Endocrinology is the branch of medicine dealing with the glands and their hormones. Functional endocrinology identifies alterations in the endocrine systems that are not in a disease state at the point of diagnosis. This is done by ‘translating’ the blood work from the laboratory’s normal range to the true “healthy” range which is a smaller margin within the lab range. For example, the normal lab range for White Blood Cells (WBC) is 4-11 however the ‘healthy’ range lies between 5-8 K/MCL.
If your WBC is less that 5, and along with other clinical correlations, an astute clinician with the knowledge of functional endocrinology can suspect chronic infection with or without obvious symptoms to the patient! Many alterations in the endocrine systems that are not in a disease state, if not treated at the early signs of dysfunction may lead to pathology down the road. People that suffer from functional endocrine disorders are not diagnosed with disease and therefore are left untreated in the standard healthcare model until manifestations of disease become present.
These patients typically suffer from wide ranges of symptoms from fatigue to serious cases of depression. Allopathic doctors are trained to look for signs and symptoms of a given condition and then prescribe medicine for the diagnosed condition. Functional endocrinology, however requires the detective work necessary to find the main culprit that leads to the signs and symptoms that the allopath prescribes medication for. For example, in the traditional endocrine model, patients that present with elevated blood pressure or cholesterol will be placed on pharmaceutical agents to alter the secondary changes that may take place from insulin resistance.
In functional endocrine model, factors that change metabolism, altering physiological response will be evaluated first. An example of this is managing the primary concern of insulin resistance and looking for improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol values. Functional endocrine disorders also increase risk for many disorders if not treated. In order to practice functional endocrinology, the clinician must understand the depth of human physiology and metabolism. Functional endocrinology involves understanding and supporting a complex series of vicious cycles that feed each other; therefore, the range of ailments assessed is wide and includes but is not limited to slow working thyroid (hypothyroidism), hypertension to high cholesterol, PMS to perimenopause, menopause to depression, fatigue to fibromyalgia, IBS to GERD, etc.