In this article you will learn:
What "functional medicine" is and why it's an important perspective for your health strategy
Where to look for functional medicine practitioners
How to re-frame your journey from being a patient (victim) to a player (leader) of your health game
Lazy Reader's Section:
Functional medicine is an umbrella perspective that considers health from a holistic, integrated perspective and evaluates all natural possibilities for preventative treatment and maintenance of optimal health, rather than waiting for disease to happen. If disease is present, functional medicine will approach the problem by supporting the body to heal itself wherever possible and minimize the collateral damage from drugs and medications.
I discuss this perspective at great length, as well as the resources mentioned here, in my landmark personal growth book, Dance Your Way Through Life: A No Bullshit Guide to Hacking Your Body, Mind & Soul for Success where I share over 1500+ scientific references, action plans and everything there is to know about health. It also comes with 30 minutes with yours truly to clarify your goals and set an action plan to kick ass, so go check it out.
Finally, if you want to include me as part of your functional health team, don't be afraid to reach out.
Healthcare is changing (thank God), and as a result so will what it means to go to the doctor, treat disease and be healthy. Remember that only 50-60 years ago doctors were painted on cigarette ads and it was considered "healthy" to smoke. How times have changed.
Today more than ever you have the ability to take control of your health through research, learning the story of your genes, taking supplements, reading, listening to books and podcasts and everything else that you do when you want to dive into a practice. This last part is the most important: health is a practice.
With all of these tools and opportunities, we have great possibility but also great responsibility. You must be an active player in your health game, taking center stage and "dribbling the ball" (or dancing) because, quite frankly, even the best doctors have a clinic to run and can't be depended upon.
Nobody is going to know your full health story but you, and it is from this perspective of leadership that you can begin to enlist the help of various coaches and pros to help you on your journey. In this sense you are both the manager and the player, making hiring and firing decisions and also getting out on the floor to perform. Don't sit in the sidelines and hope for the best, your health is everything in life and nobody (no matter how skilled or compassionate) can hold that responsibility for you.
What is "Functional Medicine" and why is it important?
The term, "functional medicine," is a wide-ranging umbrella perspective that embraces looking at health from the many relationships that create it. For example, you may have a particular symptom, like fatigue, and this can be seen from a linear or "outcome" perspective or it can be seen from a relational perspective.
Simple view: "I need more energy, drink coffee!"
Complex view: "What is the status of my gut microbiome? What about my thyroid, adrenals and hormone levels? What have I been eating lately and how have I been managing my stress?"
And on and on.
To examine the problem from this relational view is ultimately rooted in something called "Terrain Theory," versus a competing paradigm called "Germ Theory." I go over this history in my big book (mentioned above), but basically these two perspectives have shaped the modern healthcare landscape and how we deal with health problems and disease.
One sees the problem and finds a singular solution (Germs) while the other sees the space and the factors needed to help the outcome happen (Terrain).
In the above example, most people see the problem as "lack of energy" and find a quick solution, like coffee, to address it. This is no different than throwing a medication at your problem. You aren't solving the underlying issue but rather just temporarily getting rid of the symptoms.
In my life and work with people, one of my main philosophies is "If Alignment is present, movement is natural." I encourage you to take this philosophy on for yourself and in your quest to create a functional medicine team. When the body has the right nutritional support, the right habits and the right food - outcomes like energy are just natural and easy.
You shouldn't need coffee to feel inspired, focused and ready to kill the day, and a good functional team will help you put into place the right strategies so that this statement doesn't sound so shocking.
Functional Medicine Resources
The following are a few great resources to get started in creating your functional medicine health team. Remember that everyone’s journey is a mosaic of many perspectives, and also that you are the ultimate player in the game that decides where and how it is played. Always stay informed, come to the table ready to make decisions and act proactively because you’re in charge.
If you need help with this process, visit my Alignment Coaching page and let's get in touch.
Functional Medicine Doctors
Doctors come in all shapes and sizes. They can be DOs (osteopaths), DCs (chiropractors), NDs (naturopaths), MDs (medical doctors) or a mix in between. Every doctor’s journey is different and includes ongoing education, so always do your research and see if their path matches yours. A good functional medicine doctor will look at how things are integrated, act preventively, use good nutrition principles and know how to work with the finer details of your body. The following resources are just a few places to get started:
Brimhall Certified Practitioners
If you want to find a practitioner certified in the 6 Steps to Wellness and other methods developed by the legendary functional medicine doctor, author and lecturer Dr. John Brimhall, you can look up practitioners by clicking here.
Methylation Certification and Training Seminars
Doug Grant, the owner of OHS and someone I know personally, has teamed up with Dr. John Brimhall and another legendary doctor, Dr. Marc Harris, to put on regular training events throughout the country for doctors and health professionals. If it’s applicable for you, attend one of these events and learn about the amazing world of genes, methylation based nutrition, wellness strategies and intuitive medicine to take your game to a whole new level. Available for health coaches, those wanting to pursue a career in health or existing professionals. Click here for more information.
