Functional Medicine

Functional medicine is personalized medicine. You are unique. Truly unique! There are many millions of moving parts in a human being, from gene expression, to proteins, hormones, antibodies, receptors, enzymes, neurotransmitters, membrane lipids, fatty acids, cofactors, vitamins and minerals; each in subtly different combinations for each person. This is referred to as biochemical individuality. This has led some doctors to ask not so much what type of disease a patient may have, but rather, what type of person has the disease?[1]

Modern medicine is analytical. It is characterized by specialisms with different disciplines, each a bit like slices of a cake. The focus of each discipline is to diagnose and treat diseases relating to that particular slice of the cake. A gastroenterologist for example is a specialist in gut pathology and disease (probably arising from eating too many slices of cake).  In functional medicine, the cake is sliced longitudinally and each body system is considered in terms of the underlying cellular metabolic and physiological processes. Functional medicine is analytical in its methods, but holistic in its application, which is one of the reasons I like it.

Institute of Functional Medicine Matrix

Functional Matrix from the Institute of Functional Medicine ©

So using a functional medicine approach gives us a chance to look at the wiring under the board. In their 2009 white paper entitled 21st Century Medicine: A New Model For Evaluation And Practice, The Institute for Functional Medicine say:

This new model offers cutting-edge systems biology, synthesized with whole-person medicine. This is the best of both worlds. No longer is the patient seen purely through the lens of a dysfunctional organ system, a disease, or a syndrome. By evaluating a matrix of root causes in the diagnostic and therapeutic process, we open our eyes to a different altitude as well as latitude of thinking about complex and chronic disease states. We can look further “upstream” to understand the physiology and pathophysiology and not simply treat the end stage manifestations of that altered physiology.[2]

The epidemic of chronic disease we face has been likened to the tip of an iceberg, under which sits a host of potential functional causes. If you are experiencing less than ideal health, or simply want to prevent a condition to which you might be predisposed, feel free to consult me and use the latest evidence- based science to optimize your health and wellbeing.

Functional Medicine Iceberg
Functional Medicine Iceberg © Andy Patterson 2020

The “next transformation” will change the paradigm to focus on health—positively defined and measured as something other than the “absence of disease”; conceived as an integrated function of biology, environment, and behavior; and measured as a product of physical, mental, social, and spiritual variables. — Michael Johns, MD, and Kenneth Brigham, MD [3]


[1] Nicolle, L and Woodriff- Beirne, A (2010). Biochemical Imbalances in Disease. Singing Dragon, London.

[2] Jones, D., Hoffmann, L., Quinn., S (2009). 21st Century Medicine: A New Model For Evaluation And Practice, The Institute for Functional Medicine.

[3] Johns MME, Brigham KL (2008). Transforming health care through prospective medicine: The first step. Acad Med. 2008;83(8):706.