I’ve written and spoken extensively about functional medicine, which I believe is critical to fixing our broken healthcare system. Functional medicine is personalized care that focuses on preventing disease and attacking the root cause of health issues rather than reactively treating symptoms.
The goal is to maintain or restore balance among the body’s various systems. This balance helps us function at an optimal level so we can live as many quality, disease-free years as possible.
One area of functional medicine that is finally starting to get the attention it deserves is functional neurology, which is focused on making sure the brain functions at an optimal level.
Functional neurology looks for and addresses subtle changes in the nervous system before they turn into serious problems. It determines where a problem in the nervous system exists and the best way to stimulate that area, recognizing that the bio-individuality of each person will require a customized approach.
For example, posture, balance, muscle tone, spinal stability, pain perception and athletic performance are all directly tied to brain function. When these functions don’t work, you can experience dizziness, chronic pain, spinal instability, muscle tightness and other types of dysfunction.
A functional neurology exam can determine if the pathways to the brain involved with these functions are contributing to the dysfunction. We also consider the impact of nutrition, metabolic factors, and lifestyle. We then develop a treatment plan to improve brain function in those areas, which could involve everything from balance exercises and massage to eye movements and cognitive stimulation.
For example, chronic pain in your back isn’t just related to your back muscles and spine. Functional neurology, as part of a comprehensive examination, can tell us if a certain part of your brain isn’t functioning properly, or that you’re dealing with neurodegeneration. Both of these conditions can cause the body to function in a way that contributes to back pain. We can also determine if advanced imaging like CAT scan or MRI are needed. Blood tests, a diet diary and lifestyle markers can tell us if an inflammatory diet is contributing to back pain.
Traditional medical doctors would typically treat the symptom with prescription medication. Functional neurology practitioners would take an integrative approach, using various forms of non-invasive therapies and clinical nutrition protocols to “rehab” the brain and address the root cause of your chronic back pain.
Functional neurology can be used to help people manage and recover from brain injury, stroke, developmental disorders in children, migraines, balance issues, depression, neurodegeneration, and other conditions.
Neurodegeneration, which refers to the progressive damage and death of nerve cells, has been a primary focus of Natural Healthcare Center in 2016. We can improve brain chemistry, prevent neurodegeneration, and avoid many of the conditions mentioned previously by building a better brain. That requires a thorough consultation and examination, and clinical nutrition services through a functional medicine-based understanding of the issue. We also need to exercise the brain as much as we exercise the rest of the body, and avoid high-stress situations as much as possible. There are a variety of services we utilize to best serve our patients.
When you do experience any kind of pain, discomfort, imbalance or brain fatigue, don’t look for relief in a bottle of pills. Seek out the help of a functional neurology practitioner who will take a holistic approach to diagnosing and treating the real problem.
The Future of Functional Neurology: An Interview with Dr. Datis Kharrazian, an article that appeared in Dynamic Chiropractic, was a valuable source of information for this blog post.