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Functional Medicine
Summary:

Functional Medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, Functional Medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. By addressing root cause, rather than symptoms, practitioners become oriented to identifying the complexity of disease.

Description:

The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) is the official body that offer the Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner programme and describes Functional Medicine as addressing the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, Functional Medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. By addressing root cause, rather than symptoms, practitioners become oriented to identifying the complexity of disease.(1)

Functional Medicine is a systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of many contributing to an individual’s illness. (1) Functional medicine embraces much of the philosophy of Integrative Medicine but also employs a systems-oriented medical approach that works to identify and understand the underlying or root causes of a disease. Although integrative medicine and functional medicine have similarities, there is one important distinction. Functional medicine strives to determine the root cause of each and every disease. Rather than simply making a diagnosis and then determining which drugs or surgery will best treat the condition, Functional Medicine practitioners dive deep into the patient’s history and biochemistry and ask why this patient is ill. (2)

When you visit a Functional Medicine practitioner, you can expect to spend a lot more time with them than you would with a conventional provider. You can also expect to do a lot of talking, as a large part of Functional Medicine is exploring your detailed personal and family history, the circumstances around your first symptoms, and the experiences you may have had with other healthcare providers. (1)

The system of medicine practised by most physicians is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as appendicitis or a broken leg. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.

Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine lacks the methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic disease. In most cases it does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or factors such as environmental exposures to toxins and the aspects of today’s lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise in chronic disease in modern Western society.

Functional medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with “alternative” or “integrative” medicine, creating a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques. (3)

History:

In 1991, the Institute for Functional Medicine was founded with seven defining characteristics of functional medicine. These included:

  • Patient centered versus disease centered
  • Systems biology approach: web-like interconnections of physiological factors
  • Dynamic balance of gene-environment interactions
  • Personalised based on biochemical individuality
  • Promotion of organ reserve and sustained health span
  • Health as a positive vitality—not merely the absence of disease
  • Function versus pathology focused

It was the recognition in 1991 that the definition of functional in medicine was changing from a singular focus on psychosomatic to an integrated focus including the whole biological system that led to the founding of the Institute for Functional Medicine. (4)

The information that emerged over several decades revolutionised medicine by creating a framework for the understanding that the origin of disease in the individual resulted from the interaction of their unique genome/epigenome with their environment, diet, and lifestyle.(5)

Learning about functional medicine and the history and origins of the work takes us back to the 50s, 60s and 70s. During that era certain progressive healers were starting to look at “natural medicine” or “alternative medicine”. Discoveries were being made about the nature of our bodies and the nutrients we need. A small and dedicated group of health care professionals started to use nutrients in the form of supplements, combined with herbal treatments that have for the most part been around for thousands of years and they wrapped all that into the new technology of the day – lab based data. (6)

The founding of the Institute for Functional Medicine marked the start of the formalisation of an approach to healing that had taken several decades to develop though the largely unacknowledged initiatives of physicians in many countries, and the inception of training courses that resulted was to go on to create a recognised and established path to the acquisition of the necessary skills and understanding to practise in this manner. As the principle of identifying disease processes upstream and correcting causative factors of disease has become increasingly established as a more useful approach to the prevalent chronic conditions of our time, many other parallel initiatives are gaining recognition for their contributions to this revolution in healthcare.

Science:

Published Sources:

(4) The National Center for Biotechnology Information , US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bland J. Defining Function in the Functional Medicine Model. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2017;16(1):22‐25.
(5) Bland JS. The Natural Roots of Functional Medicine. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2018;17(1):12‐17 The Natural Roots of Functional Medicine

Other Sources:

(1) The Institute for Functional Medicine IFM
(2) Functional Medicine vs Integrative Medicine, Patronus Medical Blog
(3) Dr. Mark Hyman, Why do we need Functional Medicine?
(6) Kalish Institute, The History Of Functional Medicine



