Conventional medicine answers the question WHAT but functional or integrative medicine answers the question WHY .

If someone is depressed they might go to their conventional medicine doctor and be given a diagnosis of depression and perhaps go home with an antidepressant . However, in functional medicine we might start with the diagnosis but then we go deeper and find out what this means for this particular person and then do even deeper still and ask why this is happening for them .

The same with a skin problem. Take eczema as an example. Someone goes to see their GP with dry and itchy skin. They are given a diagnosis of eczema and some creams to moisturise the skin and maybe a steroid cream to use intermittently for when it flares up. Every now and then they might need an antibiotic to deal with the infection causes by so much scratching. However in functional medicine we ask why….why does this person in front of me have dry itchy skin.

Take the example of a little boy who came to see me recently with a four year history of eczema. His mum did everything she was told to do in her desperate attempt to minimise his symptoms. Moisturises and antihistamines every day and once a week she often needed to resort to using steroid creams for a day or two to calm the symptoms down.  In functional we treat the person- we want to know more than just the condition of his skin – what are his guts like, what is his diet like,  does he have nutrient deficiencies,  is he stressed ? For this little boy it was purely a deficiency state – so we corrected the vitamin D and zinc deficiencies and voila two weeks later his eczema was gone !

As Dr Mark Hyman says naming a collection of symptoms as a disease is not going far enough. We have to think differently about disease.

This is not alternative medicine.  It’s the medicine of why and based on science.  It’s a way of thinking differently about the puzzle of chronic disease.

Have a listen to this brilliant talk by Dr Mark Hyman – by clicking this link.