Is A Functional Medicine Doctor A Licensed Medical Practitioner?

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If your search for healing and elevated healthcare has led you to functional medicine, a quick surface look might leave you wondering if functional medicine doctors are "real" doctors. It's understandable: functional medicine is much faster to integrate holistic and natural treatments seldom administered at traditional medicine doctors' practices. 

However, functional medicine doctors are indeed "real" doctors who have graduated from medical school and have the same licensing as a traditional MD. To be a functional medicine doctor, a practitioner is required to go beyond the scope of medical school to learn techniques that help their patients heal effectively. 

Functional medicine is an exciting entrance into a world where the patient is empowered to advocate for their health with tools, technologies, and treatments that work together to deliver vitality and joy to the patient. 

What Is Functional Medicine?

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Functional medicine is a branch of integrative medicine that combines the wisdom and knowledge of eastern and natural medicine practices with the innovation and technology provided by western medicine. By coupling the power of multiple schools of thought in medicine, functional medicine doctors can help their patients discover the root cause of their illness and not only treat the symptoms.

This is a crucial distinction, as traditional medicine practitioners often treat the symptoms of an illness. Treating the symptom of an illness can provide temporary relief, but it fails to address what caused the illness in the first place—often preventing the patient from fully healing. If patients don't have appropriate tools to support them in full healing, they're at the mercy of treatments that keep them locked in a vicious cycle of illness and medication. Examples of only treating the symptom include:

  • A benzodiazepine prescription for anxiety
  • Sleep aids for insomnia
  • Insulin or surgery for diabetes
  • IVF for infertility
  • Viagra for erectile dysfunction

While any of these treatments might be used by a functional medicine doctor, they'll only be a small part of any patient plan. A functional medicine doctor will provide knowledge to create a plan that helps the patient eliminate the problem from the root, thereby removing it as a problem altogether.

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What Special Credentials Are Needed To Be A Functional Medicine Doctor?

A functional medicine doctor must undergo the same training and certifications as any other medical doctor in addition to special functional medicine doctor certifications. They must complete a rigorous program through the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) or another accredited functional medicine institute. This program focuses on six different areas of health: gastrointestinal, detox, immune, hormone, cardiometabolic, and energy.

Once coursework is completed and approved by IFM, they can practice as a functional medicine doctor and are required to take continuing education throughout their career.

How Functional Medicine Restores Patient Vitality

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How does a functional medicine doctor empower the patient to eliminate the root cause of their illness? The success of any functional medicine treatment plan lies in the initial phase of getting to know the patient. Compared to the average seven-minute doctor visit at a traditional medical practice, the functional medicine patient experience is more supportive and successful.

Most functional medicine offices will have at least one "getting to know you" consultation session before any treatment begins. The doctor or trained team member digs for information beyond any symptoms. During this initial conversation, a functional medicine practitioner will ask about the following:

  • Their health history
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle
  • Stress factors
  • Close relationships
  • Career and life satisfaction
  • Any recent changes 

After this initial assessment, functional medicine doctors utilize modern technology to conduct adequate testing for their patients. 

Though functional medicine doctors are advocates of natural health treatments, they understand the value of the cutting-edge technology available to health professionals today. One of the most exciting ways technology is used is through advanced testing techniques that help the patient and doctor pair patient information with current screening data for a powerful north star that results in an effective treatment plan. 

Some of the tests we offer at our functional medicine office in Boca Raton include the following:

  • Blood, saliva, stool, and urine sample tests
  • Alzheimer LinxTM
  • Heart Rate Variability test
  • Thermography
  • The DUTCHⓇ test (complete hormone profiles)

The goal of testing isn't just for treating current health issues. Functional medicine doctors are trained to help patients prevent any health problems from developing in the future, so you'll encounter a wide variety of testing for diagnostic and preventive purposes.

With results from advanced testing and in-depth understanding of where the patient is coming from in mind, body, and spirit, a functional doctor can then work with the patient to design a treatment plan that helps them reach their goals. This treatment will strive to eliminate health issues while carving a path for vitality, energy, and higher quality of life. 

Work With A Functional Medicine Doctor In Boca Raton, FL

Are you ready for a different healthcare experience where you feel fully cared for and empowered to advocate for your health? Even if you don't live in Boca Raton, we have a telehealth option that might work for you. We invite you to schedule an appointment for an initial phone call with our office today.

Call us today at 561-444-7751 or schedule your call online.

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