Functional Medicine

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Functional Medicine

Functional medicine is a science-based field of healthcare that is grounded in the following principles:

  • Client-centered care
  • Dynamic balance of internal and external factors
  • Biochemical individuality
  • Health as a positive vitality
  • Web-like interconnections of physiological factors
  • Promotion of organ reserve

Functional medicine involves examining the core clinical imbalances that underlie a disease or condition – looking beyond signs and symptoms to a deeper understanding of functionality. These imbalances arise as environmental inputs, such as diet and nutrients (including oxygen and water), exercise and trauma are processed by a client's body through his or her unique metabolism.

We also keep in mind that literally everything about that client is also affected by his/her mind, spirit, attitudes and beliefs. The principles of functional medicine present a different context for identifying and understanding these imbalances.

Fundamental physiological processes that support healthy balance and optimal functioning include:

  • Communication (intra- and intercellular)
  • Bioenergetics, or the transformation of food into energy
  • Replication and maintenance of structural integrity, from the cellular to the whole body level
  • Elimination of wastes and defence
  • Absorption, circulation and transport of nutrients in the body

From a functional medicine standpoint, imbalances in these processes can lead to changes in many different physiological systems that then become precursors to the signs and symptoms that we may diagnose as organ system disease.

Approaching clinical nutrition from a functional medicine perspective also means identifying the core metabolic imbalances that most often result from system breakdowns. The main categories of metabolic imbalances include:

  • Digestive, absorptive and microbiological imbalances
  • Detoxification and biotransformation imbalances
  • Oxidation-reduction imbalances and mitochondropathies
  • Hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances
  • Immune imbalances and inflammatory imbalances
  • Structural imbalances, from cellular membrane function to musculoskeletal system


Research is now focusing on how to assess these imbalances earlier in life, and then readjust the metabolic balance to decrease the risk those conditions and diseases pose to the well-being and quality of life for all of us. As this brief introduction demonstrates, nutrition is one of the key environmental inputs that can be reviewed and modified to support optimal health and function.