Author: Dr. Quinte Naturopathic Centre on 13 January 2012

Recently Dr. Oz had an episode talking about Functional Medicine and why it is the way medicine must be practiced in the future in order to conquer complex, chronic diseases. Here is an excerpt from an article written by Dr. Mark Hyman, one of Dr. Oz’s experts on the episode.

“Chronic disease is a food-and lifestyle-driven, environment- and genetics-influenced phenomenon. New approaches to management and prevention are required if we are to stem the rising tide of chronic disease, expected to outpace deaths from infectious disease twofold within the next decade. It can be conquered by integrating what we know about how the human body works with individualized, patient-centered, science-based care that addresses the causes of chronic disease, which are rooted in lifestyle choices, environmental exposures, and genetic influences. This is exactly what functional medicine does.

A patient seeing a functional medicine practitioner can expect to spend considerable time in the clinician’s office. Not only is critical information collected about factors that may have set the stage for (or may be contributing to) the present problems, but a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s habits of daily living, prior illnesses and traumas, environmental exposures, and genetic influences must be gained.

Patients may be asked to complete questionnaires on a variety of topics, such as toxic exposures at home and at work/school, a diet history, and characteristics of chronic and acute symptoms. Answers provide the clinician with in-depth health-related information that is difficult to gather by interview alone.

Laboratory tests are often recommended, including tests both familiar (e.g., CBC) and less conventional (e.g., stool analysis). These tests help determine which key biological processes are functioning properly and which are not essential information for the development of a customized, comprehensive treatment plan to restore health.

Treatments may include drugs, botanical medicines, nutritional supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, and counseling on lifestyle, exercise, or stress-management techniques.

The patient is an active partner with the functional medicine practitioner, taking a leading role in improving health and changing the outcome of disease.”

This also concisely describes how a naturopathic doctor listens to the patient’s story, assesses physical signs and symptoms, recommends laboratory testing, and treats the underlying biological dysfunctions with natural substances and dietary and lifestyle changes instead of suppressing symptoms with drugs. It turns out that Naturopathic doctors are Functional medicine doctors by default!


To learn more about Functional Medicine and Dr. Mark Hyman go to

Dr. Hyman also gives an excellent talk on TEDMED which can be found on the same website.

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