A question we get asked all the time is whether functional medicine doctors can prescribe medication. The short answer is yes! Functional medicine doctors are real doctors, and they can prescribe medication when it’s necessary. However, we take a different approach to traditional doctors, in that we treat each individual holistically with the goal of restoring their overall well-being. This means that instead of treating the symptoms of a disease, we treat the root cause – which is incredibly effective.
In this blog, we’re going to talk you through the different types of functional medicine practitioners so you can understand what each of them does and what makes our practice so special. We’ll also explain what we treat, talk you through some treatment options and benefits, and leave you with a few things to think about so you can decide if functional medicine is going to be right for you.
Ready to take charge of your health? Schedule a free discovery call.
Types of Functional Medicine Practitioners
There are different types of practitioners that specialize in functional medicine, and it’s important you know the difference so you can decide which is most beneficial for you.
- Medical Doctor (M.D.) – An M.D. is a doctor who first went through traditional medical school and then added training and education in integrative and functional medicine. M.D.s often have the most flexibility to order tests and prescribe medications.
Dr. Joseph Radawi, has an M.D. from the American University of the Caribbean, completed his residency at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences, and is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. He also spent a decade practicing emergency medicine, which is when he first became interested in functional medicine. He noticed that traditional medicine is great at treating acute illnesses and injuries, but not chronic conditions. He started looking for better practice models and ended up completing advanced clinical training through the Institute of Functional Medicine.
- Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) – Like M.D.s, D.O.s attend four years of post-graduate medical school, plus internships and residencies. However, unlike conventional M.D.s, D.O.s consider a holistic approach that treats not only the body, but also the mind and the spirit. While they can prescribe medication, they generally take a holistic approach to healing and avoid medication when possible.
- Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (N.D.) – An N.D.’s approach to treatment aims to avoid drugs and surgery. They instead choose to work with natural, less invasive therapies before turning to prescription medicine. N.D.s also go through a four-year medical education, and they may prescribe medications as allowed by state regulations.
- Nurse Practitioner (N.P.) – Similar to doctors, N.P.s are able to own and operate their own practices and can also prescribe medications however their training is not as long and they do not complete a residency.
- Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) – While D.C.s typically focus on treating orthopedic dysfunction, they can also practice functional medicine. However, they are not able to prescribe medication.
What Functional Medicine Doctors Do
Functional medicine doctors treat a variety of chronic diseases that can be caused or exacerbated by nutritional problems or physiological imbalances. Using a systems-oriented approach to address underlying causes of diseases, functional medicine analyzes your unique genetic makeup, along with a detailed examination of lifestyle and environmental factors, such as stress, diet, and exposure to toxins.
Functional medicine doctors take a patient-centered approach to treat you as a whole – not just your isolated symptoms. And while it is a holistic approach to health, it is also deeply science based. It uses the latest functional diagnostic testing to determine your unique underlying health condition
and then creates a custom treatment plan to meet your specific goals and fit with your lifestyle needs.
Dr. Radawi applies his functional medicine approach to treat a wide range of illnesses, including:
- Thyroid and Adrenal Issues: Thyroid and adrenal issues can have a serious impact on your well-being, but they can be effectively treated with functional medicine.
- Autoimmune Disorders: Autoimmune disorders are conditions in which the immune system mistakenly starts attacking healthy cells, causing a range of chronic symptoms.
- Chronic Pain and Inflammation: Chronic aches and pain can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, and it’s often caused by inflammation or undiagnosed nerve issues.
- Digestive Disorders: Digestive disorders are diseases affecting your digestive tract, which is also called the gastrointestinal tract.
- Hormone Imbalances: Hormones are chemicals that tell your organs what to do. Imbalances may explain symptoms ranging from weight gain to pain, fatigue, and more.
Examples of Functional Medicine Treatments
Depending on your unique symptoms and overall wellness, your functional medicine practitioner may recommend the following treatment options:
- Regular exercise
- Genetic testing
- Mental and emotional health care
- Nutritional planning
- Laboratory testing
- Medication and supplements
- Stress management
If you’re dealing with any of these issues, learn more by watching our free online webinars.
Benefits of Functional Medicine
Functional medicine has both short-term and long-term benefits. By combining traditional medicine with integrative medicine, functional medicine can help you achieve your best health. Functional medicine will not only treat your disorders retroactively by assessing symptoms that have already emerged, but also proactively to help you avoid health issues in the future.
Functional medicine is most effective when used to treat complex, chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, coeliac disease, psoriasis, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, and hormone imbalance.
It Treats the Root Cause
Unlike conventional medicine, functional medicine treats the whole person, not just the symptoms of a disease. Using this approach results in long-term solutions for patients.
It Takes a Natural Approach
Functional medicine is a natural approach to healing. This means no surgery, no prescription drugs, and no invasive treatments.
It Empowers You to Help Yourself
Many times, people suffer from some form of self-generated disease, and more medication will not solve the problem permanently. By taking control of your diet and lifestyle, you can have a say in your own wellbeing.
Is Functional Medicine Right for Me?
The first step to deciding if functional medicine is right for you is to determine your personal health goals. Have you been struggling with a chronic health condition? Are you sick of starting, stopping, and changing medications to manage your symptoms? Is your overall health a priority to you, and to what extent are you willing to adapt and change your lifestyle to benefit your health? These are just a few of the critical questions you need to answer in order to determine if functional medicine is right for you.
Are you open to trying a new approach to your health?
Functional medicine is a form of holistic medicine that strives to treat your medical conditions by finding the root cause of the dysfunction/disease. Many people can be skeptical of the validity and benefits of this medical approach, so it’s important to consider if you are open-minded to the concept.
Are you willing to make lifestyle changes?
Functional medicine doctors often recommend treatment plans that involve changing aspects of your lifestyle to create positive health outcomes. This can include dietary changes, exercise regimes, supplements/herbal usages, and more. Habit building and lifestyle changes take time and patience, but your functional medicine practitioner is here to help you each step of the way.
Are you tired of being sick?
If you feel like you have run out of options for treating your chronic health condition, then it may be time to try functional medicine. Conventional medicine is primarily focused on treating symptoms, and not the root cause of those symptoms. So, rather than prescribing more medications to temporarily ease the dysfunction in the body, a functional medicine doctor will work with you to create a health plan that targets the root causes of your personal health issues.
If your health isn’t where you’d like it to be, functional medicine can help you find optimal wellness. If you want to be treated as an individual and unique person, then perhaps seeing a functional medicine doctor is the right choice for you.
Start your wellness journey today. Schedule a free discovery call.
Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout East Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, and Abingdon, VA.