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Using Functional Medicine As Personalized Medicine

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Using Functional Medicine As Personalized Medicine

Personalized medicine is gaining traction as a better way to manage health. This is because, in regard to health, each body is different. Health depends on a variety of factors – your family history, lifestyle, diet, social factors, and even emotional health. 

With better testing and other new technologies, people now have the ability to see how different interventions affect aspects of their health, such as measuring glucose levels to see how your body metabolizes food or stool testing to measure improvements in gut health. 

In this article, we will discuss personalized medicine, how it relates to functional medicine, its benefits over traditional medicine, and how to find a functional medicine practitioner in your area. 


What is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is a personalized, root-cause-oriented approach to health care. Unlike traditional methods, this approach focuses on aspects like diet, genetics, hormonal changes, and lifestyle elements to identify and treat diseases. Instead of merely prescribing medication, functional medicine practitioners might provide patients with tailored advice, such as dietary changes. The focus is on optimal lab values rather than standard ones to identify disease trends early and potentially reverse or halt disease progression.

Additionally, functional medicine involves a patient-centered approach to managing chronic diseases, aiming to address the underlying question, "What caused your illness?" rather than merely treating the symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners spend significant time understanding a patient's medical history and lifestyle factors, which enables them to recognize the root causes of the illness, including triggers like poor nutrition, stress, toxins, allergens, genetics, and the body's microbiome.

What is Personalized Medicine?

Personalized medicine, also known as precision medicine, is a medical approach that tailors interventions to an individual's unique needs and conditions. Like functional medicine, this methodology factors in a person's genes, lifestyle choices, and environment to pinpoint specific disease risks and optimal treatments.

In personalized medicine, predictive tools such as family health history can help anticipate which diseases a person is more likely to contract. Likewise, personal devices can monitor health metrics in real-time, allowing individuals to understand their health progress and receive alerts about changes requiring medical attention. On the treatment front, personalized medicine leverages biomarker testing to help doctors select treatments most likely effective for a specific individual. Even among patients with the same type of disease, different treatments might be necessary based on individual conditions (6). 

Pharmacogenomics, the study of how genes affect a person's response to drugs, also plays a vital role in personalized medicine. Doctors can prescribe the most effective medication and dosage by understanding how an individual's DNA interacts with specific drugs. Furthermore, continuous glucose monitoring systems can improve insulin dosing for individuals with diabetes by providing regular, real-time blood sugar readings. Finally, mobile devices can support health management by monitoring behaviors such as diet, activity, and sleep patterns. These devices can also provide reminders for medication, mindfulness practices, and regular health checkups (6). 

Signs Someone Should Try Functional or Personalized Medicine

If you're finding traditional healthcare approaches aren't cutting it for your chronic health issues or unexplained symptoms, functional and personalized medicine might be what you're looking for. These two fields focus on figuring out the root causes of health problems and offering treatment plans that are specific to each person. Functional medicine practitioners dig deep to find out what's causing chronic conditions and work on designing a plan that's just for you.

On the other hand, if you’re someone who is very serious about improving your health, this type of medicine can be better at getting you to your goals. Personalized medicine gives you the chance to understand your unique risks and potential treatment paths. Functional medicine isn't just about treating diseases; it's also about promoting good health and preventing future issues by looking at important lifestyle factors like what you eat, how you deal with stress, and how well you sleep. And if you've ever wished your healthcare felt more personal and less one-size-fits-all, you'll love how personalized medicine tailors treatments to fit you and only you.

Benefits of Functional Medicine Over Traditional Medicine

Functional medicine offers several advantages over conventional healthcare approaches by focusing on the root causes of health problems rather than just addressing the symptoms. Here's why functional medicine can be a game changer: 

Tailored To You 

At the heart of functional medicine is personalization. Recognizing that each person is unique, practitioners offer customized care plans that respect an individual's specific characteristics. Such individualized treatment often leads to improved health outcomes, as it aligns with the patient's specific health needs and lifestyle (1). 

Seeing The Big Picture

Functional medicine adopts a holistic approach to health, considering multiple influencing factors like diet, lifestyle, and environmental influences. This comprehensive approach can help uncover the root causes of health problems and lead to more lasting solutions (1). 

A Focus On Prevention 

The objective of functional medicine extends beyond treating diseases; it's about promoting optimal health and preventing disease. By emphasizing areas like nutrition, stress management, and sleep quality, functional medicine aims to enhance long-term health outcomes and potentially reduce healthcare costs (1). 

Working Together

The relationship between the patient and practitioner in functional medicine is collaborative. It empowers patients to take charge of their health, leading to enhanced engagement and adherence to treatment plans (1). 

Advanced Diagnostics 

The use of advanced diagnostic testing, like those offered by Rupa Health, enables functional medicine practitioners to identify and understand underlying imbalances and dysfunctions in the body. With this detailed insight, they can develop more targeted and effective treatment plans, offering a new perspective on the road to recovery (1). 

Does Functional Medicine Take Insurance?

While insurance coverage for functional medicine services may vary significantly, it's important to understand the details of your particular policy. Some insurance plans may cover specific services offered by functional medicine practitioners, while others may not offer any coverage. It's advised to confirm with your insurance provider about what functional medicine services are included in your plan.

Even if your insurance doesn't cover functional medicine services, practitioners often provide alternative payment plans or options to help make treatment more affordable. Some may even offer a hybrid model of care, integrating functional medicine and traditional medical practices, which may be more likely to be covered by insurance. Remember that the cost-effectiveness of functional medicine may be substantial, given its personalized and holistic approach. This can potentially lead to improved long-term health outcomes, thus reducing overall healthcare expenses over time.

Where To Find A Functional Medicine Doctor Near Me

Finding a functional medicine practitioner close to you can be accomplished through several methods. Initiating a Google search is the most straightforward approach, as many practitioners optimize their websites to appear when "functional medicine" is searched. However, don't restrict your search to your immediate location; many functional medicine practitioners offer telehealth services and can conduct complete intakes, lab requests, and follow-ups remotely, making physical proximity less essential. It is important to find a practitioner that focuses on your personalized needs (4).

The Institute of Functional Medicine’s (IFM) directory is also a great place to start. The practitioners on this site have gone through IFM’s foundational educational course and are current IFM members. WebMD also provides a directory for practitioners by state

In your search, consider the practitioners' expertise. Not all are comfortable treating every condition; some specialize in specific areas. Contact potential practitioners through a call or a message on their website to get a sense of their approach and whether they're suited to handle your particular condition. When looking at their qualifications, remember that the path to functional medicine can vary: some are formally certified, others focus on continuing education, and some learn through on-the-job training. All these paths can provide a comprehensive background in the field. Other websites, such as Yelp, or other online platforms, can also be a valuable resource. Also, don't underestimate the value of personal recommendations from friends, family, or other healthcare providers.



Personalized medicine can be life-changing if you’re looking for a tailored way to manage your health. Functional medicine has much in common with personalized medicine, considering factors such as genetics, environment, and lifestyle to optimize your health. While this approach focuses heavily on prevention, it can also help manage and treat disease - making it a great option for those struggling with chronic health issues. This approach to medicine is as unique as you are and can therefore optimize health in ways traditional medicine falls short.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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