acid supplements, his symptoms were eliminated immediately.  All 3 individuals had different causes for the same symptoms and required different approaches

As opposed to the traditional conventional medicine approach, Functional Wellness treats the patient and not just the disease. In addition, it provides a framework for the practice of medicine that uses all the tools of healing, both conventional and alternative, to address the whole person rather than an isolated set of symptoms.

The key to reversing the rapidly spreading epidemic of chronic disease is to address the underlying causes and solutions for chronic disease, which are primarily driven by the lifelong, daily interaction among an individual’s lifestyle choices, environment, and genetics. This approach allows us to practice proactive, predictive, personalized wellness care while empowering patients to take an active role in their own health.   

If you are experiencing health issues that are not improving, consider seeing us for a Functional Wellness evaluation. You may end up feeling like a BOSS!


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