What is functional medicine?

Functional medicine is a fundamentally different way of thinking about and evaluating the origins and mechanisms of illness and disease. It is a personalized and integrative approach to healthcare which involves understanding the prevention, management and root causes of complex chronic disease, The ultimate goal is to heal disease and promote a healthy life. A healthy life is not defined as simply an absence of disease, but rather a positive vitality filled with energy, joy, gratitude and balance. Functional medicine delivers all the benefits of conventional medicine – it also addresses in the individual why they became ill, how they can create a healthy life and how they can prevent illness in the future.

What is the difference between conventional medicine and functional medicine?

Functional medicine builds upon the best of conventional medical science rather than rejecting it. Conventional medicine addresses the WHAT of illness – WHAT is the problem and WHAT are we going to do to “fix” it. Functional medicine also addresses the WHAT and goes further with the WHY and the HOW. WHY did the person get ill with the problem and HOW do we prevent recurrence of it in the future. Functional medicine is an evolution of conventional medical practice that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. Learn more about the differences here

Why haven’t I heard of functional medicine?

You will. Conventional medicine is a conservative institution and altering its course takes time. Functional medicine began in 1990’s with a few pioneering doctors who were frustrated practicing medicine within a system designed for acute disease which expected them to treat chronic disease with only drugs and surgery. Currently, functional medicine has its own professional organization (IFM or Institute of Functional Medicine) with thousands of licensed practitioners world-wide and has established its first academic department at the Cleveland Clinic in 2014. In addition, many physicians in academia are beginning to incorporate functional medicine concepts into medical school curricula for the next generation of doctors to more effectively take care of their patients.

Why did you become a functional medicine physician?

I began my career with a conventional medical training in Internal Medicine, working as a hospitalist and a private practice primary care physician. I was well-trained and grateful for this, however, I felt something was missing. This became especially evident when I entered the outpatient world with its heavy burden of chronic disease. The demands of a busy private practice and a new family left me little time for professional soul-searching and even less time for additional training. Then in 2010, one of my children was diagnosed with autism and my life changed. Prior to this, I had only glimpsed the limitations within the conventional medical model, but after attempting to receive care from this model for a chronically ill child – my eyes were fully opened. I had dedicated my professional life to a model which was now turning its back on my son. How many patients had I inadvertently done this to as well? This was completely unacceptable to me, so I began a journey to help my son and in the process make myself the best doctor I could be for all my patients. The end product of this journey is Southwest Functional Medicine. Oh, and my son is a LOT better now. 🙂

Do you take my insurance?

No. We do not accept any insurance. All fees are settled directly between patient and provider. At the patient’s request, we will provide you with the necessary forms and diagnostic codes needed for you to submit an out-of-network claim to your insurance.

What is the difference between your individualized functional nutrition evaluation and the nutrition evaluations offered by most other practitioners?

There is no perfect diet for the population as a whole, however, every individual has an ideal diet based on the manner their body functions. For example, a vegan diet can be hugely successful for one individual and a disaster for another. The same can be said for low-fat, low-carb, vegetarian, Paleo, Mediterranean and the list goes on and on. Functional nutrition acknowledges a vast array of food plans and then tailors a dietary approach to the specific physiological needs and personal preferences of the individual. The emphasis is on choosing high quality foods with a diversity of phytonutrients and eating them in such a manner as to support metabolic balance and optimal nutrition status, rather than counting calories. This customized approach to recommending foods will address any underlying imbalances in core clinical functions and bring attention to the importance of creating a healthy relationship with food. The ultimate goal is to teach patients to become aware of how food may be impacting their health and contributing to the development and persistence of chronic disease.