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Functional medicine is a systems, science-based approach, which focuses on identifying and addressing the underlying cause of the disease and promoting optimum health. The functional medicine model recognises that human physiology functions as an orchestrated web of interconnected systems, rather than a set of individual systems, working independent of each other. In so doing, it is able to understand complex disease mechanisms and treat the root cause of the pathology.
In making a diagnosis, the practitioner will take into account biochemical, genetic, environmental, dietary and lifestyle factors. An individualised treatment program will be drawn up, using diet, nutritional supplements, herbs and lifestyle advice.
In the treatment of infertility, functional medicine can help to uncover underlying imbalances that are impacting reproductive health. Tests can identify nutrient deficiencies, toxins, biochemical abnormalities, and hormonal imbalances. The results can then be used to create a personalised fertility program that includes a diet plan, supplements and fertility-boosting herbs. Dietary and lifestyle advice will centre around restoring hormonal balance and ovulation and maximising semen quality.
Functional medicine can also be beneficial in the treatment of endometriosis. This condition is characterised by high levels of inflammation and oestrogen activity, alongside potential imbalance in the immune system. By using a functional medicine approach, we can start to address these issues at their root by using targeted diet and lifestyle interventions to reduce inflammation and support healthy oestrogen metabolism.
In addition, functional medicine can be effective in treating PCOS, which is often related to obesity, poor dietary choices and lack of exercise.
Many women with PCOS are insulin-resistant, which means their cells don’t respond well to insulin, so more insulin needs to be produced in order to keep blood sugar levels stable. Excess insulin can cause the ovaries to produce more androgens than normal. These excess androgens interfere with the production of the hormones that develop and ovulate an egg each month, as well as causing many of the PCOS symptoms.
Women with PCOS also often have higher than normal levels of inflammation in their body. This excess inflammation can also interfere with insulin sensitivity as well as increasing the levels of androgens.
From a functional medicine perspective, insulin sensitivity can be improved, and inflammation androgen levels reduced by means of a personalised diet plan, exercise, nutritional supplements and herbs.
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