Hello everyone! First of all, I would like to say I am so excited to be joining the team at Knox Wellness. I want to spend this first blog introducing the concept of functional medicine to those of you who aren’t familiar with it. When I say I practice functional medicine, people always ask me what that is. I always respond, that’s a great question!! For a more official answer, according to the Institute of Functional Medicine, Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership (1). My favorite part of the definition is that the patient is very involved in this type of practice!
The easiest way I can think of describing it is by giving an example. I have a thyroid autoimmune disorder. For years, I was told by medical providers that my lingering symptoms were not related to my thyroid because my blood levels were in “normal range”. I just knew there was more I was missing. As I started learning more about functional medicine and that in order to address my thyroid autoimmunity, I first needed to work on the immune system at it’s source, the gut. I changed my diet, got on the right supplements, worked on repairing gut health, and my symptoms greatly improved.
Another example would be someone who has joint pain, fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, extreme fatigue, along with other symptoms but has normal lab results and no other diagnostic tests to show the cause. They may be told it’s depression and given an anti-depressant. Where a functional medicine approach would ask the question: is there underlying inflammation in the body? An imbalance in gut flora? A neurotransmitter imbalance? What is their diet like? And would work on uncovering the answers to those questions.
Instead of thinking of an individual body system or symptom, functional medicine sees the body as a whole and looks for underlying causes in the immune system. Since the majoirty of our immune system lies in our gut, a large focus is on repairing the gut lining and balancing the flora. Functional medicine also understand the mind and spirit play a part as well, and encourages bodywork, such as acupuncture, cranio-sacral therapy, lymph drainage, massage therapy, and meditation. All of these modalities help greatly with stress, which is a major contributor to disease. Finally, functional medicine also relies heavily on preventative medicine, keeping a person well versus waiting until symptoms arise. In today’s culture, this is vital as there are so many chronic diseases.
I hope you found this informative and if you have any questions feel free to call Knox Wellness. We would love to see you and help you on your road towards wellness.
Emily Kopek, PA-C
9724 Kingston Pike, Suite 208
Knoxville, TN 37922