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Health Blog

The MSN Healthcare Health Blog offers news and analysis on weight loss, fatigue, personal health, and health news. It includes contributions from Dr. Mark Neumann and others. Click now.


What to (And What Not to) Look for in a Functional Medicine Doctor

Mark Neumann

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Functional medicine helps you find the root causes of your ailments and illnesses, instead of diagnosing symptoms and sending you away with a prescription that deals with them. As functional medicine grows, a wide range of conventional MD’s, DO’s, nurse practitioners, and naturopaths all continue the practice of functional medical methods. However, due to the holistic nature of the medicine, you might find incompetent or unprofessional practitioners.

Learn the differences between the qualities of a great functional medicine doctor and the red flags of a sub-par doctor.

Education and Experience

Professional functional medicine doctors generally have a license in a primary specialty before their training, such as osteopathy, chiropractic, nurse practitioner, dentistry, or acupuncture. After the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) accepts them to the functional medicine program, they must study the six different systems of the body. The six focus areas of the program are:

·         Detox

·         Hormone

·         Immune

·         Cardiometabolic

·         Energy

·         Gastrointestinal

Students must complete a written exam with a passing grade as well as submit a case report that IFM faculty grades and accepts. The candidates must complete the requirements within seven years of their application approval.

Great Qualities

The ideal functional medicine practitioner is someone who empathizes with you in every step of the process. At the same time, he or she seeks the root cause behind your symptoms by using lab work, your extensive medical history, and an in-depth understanding of the body’s needs and functions. A great functional medicine doctor or nurse practitioner is someone who:

·         Makes you feel comfortable

·         Recommends plant-based, grain-free, organic diets

·         Outlines realistic expectations

·         Specializes in chronic conditions

·         Helps you prioritize decisions such as lifestyle changes and testing

·         Spends time getting to know you    

 Red Flags

Unfortunately, some functional medicine specialists either did not receive proper education and training or misuse everything they have learned. The functional medicine physician you should avoid is someone who:

·         Makes you feel discouraged

·         Dismisses the beneficial effects of diets

·         Promises miraculous cures and fixes

·         Prescribes you expensive, excessive, and dangerous products

·         Recommends expensive and unnecessary testing

·         Refuses to listen to you

Finding the Right Functional Medicine Doctor

While the functional medicine community is still relatively small, it continues to grow. Thanks to the internet and the tight-knit nature of functional medicine advocates, you can avoid poor practitioners and find the right doctor for you.

You can find a good functional medicine doctor by:

·         Finding a local specialist who works in your area of need

·         Seeing a doctor who specializes in related primary specialties

·         Using internet resources to find experts

·         Asking for recommendations from friends, family, and the functional medicine community

Please let us know how we can help you get healthy in 2019. Dr. Neumann is happy to discuss your goals in more detail during your consultation. Contact him today.