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Diseases are often defined by characteristic symptoms e.g. chest pain for heart disease, or headaches for migraines and diagnostic tests like blood tests or imaging. Treatment of disease often involves the use of medications or surgery. Many patients may, however, present with symptoms of disability, dysfunction, disease that may not meet diagnostic criteria for disease and treatment e.g. tiredness, difficulty with weight loss, mood changes, sleep disruptions, pain, headaches, recurrent infections and digestive discomfort. These patients often have imbalances in hormonal and neurotransmitter function, digestive function, immune system function and detoxification that result in multiple ill-defined symptoms and a general feeling of being unwell.
If left untreated, these imbalances can eventually result in disease, but more importantly, these symptoms rob patients of a good quality of life and vitality. Taking medications such as sleeping aids, painkillers or antibiotics may only help to manage the symptoms but often do not address the imbalances, and often not without their side effects.
A functional approach to health identifies core clinical imbalances and the individual patient’s reasons for that imbalance that may be related to lifestyle factors such as emotional stress, unhappy relationships, lack of sleep or a poor diet. Individuals may also have genetic predispositions to disease that require a specific supplemental plan or dietary change to achieve health and prevent the development of chronic disease. The patient is empowered with knowledge of the key lifestyle and/or dietary choices that may require change and a cooperative effort between the practitioner and the patient seeks to return the patient to health and is proactive to protect against disease.
A functional approach to ageing, including the menopause and the andropause, identifies areas of reduced vitality and function in patients who may or may not already have existing disease. The goal is restoring balance in key functions in the body so that there is the potential for reversing diseases in some situations and coming off medications or to improve the quality of life and prevent other diseases even if reversal of existing disease is not possible. All chronic diseases are usually a manifestation in the body as a result of the interaction between an individual’s genes as well as their environment, which includes diet, exercise, stress, sleep and exposure to toxins, stress and infections. Matching an individual’s environment to their genetic strengths or weaknesses can help a patient to stay healthier for longer and prevent disease in susceptible patients.