Functional medicine is a holistic approach that focuses on identifying and treating the root cause of a person’s health concerns. Rather than simply managing symptoms with medications, functional medicine practitioners work with their patients to understand the underlying imbalances in their bodies and develop personalized treatment plans to address those issues.
A functional medicine visit is a valuable opportunity to explore and understand your health and develop a plan that contributes to optimum well-being. However, you may be wondering what to expect in this appointment. This article will provide a before, during, and after guide to help you prepare for, navigate, and maximize your first functional medicine visit.
Before Your Visit
Before your first functional medicine visit, it’s important to take some steps to prepare. This will help ensure that your appointment goes as smoothly as possible and you get the most out of it.
Here are some things you can do in advance:
1. Research The Practitioner
There are many functional medicine practitioners today, but it’s ideal to choose one who’s certified in this field or a certified clinic like Center For Functional Medicine. Read reviews online and ask for recommendations from friends or family who have experience with functional medicine.
2. Gather Information
Before your first functional medicine visit, you should gather as much relevant information as possible. This will help you have a productive appointment and provide your healthcare provider with the information they need to make an accurate diagnosis.
One of the most vital pieces of information to bring to your visit is your medical history. This should include a list of medications you’re currently taking and had previously taken, and any past or present medical conditions or illnesses. It should also include information about any allergies or sensitivities, as well as your family’s medical history.
It’s a good idea to write down all the symptoms you’re experiencing and any concerns about your health. This will help you remember everything you want to discuss with your functional medicine practitioner and ensure that you remember everything noteworthy. If you have any information from previous medical tests or visits, bring these to the appointment. They include laboratory results and imaging studies, among others.
3. Prepare Questions
Preparing a list of questions you can ask your healthcare provider is also essential. This will ensure anything that’s unclear to you will be answered.
Consider asking these questions:
- What’s the root cause of my condition?
- What tests do I need to undergo?
- What lifestyle changes do you recommend to help improve my health? What side effects should I expect from them?
- Are there aspects of my diet that I need to change?
- What treatment options are available? Do they have any side effects?
Basically, you can ask anything that concerns your present health condition.
4. Consider Keeping A Food Journal
Functional medicine practitioners often focus on the role of diet and nutrition in your overall health. Keeping a food journal for a week or two before your visit can give your doctor valuable insights into your eating habits and help them identify any potential dietary imbalances.
5. Prepare For A Longer Visit
Functional medicine appointments are typically longer than traditional ones, lasting anywhere from 60-90 minutes. Make sure to clear your schedule and plan for some extra time.
As part of your preparation, there are a few things you should avoid doing. These include:
- Diagnosing Yourself
Avoid self-diagnosing or self-prescribing any treatments or supplements. It’s critical to remember that functional medicine is an emerging field, and it is best to leave the diagnosis and treatment to your doctor.
- Doing Major Changes In Your Life
Second, avoid making any major lifestyle changes prior to your visit. While these can benefit your overall health, alterations made too close to your visit can interfere with the results of any tests your doctor orders.
- Idea Of Bringing Distractions
Finally, avoid bringing anything with you that could be considered a distraction. You can bring a friend or family member with you, but it’s not a good idea to bring any disruptive devices.
Steering clear of the above practices will help your functional medicine practitioner create the most suitable treatment plan for you and ensures you have a productive and successful appointment.
During Your Visit
During your first functional medicine visit, your practitioner will take the time to evaluate your health and develop a personalized treatment plan thoroughly. Here’s what to expect and do:
1. Comprehensive Evaluation
You need to expect a comprehensive health assessment. Your doctor will likely start by asking you a series of questions to get a better understanding of your medical history and current health status. Such queries will revolve around your diet, lifestyle, family medical history, and more. This assessment aims to identify any underlying causes of your current health issues, as well as potential treatment options that’d be suitable for you.
2. You May Undergo Additional Testing
Depending on your specific health concerns, your practitioner may recommend additional testing. They may require you to undergo blood, urine or saliva, or other diagnostic tests. These examinations can help your practitioner identify any underlying imbalances or deficiencies contributing to your symptoms.
3. Your Practitioner Will Develop A Personalized Treatment Plan
Your doctor will develop a treatment plan based on the information gathered during your appointment and after additional testing. This plan may include recommendations for dietary and lifestyle changes, supplements, and other natural therapies to help address the root cause of your symptoms and restore balance to your body.
4. You’ll Have The Opportunity To Ask Questions
Your functional medicine practitioner will likely provide you with a lot of information during your visit. But, be bold to ask questions and have the doctor clarify anything you don’t understand. They’d be more than willing to shed light on any relevant matter.
5. Write Things Down
It can be difficult to remember all of the information discussed in a functional medicine visit. Writing down notable information and remarks throughout the assessment can help ensure you remember all the important points. So, it’s a great idea to bring a notebook to the appointment so that you can take notes.
6. Stay Involved
Functional medicine is a team effort, so it’s important to stay involved throughout the process. This means you have to actively collaborate with the practitioner to make mutual decisions about your treatment plan. You also need to keep track of your progress and let your practitioner know if you’re having any issues.
Functional medicine aims to create a personalized treatment plan that best suits your needs. Follow the tips above to make the most out of your first visit.
After Your Appointment
After your functional medicine visit, you’ll have your treatment plan ready. However, there are a few things you need to implement to ensure you get the most benefit from it. These include the following:
1. Follow The Plan
Once you have a plan, it’s important to follow it down to the last detail. This may include changes to your diet, such as incorporating more whole, unprocessed foods and reducing your intake of processed and refined options. It may also include increasing your physical activity and incorporating stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation or yoga.
These lifestyle changes can help support your doctor’s work and your overall health. It’s crucial to remember that functional medicine isn’t a quick fix but a long-term approach to healthcare that focuses on achieving and maintaining optimal health.
2. Don’t Forget The Follow-Up Visits
Follow-up visits are an essential part of the functional medicine process. This is when your practitioner will review the results of any tests they’ve ordered and discuss any changes you need to make to improve your health.
During this visit, your practitioner will also discuss any additional tests or treatments that may be necessary. Your practitioner may also make changes to your health plan depending on your current progress.
3. Expect Continued Support
Your functional medicine practitioner will continue to provide support and guidance throughout your treatment. They’ll be available to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Remember that your functional medicine journey doesn’t end after your first visit. It’s a continuous process that you should be willing to undergo. Don’t miss any of your follow-up visits and be in constant communication and collaboration with your doctor.
Functional medicine is an individualized approach that addresses the underlying causes of a person’s health condition rather than just treating the symptoms. It can be an effective way to address your health concerns and improve your overall well-being.
Before your first functional medicine visit, take some steps to prepare, such as gathering as much information about your medical history, researching the practitioner you’ve chosen, and coming up with questions relevant to your health. During the visit, the practitioner will take the time to get to know you and create a personalized treatment plan based on their assessment. After the visit, following the treatment plan and making any necessary lifestyle changes is crucial.
By following this guide and working closely with your practitioner, you can make the most of your first functional medicine visit and achieve optimal health in no time.