The question arises as soon as someone sees our name: Naples Center for Functional Medicine.

What is functional medicine, they ask?

First, let’s start by defining the type of medicine most familiar to people. Conventional medicine involves physicians treating symptoms and diseases using over-the-counter and prescription drugs, surgery, radiation and other means. You’ve probably also heard it called Western or traditional medicine.

Functional medicine, on the other hand, seeks to determine how and why disease, illness and pain are occurring, and practioners strive to restore health by optimizing a patient’s body and organs. It is an evidence-based, holistic approach to medical care that identifies the root causes of sickness or pain, and treats the whole patient rather than just that individual’s symptoms, according to the Institute for Functional Medicine.

For instance, a patient having trouble sleeping at night could simply take a sleeping pill to doze off quicker. That is considered conventional medicine. Functional medicine, on the other hand, seeks to find out why that individual has insomnia. Could there be any influences or medical issues from their past that are inhibiting their overall health? What are they eating and drinking, and when? Are they under stress or exhibit feelings of anxiety? Is their sleep schedule erratic? Are they taking any medications that interfere with sleep? Do they have allergies or acid reflux that prevent a good night’s sleep? What is their fitness routine? Do they watch TV or use an iPad right before bedtime? How often do they wake to use the bathroom at night? Even the comfort of their bed and pillow could play a role.

Taking a sleeping pill, as well as many other medications, offers a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Healthcare providers who practice functional medicine spend significant time with their patients in conducting a thorough physical examination and detailed health history analysis. At Naples Center for Functional Medicine, our patients participate in testing to measure hormones, glucose metabolism, biotoxin markers, nutrition levels and more. We want to develop a complete biochemical and lifestyle profile of that individual, from head to toe, rather than just isolating one particular ailment or chronic disease.

We also empower patients to take control of their own health by providing a unique, individually tailored road map to a healthier future. It is our mission to create and maintain a partnership. Our provider/patient partnership is only successful if patients follow their health plan consistently. Having patients take an active role in their personal health is a crucial element differentiating functional medicine from conventional medicine and we are proud to facilitate the journey to long-term health with our patients.

Learn more about the start of Naples Center for Functional Medicine and Dr. Hughes’ journey from conventional emergency medicine to functional medicine here.

Questions about functional medicine or scheduling your first appointment? Call us at 239-649-7400.