Are you tired of doctors telling you they don’t know how to treat you? Do you have a chronic condition that you just can’t shake? More than 80% of all senior citizens are dealing with an ongoing health issue, despite steady advances in health care.
If you’ve got a severe health problem and you’re wondering what to do next, you might want to check out the functional health approach. We’ll explain what that means and help you get started with a functional specialist near you.
What Is Functional Medicine?
To define functional medicine, we have to define traditional medicine. Doctors tend to prescribe medications based on your symptoms, which seems pretty normal.
If you’ve got problems with inflammation, for example, you’ll probably be prescribed medication and asked to come back in three months.
Functional medicine, on the other hand, wants to take a deeper look at why you’re experiencing that inflammation. Is it your diet? Do you get enough sleep? What is the root cause of your pain and discomfort?
The great thing about functional medicine is that it has a basis in science. Doctors still run tests, just more of them. They’ll analyze the bacteria in your saliva, test your urine, and have you come in for several more tests.
Functional medicine takes a holistic approach to your health. While these doctors may prescribe medications, they’re probably going to prescribe fewer.
Can I Stop Taking My Medicine?
In general, it’s a good idea to keep taking your medications as prescribed. When you visit with a functional medicine doctor for the first time, bring a list of your medications.
You might also want to bring a food diary and a sleep journal. Both are easy to make: just keep track of what you eat and how you sleep for the week leading up to your visit.
Taking a functional approach to your health may mean that you stay on the same medications, just change your diet. If you have a chronic condition, however, dietary changes might not be enough.
If you’ve got long-term inflammation, for example, you could have arthritis. You could also have cancer, fibromyalgia, or diabetes.
A functional medicine doctor might ask you to remove certain foods from your diet for a week or two. They want to see whether your inflammation improves before they start changing up your medications.
If you’re interested in booking an appointment, Bliss Medicine can help you get started with a functional medicine doctor in the greater Chicago area.
Help! I Have Depression!
Surprisingly, depression can have dietary roots. Exercising, eating well, and drinking enough water can go a long way toward improving your mental health.
Water helps your kidneys process toxins and can help you establish healthy gut bacteria. If you don’t drink a lot of water, make sure to mention that to your functional specialist.
Even if you don’t like to exercise, you may have to start with some low-impact activity. If you can’t walk like you used to, you can always sit on a chair and stretch out. Take about 15 minutes every day and stretch: you’ll probably feel a lot better in a week or so.
The thing that separates functional medicine from regular medicine is the search for a cause. Instead of just medicating symptoms, functional specialist try to unearth the root cause of your illness.
Certain vitamins can help you defeat depression. You might have a vitamin B-12, folic acid, or vitamin D deficiency. You can also take certain herbs like St. John’s Wort and Valerian to help with anxiety and sleep.
While one cup of peppermint tea won’t cure your depression, taking your diet into account just might. Talk to your doctor about creative approaches toward improving your depression.
Should I Give up My Primary Care Physician?
If you’re happy with the care you’re receiving from your family doctor, there’s no need to switch to a functional health specialist. In fact, the two doctors can work together to improve your chronic conditions.
Total honesty is probably the most important thing to remember when it comes to your health. It might be a little bit embarrassing, but tell your functional medicine doctor absolutely everything about your health and diet.
There are some drugs that can cause chronic health problems. If you have a drug addiction, you should definitely tell your doctor. A functional specialist will work to treat the underlying causes of your medical issues and may be able to help you go to rehab.
Your primary care physician might not be aware that they’re over-prescribing your medication. If you have severe constipation, insomnia, or regular bouts of diarrhea, it’s probably time to re-think some of those prescriptions.
In general, you should try to keep your family doctor. They’ve probably known you for years and may be able to give your functional specialist the inside scoop. The more people who can diagnose and heal your medical problems, the better.
The only time you should give up your PCP is if you’re uncomfortable with them. If you feel like they’re not listening to you, just stick with your functional medicines doctor.
Find a Functional Health Specialist
So what should you look for in a functional health specialist? First, you’re looking for a doctor with several years of experience. Nothing against younger practitioners, but you want to find someone who’s seen hundreds of patients.
You’re also looking for someone who makes you feel comfortable. You might have to discuss personal topics such as your diet and exercise routines, but if you have the right doctor you’ll be more inclined to open up.
Functional health doctors want to help you evolve your entire lifestyle, which can be a bit challenging. Even if vitamins and exercise aren’t really your thing, you can still benefit from putting a little more motion into your life.
We’ve got a ton of great lifestyle hacks and pro tips on everything from exercise to senior care. Check out our healthy living archives and see what small changes you can make today!