Have you heard of functional medicine?

Many years ago I read an article on integrative medicine, the practice of emphasizing wellness of the whole person and combining allopathic medicine with complementary approaches to health. Intuitively I thought this made excellent sense and was encouraged that options were expanding in medicine, though at the time there were only a handful of large institutions across the country offering this possibility.

In pursuit of my own health and healing I have been blessed by many holistic alternative practitioners that address the individual as a whole, such as acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, and various forms of energy work.  These approaches help the body to restore itself to health, by balancing the body’s energy system or through a needed spinal alignment.  Working in cooperation with the body, they support the body’s own natural healing mechanisms.

A few years ago I heard about functional medicine. This is a systems approach to health and healing, going after the root cause of disease. A systems approach recognizes that all aspects of our body/minds are interrelated and connected and that no aspect functions in isolation. In functional medicine, the focus is on the creation of health rather than the elimination (or management) of disease. In the words of Dr. Mark Hyman, a simple way of looking at this approach is that it takes away the things that are hurting a person’s health, and adds the things that will create health.

In Dr. Hyman’s view there are 5 causes of disease:

            Toxins   *   Allergens   *   Stress   *   Microbes   *   Poor nutrition

And what creates health:

            Right food (for the individual) & Right (other) nutrients – such as light, air, relationships, sleep, etc.

Dr. Hyman suggests that as we create health, disease naturally leaves as a side effect of health.

For me, a functional medicine approach, while inclusive of alternative therapies, also goes beyond them, as one must be one’s own health advocate, making the changes in food choices and lifestyle that will lead to increased vitality and wellbeing. Taking this care and responsibility for making adjustments that our bodies are calling for is so empowering. We become our own agents of change, rather than simply being passive recipients of a treatment or prescription.

This shift away from focusing on managing chronic disease really puts the power back in the individual’s hands. Each of us is responsible for doing what we can to make the most of our life and our health.

A few of Dr. Hyman’s books are available at the store because I want everyone to have the support they need to create “whole-person” health. I find his writing to be very clear, enjoyable and accessible so I encourage you to check them out.

I love the idea of moving towards what creates health in all the different dimensions of our lives and this is what our book selection is all about!

Be well ~ Michelle