Functional Health

An approach to healthcare that focuses on optimizing the overall functioning and well-being of the body.


Functional Health is a patient-centered, holistic approach to healthcare that aims to identify and address the root causes of health issues rather than just treating symptoms. It emphasizes the interconnectedness of all body systems and the importance of lifestyle factors such as nutrition, stress management, and physical activity in promoting optimal health and preventing chronic disease.

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The origins of Functional Health can be traced back to the early 20th century when pioneers in the field of natural medicine began to explore the role of diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors in health and disease. In the 1970s and 1980s, the concept of functional medicine emerged, which focused on identifying and addressing the underlying causes of illness rather than just treating symptoms. Over time, Functional Health has evolved to incorporate a wide range of evidence-based practices and personalized treatment approaches, with a growing emphasis on preventive care and patient empowerment.


  1. Personalized Care Functional Health practitioners tailor treatment plans to each individual's unique needs, taking into account their lifestyle, genetics, and environmental factors.
  2. Root Cause Resolution By identifying and addressing the underlying causes of health issues, Functional Health can help resolve chronic conditions and prevent future illness.
  3. Holistic Approach Functional Health considers the whole person, including physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, rather than just focusing on isolated symptoms or body systems.
  4. Emphasis on Prevention Functional Health prioritizes preventive care and lifestyle modifications to promote long-term health and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
  5. Patient Empowerment Functional Health practitioners work collaboratively with patients, educating and empowering them to take an active role in their own health and well-being.
  6. Integration of Evidence-Based Practices Functional Health incorporates a wide range of evidence-based practices, including conventional medicine, nutrition, and mind-body techniques, to provide comprehensive care.
  7. Improved Quality of Life By addressing the root causes of health issues and promoting optimal functioning, Functional Health can help improve overall quality of life and well-being.

How It Works

Functional health focuses on identifying and addressing the root causes of health issues, rather than just treating symptoms. It involves a comprehensive assessment of a person's lifestyle, diet, environment, genetics, and other factors that may be contributing to their health problems. Functional health practitioners use a variety of tools and techniques, such as advanced laboratory testing, nutritional analysis, and lifestyle interventions, to develop personalized treatment plans that aim to restore balance and optimize overall health and well-being. This approach emphasizes the interconnectedness of different body systems and the importance of addressing imbalances in order to achieve optimal health.


When considering functional health, it's important to keep in mind that this approach may differ from conventional medical care. Functional health practitioners often spend more time with patients to gather a comprehensive health history and may recommend treatments that are not typically covered by insurance. It's crucial to find a qualified practitioner who has experience in functional medicine and can provide evidence-based recommendations. Additionally, some lifestyle and dietary changes recommended by functional health practitioners may require significant commitment and effort from the patient. It's essential to have realistic expectations and be prepared to make long-term changes to support overall health and well-being.

How Much It Costs

The cost of functional health services can vary widely depending on the practitioner, location, and specific treatments recommended. Initial consultations may range from $200 to $500, while follow-up visits may cost between $100 and $300. Advanced laboratory testing can also add to the overall expense, with some tests costing several hundred dollars. In some cases, insurance may cover certain aspects of functional health care, but coverage varies widely. It's important to discuss costs and insurance coverage with the practitioner before beginning treatment.

Virtual & Online Options

Virtual and online options for functional health consultations have become increasingly popular, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. These options offer the convenience of accessing care from home and may be particularly beneficial for those who live in areas with limited access to functional health practitioners. Online consultations can be conducted via video conferencing platforms, allowing for face-to-face interactions with practitioners. However, in-person visits may be preferred for initial consultations or when physical exams are necessary. Local functional health practitioners may also offer more personalized care and the opportunity to build a stronger patient-practitioner relationship.


Functional health practitioners may come from a variety of backgrounds, including medical doctors (MDs), doctors of osteopathy (DOs), naturopathic doctors (NDs), and chiropractors (DCs). While there is no single, universally recognized certification for functional medicine, many practitioners pursue additional training through organizations such as the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), which offers a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner (CFMP) program. Other relevant certifications may include the Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN) or Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credentials for those focusing on nutritional interventions. It's important to research a practitioner's educational background and certifications to ensure they have the necessary expertise to provide functional health care.

Complementary Practices

Complementary practices that work well with functional health include: 1) Mindfulness meditation to reduce stress and promote mental wellbeing. 2) Yoga to improve flexibility, strength, and mind-body connection. 3) Acupuncture to balance energy flow and relieve pain. 4) Massage therapy to relax muscles, reduce tension, and improve circulation. 5) Nutritional therapy to optimize diet for individual health needs.

Practitioner Types

Functional health practitioners include: 1) Functional medicine doctors who take a holistic, personalized approach to treating the root causes of illness. 2) Naturopathic doctors who use natural therapies to stimulate the body's healing abilities. 3) Integrative medicine physicians who combine conventional and alternative approaches. 4) Health coaches who provide guidance on lifestyle changes to improve wellbeing. 5) Nutritionists and dietitians who tailor diets to individual health goals.

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  • Q: What is the main focus of functional health?

    • A: Functional health focuses on identifying and addressing the underlying root causes of health issues, rather than just treating symptoms. It takes a patient-centered, holistic approach that considers the complex interactions between genetics, environment, and lifestyle factors.
  • Q: How does functional health differ from conventional medicine?

    • A: While conventional medicine often focuses on diagnosing diseases and prescribing drugs or surgery to treat symptoms, functional health aims to restore balance and optimize the functioning of the body as a whole. It emphasizes prevention, nutrition, lifestyle changes, and treating the person rather than just the disease.
  • Q: What type of testing does functional health use?

    • A: Functional health utilizes advanced diagnostic testing to gain a comprehensive picture of a patient's health status. This may include analysis of nutrient levels, hormones, gut microbiome, genetic factors, toxin exposure, and markers of inflammation. The insights gained guide personalized treatment plans.
  • Q: Is functional health covered by insurance?

    • A: Coverage of functional health services varies by insurance provider and plan. Some tests and treatments may be covered if deemed medically necessary. Health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts can often be used for functional health expenses. It's best to check with your specific insurance provider for details on coverage.
  • Q: What conditions can functional health help with?

    • A: Functional health can address a wide range of chronic and complex health conditions, including digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, heart disease, and mental health issues like depression and anxiety. By optimizing the body's natural functioning, it can also enhance overall wellness and prevent future illness.


Functional health offers a comprehensive, individualized approach to optimizing wellbeing by addressing the root causes of health issues. By considering the unique genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors of each person, functional health practitioners aim to restore balance and enhance the body's natural healing capacities. Through the use of advanced diagnostic testing, personalized nutrition, targeted supplementation, and lifestyle interventions, functional health has the potential to transform healthcare from a model of disease management to one of prevention and vitality optimization. While it may require a greater investment of time and resources compared to conventional medicine, the long-term benefits of a functional health approach can be significant for those seeking to achieve optimal health and wellness.