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Review Article
Volume 6 Issue 5 - 2021
Functional Medicine in Practice: What is Functional Medicine and How to Integrate Functional Medicine into Medical Practice
Nicholas A Kerna1,2*, Hilary M Holets3,4, Abdullah Hafid5, Kevin D Pruitt6, ND Victor Carsrud7, Uzoamaka Nwokorie8, Rashad Roberson9 and Silile Ndhlovu10
1SMC–Medical Research, Thailand
2First InterHealth Group, Thailand
3Beverly Hills Wellness Surgical Institute, USA
4Orange Partners Surgicenter, USA
5Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM), USA
6Kemet Medical Consultants, USA
7Lakeline Wellness Center, USA
8University of Washington, USA
9Georgetown American University, College of Medicine, Guyana
10MyPainDoc PC, USA
*Corresponding Author: Nicholas A Kerna, (mailing address) POB47 Phatphong, Suriwongse Road, Bangkok, Thailand 10500.
Received: April 28, 2021; Published: April 30, 2021


Functional medicine (FM) at its incipience proposed that patient symptoms should be separated and explicitly approached for more effective treatment results. This theory was in contrast to the accepted medical practice of the 1970s and 1980s in the US and elsewhere. FM’s premise resulted in functional evaluations at the organ, tissue, and cellular levels. Such evaluations are accomplished by examining radiographic and physiological biomarkers, radioimmune assay, computed tomography, nuclear imaging, and other non-invasive diagnostic methods.

This fundamental rationale of FM was lent credence by the US Congress in 1994 by the de facto acceptance through the regulation of dietary supplements (which were used in dietary and nutritional-supplemented treatment programs). These guidelines highlighted more widespread awareness of the growing trend in nutritional application and advanced acceptance and recognition of FM practitioners.

Nonetheless, the beginnings of FM could be considered as far back to Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine. Hippocrates practiced an individualized and conservative treatment approach. Hippocrates advocated prevention over symptomatic treatment, and deemed a natural and balanced diet a cornerstone of health and well-being.

FM has advanced in acceptance and recognition, notwithstanding its relative shortage of evidence-based research during its earliest period. Also, FM has been criticized for not having a precise and universally applied definition or general medical acceptance.

FM practitioners believe that their methods help identify specific conditions or diseases earier than established medical protocols. FM relies on evaluating such markers as C-reactive protein, glucose intolerance, vitamin D3, and thermography tests to detect abberations at an early stage. Also, FM practitioners rely on their test results for providing personalized treatment programs for their patients.

Specific conditions have been reported, at times, to benefit from functional medicine or a combination of standard medical treatment and functional medicine, such as arthritis, celiac disease, depression, fatigue, heartburn, bloating, diarrhea, arthralgias and myalgias, hyperlipidemia, gout, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Also, FM, when combined with medically recognized cancer treatment, has demonstrated some success in a limited number of specific cancer cases.

In several studies, FM treatments appeared to have minimal to no adverse effect affects if appropriately applied under the trained supervision of a licensed and certified health care provider. To date, there are no recognized contraindications for FM. However, FM has distinct limitations, such as typically comprising prolonged treatment programs and stringent protocols. FM patients may be unable to adhere to dietary constraints and sustain a balanced life, which are crucial determinants in FM.

FM practitioners and treatments have received strong opposition from particular medical groups, claiming that the FM approach can be harmful and dangerous. However, based on a relatively small number of research studies and sample sizes, FM may alone manage specific conditions or do so in conjunction with verified medical treatments for enhanced patient outcomes.

Functional medicine certification programs are offered to licensed healthcare professionals, such as medical doctors, osteopaths, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, or naturopathic practitioners. Also, more in-depth specialization programs are available.

Keywords: Alternative; Complementary; Diabetes; Diet; Obesity; Stress; Systems Biology


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Citation: Kerna NA, Holets HM, Hafid A, Pruitt KD, Carsrud NDV, Nwokorie U, Roberson R, Ndhlovu S. “Functional Medicine in Practice: What is Functional Medicine and How to Integrate Functional Medicine into Medical Practice”. EC Endocrinology and Metabolic Research 6.5 (2021): 37-45.

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