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What is Functional Medicine | Organic Pharmer

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is a holistic approach to healthcare that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Rather than just treating the symptoms, functional medicine providers use a systems biology perspective to understand how different factors, such as nutrition, stress, genetics, environment, and lifestyle, affect the functioning of the body and its organs. Functional medicine aims to restore health and prevent chronic disease by creating a personalized plan for each patient that addresses their unique needs and triggers.

holistic approach to healing

With the aim to uncover why the body is not functioning properly a functional medicine expert is like a medical detective gathering all the clues of your:

  • Past: family history (including where you grew up, your family situation), traumatic events, health history (including symptoms, diagnosis and treatment) etc.
  • Present: your environment and potential toxins in your community, social life, stress level, relationships, diet, workout regimen, sleep habits and symptoms, etc.
    • We then determine your specific treatment plan which focuses on treating the cause of your symptoms, such as:
    • repairing healthy gut flora and digestive function;
    • supporting detoxification processes;
    • repairing immune function and treating inflammation
    • replenishing nutrient deficiencies
    • rebalancing and supporting hormones

To accomplish these goals, the Functional Medicine approach integrates the (sometimes) need for prescription medications, with nutrition, botanical medicines, supplements, detoxification programs, stress-management techniques and exercise, among others. A fusion of western principles and eastern principles through a balancing act of personalized medicine. 

Functional medicine clinics, doctors, and other professionals typically will work with your primary care doctor, internist, gynecologist, or specialist to design an individualized health program that is enhanced by their recommendations for diet, nutrition, functional testing, and stress reduction. 

Dr. Susan Blum explains the difference between conventional medicine and functional medicine.

conventional medicine is sick care

There is a big difference in both perspective and the clinical approach to treating patients. The viewpoint of conventional medicine sees the definition of Optimal Health as the absence of disease. In functional medicine, our view of Optimal Health is to function at the highest level possible, all the way to the end, and hopefully that’s into your 90’s!   
This same viewpoint is seen in the clinical approach. As a doctor practicing conventional medicine, most of my time is spent giving medication to treat the symptoms of a disease that I just found. We call that downstream medicine.   
Instead, as a functional medicine specialist, I spend my time as a medical detective, going upstream to where the symptoms originate. We focus on finding the cause of the problem, and treat the cause. Oftentimes I am working with lifestyle (nutrition and stress), but also focusing on healing the gut microbiome, and environmental medicine, identifying and removing toxins from the body.
Based on all that information you can see why we are advocates. Creating a long, vibrant life by preventing, managing and reversing chronic disease through factors such as nutrition, stress management and general lifestyle interventions is at the heart of our beliefs and practices. 

Functional medicine can help you achieve optimal health and wellness by addressing the root causes of your chronic conditions and empowering you to take charge of your own health.


One of the tools used by functional medicine practitioners is the Elimination Diet. This is the gold standard for identifying food sensitivities. The Elimination Diet is designed to clear the body of foods and chemicals that may be creating sensitivities or allergic responses in the body, to support the microbiome, reduce inflammation, and increase phytonutrient intake. For people with suspected food sensitivities, the Elimination Diet can aid in evaluation and treatment, leading to greater long-term health. Navigating an Elimination Diet can be challenging that's why all of our products at Organic Pharmer are elimination diet approved. This is just one of many tools used by functional medicine doctors for the prevention and reversal of chronic disease.

You may benefit from seeing a functional medicine doctor if you have a complex or chronic condition that has not been resolved by conventional medicine, or if you want to prevent or reverse chronic diseases by optimizing your health and wellness. Some examples of conditions that functional medicine can help with are autoimmune diseases, adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, metabolic syndrome, allergies, chronic fatigue, and mood disorders.

To find a functional medicine practitioner near you, you can visit the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) which is a leading organization in this field. You can also ask your primary care provider for a referral or recommendation.


All of our programs were designed by Dr. Susan Blum for optimal healing meeting functional medicine standards. Try a functional cleanse as a part of your healing plan.


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