Functional Medicine Meeting Patient's Needs
A Modern Medical Philosophy
Functional Medicine is the result of the search for a modern medical philosophy that meets the needs of patients. It does this by focusing on the patient themselves, rather than on the disease or illness. Instead of merely treating medical problems symptomatically, Functional Medicine treats the whole patient. We accomplish this by spending adequate time with the patient, listening to their medical histories, complaints and investigating influences from their lifestyle, environment and genetic components. The goal is to promote and maintain holistic health for each and every patient.
Why is Functional Medicine Used?
Functional Medicine is used in practice because there continues to be a major increase in patients afflicted with complex and/or chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, mental illness, and rheumatoid arthritis. Our current, traditional system of medicine is focused on the symptomatic treatment of acute conditions such as fractured bones or acutely high blood sugar. This is all done without addressing the underlying causes. The acute care approach to medicine does not take into account the tools and methodology needed to prevent or manage complex and/or chronic diseases.
Other Exposures and Influences
Genetic factors, lifestyle influences and environmental, possibly toxic exposures are typically not investigated, despite the huge influence that these factors have on the increasing appearance of complex illnesses in today's world. Unfortunately, there is a very large time lag between new research discoveries and the research being put into practice by most physicians. This time gap can be as large as 50 years.
As a result, most patients are not benefitting from the latest research and knowledge. Most doctors have not recieved the training necessary to evaluate complex diseases properly and and may be ignorant of the proper application of exercise and nutritional techniques to manage and prevent these diseases.
The Functional Medicine Difference
Functional medicine consists of the proper investigation and comprehension of the causes, prevention and therapy of complex diseases. The tenants of Functional Medicine include:
A patient-centered approach
Functional Medicine is focused on the patient, going beyond the simple treatment of symptoms byb promoting constant, continued, and complete health and wellness. This is accomplished by truly listening to the patient's complete story and personalising treatment to the patients unique, individual needs.
A science-based, holistic approach to care
Functional Medicine encourages doctors to look at the patients total history to find the true causes for disease. This means investigating the patient's lifestyle, unique genetics, and environmental factors. This also includes consideration of psychological, spiritual, and social components.
Functional Medicine is integrative by nature. It combines alternative and complimentary techniques with traditional Western Medicine. This means there is a focus on total nutrition, including diet and the use of supplements, and exercise, along with cutting edge diagnostics, like imaging and advanced laboratory testing. Treatments are also greatly expanded from conventional medicine, including the use of both pharmaceuticals and botanical medications, stress-management modalities, and detoxification regimens.
In Functional Medicine, complete wellness is promoted by examining and addressing the factors that control everyone's state of health and the causes of disease.
Assessment Using The Functional Medicine Approach
The Institute for Functional Medicine instructs practitioners in assessment of patients’ physiological imbalances. This is accomplished by taking a thorough history, detailed physical examination, and advanced laboratory testing. Many factors are investigated during this assessment, including:
1. Environmental influences: The quality and composition of the air, water, and food that the patient consumes, along with the amount of exercise and toxic exposures, all contribute to the patient’s overall health.
2. Mind-body factors: Psychological, social, and spiritual elements can all greatly affect physical health. Care consideration of these influences is necessary for a complete picture of one’s health as an individual, rather than simply a set of symptoms.
3. Genetic makeup: While it’s true that genetics can cause you to be predisposed to certain illnesses, your DNA is not static and immutable. The latest research shows that genetics can be influenced by your experiences and environment, presenting an ever-changing picture of your health.
Your Physiologic State
By carefully monitoring and investigation of these factors, a functional medicine physician is able to gain insight into your physiologic state. This, of course, involves the most fundamental cellular functions, like maintenance and repair. These fundamental processes relate to major body functions, like:
1. Removal of toxins and prevention of toxic buildup
2. Neurotransmitter and hormone regulation
3. Function of the immune system and its components
4. Inflammatory responses throughout the body
5. Digestive tract health, including the efficiency of nutrient absorption
6. Integrity of the body’s various structures
7. Complete spiritual and psychological balance
Both genetics and your environment have an impact on all of the above factors. Negative influences can lead to adverse symptoms, which in turn can cause disease if appropriate treatments are not undertaken.
Oftentimes, both physiologic and psychological imbalances can be effectively addressed, with some being completely resolved while others are greatly improved.
1. Prevention is of the utmost importance. Almost every complex, chronic disease has warning signs in the form of functional disturbances.
2. By changing the manner in which systems function, the functional medicine provider can often greatly improve the patient’s health. Careful analysis of the patient’s complete case is undertaken in order to find the best, most effective treatment for the patient’s unique situation.
3. Functional Medicine provides the clinician with more treatment options than traditional medicine alone. Therapeutic diets, detoxification, botanical drugs, exercise, and counseling can all be valuable treatment modalities.
4. The patient becomes intimately involved in their own health. In partnership with your functional medicine provider, you take ownership of your body and participate in decisions and lifestyle changes.
Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain & Autoimmune Disorders
Dr. Murfin’s approach to chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and autoimmune disorder treatment is based on applying the most complete research on the biochemical, nutritional, hormonal, neurologic, immunologic, and genetic components of these conditions. We employ advanced blood tests from both Canada and the US to search for genetic aberrations, chronic inflammation and infection, essential nutrient levels, neurotransmitter deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, problems with detoxification, heavy metal toxicity, impairments in mitochondrial energy availability, food sensitivities, dental problems, issues with the normal flora of the gut, and immune insufficiencies. We educate patients in methods to rebalance and strengthen these components, restoring their health.
Searching for Underlying Causes
Our primary focus, however, is to search for abnormal underlying biochemistry, rather than treatment. The metabolic shifts that come with chronic diseases follow a pattern. This pattern is composed of a variety of observable phenomena, including abnormal nutritional deficiencies, inflammation, various toxicities, abnormal blood flow to the brain, elevation of substance P levels, low serotonin levels, impaired energy production due to lowered mitochondrial membrane permeability, elevated bacterial and viral DNA loads, reduced numbers of mu-opioid receptors, greater amounts of shallow sleep and/or reduced amounts of deep sleep, dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis from chronic stress, impaired unmyelinated nerve structure found in the peripheral nerves, and increased rT3/fT3 ratios.
There is increased activity in the sympathetic nervous system, associated with stress, along with decreased activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, or the normal, calm state. This has been called the “Tired, but wired” effect by Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum. It is an unpleasant state that has many patients seeking relief so that they may feel calm, relax, and sleep appropriately.
It is certainly possible to find a resolution to chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and fibromyalgia. Nothing gives us greater pleasure than seeing our patients return to a state of health and getting their old lives back.
Lab tests are invaluable in detecting biochemical deficiencies or imbalances. They allow Dr. Murfin to determine the appropriate treatments to effectively address patient’s disorders or diseases.
The Necessity of Supplements
Hormones and supplements are never prescribed without cause. Each one is chosen to correct a deficiency found on a laboratory test or through other diagnostics.
Dr. Lynne Murfin has been trained as a physician in traditional methods, earning her medical degree in 1988. For over 22 years, Dr. Murfin worked in family practice, focusing on women's health. She makes use of both traditional Western Medicine and Functional Medicine facets in her management of patients.