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What is functional medicine?

What Exactly is Functional Medicine? Here’s How it Works

Functional medicine takes an individualized and patient-centered approach to healing. It focuses on finding the root cause of a patient’s issues, instead of only treating the symptoms. It’s becoming increasingly popular around the United States because it’s essentially an evolution of medical practice, designed to better treat and diagnose a range of illnesses, including chronic conditions.

Functional medicine is also sometimes known as integrative medicine or holistic medicine because it looks as the person as a whole. Doctors take a range of factors into account – including the patient’s genetics, lifestyle, and environment – to get to the bottom of their health issues. This approach doesn’t focus on treating and alleviating symptoms, but restoring overall health and well-being.

Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is a leading functional medicine clinic located in Johnson City, Tennessee. Our practice was founded in 2016 with the aim of bringing back doctor/patient relationships grounded in compassionate and personalized care. We want you to understand what functional medicine offers and how it can help you get your life back, so we’re going to talk you through the process and answer some frequently asked questions.

Already know functional medicine is for you? Schedule a free discovery call.

Are Functional Medicine Doctors Real Doctors?

This is a really important question and the answer is a resounding YES. Our medical director, 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.

What Does a Functional Medicine Doctor Do?

Functional medicine doctors work with their patients to restore their overall health and well-being. They don’t apply band-aid solutions to complex problems. If you’re tired of going from doctor to doctor without finding answers, and taking medication after medication without feeling better, this could be right for you. It’s a modern approach that will help you get the treatment you deserve.

The first thing you’ll notice about functional medicine doctors is that they take their time to get to know you. This includes a thorough examination, a detailed medical history, and a comprehensive chat about your health goals. They’ll talk to you about what your life was like before you got sick, how your symptoms are impacting your functionality, and what you hope to do once your health is back on track. This is critical because they’ll walk with you for every step of your journey.

The second thing to note is that you’ll work with your doctor for a longer period of time. You won’t visit once and get a prescription only to never hear from us again. Health can’t be restored overnight, especially if you have a chronic condition such as inflammation/chronic pain or thyroid/autoimmune conditions, so your doctor will work with you to make long-term changes.

The third thing to keep in mind is that functional medicine doctors are holistic. They’re licensed physicians, so they can prescribe medication and they will do so when necessary. However, they also use a range of other tools to help reset your metabolism and help your body heal. This can include dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, exercise recommendations, and evidence-based alternative treatments. It’s designed to help you make the changes necessary for long-term health.

What’s the Difference Between Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine?

As we said at the start of this blog, the terms “functional medicine” and “integrative medicine” are often used interchangeably. However, there are subtle differences between the two methods. Both look at the patient holistically, taking the whole person into account instead of just the symptoms of illness or injury. Both favor natural approaches to healing and will look closely at the patient’s lifestyle while developing treatment plans that restore overall health and well-being.

Functional medicine focuses on restoring the body’s natural functionality. It’s a modern approach to medical practice that relies heavily on scientific research and testing to solve problems. It heavily emphasizes the power of lifestyle modification in restoring health over the long-term.

Integrative medicine focuses on healing the body, mind, and spirit. It also relies on evidence-backed methodologies to restore health, but it may integrate more alternative therapies. This can include detoxification therapies, IV vitamin/mineral therapies, oxidative therapies, and more.

Do Functional Medicine Doctors Prescribe Medicine?

This is such a common question we’ll answer it again, just to be really clear: YES. Functional medicine doctors can and do prescribe medications when necessary. They also order labs and other diagnostic tests just like traditional doctors. However, functional medicine doctors will take things a step further. They’ll take a critical look at your current list of meds and talk to you about treatment options you may not have considered before. This is because their goal is to treat the root cause of your issue, instead of just masking the symptoms, so you can live a healthy and happy life.

Why do Functional Medicine Doctors Focus on Diet?

Food is the fuel your body needs to thrive. This means that gut health is intrinsically linked to overall health, which makes it a great starting point to revitalize your body. Metabolism is the process by which your body converts food to energy and it’s very closely linked to hormone production, so it doesn’t just affect obvious things like digestion and weight gain or loss. It’s directly linked to organ function, muscle health, immune responses, skin condition, mental clarity, mood, and more.

However, diet is only one factor your doctor will take into consideration while developing your treatment plan. Things like medications, exercise, sleep, stress, genetics and environmental factors also have a significant impact on your well-being. Functional medicine doctors aim to treat illnesses naturally wherever possible and many complete advanced clinical training to learn how to use these elements to aid healing and restoration. If you’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, functional medicine could be the right approach for you. Our experienced team is here to give you hope.

Does Insurance Cover Functional Medicine?

This is a question for your insurance company, so read your policy and call your provider if you have any questions. Most functional medicine practices prefer private pay treatment plans.

How do I Choose a Functional Medicine Doctor?

The first step to choosing a functional medicine doctor is to search your local area. Our practice, Tri-Cities Functional Medicine, is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and as we said at the start, we work with people from Bristol, Kingsport, Knoxville, Greenville, and Abingdon in Virginia.

You can find out more about us by watching our free webinars on inflammation, chronic pain and stress-related disorders or thyroid disorders and autoimmune conditions. The next step is to schedule a free discovery all with one of our practice member coordinators. They’ll talk to you about what you’re going through, how you’ve already tried to address your health concerns, and how our clinical team can help you, before creating a plan of action for your first appointment.

After that, you can sign up for a consultation with our doctor and become a member of our practice to enjoy these great benefits.

Ready to get started? Schedule your free discovery call now.

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.