What Do Functional Medicine Doctors Do?


If you have health problems, you may be searching for ways to treat your illnesses in a personalized way. In this article, we’ll talk about functional medicine — a medical approach that considers things beyond your symptoms. Read on! 

What is Functional Medicine? 

Functional medicine is a patient-focused approach to the management of chronic diseases. Apart from determining what your illness is, this approach endeavors to answer the question, “Why are you ill?”.

In other words, functional medicine aims to understand the illness’ triggers, which may include poor nutrition, toxins, stress, genetics, and allergens. 

Once these triggers are found, functional medicine practitioners customize a healthier living plan. The plan aims to address many parts of your life, such as your exercise habits, sleep patterns, mental and emotional stressors, work, community, and social life.

Functional medicine is often compared with integrative medicine since both approaches consider your lifestyle and habits. They also both go beyond traditional medical management models. 

What do Functional Medicine Doctors Do? 

A functional medicine doctor works holistically; they consider your physical, emotional, and mental health. Given these, functional doctors spend more time with you than other more traditional doctors. 

They collect more details about your medical history and lifestyle, so they may inquire about: 

  • Your symptoms 
  • Timeline of symptoms 
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise habits
  • Sleep patterns
  • Known triggers or stressors
  • Emotional wellbeing
  • Personal relationships 

Because of the amount of information they ask, functional medicine doctors need more collaboration effort from you. They consider your inputs while keeping you accountable for your choices concerning your treatment and condition. 

Based on the information they collect, they concoct a treatment plan to manage multiple factors that may be causing your illness. The plan may include supplements, prescription medications, and other things. 

From there, they track your progress and adjust the treatment when necessary. Due to its nature, functional medicine treatments differ per person. Each plan is tailored to your specific illness and its root cause.

For example, if you’re diagnosed with depression, functional medicine doctors will search and treat each cause of your illness, resulting in a personalized treatment plan.

What Education Does a Functional Medicine Doctor Need? 

Functional medicine doctors go through traditional med school training. From there, they may try to get certification from organizations like The Institute for Functional Medicine. Doctors then apply the principles of functional medicine to their original field practice. 

While certifications do not give further legal credentials to doctors, they show that the doctors are trained to work with this medical approach. Functional medicine certifications can also be acquired by dentists, nurse practitioners, and other medical practitioners. 

Is Functional Medicine Effective?

Functional medicine practitioners help patients take an active role in their own health. As they educate you about your bodily processes, you gain a better chance of receiving better treatment. 

In other words, functional medicine’s holistic approach is more effective in making you healthier since it addresses your unique needs and triggers. Blanket solutions used by traditional medical management models aren’t as effective as finding out what is working and what’s not working for your condition. 

Why Hire a Functional Medicine Doctor? 

If you’re not sure whether you need a functional medicine doctor, the most common reasons other people do are: 

  • Longer Appointments: functional medicine physicians spend more time with you. Their processes involve investigating your overall medical history and lifestyle. 
  • Suitable for Chronic Illnesses: functional medicine doctors often strive to find the causes of chronic diseases as opposed to simply treating their symptoms. 
  • Alternative Treatments: apart from prescription drugs, functional medical doctors may also prescribe alternative treatments like herbal medicines, acupuncture, and meditation.