Personal medicine? Functional medicine? What are they? Well here are some answers to some commonly asked questions.
It’s an approach to medicine that puts the patient at the heart of everything. Personal medicine addresses the whole person rather than an isolated set of symptoms. It aims to find the root cause of disease or sub optimal health and address that rather than treat the symptoms. Practitioners take time to really understand the patient, investigate their history and gain an informed understanding of the way in which lifestyle, genetics and environment interact to influence their health.
Nothing. We use both terms. We kind of like personal though. It feels, well, personal. But throughout this site we use the terms functional medicine and personal medicine interchangeably.
Typically the personal or functional approach is characterised by:
- Time spent by the practitioner working in partnership with their clients to really understand their own unique history, genetics, biochemistry, lifestyle etc. Consultations tend to be much longer than in conventional practice and continue until healthy outcomes are achieved.
- The use of genetic and functional testing to understand the unique physical makeup of the patient. Practitioners may use a range of tools to aid their understanding of how the individual’s body works and where the root causes of symptoms might lie.
- The use of a combination of interventions to help restore optimal health. These might include pharmaceutical treatments but may also include nutritional and lifestyle changes, the use of nutritional supplements, exercise recommendations etc.
- A collaboration between practitioner and patient. Personal medicine is about the patient learning about their body and how it works as much as the practitioner. The patient can gain knowledge and understanding about themselves that help them continue to develop and maintain optimal health in a way that is best for them and their physiology.
No. Personal medicine believes in treating the cause not the symptoms. That can mean less of a reliance on pharmaceutical solutions. But it often involves a greater use of advanced scientific knowledge and techniques such as genetic science, systems biology and understanding of disease progression
No. Personal medicine can be used in all sorts of ways. Many people have found it a successful way of treating serious health problems and chroinic that allopathic medicine has not been able to help with. It can also be a way of treating problems that are sometimes overlooked by standard medicine such as stress, fatigue, tiredness, anxiety etc. It has proved successful in treating issues like autism and OCD. It is also a valuable tool for managing our lifestyles to prevent major disease. Genetic testing and lifetlye profiling allow us to identify potential hereditary and enviroinmental risk factors for chronic illnesses and manage our lives to minimise these risks. Many people have used the functional medicine approach to improve their mental and physical performance or simply to ensure they live their lives with optimal health.
We definitely think it’s an integral part of the future of healthcare. But actually one of the key tenets of personal medicine is to be suspicious of anything that says “one thing is the answer”. The “answers” personal medicine finds usually involve a number of different things. Personal medicine practitioners frequently work in close collaboration with practitioners in a range of areas to ensure treatment is personalised to the patient in every way. A partnership approach to health.
Have a look at our section here on finding a personal medicine practitioner