This is a great question!
Simply put, when we take a functional perspective we continually ask ourselves how is the body supposed to function? Then we find ways to support and encourage that function.
A quick search on dictionary.com gives the following top 3 definitions for functional:
When one takes a functional approach they transform from a symptom management of health challenges to restoration of function – they look at the problem from a different perspective. They are looking to restore the body to operation in a manner for which it was designed. To find a solution for malfunctioning they look at the reasons why, or what, triggered the malfunction. Then they look at what changes need to be made to achieve restoration.
For instance with my son and his diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. In the process of examining our management options we ask many questions. We are trying to put pieces of the puzzle together. Connect the dots. Such as:
- What causes the ‘honeymoon’ period?
- How does the pancreas stop working then start working again?
- Which processes are involved in the triggering of insulin to be released in the body?
- Does this food support the body in eliciting an insulin response?
- How are we supporting the leptin or ghrelin responses?
- What processes are triggered during the sun converting vitamin D?
- What does my son’s cholesterol panel look like? Will that give us a clue to what ‘health road’ we were on?
- What role does the bouts with eczema over the last two years fit in to where we are health-wise today?
- The severe infant re-flux as an infant, was that a clue we missed?
- Are all carbs the same? Are different metabolic processes triggered due to various types carbs?
- Is this activity disrupting or supporting circadian rhythms?
- The list grows and grows…
In other areas it would be like one looking upstream to see why the water stopped flowing. Or looking at the root system, soil and water to see why has this plant stopped thriving. An arborist looks at the historical environmental factors to see why this tree has a disease. Ironically a functional perspective is used in nearly every other industry.
We wouldn’t keep going to a mechanic who only treated our misfiring car with fuel additives. We expect him to find the reason why it is not working and restore our vehicle to the original operation for which the vehicle was designed. Just as we would be quite upset if went to a tire dealer because we kept getting flats and all their solution was use of a flat fixing additive. We would expect them to find the reason it is going flat and restore the tire to fully operational condition. Driving around with a nail and just adding air or some other filler does not address the problem – it’s symptom management.
Should you have any questions, comments or would like to share your thoughts – I love hearing from you and welcome discussions!! In January 2017 I will have finished my certification course and will begin offering heath coaching consultations. In the meantime my resource section contains links to many of the places I go as I search for ways to transform and achieve restoration.