Last Updated:28/05/2020
Reseacher: April Ozlem Moss
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    Practitioners
    +
    Ms Catherine Arnold
    Peckham , England
    Catherine Arnold is a Registered Nutritional Therapist with a special interest in gut health, fertility and cancer. ...
    Ms Leonie Ash
    Greyton, South Africa
    Leonie’s main disciplines are Nutrition, Functional Medicine and Humans Givens. She utilises science to form a systems biology-based approach ...
    Ms Leonie Ash
    Lustleigh , England
    Leonie’s main disciplines are Nutrition, Functional Medicine and Humans Givens. She utilises science to form a systems biology-based approach ...
    Dr Mehmet Mahir Atasoy
    Maltepe , Turkey
    Functional Medicine is a treatment approach specially applied for you, taking into account your lifestyle, diet and genetic factors. ...
    Gillian Bertram
    UK
    Gillian Bertram is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, Functional Medicine Practitioner and Integrative Health Coach, as well as a survivor of Grade 3 brain cancer. ...
    Dr Nick Bodi
    Saint Louis , USA
    Nick Bodi is a functional medicine Family Nurse Practitioner. He has worked in functional medicine for many years ...
    Evan Brand
    USA
    Evan Brand is a Podcast Host, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and Nutritional Therapist. He is passionate about healing the chronic fatigue, obesity, and depression epidemics after solving his own IBS and depression issues. ...
    Carolina Brooks
    London, UK
    Carolina Brooks is a fully certified functional medicine practitioner (IFMCP) and has also studied Naturopathy, Nutritional Therapy, Herbal Medicine, Auricular Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine ...
    Ms Sarah Stagg Carson
    Dallas, England
    Utilizing Functional Medicine principles Carpathia Collaborative, have created a compassionate, 360 degree, science-based, leading-edge approach to health ...
    Dr. Alex Concorde
    Carrickfergus , Northern Ireland
    Dr Alex Concorde is a London-trained Medical Doctor who is both GMC (General Medical Council)- and GNC (General Naturopathic Council)- Registered. ...
    Dr. Alex Concorde
    Liverpool, England
    Dr Alex Concorde is a London-trained Medical Doctor who is both GMC (General Medical Council)- and GNC (General Naturopathic Council)- Registered. ...
    Dr. Alex Concorde
    London, England
    Dr Alex Concorde is a London-trained Medical Doctor who is both GMC (General Medical Council)- and GNC (General Naturopathic Council)- Registered. ...
    Dr Sarah Davies
    Stockport, UK
    Dr Sarah Davies is an NHS doctor and GP, and completed her training in Functional Medicine at the Institute for Functional Medicine in the US. ...
    Dr Christopher Estes
    Miami Beach, USA
    Christopher M. Estes is a dedicated and compassionate physician whose career has evolved from extensive experience with medically complicated patients. ...
    Victoria Fenton
    Victoria Fenton is a naturopath, nutrition expert and functional medicine practitioner whose journey in healthcare began with her own health crisis ...
    Dr Nina Fuller-Shavel
    Stockbridge, UK England (SouthEast)
    Dr Nina Fuller-Shavel MA Hons (Cantab) MB BChir IFMCP DipIM PG Cert DipION is a GMC-registered Functional and Integrative Medicine Doctor ...
    Jo Gamble
    Coventry, UK - England (Midlands)
    Jo Gamble trained at The Institute for Functional Medicine and become the first UK trained Functional Medicine Practitioner in 2013 ...
    Ms Kate Garden
    Bath, England
    Kate Garden is a clinical nutritionist with a demonstrated history of working in the health wellness and fitness industry for 18 years. ...
    Dr. Andrew David Greenland
    Twickenham, England
    Dr Andrew Greenland is a fully qualified medical doctor, who continues to work as an NHS Consultant. ...
    Dr Silvia Grisendi
    UK - England (South East)
    Dr Silvia Grisendi is a qualified Nutritional Therapy and Lifestyle Medicine practitioner ...
    Ms Nathalie Gudgeon
    Nr Penrith, England
    Nathalie adopts a functional approach to her nutrition practice to explore the full health history of the individual and identify the root cause of the illness or problem. ...
    Ms Nathalie Gudgeon
    Wetherby, England
    Nathalie adopts a functional approach to her nutrition practice to explore the full health history of the individual and identify the root cause of the illness or problem. ...
    Dr Suman Gupta
    London, UK
