What is Functional Medicine?

Updated: Mar 5, 2019

Over a year ago I wanted to help my clients go deeper in their relief with their health than through food nutrition education I had learned at college. I was led and amazed by my answered prayers that brought me to functional medicine. As, a holistic practitioner it just clicked. The science, the body dynamics, what can be at play under a specific environment in the body that can cause a cascade of symptoms and disease all gave me the AHA moment that have brought me the answers I most craved to serve myself and others in their health.

Functional medicine schooling has allowed me to go deeper in my nutrition studies by understanding foods and nutrients are all reacting and being taken up differently depending on a person's unique body physiology. By understanding how the body given certain environments can greatly impact their ability to be healthy and where to begin to restore health.

So what is functional medicine exactly?

Functional Medicine

Functional Medicine: is a science-based, personalized healthcare approach that assesses and treats underlying causes of illness through custom-tailored applications to restore health and improve function.

Functional Medicine Beliefs

1.) Every Individual Is Unique

When taking a functional medicine approach practitioners consider each individual as being unique. Meaning just because two people may have diabetes or the same diagnosis that does not mean the cause of the illness is the same and instead functional medicine looks at all the dynamics of your history, environment, and current lifestyle choices as all factors in what make your health experience unique.

2.) Everything In the Body Is Interconnected

There are many dynamics happening all at once in the body. All these dynamics are influencing each other and how they impact your health from your microbes, to your neurotransmitters, to your hormones, and to the many other biological influences that regulate your body functions. Our various muscles, tissues, and organs are not working alone doing their own thing, they are all part of a system and when one thing is off a cascade of other processes dependent on that one thing can become chronic symptoms and over time of chronic imbalance can develop into severe cases of chronic health conditions such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, heart disease and more.

3.) Disease Is an Imbalance

The conventional mindset is to diagnose and kill whatever is ailing you with medications, shots, and surgeries. Don't get me wrong these are necessary procedures in truly emergency cases that are life saving, but when it comes to using these short-term emergency oriented solutions for long-term health problem-solving, it ends up creating more problems than what we started with.

However, with a functional medicine mindset we ask WHY is this disease dynamic happening in the first place. Rather than "seek to destroy" the problem we "seek to understand" the problem and your body's individual needs. Functional medicine looks at disease as evidence that there is an imbalance, blockage, and/or impairment in your body's natural functioning and work to remove what is causing it or support it in ways it needs for where your body is at in this moment in time.

4.) Effective Healthcare MUST Be Customized

Functional medicine recognizes that every individual is unique and the collection of root causes of a person's problems in their body system is also unique. Therefore as a unique individual with unique health problems the most effective approach must be customized to fit that individual. As generalized "pill for every ill" solution will not work long-term and does cause further damage to the human body.

Functional Medicine Priorities

Functional medicine prioritizes treating the root cause or causes of disease rather than the symptoms. It prioritizes restoring the body's natural function. Functional medicine looks to maximize, minimize, and prioritize the right elements for each person to restore the whole body to wellness.

Interested to learn more? Here is another resource where well-known Functional Medicine, Dr. Mark Hyman talks more About Functional Medicine

If you would like more support with your health with a functional medicine approach consider my Private Health Coaching services.



Ariel Zimmerlein is a Holistic Health Coach and Farmer. She uses her B.S. in Human Nutrition and Dietetics and her lifetime learning and experience with chronic illness and childhood trauma to empower others to live life fully regardless of the circumstances they have been given. She runs her therapeutic farm and health coaching business, AZ Farm and Wellness, and loves to grow food for its inner and outer healing benefits.

Ariel focuses her practice on nutrition, stress, environmental toxins with a special interest in mental/emotional health. She serves those with chronic health conditions who are challenged by pain, isolation, depression, and anxiety.

Visit her at www.azfarmwellness.com to learn more.

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