The term ‘Functional Medicine’ was coined in 1990 by Jeffrey Bland, who along with his wife, Susan Bland, started the Institute for Functional Medicine in 1991. In 2011, Jeffrey Bland was awarded the Linus Pauling Functional Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award for his work.
A practitioner and advocate of Functional Medicine, Dr. Frank Lipman, is the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. On his website, he summarizes the nature of Functional Medicine:
“It combines the philosophy of balance and how to restore function from Chinese Medicine and the knowledge of biochemistry and physiology of Western Medicine with the latest scientific research about how our genetics, environment and lifestyle all interact with each other.”
Practitioners of Functional Medicine often spend much longer with a patient than regular doctors, sometimes an hour or longer. They examine the history (genetic and personal), lifestyle habits and environment – among other areas of relevance – pertaining to an individual, and try to get at the root causes of their ailments.
Instead of the practitioner prescribing something for the patient to address their disease, they work together with the patient to determine what is really going on, and avoid using prescription medications if at all possible.
The philosophy of Functional Medicine gives credit to Western medicine for its strength in emergencies, severe infections and other crisis situations, however, they emphasize that it falls short when dealing with chronic ailments.
Functional Medicine creates a health plan derived from various practices, from East and West, focusing heavily on nutrition, exercise and mental health. There is also great significance placed on living a healthy lifestyle to prevent many conditions which may otherwise rear their ugly heads.
It is encouraging to see Functional Medicine rising in popularity, as it synergistically brings together the best of many worlds.