Functional Medicine is a methodology that addresses the underlying cause of chronic disease rather than managing symptoms. The tools used in Functional Medicine and the collaborative philosophy allows practitioners to help patients identify how they became ill and any patterns involved. IFM educator Kristi Hughes, ND, IFMCP, talks about her personal introduction to Functional Medicine, the science it provided, and how the Functional Medicine approach has allowed her practice of medicine to be more efficient, effective, and, overall, more satisfying.
For me, finding Functional Medicine very early in my medical training and my medical career was a really wonderful marriage made in heaven, honestly, between my naturopathic background and the philosophy and approach from Functional Medicine.
Functional Medicine brought to the table for me these important, scientific evidence–based studies that could back and help me understand what some of those naturopathic principles were. What I loved about IFM and Functional Medicine from the very beginning was the ability to fill in the gaps so that I understood more than just the philosophy and the approach that we’re taking from a naturopathic medicine, or root-cause approach. Functional Medicine and IFM gave me the science that I was looking for.
What I loved about IFM and the work that was brought forward is it really gave me that platform to be able to do a much more efficient and effective job treating my patients. It gave me a new message to be able to teach to the level of healthcare providers and practitioners that I have the opportunity to work with. Honestly, I think one of the most important aspects that Functional Medicine brings, for many of us, is it brings this whole other element and level of self-care. With Functional Medicine, you know that you’re helping the patient. With Functional Medicine, you are getting to the root causes, you are digging deeper and deeper to understand, how did the patient get to this point in time? And you’re not managing symptoms, and you’re not just dealing with the diagnosis, and you’re not just moving from data points and information straight to that diagnosis and then an assumed treatment plan.
With Functional Medicine, you actually get to do what you went to school for. You go into medicine because you want to help people. You want people to get well. We have seen such a change in the philosophical approach to working with patients over the last 50 to 70 years, that Functional Medicine is bringing us in medicine back to where we started, which is how can we help our patients identify and figure out, how did they become ill, where did this pattern come from? And honestly, for practitioners, it’s giving them back the joy and the excitement of getting to sit with patients and make a real difference.