Spring is here in Northern Nevada and often spring is accompanied by seasonal allergies, or what we think are seasonal allergies. True allergies will usually occur at the same time every year and make you feel slightly run down or give you cold-like symptoms for a few days or up to two weeks.

However, as a functional medicine coach, I see many women who blame feeling crappy on “seasonal allergies” that have been going on for months. Sinus infections and respiratory issues are common signals there is something else going on in the body to cause these chronic symptoms of feeling run down. Functional medicine aims to get to the root causes, not just treat the symptoms. If your symptoms are fatigue and a runny nose for the past two months, there is something more than spring allergies to blame, and that’s what we figure out together.

In looking at the whole body, functional medicine evaluates how all the systems integrate. Picture a tree: the roots are where everything starts, or the cause, and the leaves are the symptoms. If the root system is not healthy, the tree will not thrive. Functional medicine looks for the root cause of your health concerns to find the issues that are causing the symptoms.

Conversely, traditional medicine looks at the symptoms and then treats the symptoms rather than the cause. For example, you have a rash, here is a cream. With functional medicine, we determine what is causing the rash – are you allergic to something; can your gut not process certain sugars?

Functional medicine is a patient-centered approach to health and chronic disease management. As a coach, I look to understand the root of what is making my patients sick so we can determine the cause. By looking at the whole patient, I am able to create a personalized and effective program that is specific to the individual patient and their health goals.

Functional medicine demands lifestyle changes, usually with behavior and nutrition. It is not for people who just want to take a pill for the rest of their life. Functional medicine is for individuals who want to take control of their health and wellbeing for the long term and are willing to make the changes to feel better for good.