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Functional Medicine: Re-inventing ‘Health’ Care

The term “Functional Medicine”  has been an emerging buzzword in the arenas of health and wellness for some time now – and in the opinion of many thought as leaders in the medical space, that this is the medicine of the future.

…read the entire article By Dr. John Dempster on Huffington Post.


The term “Functional Medicine”  has been an emerging buzzword in the arenas of health and wellness for some time now – and in the opinion of many thought as leaders in the medical space, that this is the medicine of the future. You may still be slightly in the dark as to what this cutting-edge medicine is really all about, and how it can benefit you. The reason I’m writing this post is that functional medicine may literally save your life. Period.

This may sound like a dramatic overstatement, and one not to disrespect the lifesaving feats of what western medicine can achieve in a crisis. That being said, it is prudent to acknowledge the despite the tremendous efforts of doctors and researchers, fundraisers etc – the pandemic of chronic illness surrounds us now more than ever. From cancer to heart disease, autoimmune disorders to mental illness, the numbers of chronic, and often devastating health conditions continue to rise despite our best efforts using current western medical interventions.


I have been fortunate enough to have been trained by, worked with, and mentored by some of the most progressive/evidence-based and forward thinking doctors on the planet. Doctors such as Mark Hyman, Jeffrey Bland, David Perlmutter, Peter Osborne, etc. are all pioneers that have helped to pave the road for a new, and true HEALTH care model that actually focuses on identifying and treating the root causes – not symptom suppression.


Gathering a highly-detailed insight into a patient’s underlying biochemical imbalances, allows a ‘road map’ or ‘GPS’ to provide a customized treatment targeting the specific to the needs of each individual — not merely treating labels. This is not intended to shun traditional western medicine (which is essential and highly effective in an acute care setting), rather, it is to recognize that we are living in the middle of a chronic disease crisis. Our current model is neither sustainable financially, nor is it getting ahead of the rising chronic disease statistics that are plaguing us on a global scale. Something has to give.

So what is functional Medicine all about?  One of the first professors at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and later its Physician-in-Chief famously said:

“The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.”

Sir William Ostler

Simply put, your body naturally wants to be healthy and in a state of balance. However, despite our best intentions, “life” happens at times, and our healthy habits, even despite our best intentions, can fall to the wayside.

The Underlying Causes

Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st-century by allowing practitioners to spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that influence long-term health and chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.

As the image of the volcano shows, a specific disease such as Diabetes, Cancer, or Fibromyalgia might be visible above the surface, but using a functional Medicine approach, the real cause lies in the altered physiology caused by factors found below the surface and not easily seen. Any health care model that merely treats just what we see ‘coming out of the volcano’, this rarely leads to long-term relief, vibrancy and ultimate healing. Identifying and treating the underlying root cause(s), as functional Medicine approach embraces, offers a more thorough approach and a much better chance to successfully resolve a chronic health challenge.

The Diagnostics

Another way of looking at this is when your “check engine” light comes on in your car. Should we simply unscrew the light bulb so the indicator light goes off? OR should we take the car in to the mechanic so they can lift the hood, run a set of detailed diagnostics uncovering the reason for the indicator — then fix it? Sadly, I think most of us take better care of our cars than we do ourselves.

Functional medicine looks at your entire health picture by addressing fundamental factors of your biochemical, physical, and emotional well-being. Each of these three components are part of your optimal health spectrum, and each of these do not stand alone but rather all work together to keep us and our families looking, thinking, and feeling our best.

Yours in good health,
Dr. John Dempster, ND