Even though we’ve been conditioned to look at our body in pieces or segments (we’ve got the tummy over here, the brain over here, the skin, the eyes, the reproductive glands over here…) we’re actually just one whole person made up of interconnected and overlapping parts.
That’s why it’s crucial that, in pursuit of higher states of wellness, we take a wider lens and zoom way out. Enter, Functional Medicine.
In Functional Medicine we take a more proactive approach. Rather than reactively chasing symptoms in an attempt to suppress them, Functional Medicine practitioners use the symptoms (put together with physical and lab assessments, health history, etc.) as clues to help uncover the root-cause of inflammation that is provoking imbalance.
Now, I said we need to take a wider lens. What does that mean in practice?
Let’s dig into an example!
An increasingly common diagnosis people are receiving is something called SIBO (see-bow), or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. SIBO is when we experience an increase in the quantities of bacteria in our upper GI tract. Common symptoms can include heartburn, bloating, as well as diarrhea and/or constipation. Long term effects of SIBO can be nutrient deficiencies and even systemic inflammation and immune dysregulation.
A lot of people probably don’t get further than, “I am deficient in vitamins X, Y, and Z so I’ll just supplement with those. End of story. Problem solved.” This would be the most reactive approach and is something I see often among friends or clients who have tried to ‘DIY’ their way to wellness.
But I’ve also seen people work with numerous practitioners who too fall short of the mark, at least from a Functional Medicine perspective. For example, many practitioners may say something like “SIBO is a gastrointestinal issue and the only thing that needs to be done to resolve it is to kill off the excess bacteria.”
What I believe is important to remember is the point that I made at the beginning of this article – we are not just a bunch of separate pieces. Our body is completely interconnected and we shouldn’t look at things as occurring in a vacuum, because of course they don’t.
We are not just a bunch of separate pieces.
Functional Medicine (practiced with integrity) would give us a much wider lens of this issue. In our SIBO example it might say, “Risk of developing SIBO is increased by low gastric juices and decreased gut motility. Both of those are linked with chronic stress, so addressing the underlying root-cause of this client’s SIBO will need to include stress management.”
Chronic stress is just one of many potential root-causes of altered digestion leading to SIBO and when you’re working with a Functional Medicine practitioner, you should feel like they see you as being completely unique. There isn’t a formulaic, one-size-fits-all approach to wellness, and if you feel like you’re working with someone who is giving you recycled recommendations, it might be time to try someone new.
Do you want to learn more about SIBO in upcoming articles? Send me a message and let me know!