Wholistic Methylation Practitioners
Although I have no personal experience with Dr. J Dunn and her systems, she has developed a methylation based nutrition protocol that is in alignment with good principles. This protocol uses muscle testing for specific genetic SNPs and nutrition recommendations, and also integrates with your existing genetic results from 23andMe or other sources. Click here to view her directory of certified professionals.
Another great resource who I’ve found is Dr. Andrew Rostenberg of Red Mountain Natural Medicine in Idaho. He is the founder of BeyondMTHFR, a blog and educational resource for genetics based nutrition. His videos are extremely detailed and offer a wealth of information. To learn more or get in touch with this doctor, click here.
A final resource to check out may be Dr. David Brownstein in Michigan. This is one of the doctors that worked on the Iodine Project and has experience treating people with the iodine whole body sufficiency program. If you have thyroid issues or are in that area and are looking for healing through nutrition, he may be a great resource. He also posts regular health information on a variety of topics and has a successful clinic. To get more info, click here to check out his website.
Institute of Functional Medicine Directory
IFM is the Institute of Functional Medicine, a non-profit that allows you to look up functional medicine certified doctors in your area. Click here to go to the directory.
A holistic dentist is a highly trained and experienced dentist that understands the finer elements of your bite alignment, treating root canals, removing mercury fillings, dealing with sleep apnea issues, using natural materials and alternative therapies like lasers, oxygen therapy and PRP (platelet rich plasma) therapy. Below are a few places to get started:
Other Useful Professionals
Throughout your health journey you may require the specialized help of a variety of individuals beyond dentists and doctors. These may include TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) and Ayurveda practitioners, energy workers, massage therapists, cranial sacral therapists and many others. Below are a few suggestions to get started:
A great massage therapist is invaluable. Make sure you find someone that you are comfortable sharing your energy with, that offers a variety of tools (like hot stones or knows how to stretch your body) and that has extensive training. Don’t bargain shop on massages.
Acupuncture / TCM / Ayurveda
These ancient systems can be powerful assets in your recovery toolbox. You can utilize customized herbal tea remedies, specific dietary guidelines and treatments like acupuncture or cupping to help move the energy or circulation in your body so that it heals naturally.
Chiropractic / Network Chiropractic
Network Spinal Analysis or Network Chiropractic is a newer type of service provided by highly trained chiropractors. It is impact-free and uses energy principles to support the body to heal itself. It is more expensive, but very worth it for ongoing treatment. Click here for a national directory of Network providers.
This is a wonderful therapy to help unwind your nervous system, work through trauma, reduce stress and cortisol and reset your body. A talented CT therapist is a priceless asset in your arsenal against burnout. Click here for a national directory of Craniosacral providers.
Myofascial release is an advanced technique usually done by physical therapists or massage therapists. The fascia is a connective tissue that surrounds everything in your body, and understanding how to work on it takes a lot of training. Someone in this field can help you recover from injury and inflammation in unique ways and may be a valuable addition to your health team. Click here for a national directory of MFR therapists.
Realigning the energy in your living space can have a drastic effect on your stress levels, happiness, creativity and even reaching your goals. In episode 157 on The Dance of Life, I interviewed Feng Shui master Ro Rusnock about all of these things. Check it out here and see what it inspires in you, then find someone experienced in your area.
A talented energy worker can be a prize in everyone’s health team. A growing and successful system in this field is called The Emotion Code, written by Dr. Bradley Nelson, and it has been acclaimed even by people like Tony Robbins. To be certified in the practice takes lots of training, and some even get certified in The Body Code (next level) for further training. My go to person for this service is a very talented, genuine and kind friend of mine: Lee Mudro. You can contact her here and tell her you want to “clear your heart wall” (she will explain) and that you were referred by yours truly.
For mental and emotional challenges, having experience practitioners that won’t just throw drugs at you can make the difference between longterm success or getting trapped. Two people I highly recommend and that I know well are listed below, and they have a great track record of rapidly and successfully helping people release trauma and grief respectively.
Wesly Feuquay – Trauma Release Specialist. Email him here.
Gina Pollard – Grief Recovery Specialist. Visit her website here.
Having a team of trusted people to take care of your beautiful body is a life's practice, and remember that at the end of the day you are the main player in the game. Keep learning, keep growing and always try to know yourself inside out so that you can make decisions proactively and spend less time in doctors' offices to begin with.
Be clear about what your goals are, know how to approach a professional with an outlined list of your goals and communicate them clearly. So many people (including myself) have wasted money even on good professionals because of lack of communication and being clear about what they want out of their time together. This is why you have to be the player of your health game. Again, if you need help with this, visit my coaching page and get in touch.
I hope this article serves you. You only get one body in life, and don't forget for a minute that it is a miracle of engineering. You are in a fucking Ferrari, treat it like one.