What Is Functional Medicine?


Functional Medicine doctors and practitioners address the underlying root cause of imbalance using a systems-based approach that seeks to understand the origins of chronic disease so that meaningful treatment methods can be applied in order to initiate a thorough response to healing. At the London Centre for Functional Medicine, our  London functional medicine practitioners and patients work together to bring the patient back to health while informing the patient about the core principles of maintaining health and educating them about preventing future relapses.

With chronic health conditions severely on the rise, and the conventional acute healthcare model failing to manage this crisis, functional medicine is perfectly poised to bring in a new model of health care. Functional medicine can be seen as a model that takes the best of integrative medicine and traditional medicine that delivers a personalized tailored approach to individuals with chronic health conditions.

Functional medicine employs the latest clinical research that is based on understanding health conditions and seeks to restore the function and pathways of body systems to restore health. One of the main ways this is done is through using diet and lifestyle interventions as well as looking at genetics and environmental factors, all of which can have a profound effect on the body.


As much as this article is highlighting the difference between the two healthcare systems, it shouldn’t be be seen as them versus us tribalism that happens today in healthcare. For all its limitations for lifestyle diseases, conventional/western medicine serves as an extremely important intervention for many people. There are many medications that are life-saving and are free for many. Some of the advancements in brain and heart surgery over the past 10 years have been mind-blowing. However, the limitations for conventional medicine are for the most part within the management of lifestyle and chronic disease which are generally associated with diet & lifestyle. It’s difficult for anyone to argue that conventional healthcare has needed to change and evolve for many years. Functional medicine is the perfect conduit to a progressive new form of healthcare that is the future of healthcare for chronic disease and which has shown time after time radical improvements with its patients using this model. It also acts as the perfect conduit to help out the overburdened NHS and give some support to the busy doctors and nurses who are overworked under the current climate. For their inherent differences. this is about getting the patient better and the more collaboration between the different care providers that potentially facilitate a quicker recovery and a better patient outcome,  this is what really matters.

Conventional Medicine V Functional Medicine

Functional medicine directly contrasts conventional medicine, which examines the body in isolated body systems. When specialists examine isolated systems, the connection to other systems are completely missed. The problem with this approach is that our body is inherently connected and a functional medicine approach is able to make connection between all symptoms, which initially can seem unrelated. Functional Medicine practitioners are trained to look for these nuances and understand the synergistic relationships that are occurring.

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Perhaps the most important difference between functional medicine and conventional healthcare is the understanding that diseases and chronic symptoms can be inherently reversed, rather than simply managed. Functional medicine practitioners take a ‘root cause’ approach to chronic disease, by understanding how diet, environment and lifestyle factors interact with genetics which causes the imbalance. Finding out “the why” about person’s disease can help bring about resolution, or greatly stop the progression.

Another important aspect of functional medicine is that it considers the very environment around you. The people, places, and things we are surrounded by on the daily basis have a significant impact on our health.

In functional medicine, we use the analogy of a tree to convey our approach to healthcare and how it differs from the norm. The branches are the signs and symptoms of a health condition. The roots are the causes of health conditions and include the foundations of health such as nutrition, lifestyle and environment. Conventional medicine treats the leaves (symptoms or condition), whereas functional medicine treats the roots.

Another important aspect of functional medicine is the consideration of the environment we live in. Conventional medicine rarely, if at all, looks into the environment we bathe. The people, places, and things we surrounded by can have a significant impact on our health. This can include the skincare products we use to the types of cookware, and the WiFi system we use in our home environment. In many instances, it’s difficult to avoid exposure, however, it’s about empowerment and knowledge and mitigating risk to exposure. 

Functional Medicine Principles

Patient-centred approach: Beginning with a detailed and personalized history, the patient is welcomed into the process of exploring their story and looking at the root cause of their imbalnance. Practitoner and patient work together to determine achievable health goals and design an appropriate therapeutic approach.

Upstream Signal Modulation: Interventions are sought to influence biochemical pathways “upstream” and prevent the overproduction of damaging end products, rather than blocking the effects of those end products.

Understanding the Patient in Context: Functional Medicine doctors and practitioners use a structured process to uncover the significant life events and history of each patient to gain a better understanding of who they are as an individual.

Gene-Environment Interaction: Functional Medicine is based on understanding the metabolic processes of each individual. By knowing how genes and the environment interact, it is possible to design targeted interventions that correct the specific issues that lead to inflammation and oxidation, which are at the root of many diseases.

Multimodal Treatment Plans: using a broad range of interventions to achieve optimal health including nutrition, exercise, stress management; sleep, rest, phytonutrient and pharmaceutical supplementation; and various other restorative therapies.

Systems based Approach: Rather than an organ systems-based approach, Functional Medicine addresses core physiological processes that = include assimilation of nutrients, cellular defence, structural integrity, cellular communication and transport mechanisms, energy production, and biotransformation.

london center for functional medicine

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