The first time I heard the words ‘Functional Medicine’ was when I rolled up for a course introduction for nutritional therapy with the Institute of Health Sciences. Using an example of a health condition, the then module leader Moira Browne explained an approach to resolving health issues that was very different to anything I had heard before. Understanding the person as a whole being with a genetic, personal, health and medical history, looking at current diet and lifestyle, medications, relationships and stress levels etc. Understanding how the body works, what it needs to function well, physically, mentally, emotionally. Without knowing it at the time I was hearing about functional medicine. I was hooked, I was excited to learn more! This approach just made perfect sense to me.
In the last four years I have come to learn so much more about nutrition and functional medicine. And, even though at the time I was told that my nutritional therapy training was based on the ‘functional medicine model’, I didn’t fully get what this meant! With every new client for nutritional therapy, the first thing I do is explain that my training is based on this medical model. I ask “have you heard of it”? The answer is usually – no! I proceed to explain a little of how I apply this method in working with them. Naturally, like me at the outset, they are thinking that nutritional therapy is just a healthier alternative to going to the GP, but instead of getting a prescription for drugs, the prescription will be for foods or supplements that will fix their ailment. And that’s okay too, it is part of it, but it’s actually a whole lot more besides. Using the tools of the functional medicine model a nutritional therapist looks at your presenting symptoms from each body system, your diet and lifestyle – social, emotional, sleep, exercise, your medical history, medications, environmental factors and genetics. And then applies an understanding of the body’s nutrition and lifestyle requirements to design a personalized set of recommendations for you. [That stewed apple recommended for dessert might be significant beyond your understanding]. The outcome may not be the quick fix you were looking for but it is more likely to deliver a better understanding of you as an individual and provide lasting results, if you are up for the challenge. This is functional medicine in a one to one context but what I wasn’t aware of back then was that it is a relatively new and growing movement that is gaining momentum world wide. If you ever looked at the healthcare system and wished for a better alternative, then read on. Functional medicine is here in Ireland now!
A Growing Movement
Time! We don’t claim to have a lot of it these days! And, I’m going to save myself a lot here by just providing a link to an article which perfectly explains what functional medicine is. Functional Medicine the Future of Healthcare
What I love about the functional medicine movement is that it opens it’s door to everyone. It is not necessary to be a functional medicine doctor to incorporate the model principles into your own practice. In three weeks time Functional Medicine Ireland will host a conference in Galway. The audience attending come from a range of backgrounds: health journalists, policy maker(s), authors, health advocates, patients with autoimmune conditions, medical and nursing professionals, nutritional therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists, personal trainers, acupuncturists, health coaches, and those that wish to remain healthy! People from 11 different countries will be attending (Ireland, UK, South Africa, USA, Poland, Egypt, France, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Denmark).
The movement in Ireland is spearheaded by Maev Creaven, Nutritional Therapist and Director of Functional Medicine Ireland. Maev had this to say in a recent email to current ticket holders:-
It is hard to believe how far the FMC event has come since our first meeting in 2016 in Dublin. It’s even harder to fathom the support received especially over the last year! From you the delegates, the speakers (current and past), friends, family and other organisations (big shout out to The Institute for Functional Medicine, their incredible team and Dr Kristi Hughes!) whom have rallied behind this movement.
You can learn more about this upcoming conference if you click the link on the image below.
Last week some of our Irish nutritional therapy graduates together with a range of other healthcare professionals attended a five day training course in London – Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice. Watch out world, they’re all fired up and certified now to go !!
There will be an impressive line up of speakers from around the globe at the Galway conference on 3rd/4th November, but what impresses me most about this movement is that it brings a new energy to health care that excludes no one. Members of the general public, health coach, GP, consultant, nurse, pharmacist, nutritional therapist etc. can gather together side by side and learn more about what matters to us all – our ‘health’. I think this movement is a healthy sign that a growing number of people are willing to shift their focus from wanting a ‘pill for every ill’ to being open and ready to pursue health in a more integrative and holistic way on a personal and global level.
I’ll keep you posted !!