What is Functional Medicine?

(Excerpted from the IFM’s document “What is Functional Medicine”)

Functional medicine is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.


How is Functional Medicine Different?

Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease. Hallmarks of a functional medicine approach include:

  • Patient-centered care.
    The focus of functional medicine is on patient-centered care, promoting health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease. By listening to the patient and learning his or her story, the practitioner brings the patient into the discovery process and tailors treatments that address the individual’s unique needs.
  • An integrative, science-based healthcare approach.
    Functional medicine practitioners look “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal (mind, body and spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total functioning.
  • Integrating best medical practices.
    Functional medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with what are sometimes considered “alternative” or “integrative” medicine, creating a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques.

Functional medicine practitioners promote wellness by focusing on the fundamental underlying factors that influence every patient’s experience of health and disease.


The Functional Medicine Approach to Assessment

The Institute for Functional Medicine teaches practitioners how to assess the patient’s fundamental clinical imbalances through careful history-taking, physical examination, and laboratory testing. The functional medicine practitioner will consider multiple factors, including:

  • Environmental inputs – The air you breathe and the water you drink, the particular diet you eat, the quality of the food available to you, your level of physical exercise, and toxic exposures or traumas you have experienced all affect your health.
  • Mind-body elements – Psychological, spiritual and social factors all can have a profound influence on your health. Considering these areas helps the functional medicine practitioner see your health in the context of you as a whole person, not just your physical symptoms.
  • Genetic make-up – Although individual genes may make you more susceptible to some diseases, your DNA is not an unchanging blueprint for your life. Emerging research shows that your genes may be influenced by everything in your environment, as well as your experiences, attitudes, and beliefs. That means it is possible to change the way genes are activated and expressed.

Through assessment of these underlying causes and triggers of dysfunction, the functional medicine practitioner is able to understand how key processes are affected. These are the body’s processes that keep you alive. Some occur at the cellular level and involve how cells function, repair, and maintain themselves. These processes are related to larger biological functions, such as:

  • How your body rids itself of toxins
  • Regulation of hormones and neurotransmitters
  • Immune system function
  • Inflammatory responses
  • Digestion and absorption of nutrients and the health of the digestive tract
  • Structural integrity
  • Psychological and spiritual equilibrium
  • How you produce energy

All of these processes are influenced by both environmental factors and your genetic make-up; when they are disturbed or imbalanced, they lead to symptoms, which can lead to disease if effective interventions are not applied.

©2009 The Institute for Functional Medicine. Used with permission granted by The Institute for Functional Medicine, www.functionalmedicine.org. No part of this content may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express written consent of The Institute for Functional Medicine, except as permitted by applicable law. The Institute for Functional Medicine is not affiliated with Sanoviv Medical Institute.

This license is non transferable and may be revoked by the Institute for Functional Medicine at any time for any reason.

Sanoviv IFM Certification

Sanoviv IFM Certification

Certification in Functional Medicine

With a desire to reach a greater level of excellence and constantly improve our service, Sanoviv developed a relationship with the Institute for Functional Medicine, most commonly known as IFM, a non-profit educational organization. Sanoviv’s goal was to ensure that our functional medicine practitioners achieved and maintained a high level of mastery in functional medicine and to provide safe and consistent assessment and treatment for our patients.

In early 2007, a consulting project was established to assure continued education training in functional medicine for all of Sanoviv’s medical staff, which includes physicians, chiropractors, dentists, nutritionists and psychologists.

The objectives was to learn how to utilize the functional medicine matrix as a clinical tool for improving evaluation and treatment of patients with complex and chronic disease , to integrate key principles of functional medicine into clinical practice and to utilize appropriate assessment tools, including laboratory evaluation and physical signs to diagnose, treat and follow patients.

The consulting project, which started at the beginning of 2007 until summer 2008, was divided into two phases. During the first phase, Sanoviv’s medical staff made the commitment to attend seminars every other weekend in our education center. The entire weekend was then dedicated to a special subject and IFM would send a faculty member specialized in the specific subject. We would attend lectures, present one of our clinical cases to the team, do case study breakout and at the end of the weekend we would have a short examination and review the key principles of the weekend classes. During our working week, we would attend webcast seminars which were specialized in laboratory assessment and study the textbook of functional medicine.

During the first phase, Sanoviv’s medical staff had two extensive examinations in functional medicine principles, physiology, functional biochemistry, diagnostic assessment and treatments. In order to receive the final certification, each medical staff member needed to show their level of mastery and required a minimum of 80% in the mid-term and final written examination.

During the second phase which extended from fall 2007 to summer 2008, twice a month, an IFM faculty member was sent for a complete week to shadow Sanoviv’s practitioners with their patients. They would support and advise the practitioners with complex cases and share their functional medicine expertise with our team. With the help of IFM faculty team members, Sanoviv created committees that worked on improving different areas of care.

To complete the certification, Sanoviv’s medical team members each had to present a clinical case and be evaluated orally by a board of IFM faculty member.

Sanoviv is the first and only Medical Institute and Hospital to have received certification by the Institute for Functional Medicine in the world.