Functional Medicine

What is Functional Medicine?

Dr Nicole Fenske Functional Medicine video

Ten-minute excerpt from a presentation where Dr. Fenske discusses the benefits of Functional Medicine.

Functional Medicine is a science-based field of healthcare that examines the core clinical imbalances that underlie various disease conditions, imbalances that could be a precursor to the disease.  Some of the tools used to uncover these imbalances include lab work, family history, lifestyle assessment, and physical exam.  Functional Medicine seeks to shift the traditional disease-centered approach to a more patient-centered approach.  It is dedicated to improving the management of complex, chronic disease by intervening at multiple levels to address these imbalances and to restore each patient’s functionality and health.  Function Medicine seeks to identify and address the root causes of disease, and views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs to be divided up into medical specialties.  Function Medicine is not a unique and separate body of knowledge.  It is grounded in scientific principles and information widely available in medicine today, combining research from various disciplines into highly detailed yet clinically relevant models of disease pathogenesis and effective clinical management.

Why do we need Functional Medicine?

(text provided by the Institute for Function Medicine)

  • Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
  • The system of medicine practiced by most physicians is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as appendicitis or a broken leg.
  • Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic disease.
  • There’s a huge gap between research and the way doctors practice. The gap between emerging research in basic sciences and integration into medical practice is enormous—as long as 50 years— particularly in the area of complex, chronic illness.
  • Most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of complex, chronic disease and to apply strategies such as nutrition, diet, and exercise to both treat and prevent these illnesses in their patients.

How is Functional Medicine different?

(text provided by the Institute for Function Medicine)

Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease. Hallmarks of a functional medicine approach include:

  • Patient-centered care. The focus of functional medicine is on patient-centered care, promoting health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease.
  • An integrative, science-based healthcare approach. Functional medicine practitioners look “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic make-up of each patient is considered, along with both internal (mind, body and spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total functioning.
  • Integrating best medical practices. Functional medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with what are sometimes considered “alternative” or “integrative” medicine, creating a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques.

What to expect from your Functional Medicine appointment

Dr. Fenske will treat each patient based on their individual needs.  She will gather information through extensive intake forms as well as past medical records and lab results that the patient makes available.  After she studies this information our staff will schedule an initial office visit at which time Dr. Fenske will spend time listening to the patient, incorporating this information with the history and medical records.  She will then recommend any additional lab work that may be necessary to fill in gaps in her information.  Her goal is to have as complete of a picture as possible of the causes of ill health.  After this new information is available Dr. Fenske will meet with the patient a second time to provide her recommendations.  These may include dietary changes, lifestyle changes, targeted nutritional supplementation, and follow-up visits to monitor progress.