Dr Debbie Smith, Plettenberg bay, Garden route, Bryanston

Functional Medicine

AFMCP functional medicine graduate Cape Town 2012

Treating the root cause

Functional medicine is personalised medicine. The purpose is to find out why you have certain symptoms. The second part of this is maintaining health and preventing disease.

Functional medicine looks at:
– Biochemical individuality of the patient
– Patient-centered medicine – it emphasises “patient care” rather than “disease care”
– Dynamic balance – of internal and external factors.
– Web-like interconnections of physiological factors – the human body functions as a
network of interconnected systems, rather than individual systems functioning autonomously.
– Health is a positive vitality – it is not merely the absence of disease.
– Promotion of organ reserves – as the means to ensure optimal health for as long as possible. 

Functional medicine examines the core clinical imbalances that underlie various disease conditions.

Imbalances in the body can be caused by diet, nutrients, exercise, lifestyle, and trauma. We are different not just in our genetics but also in our attitudes and beliefs. This affects our healing.

The physiology in our bodies can be categorised into the following areas:
1. Transformation of food into energy
2. Repair
3. Maintenance of structural integrity from a cell level
4. Elimination of waste
5. Protections and defense
6. Transport and circulation

Functional medicine takes the whole into account and understands that every organ and system of the body is closely connected.

Why Functional Medicine:

This treats the cause so that you do not need to be on medication for the rest of your life.

Functional medicine examines the core clinical imbalances that underlie various disease conditions. Those imbalances arise as environmental inputs such as diet, nutrients (including air and water), exercise, and trauma are processed by one’s body, mind, and spirit through a unique set of genetic predispositions, attitudes, and beliefs.

The fundamental physiological processes include communication (both outside and inside the cell); transformation of food into energy; replication, repair, and maintenance of structural integrity from the cellular, to the whole body level; elimination of waste; protection and defense; and transport and circulation.

Functional Medicine is an American well-documented treatment method that is based on the individual, his background, and heritage, as well as all the symptoms involved in the human system. This means that there is no focus on a symptom isolated, but on both whole and detail, as well as the understanding of the other systems also may impact on the health status. For example, stomach problems affect our detoxification functions.

If detoxification is reduced, this can create blockages in the energy production or increase oxidative stress and consequent increased risk of destruction of our genetic material and development of the disease. The treatments involved laboratory testing, dietary supplements, lifestyle changes, and any medical treatment to remove stresses and imbalances in the body and provide missing nutrients and support the body’s functions.

Treatment is tailored to each person so that the process is planned individually and holistically.

Results treating with a Holistic Functional Medicine approach.

Functional medicine

Here is an example of a patient that we treated;

A patient I saw was a lady in her early forties who was complaining of having no energy, she was exhausted, she felt like she couldn’t even stay awake driving the kids to school in the morning yawning uncontrollably and she was drinking a lot of coffee to stay awake.

She wasn’t interested in her usual activities and hadn’t been able to bake or cook with her usual enthusiasm. Her libido was non-existent and it was starting to affect her relationship with her husband. She was irritable with the children and emotionally sensitive all the time too.

We agreed that we needed to gather some more information and do some blood tests. Her results came back with very low levels of Vit D, she had a lot of inflammation showing up in her blood, and her thyroid was completely out of balance.

She was motivated to make some changes in her life because she is still so young and needs a lot of energy to be a mom, a wife, run her home, and work.

We changed her diet, gave her some supplements, supported her thyroid gland. We retested her blood every three months to make sure everything was working well and changed her medications accordingly.

After 9 months of treatment, all her inflammation is gone, her thyroid levels have improved and she is back to baking and cooking. She has even taken up yoga and art classes. She has so much more energy and feels she relates better to her children and husband than ever before.

By this example, we see how an approach looking at many angles has shifted her towards improved health and away from disease and better quality of life. Diet, exercise, relaxing response, supplements as a complex approach has helped her a great deal.

What to Expect:

Functional Medicine treats the cause, not just the symptoms, aiming to liberate you from a lifetime of medication dependency. Our focus on fundamental physiological processes, including communication, energy production, repair, and maintenance, sets the stage for a personalized and holistic treatment plan.

The Functional Medicine Matrix is an evolving framework that serves as a navigational guide in the domain of healthcare, unveiling the complex interplay of various factors influencing your well-being. Think of it as a comprehensive map that not only traces your health history but also provides a roadmap for the future.

At its core, the matrix encompasses seven fundamental biological functions: assimilation, defense and repair, energy production, biotransformation, communication, transport, and structural integrity. These functions serve as the pillars supporting your overall health, each playing a crucial role in maintaining balance and harmony within your body.

Assimilation: This function involves the absorption and utilization of nutrients from the food you consume. It’s the body’s way of nourishing itself, ensuring that essential substances are available for growth and repair.

Defense and Repair: Your body is equipped with remarkable defense mechanisms that safeguard against external threats and facilitate repair processes. This function is crucial for maintaining resilience and responding effectively to challenges.

Energy Production: Think of this function as the powerhouse of your body. It involves the conversion of nutrients into energy, fueling every biological process and keeping you vital and active.

Biotransformation: This function deals with the body’s ability to transform substances, such as toxins, into less harmful forms. It’s a critical process for detoxification and maintaining a healthy internal environment.

Communication: The intricate network of signals and messages within your body falls under the communication function. It ensures seamless coordination between different systems, allowing your body to function as a unified whole.

Transport: From blood circulation to the movement of molecules within cells, the transport function is all about facilitating the smooth flow of essential elements throughout your body.

Structural Integrity: This function pertains to the maintenance and repair of the physical structures in your body, ensuring that everything from cells to tissues remains robust and resilient.

Understanding the Functional Medicine Matrix involves recognizing how these biological functions are interconnected and influence one another. It provides a comprehensive perspective, allowing healthcare practitioners to delve into the root causes

Patient Case Study:

Consider the case of a woman in her forties struggling with fatigue, low libido, and emotional sensitivity. Through thorough testing, we identified low vitamin D levels, inflammation, and thyroid imbalance. Our tailored approach included dietary changes, supplements, and thyroid support. After nine months, her inflammation vanished, thyroid levels improved, and she reclaimed her vitality, engaging in activities she loves.

Holistic Functional Medicine:

Incorporating laboratory testing, dietary supplements, lifestyle adjustments, and targeted medical treatments, our Holistic Functional Medicine approach ensures a tailored plan for each individual. We focus on removing stresses, addressing imbalances, and providing the necessary support for optimal well-being.

Results Speak Louder:

Witness the tangible results of a comprehensive approach. Our patient’s life transformed as energy surged, relationships blossomed, and activities once enjoyed were rekindled. The Holistic Functional Medicine strategy, encompassing diet, exercise, relaxation techniques, and supplements, showcases the power of a multifaceted approach to enhance overall quality of life.

Your Path to Vibrant Health:

Whether you seek a Functional Medicine doctor in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, or nearby, our commitment to your well-being remains unwavering. Uncover the personalized, interconnected, and transformative benefits of Functional Medicine, setting the stage for a healthier, more vibrant you.

Embark on a journey that transcends traditional medicine—choose Functional Medicine for a future of holistic well-being.

Functional Medicine

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