Maybe you are at the point where you would like to work with a functional medicine doctor, but you are not sure who? There are more and more doctors transitioning to a functional health model and your choices are ever increasing. So, let me tell you how we practice functional medicine so you can decide if we  would be a good fit for you or not. I believe there are several factors that make our approach not only unique but very effective. These factors fall into the following categories:

  1. Doctor Experience
  2. Testing
  3. Health Coaching
  4. Client Goals
  5. Communication

I can’t say that any one of these is more important than the others because I believe they all need to be present for a satisfying client experience. This series will be in 2-parts. In this part, I will cover Doctor Experience and Testing. In part 2 we will cover Health Coaching, Client Goals and Communication.

 Doctor Experience…HOW GOOD ARE THEY?

Experience and clinical competence can be difficult to quantify but I will do my best to explain this. First a doctor gains knowledge through study and training. Then this knowledge needs to be applied over long periods of time in a clinical setting. Many doctors practicing function medicine today are very intelligent individuals who have studied functional medicine or integrative medicine very intensively over a period of 1-2 years. They are exposed to lots of new information during this timeframe. Their biggest challenge is now to take all of this theory and apply it to real patients in a real clinical setting. This is the tough part, because  in theory, everything is supposed to work out as they studied it. However, like most things in life, theory and reality don’t always match. It takes years, I’m talking many years to take the theory of functional medicine and learn to apply it to thousands of patients over long periods of time, in order to make the most effective clinical decisions.

I know this firsthand because I have been studying and practicing the principles of functional medicine for the past 20 years…long before we even had the name “functional medicine” and long before anyone knew who Dr. Mark Hyman, was or the other celebrities of functional medicine. Please don’t misunderstand me, these doctors have he experience and have been essential for the expansion of functional medicine’s public awareness; I am grateful they are doing the work that they do. The point I want to make is that is takes years of experience, applying the principles of functional medicine in order to become experienced in its use. If you want to work with a functional medicine doctor, make sure they have the clinical experience and years of practice using functional medicine, so you get the best results possible. This same logic would apply to any doctor you are working with. Would you want a surgeon with 3 years of experience or 25? What makes the surgeon with 25 years of experience better? Time and the number of patients they have served; not just the school they attended. Just like anything else, we get better at what we do, the longer and more often we do it.

Testing Procedures…WHAT IS WRONG?

What do I mean by testing? This could be blood tests, stool tests, saliva, urine or hair analysis. Why is appropriate testing required in functional medicine? The premise of functional medicine (FM) is to discover…to find out…what is out of balance and not functioning properly in your body. How do you know if you have a thyroid problem? How do you know if you have a leaky gut or SIBO? How do you know if you have too much estrogen and not enough progesterone? You must run tests to FIND OUT what is wrong. How can you fix a problem if you don’t know what it is? It has been said that at least half of the battle in solving any  problem is clearly defining WHAT the problem is.  I believe too many new practitioners are relying on health questionnaires and assumptions based on symptoms when arriving at a root cause diagnosis. Until it is confirmed by testing it is just guessing and at best an educated guess. I prefer to make a diagnosis and isolate root causes with objective information; this comes from testing. You are not doing yourself any favors by taking shortcuts and “saving money” by failing to perform appropriate diagnostic tests. If you had symptoms that look like multiple sclerosis, would you want your doctor to tell you that it looks like you have the disease, or would you want to have the tests run to FIND OUT if you have the disease? Don’t try to save money by refusing testing, it usually costs you more money, time and frustration when you do this. You often end up having to circle back later and run the tests anyway; which is what should have been done in the first place. Client’s often refuse testing because they lack confidence in the doctor or their assessment; if that is the case, I suggest you walk away from that doctor immediately and you find one you believe in.

In part 2 of this series I will discuss the importance of Health Coaching and how this improves treatment outcomes. I will also talk about Client Goals and the importance of Communication as it pertains to transparency, ethics and optimum patient outcomes. Selecting a FM or integrative doctor can be a very confusing proposition these days; it is my hope that this series gives you the confidence to move forward with peace of mind.

I wish you success on your quest for health!

If you would like more information about functional medicine and integrative medicine or Dr. Sexton go to www.napervilleintegratedwellness.com

Do your own research, inform yourself and ask lots of questions. When collecting information, you MUST consider the source. There is no shortage of false, misleading, outdated, profit-driven and utterly biased information in healthcare today; even from the most respected sources and organizations.

This approach to healthcare is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent any disease. Why? The FDA enforces its position that these words can only be used with drugs. This approach does not use drugs.