At Nourish Medicine, Dr. Alex practices integrative functional medicine to uncover the root causes of chronic illness and help patients transform their lives. She uses lab testing to uncover nutritional imbalances, pH levels, adrenal stress, and other factors that can affect your health.
Functional medicine doctors are fully licensed physicians who have gone through traditional medical school training and have chosen to get additional certifications in this field. Other types of practitioners may choose to focus on functional medicine as well.
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine takes a different approach to health than traditional Western medical practices. Instead of starting with symptoms, functional medicine practitioners look for the root cause of your health concerns. These causes could be genetic, environmental, or lifestyle factors that can impact your overall health.
A doctor who specializes in functional medicine will take the time to understand your health history and explore all of these possible underlying factors. They’ll be able to identify the root cause of your symptoms and recommend the right natural therapies for you.
For example, a practitioner of functional medicine may suggest supplements, herbs, therapeutic diets, stress-management techniques or detoxification programs. These approaches are more holistic in nature than traditional Western medicines and can be very effective for addressing chronic illnesses. They’re also great for people who have tried traditional treatments and haven’t seen results. This includes people with autoimmune diseases, chronic pain or digestive issues. These conditions can be caused by a number of different things, and it’s important to find the right treatment to address the issue effectively.
How Does Functional Medicine Work?
Functional medicine is a personalized approach that helps patients get to the root cause of their complex chronic diseases. Its goal is to help them feel better while reducing the need for medications and surgery. Its practitioners use a wide array of treatments, including botanicals, supplements, therapeutic diets, exercise plans, detoxification programs and stress management techniques.
Functional doctors spend time learning about your complete medical history. They look at your genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that can influence health and disease. They also look at how the different systems in your body communicate with each other.
This individualized and holistic approach is especially important when treating stealth pathogens. Because these infections affect multiple systems in the body, symptoms can ebb and flow. For example, one day you might have fatigue as the primary symptom; a few days later, depression may become more prominent. This cyclic nature makes a functional medicine approach ideal for this type of condition.
Why Should I See a Functional Medicine Doctor?
In addition to the thorough evaluation of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors, functional medicine practitioners focus on uncovering underlying imbalances that aren’t always detectable with standard blood tests. These imbalances are often the root cause of your health condition and can be addressed with a combination of lifestyle changes, herbal medicine and other natural treatments.
Your visit with a functional medicine practitioner will be far different than the typical 7 minute appointment with your primary care doctor, where you’re treated like a number and given a quick fix (like an over-the-counter or prescription drug). You can expect to spend at least an hour with your functional physician, during which time they’ll have one-on-one, undivided attention to listen and answer all of your questions.
Functional doctors can solve complex and multifaceted health issues such as hormone imbalances, digestive conditions (including autoimmune diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and Celiac disease), thyroid disorders, and mental health problems like depression or anxiety. Typically, they’ll also address underlying stealth pathogens, such as Bartonella species or Trichomonas vaginalis, which are linked to many chronic debilitating illnesses.
What is the Difference Between Functional Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine?
While both functional medicine and osteopathy use holistic approaches to treating patients, there are differences. Functional medicine practitioners consider all aspects of a patient’s health and wellbeing to identify the root causes of their symptoms or illnesses. The unique genetic makeup, environment, lifestyle, and physiology of each patient are all taken into consideration.
In contrast, osteopathic physicians (DOs) follow the philosophy that all body systems are interconnected and that illness occurs when those systems become overloaded. DOs work to optimize structural and physiological function to facilitate the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
After a successful career as a lifestyle and nutrition coach, Aunna Herbst decided to pursue her passion for functional medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine in 2015. She was so well-received by the team that she became their operations director before returning to her private practice in Oklahoma. Aunna believes that functional medicine and osteopathic principles complement each other and have many similarities.functional medicine austin