While a number of different health practices share similar concepts, functional medicine is unique in that it focuses on uncovering the root causes of disease rather than treating individual symptoms. A doctor who practiced functional medicine would look for the underlying cause of your symptoms, which could be anything from your gut health to your hormones to your sleep cycle or genetics.
A functional medicine consultation is often longer than a traditional appointment, and your practitioner will likely want to spend time discussing your family history, your diet, lifestyle, the stressors in your life and of course, the specific symptoms that brought you to your consultation. Your practitioner will also likely order specialty labs to get a complete picture of how your body is functioning.
Functional Medicine 101: Understanding the Core Principles of Whole-Person Healing
Unlike many allopathic doctors who rush you in and out of your appointments, functional medicine practitioners take the time to listen and understand what brings you into their office. They’ll then help you develop a personalized plan for addressing your symptoms and ensuring that your body is healthy and functioning the way it should.
Many health professionals are leaving their insurance-based medical practices and learning to provide functional medicine to patients. This can be a lucrative and rewarding career path, but it requires a lot of hard work. To be successful, you’ll need to make sure you have the right systems in place and that you’re leveraging the right resources.
Aunna Herbst was a lifestyle and health coach before she went back to school for medical school and an MD. She says that studying physiology, biology, and biochemistry are the most important underpinnings to practicing functional medicine. She also recommends attending functional medicine conferences and networking with like-minded doctors to learn the latest research and advances in the field.