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Functional Medicine for Yogis: 4 Benefits to Consider

Functional medicine is a relatively new way of health science that many yogis will find appealing. The goal of functional medicine is to dig deep into the underlying causes of health issues through patient/practitioner engagement and specialized diagnostic testing. We’re all familiar with the conventional approach to medicine. You get sick, go to the doctor, explain your symptoms, have a quick exam and maybe some tests, and receive a diagnosis. This often occurs in the span of an hour or less and you’re out the door with a prescription in hand.

The problem with this strategy is that it’s only relieving your symptoms, not the underlying cause. So, while you may feel better for a short time, your symptoms are likely to come back. This prompts another round of medication that doesn’t address the root cause of your illness and may do more harm than good. A functional medicine doctor takes a different approach. They recognize that wellness isn’t just about making your symptoms go away. It’s also about identifying and healing the underlying dysfunction that’s making you feel unwell in the first place. Here’s a deeper look at the benefits of functional medicine for yogis.

The Benefits of Functional Medicine for Yogis

Functional medicine doctors dig deep into the individual’s unique health history and explore all of the stress points in their life and body that could be contributing to their illness. They also work with a wide range of evidence-based treatment tools, both ancient and modern, which is something yogis can truly appreciate.

1. Functional medicine is holistic medicine

Your first appointment with a functional medicine doctor will often include an in-depth discussion of your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health history, as well as how you’re currently feeling. You will be asked about your sleep habits, stress levels, relationships, traumas, exercise, nutrition, and more.

All of this takes place before specialized diagnostic testing is ordered to provide a deep understanding of what is going on with all the systems inside your body. After this initial assessment and testing, a unique treatment plan is created just for you. It will include diet and lifestyle recommendations as well as evidence-based therapies to address your physical and mental health as a whole.

2. Functional medicine is personalized

The functional medicine practitioner utilizes a vast toolkit of healing techniques to achieve optimal health, including nutrition, herbs, and lifestyle changes (including yoga and meditation). Medication may also be prescribed if that’s what’s best for the patient but minimizing potential side effects is a top priority. Functional medicine doctors at the NYC-based Integrative Medical clinic, Rahav Wellness are medical doctors who recognize the flaws in our current medical system and seek to correct them. In particular, they seek to address the deep, systemic dysfunctions that are leading to poor health in the first place.

For example, most patients with type 2 diabetes will be prescribed the same few drugs by conventional doctors. On the other hand, the functional medicine doctor recognizes that no two individuals are exactly the same. Ten people with diabetes could have ten different underlying causes for their illness, ultimately requiring ten different treatment plans. The functional medicine doctor will create an individualized treatment plan for each patient based on their lifestyle, health history, nutrition, symptoms, specialized testing, and more. This approach is much more personalized and can be much more effective for managing and even reversing complex, chronic conditions.

3. Functional medicine is also preventive medicine

Functional medicine isn’t just for people who have a chronic illness. It’s also for those who want to support their overall health and immune system to prevent illness in the first place. A functional medicine practitioner can offer individualized guidance in nutrition, herbal supplements, lifestyle changes, and other therapies to sustain and even boost overall health.

4. Functional medicine seeks to improve your quality of life

Wellness isn’t just about your cholesterol levels or blood pressure readings. It’s also about how you feel on a day-to-day basis. Functional medicine practitioners understand that your quality of life impacts other areas of your mental and physical health, too. For example, if you went to a conventional doctor with vague symptoms of feeling unwell, such as a lack of energy, tummy troubles, or mild insomnia, they would probably do some bloodwork. When they don’t find an obvious illness or disease, they tell you there’s nothing wrong. 

You might get some general advice about getting more rest or avoiding stress and then be sent on your way. Understandably, this leaves many patients feeling unheard by their doctors. Even worse, they aren’t getting the advice they need to feel better on a daily basis. On the other hand, a functional medicine doctor is motivated to treat the whole you. Even when there’s not a definitive diagnosis or disease, they will help you explore ways to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health so that you feel better on a daily basis.   

Final Thoughts: Functional Medicine Goes Hand in Hand with the Yogic Lifestyle

Functional medicine goes hand in hand with the yogic lifestyle because it takes a systemic approach to healing. For example, a conventional doctor will often refer you to a gastroenterologist, neurologist, cardiologist, or orthopedist, who focuses on one specific area.  Although that specialist may have a deep grasp of their specialty, they don’t often consider how that specific area fits into the body as a whole. This pinpoint approach makes it difficult to treat chronic, complex health issues because dysfunction in one area affects the entire body and mind.

As a yogi, you understand that your mental health, emotions, diet, and lifestyle all play a role in holistic health. The functional medicine approach also prioritizes treating the mind and body as one cohesive unit. At the end of the day, a holistic approach is fundamental for true healing.  

See also – Sandalwood Oil Benefits

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