I just completed five very dense days of Applied Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice, through the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM).
I stuffed my brain during all-day classes, from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. At least this was my view during the breaks –>
Search for underlying causes
We are not satisfied with separating your body into parts, and treating (or masking) random symptoms. We want to find out why your symptoms occur, learn how they are connected, and discover the causes.
This is not always the same as “Integrative,” “Holistic,” or “Alternative” medicine. Those approaches may still focus, on treating symptoms, and may view your body as parts instead of complex systems. Functional Medicine:
- Seeks underlying causes, connections, and patterns.
- Uses a Systems Biology approach.
- Reveals diseases “waiting to happen” before they erupt.
- Uses the most effective and safe tools available.
Functional Medicine tree model
Because we think in terms of systems, patterns, and root causes, we use different visual models. We use them to organize our thoughts and treatment plans, and also as visual aids to help you understand the systems approach. In this tree model, the roots are the aspects of your lifestyle that you can change:
Your story: antecedents, triggers, mediators
Your intake is complex because we want to know your story. We find out if there were events (antecedents) that set the stage for your health problem to occur. This can include genetics; however, genes cause illness in only 10-30% of cases. Other examples of antecedents include trauma, toxins, abuse, intestinal permeability, nutrient insufficiencies, drug use, and infections. Any of these can set the stage, or the terrain, for health problems.
We also identify the triggers in your story. Triggers are specific events in the timeline of your story that caused an illness to erupt. Triggers can be a highly stressful event, like a hospitalization, accident, surgery, exposure to pathogenic microbes, or a death. When we look back through your story together, we can put the antecedents (things that set the stage) together with the triggers, to make sense of when and why your illness or problem occurred.
We also check for mediators. These are chronic situations that can mediate or alter your current health. Examples are chronic stress, long-term sleep deprivation, ongoing exposure to mold, or living with violence.
When was the last time you felt well?
This is a great question we Functional medicine practitioners love to ask. People usually arrive with many diagnoses and symptoms. Often they are tired of seeing separate doctors for each symptom.
When we examine your story, we may find out that you haven’t felt really well in many years, often back to teenage years. For some people, they don’t have memories of ever feeling well.
Functional Medicine with Laura Paris
Those of us trained in Chinese AND Western Medicine have a bit of an advantage, because we were taught through a “functional” or “systems and patterns” approach from the get-go. Good Chinese Medicine IS Functional Medicine. We look for underlying causes, based on your story and your biological systems that have gone awry, while helping you with symptoms.
My initial appointment starts with getting your base lifestyle in order. These are the things you can change, the roots in the tree model above (Sleep, Movement, Nutrition, Stress, and Relationships). I also address immediate symptom relief. Then we dive into choosing labs to give us more information to address underlying causes. These causes can include inflammation, infections, toxins, adrenal and other hormone disorders, problems with blood sugar, metabolism, and your ability to detoxify.
After your initial appointment, you get a customized and doable HEALTH PLAN. We modify your HEALTH PLAN as things change, and as we get more information.
Best of all, you can have Functional Medicine appointments with me from wherever you live, online with video or phone!