Functional Medicine

Emergence of Functional Medicine

In conventional medicine, the standard protocol of care is to apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom. This model of care may work well for acute diseases, trauma, infection, and emergencies. Unfortunately it fails in the care of complex, chronic diseases because the model does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual and does not allow time for exploring the aspects of today’s lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise in chronic disease in modern society; critical environmental factors such as stress, diet, and exposure to toxins. As a result, the root cause of the illness is often left unaddressed, and the overall health of the patients continue to decline as their reliance on prescription drugs continues to increase.

Fortunately in recent years, a new movement in medicine, called Functional Medicine, has emerged to address these shortcomings.

Functional Medicine is a true combination of Chinese Medicine, Western Medicine and scientific research. It combines the philosophy of balance and how to restore function from Chinese Medicine and the knowledge of biochemistry and physiology of Western Medicine with the latest scientific research about how our genetics, environment and lifestyle all interact with each other. Functional Medicine focuses assessment and intervention at the root levels of metabolic imbalance and is an evolution in the practice of medicine that addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century by focusing on prevention and uncovering the underlying causes of serious chronic disease. Instead of just suppressing symptoms, it deals with the root causes of disease and is less concerned with making a diagnosis and more concerned with the underlying imbalances, which are the mechanisms of the disease process.

Institute for Functional Medicine Logo

Twenty years ago, Functional Medicine started out as an idea without a movement. It has since grown into a bona fide movement whose principles and practices have seeped into the mainstream and have even gone on to shape popular culture.

  • Do you enjoy drinking kombucha tea?
  • Have you ever purchased foods or juices because they are high in antioxidants?
  • Do any of you take probiotic supplements?
  • Do you know anyone who swears by the Paleo Diet?
  • Have you wondered what the whole gluten-free craze is all about?
  • Do you ever complain about how organic fruits and vegetables are so much more expensive than their non-organic counterparts?
  • Have you heard of free-range chicken or grass-fed beef?
  • Is your baby’s bottle or sippy cup made from BPA-free plastic?
  • Do you eat non-GMO cereal?
  • All of the concepts alluded to above actually have roots in the core tenets of Functional Medicine.

    This is not to say that Functional Medicine, as it stands today, is the be-all and end-all health framework that we all wish to discover in our lifetimes. Like conventional medicine, Functional Medicine too is ever-evolving as developments in science and technology slowly unravel more and more of the mysteries of the human body.

Notable Contributors to the Functional Medicine Movement

(Alphabetical Order)

  • Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS
    Author of Eat Dirt
    Started Exodus Health Center, one of the largest functional medicine clinics in the world. Website is one of the top 10 most visited natural health sites in the world.
    • Sarah Ballantyne, PhD
      Author of The Paleo Approach
      Creator of the award-winning online resource and cohost of the syndicated top-rated The Paleo View Podcast.
      • Jeffrey Bland, MD
        Author of The Disease Delusion
        Co-founder of the Institute of Functional Medicine, and known to many as the "father of functional medicine."
        • Susan Blum, MD, MPH
          Author of The Immune System Recovery Plan
          Founder and Director of Blum Center for Health, her four-step protocol has been used to help thousands of patients reverse the symptoms of autoimmune disease, strengthen their immune systems, and bolster their overall health.

  • Joseph Mercola, MD
    Author of Effortless Healing
    Website is routinely among the top 10 health sites on the internet.
    • Amy Myers, MD
      Author of The Autoimmune Solution
      Creator of The Myers Way, a medical approach that facilitates the reversal and prevention of autoimmune conditions.
      • Mehmet Oz, MD
        Author of YOU: The Owner's Manual
        The beloved host of The Dr. Oz Show has arguably done more to bring Functional Medicine’s principles and practices to the forefront of American consciousness than anyone else.
        • David Perlmutter, MD
          Author of Brain Maker
          Board-certified neurologist who addresses nutritional and lifestyle influences and their impact on neurological disorders.
          • Terry Wahls, MD
            Author of The Wahls Protocol
            A survivor of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis who documented her use of intensive nutrition in recovery to develop the Wahls Protocol.
            • Izabella Wentz, PharmD, FASCP
              Author of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
              After being diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis in 2009, she decided to take on lifestyle interventions as a personal mission in an effort to help herself and others with Hashimoto's.
              • Anthony William
                Author of Medical Medium
                Anthony William was born with the unique ability to converse with a high-level spirit who provides him with extraordinarily accurate health information that’s often far ahead of its time. Although Anthony maintains that his principles and practices are "neutral, independent" of any particular medical community, most of his precepts coincide with core tenets of Functional Medicine.
                • Robb Wolf
                  Author of The Paleo Solution
                  Former research biochemist turned Paleolithic nutrition expert and producer of the Paleo Solution Podcast.

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