If you want to talk about the benefits of functional medicine, just look at the irony of American healthcare.
America is a land of progress and abundance – we think big, act big, and get big results. The United States has the largest GDP. The average annual salary is among the top 10 highest of any nation in the world. Moreover, it consistently ranks among the top global technological innovators.
So with all of these advantages, why are Americans so deeply unhealthy?
American healthcare isn’t working for everyone
The statistics are sobering.
- A study published by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council reported that the United States has the highest mortality rate for pregnant mothers of any developed nation.
- Men in the U.S. have the lowest life expectancy and women in the U.S. have the second-lowest life expectancy.
- America has the third-highest number of nutritional deficiency-related deaths of all developed countries.
America’s cutting-edge “sick care”
Wait a minute, doesn’t America have the best healthcare in the world?
Yes and no.
Yes, we have a great success rate in treating urgent care patients. If you suffer a major injury, standard medical care can provide fast and effective emergency surgical intervention.
If we want to get healthy and stay healthy, we have to change our wellness strategies.
The real benefit of functional medicine is health-focused care
Functional medicine includes elements of integrative medicine. It takes a dramatically different approach to health and wellness. In fact, functional medicine is all about health and wellness.
Here are three major benefits of functional medicine over the standard American healthcare model.
1. Functional medicine creates a customized health plan
You’re a unique individual. Shouldn’t your health plan be tailored to your needs?
Standard American medical care focuses on symptom management – identifying an established set of symptoms and using pharmaceutical interventions to minimize them. This can yield positive results if you need urgent care, but it fails for long term health goals.
Because this approach doesn’t take into account your unique circumstance, history, and lifestyle. Functional medicine specialists take a comprehensive view of patient health. They recognize that you need a personalized solution to your medical concerns.
2. Functional medicine creates patient-doctor partnerships
Shouldn’t you have input into your care? It’s your body, after all!
Yet, all too often in standard medicine, you aren’t given a voice. In standard care, too often you’re expected to shut up and take whatever drug you’re given.
Moreover, it is common for you to spend an hour or more waiting for a 10-minute medical consultation. According to a report published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, patient-clinician discourse is woefully inadequate in the U.S. In the study sample, a patient had on average only 11 seconds to explain the reason for the visit before the doctor interrupted.
Functional medicine puts patient-clinician relationships first. Doctors conduct in-depth consultations and take extensive personal histories. This usually includes a one-hour in-depth visit the first time.
This strategy allows the physician to gather the fine details needed to see the nuance of your health situation. Moreover, it builds trust between you and your doctor.
3. Functional medicine diagnoses and treats core disorders rather than minimizes symptoms
Getting healthy requires knowing what is making you sick.
When you present to your doctor with high blood pressure, fatigue, and high cholesterol, standard medical intervention will give you a pill or two and a quick speech about exercise or diet.
However, popping a pill doesn’t fix the problem, and lifestyle changes require support and guidance. A quick speech can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unprepared.
If you want to get healthy again, you have to look at what lifestyle circumstances and environmental challenges are making you sick. Functional medicine helps you identify what you need to change in order to get healthy. Then your doctor operates as your coach. They will create a personalized plan that fits your schedule and requirements to help you become the healthiest version of yourself. And, they’ll provide the follow-up check-ins you need.
Functional medicine can help you resolve health issues that standard medicine only treats through drug-assisted symptom reduction.
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