Unlike conventional medicine which focuses solely on disease pathology, functional medicine combines the latest medical research and state-of-the-art laboratory testing with a model of care that integrates each patient’s individual history, genetics, and lifestyle factors. Once all this lifestyle AND biochemical information is gathered, it is put into a timeline that enables us to see the progression of events that led to the current symptoms. We then use personalized nutrition and exercise plans and a tailored lifestyle programme to ‘reverse engineer’ the problem.
Anyone can benefit from this approach to healthcare, whether you have symptoms or want to see what is going on ‘behind-the-scenes’ before the symptoms arise.
Functional Medicine for Prevention of Illness rather than Cure
If you ‘do not have time to be ill’ because of a high degree of responsibility either as a business owner, entrepreneur, senior manager or as someone who cares for others in a pastoral role, then the lab tests can show you how healthy your gut is, how active your immune system is, how well your elimination and detoxification systems are working etc. If you are at risk of burnout due to prolonged high levels of stress, poor sleep, inadequate nutrition etc then it is only a matter of time before symptoms start to appear. The traffic light reporting in may of the tests shows what needs to be addressed and how urgently BEFORE you get ill. Prevention is always easier than ‘cure’ so an annual health check even when you feel fit and active is the best time to maintain your health.
Functional Medicine for Chronic Health Problems
In many ways, functional medicine is ideal for people who have long-term or chronic health problems that no-one seems to be able to ‘get to the bottom of’, especially when there are so many symptoms that you do not know where to begin! Test don’t Guess is our mantra here: stool, urine or saliva samples will give us insight into how your body is coping with the stress you are under, what is out of balance, what nutrients your body is lacking, how well your body is processing your food, inflammation, malabsoorbtion, dysbiosis etc all of which affect your immune system, energy levels, mood, fertility, ability to bounce back from adversity etc. Within your first month of working with us, we will have a clear pathway of what needs to be done to get you on the road to recovery.
Functional medicine allows us to see how you are reacting at a cellular level in each of your body systems and then rather than the blanket-medicine that is usually prescribed (sleeping tablets, omeprazole anti-depressants etc) we will be able to tailor your treatment according to your specific needs. Not only is this more likely to benefit you in your present condition, but because we aim to tackle the root cause of your health problems, it is more likely to have long-lasting benefits, particularly to people with long-term or chronic health problems when many symptoms will have arisen that may appear to be unconnected.
It takes a lot of ‘detective work’ between practitioner and client, which is why we work so closely together to ensure that we get the right tests done, explore and analyze the results together, agree a treatment plan and then have regular accountability and support calls. Lifestyle change is NOT EASY but deteriorating health problems are a lot harder to deal with. That is why I want to work with clients who are committed to putting in the effort today for a better tomorrow.
Here are just some of the chronic health problems that we use functional medicine for:-
The Functional Medicine Timeline
Using the data from lab tests, consultations, your health history and ongoing events, your Functional Medicine Timeline will be our active foundation for your treatment plan.
It will chart your major life events and map the development of your symptoms showing you how experiences, choices and behaviour have impacted your health today. Crucially, we will then also be able to see which of your biological systems are being most severely impacted and we can select highly specialized tests to gauge your hormonal levels in any of those systems as well as your microbiome (your gut brain!).
The Functional Medicine Matrix
Once we have put together your functional medicine timeline, we will arrange your symptoms according to different body ‘systems’ so that we can see which system is more dysfunctional than the others and also as a way of mapping the effect that one system has on another This is a time-consuming process that requires a lot of detective work, but the time investment at this stage can yield much better long-term results as we seek to understand the underlying process of disease in your particular circumstances, not just by making sweeping assumptions and expecting you and your body to improve.
This is probably the most detailed personal healthcare plan that you can get combining natural healthcare, modern scientific research, your lifestyle and personal and cultural preferences.
Benefits of Functional Medicine
- Many of the tests are non-invasive meaning you do not have to have blood drawn.
- Tests are simple to carry out as they mainly require a stool, urine or saliva sample. At 360 Health Consultancy we are able to offer blood tests if necessary, but since the Covid-19 pandemic began most people prefer to have a home-testing kit delivered to them and collected by our courier.
- Genomic testing can be offered to find out whether you have a genetic predisposition towards a chronic health problem even before symptoms arise. Having a genetic predisposition does NOT mean that you are destined to get it, so advance knowledge gives you the opportunity to make any diet or lifestyle changes before that gene is triggered and you get symptoms. The goal is to use the rapdily emerging science of nutrigenomics to stop that gene from expressing itself at all.
- Personalized healthcare plans. We do not follow a ‘one size fits all’ approach to healthcare even if two people have the same western diagnosis. This is about working with YOU as an individual with your own lifestyle demands, nutritional preferences etc. Everyone reacts differently to stressors in their lives. Some people will lose sleep when they are worried, others will develop digestive problems, others get angry and irritable. We focus on YOUR response and needs.
- We believe in helping your body to help itself first and foremost. Treatments are founded upon nutrition, exercise, meditation, emotional support, community connections, hobbies etc to improve quality of life as the foundation of good health. Your food is your medicine so nutraceuticals, herbal remedies etc are selected for you carefully with due consideration to any drug interactions with conventional medicine that you may need to take.
- Cultural sensitivity is central to functional medicine and the Institute of Functional Medicine also take this very seriously when we do our training with them. Your FM practitioner will be able to adapt nutrition plans to your religious, cultural or personal preferences.
- Continuity of Care and regular reviews ensure you are not left with a ‘lifelong prescription’ as in conventional medicine. We recognize that your needs change as your health and circumstances change. Once you give us a record of your history, you will not have to repeat it over and over again to each practitioner you see. At 360 Health Consultancy we offer you a healthcare platform that you can have access to your records to pass to any of your other health professionals.
How does a functional medicine treatment plan work?
Treatment plans from a functional medicine practitioner will be based around your physical well-being as well as your emotional and spiritual wellbeing. This means that typically you will have nutritional supplements or herbal remedies prescribed, there will always be dietary interventions to show you which foods are beneficial and which are likely to make your condition worse. This often includes the way food is prepared and the time of day it is consumed, not just what you eat. Your mental and emotional wellbeing will be addressed with mindfulness, meditation, relaxation and talking therapies. Spiritual wellbeing is also addressed in a non-denominational way because although this can be a sensitive area, it is also one that is central to many people’s lives either for the presence or absence of a belief system.
In summary functional medicine offers a very rounded approach to healthcare that can be classified as ‘lifestyle medicine’ but with the addition of 21st century scientific breakthroughs in laboratory testing, genomics and the scientific insights that they can offer.