Functional Medicine Practice in the Washington Metro Area

Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of a disease using a systems-oriented approach that engages the patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in medical practice suitable for 21st century health care needs. By shifting from a traditional disease-centered focus to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine takes care of the whole person instead of managing only an isolated set of symptoms.
Our functional medicine practice in the Washington metro area supports each individual’s unique expression of health and vitality. Our practitioners spend time with our patients, listening to their histories and assessing the interaction among genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors that influence long-term health and complex, chronic diseases.

What Is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine asks how and why an illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each person. It is an approach to health care that conceptualizes health and illness as part of a continuum. This field of medicine studies how all components of the biological system interact dynamically with the environment, producing patterns and effects that can change over time.
Functional medicine allows clinicians to identify and alleviate dysfunctions in the physiology and biochemistry of the body as the primary method of improving patient health. It is often described as the clinical application of systems biology.

Restoring Health Through Functional Medicine

Chronic disease is often preceded by a period of declining function in one or more of the body’s systems. Restoring health requires reversing (or significantly improving) the specific dysfunctions contributing to the disease. Every patient has a unique, complex, and interwoven lifestyle and environmental influences on intrinsic functionality (their genetic vulnerabilities) that set the stage for developing a disease or maintaining health.
Functional medicine concepts, tools, and practices have evolved considerably over the last 30 years, reflecting the dramatic growth in the evidence base concerning the following:
• Key Common Pathways to Disease (e.g., Inflammation, Oxidative Stress)
• Effects of Environmental Toxins (in the Air, Water, Soil, etc.) on Health
• Emerging Sciences of Genomics, Proteomics, and Metabolomics
• Role of Diet, Stress, and Physical Activity
To manage the complexity inherent in the approach of functional medicine, Functional Medicine for Families and Gynecology has created practical models for obtaining and evaluating clinical information that leads to individualized, patient-centered, and science-based therapies.

Why Functional Medicine?

Our society is experiencing a sudden increase in the number of people suffering from complex, chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
Most physicians lean toward acute care, which involves diagnosing and treating illness or trauma of short duration and needs urgent care, such as a broken leg or heart attack. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments, including drugs or surgery, to treat the immediate problem or symptom.

Acute-Care Approach to Medicine

Unfortunately, the acute care approach to medicine is ill-equipped to address complex, chronic diseases. In most cases, this model does not consider the unique genetic makeup of each individual. It also does not allow time for exploring the aspects of today’s lifestyle and critical environmental factors, such as diet, stress, and exposure to toxins, that directly influence the rise in chronic diseases in modern Western society.
As a result, most physicians are not effectively trained to assess the underlying causes of complex, chronic diseases. They also fail to apply strategies, such as nutrition, diet, and exercise, to treat and prevent these illnesses in their patients. Meanwhile, functional medicine is a different approach, with methodology and tools specifically designed to treat and prevent chronic diseases.

How Functional Medicine Changes the Way We Do Medicine

Functional medicine provides a new, powerful operating system and clinical model for assessing, treating, and preventing chronic diseases to replace the outdated and ineffective acute-care models from the 20th century.
This field of medicine incorporates the latest developments in genetic science and systems biology and highlights how lifestyle and environmental factors influence the emergence and progression of a disease. Functional medicine allows physicians and other health professionals to practice proactive, predictive, and customized medicine and empowers patients to take on an active role in their health.