Functional Medicine

Updated on April 2, 2024

Chronic illness is becoming far more prevalent than for previous generations. Conventional medical treatments deal primarily with relieving the symptoms that these chronic illnesses present. The underlying causes are rarely adequately diagnosed and dealt with.

Functional medicine, through a patient-centered approach, instead of managing symptoms, rather looks at removing the core causes of a problem. Exceptional success rates produce through careful diagnosis, there are many who are finding it to be the best option for them. 

More definitive information can be found here at for a more detailed background into individual functional medicine treatments. 

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is about identifying the core reason for the appearance of specific medical symptoms. Treating and dealing with the issues that have caused your illness is the goal of this form of medicine rather than just relieving symptoms.

Specializing in specific techniques and training therapies, a functional medical practice looks to provide a more patient-centered approach. Appointment times are longer, lab tests are more thorough and therapies and programs can result in significant lifestyle alterations to deal with the underlying causes.

What is the Importance of Lab Testing 

Accurate testing is the crux of the success of a functional medical approach. Tests and parameters are far stricter than with conventional forms of medicine. The tests also take a far wider look at what is occurring inside your body. In addition to standard evaluations, tests are also conducted for:

  • Inflammation markers
  • Hormones
  • Adrenal dysfunction
  • Nutrient issues
  • Cardiovascular indicators
  • Toxins
  • Oncology

Beyond this, the reference ranges for identifiable problems are much more accurate and constantly updated with the latest data. Potential issues are less likely to be missed, and fewer wrong diagnoses made with this more thorough approach to lab work.

Are Doctors Who Practice Functional Medicine Real MDs

Proper functional practitioners are fully qualified MDs or DO’s. Indeed, if they are not fully licensed MD or DO’s, you should find an alternative practice where they are. Their licenses allow them to practice in any of the 50 states, so you can attend with confidence.

With their comprehensive medical training and very often years of practicing experience, functional medicine doctors are ideally qualified to guide your journey into the vast benefits that functional medicine offers. 

What Can Be Treated?

With the core reason for ill health being the focus of functional medicine, the medical issues that can be covered are widespread. As a form of treatment, it is particularly effective in dealing with the following:

Autoimmune Disorders: Conditions such as inflamed bowel, celiac disease, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.

Digestive Problems: Common digestive issues, such as crohn’s disease, gluten and lactose allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, and candida (intestinal yeast issues), can be helped.

Stress-Related Illnesses: Dealing with anxiety, unusual tiredness, insomnia, and poor concentration are all areas that can be considerably improved.

Mental Health Problems: Stress can lead to mental health issues such as depression and coping issues, which can also be dealt with through functional medical therapies. 

Women’s Health: These can include menopause issues, excess hormones, PMS, fertility nutrition, and thyroid problems.

Can General Health Be Improved?

Functional medical care primarily focuses on the root of a person’s medical issues. While you may feel that you are in reasonably good health there may well be problems bubbling inside that will lead to chronic issues further down the line.

By referring yourself for a “check-up” to a qualified functional medical practitioner on a routine basis, you can stop future issues from developing into something more serious. 

Using the advanced laboratory testing that we referred to earlier, imbalances and potential problems can easily be identified, and you can initiate programs, such as simple dietary changes and therapies and exercise programs that will help you maintain your health.

In What Ways Does Functional Differ From Conventional Medicine

When establishing the key points of difference between functional and conventional medicine, we have to consider clinical range versus functional range. 

A clinician is generally focused on solving the problem that currently exists. While potential issues can be flagged up, and encouragement to live a healthy life espoused, their primary goal is to deal with the reason that you are sitting in front of them.

Medication and antibiotics, often pushed by avaricious drug companies tend to be the result. This may temporarily deal with or manage the issue but with the chronic disease, this is unlikely to tackle or solve the root cause.

Functional practitioners are more concerned with how the situation arose and how to remove this from your body’s equation to ensure an eventual drug-free release from the problem.

Why Should You Consider Using Functional Medicine

Strange question though it may be, you have to ask yourself whose interests a clinician is working on behalf. The patient should be the priority, but the interests of drug and insurance companies are also present. 

Considerable pressure can be applied to clinicians to prescribe specific drugs for a particular treatment, irrespective of the individual patient’s unique circumstances. When this happens, the balance has shifted from patient needs to outside concerns. 

As functional medicine is not drug dependent, the pressure to prescribe doesn’t exist. Diet and lifestyle changes sit at the center of functional care. Instead of popping you full of pills, they look to eliminate the toxins that are the root cause of almost all chronic diseases.

Personalized Care

Functional medicine works on an individual basis, no two people or their bodies are quite the same. Each has different imbalances within that need to be controlled and modified in order for your body to return to a balanced state.

Testing will reveal what these issues are, and then a crafted program of therapies can be established with solely you, as the specific patient, in mind. No two patients will follow the same pattern of therapies and treatments, and you won’t be prescribed, or very unlikely to be, unless a very good reason exists, the latest drug to make pharmaceutical companies happy.

What Sort of Success Rate Does It Have?

Success rates are clearly an imperative concern for a patient. Before undertaking a course of any medication or therapy, conventional or functional, you need to be reassured of its efficacy. 

This information is more relevant if you are moving away from conventional to functional care to solve a medical issue. No treatment can guarantee a 100% success rate. Still, functional medicine scores highly on its long-term effectiveness, with 87 ½% of patients undergoing functional treatments reporting that they have made a significant recovery.

What is the Timespan Before You See Results?

Timespan is also a considerable influencing factor when evaluating whether functional medicine is correct for you. Functional medicine, as we have discussed, works through attacking the root causes of a disease as opposed to the immediate symptoms.

The upside of this is that you will have long-term relief from your symptoms when following functional medical programs. However, immediate relief is unlikely as it will take time to deal with the core issues that perpetuate the symptoms. 

This doesn’t mean that you won’t experience some benefits from treatments and therapies quickly. Generally, there will be an easing of the symptoms as the program’s progress. Within a few weeks of following them, you will feel not only that your immediate problem has improved but that also general health appears much better. 


With a patient-centered approach and more thorough lab work, it is easy to understand the rise in the use of functional medicine and associated treatments. Dealing with causes instead of symptoms to provide long-term relief from chronic illness is attractive to the patient.

Fully qualified MDs and DOs that pharmaceutical companies do not overtly influence give you a far better chance than with conventional clinicians of getting treatments that work for you on a personal level. With derivative benefits of overall health improvement, the field of functional medicine looks set to expand.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.