    Dr Suman Gupta trained with the Institute of Functional Medicine (AFMCP) and has worked in excess of 15 years as a GP within the NHS ...
    Juliet Hayward
    London, UK - England (South East)
    Juliet received her diploma in Nutrition from the College of Natural Nutrition, worked for the Nutri-Centre specialising in nutritional supplements. ...
    Jayne Hooper
    Brighton, UK - England (South East)
    Jayne Hooper gained her Diploma in Nutrition from College of Naturopathic Medicine and also qualified as a Nutritional Therapist ...
    Ms Haruko Katsuie
    Hong Kong , Hong Kong
    Functional Medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional Medicine practitioners spend more time with their patients ...
    Dr Jeffery B Kreher
    Reading, USA
    Wellstead health is a medical practice that melds expertise in functional and traditional medicine to guide patients toward optimal health. ...
    Ms Angela Kulcsar
    Heidelberg, Germany
    Ever since Angela was a child, she wanted to heal people. She trained as a doctor at the University of Pharmacy but realised that wasn’t for her ...
    Ms Angela Kulcsar
    Sarasota, USA
    Ever since Angela was a child, she wanted to heal people. She trained as a doctor at the University of Pharmacy but realised that wasn’t for her ...
    Vicki Lee
    London, UK - England (South East)
    Vicki Lee is a registered Nutritional Therapist who graduated from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London with a distinction ...
    Sarah Lumley
    Richmond-upon-Thames, UK - England (South East)
    Sarah is one of the Nutritional Therapists at Body Soul Nutrition and she provides nutritional consultations via our personal programmes as well as ...
    Dr. Patrick Magovern
    Dublin, Ireland
    Dr Patrick Magoven owns Drummartin Clinic which is a small, independent, self-funded, medical clinic, he wants to help the patients ...
    Alex Manos
    Alex Manos is a Certified Practitioner from the Institute For Functional Medicine (IFMCP), as well as obtaining an MSc in Personalised Nutrition ...
    Dr. Daniela Mo
    London, England
    Dr Daniela Mo MD MRCGP is a GP and Functional Medicine Practitioner based in Wimbledon, offering Functional Medicine services in London. ...
    Dr. Daniela Mo
    Wimbledon, England
    Dr Daniela Mo MD MRCGP is a GP and Functional Medicine Practitioner based in Wimbledon, offering Functional Medicine services in London. ...
    Dr Sally Moorcroft
    UK
    Dr Sally Moorcroft is a GMC registered doctor with 20 years of clinical experience who specialises in Functional and Integrative Medicine. ...
    Ms Heather Mountney
    Nottingham, England
    Heather Mountney is a BANT registered nutritional therapist with a teaching qualification in nutrition. She has more than 9 year’s experience in her field. ...
    Lorraine Nicolle
    London, UK - England (South East)
    Lorraine Nicolle has a MSc in Nutrition and Chronic Disease in which she gained a Distinction and she is a qualified university lecturer. ...
    Dr Dallas E Peak
    Greenwood, USA
    Dr Peak believes a Functional Medicine approach emphasizing a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet in combination with modifying lifestyle factors ...
    Dr Ariel Perez
    Tijuana, Mexico
    Dr Ariel Perez is an integrative, functional physician who specialises in the treatment of chronic illnesses. ...
    Jenny Phillips
    Bourne End, UK - England (South East)
    Jenny Phillips is an established Nutritional Practitioner, with Degree level qualifications in Chemistry and Nutritional Medicine. She herself ...
    Mrs Edna Batschewa Schur
    Kanton , Switzerland
    Edna works as a Functional and Chinese Medicine Practitioner in Zurich and on zoom with clients worldwide. ...
    Toral Shah
    UK
    Toral Shah is a Nutritional Scientist (MSc Nutr Med), Functional Medicine Practitioner, Food and Health writer and Consultant, as well as the Founder of The Urban Kitchen. ...
    Dr Rajendra Sharma
    Exeter, UK - England (South East)
    Dr Rajendra Sharma has 30 years of experience as an Integrated Medical Doctor utilizing conventional, complementary and more recently Functional ...
    Wendy Smith
    London, UK - England (South East)
    Wendy Smith is an experienced Nutritional Therapist practising in south east London. She provides tailored nutritional advice and support to ...
    Dr Aryan Tavakkoli
    Lewes, UK - England (South East)
    Dr Tavakkoli is a consultant physician with a 25-year background in hospital medicine. At Quantum Clinic, she provides integrative support for adult patients with previous or current cancer ...
