Through a systems-oriented outlook, functional medicine strives to address the underlying causes of diseases and disorders. Most medical practices tackle health issues through a disease-focused outlook; functional medicine follows a patient-centered approach that addresses the patient as a individual – not just the symptoms. In general, you’ll find that functional medicine practitioners spend an increased amount of time with patients, focusing on a patient’s history and genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that impact their current and long-term health. Diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, mental illness and autoimmune disorders are on the rise. Most physicians practice a type of medicine that focuses on the care of these conditions, as well as other traumas or illnesses that are of short duration and need to be urgently addressed – such as a broken arm or severe stomach pains. Drugs and surgery are often recommended as immediate fixes for these problems.While urgent and immediate care of such acute conditions certainly has it’s time and place, functional medicine fills an important gap in health care by seeking to manage complex, chronic diseases. The acute-care approach to medicine does not usually account for an individual’s unique genetic makeup, exposure to environmental toxins, and other lifestyle influences that may play a heavy hand in the rise of such acute and chronic diseases.