What Is a Functional Medicine Practitioner?

A Functional Medicine Practitioner is a health care provider (MD, DO, DC, ND, PA, RN, NP, Acupuncturist) who has a degree and training in the discipline. Some choose to become certified in Functional Medicine, while others specialize and focus on continuing education. Some also “shadow” a functional medicine practitioner to learn on the job.

What is the role of functional medicine?

Functional medicine takes into account your genetic makeup, medical history, environment and lifestyle, along with specialized laboratory testing to form the picture of how well you’re functioning. These factors, in turn, determine your unique health characteristics and help to define the treatment plan that is right for you.

This type of patient-centered approach is particularly ideal for treating stealth pathogens, as primary symptoms can often ebb and flow depending on the body’s response to these microbes. This is because these microbes target multiple systems of the body, so one day your fatigue might be your dominant symptom, while the next your depression may take over. Functional medicine practitioners are able to recognize this and treat accordingly.

Since the goal is to identify and correct root causes, a functional doctor will prescribe lifestyle adjustments that can significantly improve your condition or prevent disease in the future. For example, a functional doctor might recommend exercise therapy because research has shown that exercise can lower inflammation and help manage stress levels. This is a much more effective approach than simply telling a patient to take medication for their symptoms.

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417 Integrative Medicine

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