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 medical doctor and be given a diagnosis of depression and perhaps go home with an antidepressant . However, in functional medicine someone might come to us with the diagnosis of depression but for us that is just the beginning. We then spend an hour going deeper into why. We want to know about their gut microbiome , we want to know about their nutrition and any nutrient deficiencies , about their sleep and so much more.

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 maybe caused 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. She applied moisturises twice a day and gave him an antihistamine 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 medicine we treat the person- we want to know more than just the condition of their skin – what were this little boy’s  guts like, what was his diet like,  did he have nutrient deficiencies,  was he stressed ? However, 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 totally cleared up  !

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 it’s 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.