    Elaine Taylor
    UK - England (South West)
    Elaine has a first class BSc Hons in Nutritional Therapy from the Centre for Nutritional Education and Lifestyle Management (CNELM) validated by ...
    Ruth Taylor
    Winchester, UK - England (South West)
    Ruth Taylor qualified as a Nutritional Therapist from the Institute of Optimum Nutrition in 2009 where she additionally works as a lecturer. ...
    Dawn Waldron
    Tunbridge Wells, UK England (South East)
    Dawn Waldron is a UK nutritional therapist, nutrigenetic counsellor and life coach, specialising in breast cancer. As a 23 year survivor with 17 years clinical nutrition experience ...
    Elizabeth Wall
    Lichfield, UK - England (Midlands)
    Elizabeth Wall studied Nutritional Therapy in London at the College of Naturopathic Medicine and has a Diploma in Allergy Intolerance Therapy. Since ...
    Dr Lincoln Westall
    Rawlins , USA
    Dr Lincoln Westfall practices broad-scope family medicine with a functional medicine approach. ...
    Clinics
    +
    Angeles Health International
    Tijuana, Mexico
    Angeles Hospital offers Functional Oncology which is a holistic cancer treatment programme, combining therapies from both conventional and alternative medicine. ...
    Aware Clinic
    Giza, Egypt
    Aware clinic is a Functional Medicine practice operated by Dr. Wafaa Abdel-Hadi, the First Certified Functional Medicine Doctor in Egypt and the Middle East ...
    Functional Medical Associates
    London, UK
    Functional Medicine Associates is a team of IFM certified practitioners founded by Pete Williams, who was the first IFM certified practitioner in the UK ...
    Klinik Arlesheim
    Arlesheim, Switzerland
    An anthroposophical clinic, established in 1921, where all anthroposophic doctors have completed a medical degree with a license to practice medicine and specialist training ...
    Private GP
    Leicester, UK
    Private GP is run by Dr Julia Piper, a GP for 34 years with 12 years experience in functional medicine, having been trained at the Institute of Functional Medicine in the US. ...
    Private GP
    London, UK
    Private GP is run by Dr Julia Piper, a GP for 34 years with 12 years experience in functional medicine, having been trained at the Institute of Functional Medicine in the US. ...
    Quantum Clinic
    Lewes, UK - England (South East)
    Dr Tavakkoli is a consultant physician with a 25-year background in hospital medicine. At Quantum Clinic, she provides integrative ...
    The Hale Clinic
    London, UK
    The Hale Clinic was opened in 1988 by HRH The Prince of Wales, as the first clinic in the UK to combine conventional and complementary medicine ...
    Twelfth Health
    Birmingham, UK
    Twelfth Health clinic in Harrow Middlesex started in 2014 and now has a second site in Birmingham ...
    Twelfth Health
    UK
    Twelfth Health clinic in Harrow Middlesex started in 2014 and now has a second site in Birmingham ...
    Upper Room Clinic
    Toronto, Canada
    The Upper Room Clinic is a functional medicine clinic that focuses on understanding the fundamental needs of the body ...
    Information & Advice
    +
    Cancer Decisions
    Lemont, United States
    A Moss Report assists with educating a cancer patient about any promising alternative treatments for their particular condition. Please see the website for costs of downloading or ordering a printed copy of each Moss report. ...
    Cancer Information and Support Society (CISS)
    St Leonards, Global (ie: web based)
    CISS promotes non-toxic holistic medicine. The educational organisation promotes prevention, self-help and freedom of choice in therapies for cancer...
    Cancer Options Ltd
    Nottingham, Global (ie: web based)
    Led by Patricia Peat, an experienced oncology nurse, Cancer Options offers support and information on orthodox treatments, clinical trials and developments worldwide. ...
    Canhelp Inc
    Livingstone, United States
    CANHELP serves patients and/or family members who wish to take an active part in the healing process and are willing to think outside the conventional medical box. ...
    Institute for Functional Medicine (The)
    United States
    The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) is building a scalable and robust educational platform using innovative technologies and teaching methods ...
    Yes to Life
    London, UK - England (South East)
    Yes to Life is a charity that offers support to people with cancer in the UK who want to take a proactive role in their treatment ...