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Why We Get Sick—and How to Get Well


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If you have one of the many chronic health problems that people suffer from today—such as IBS, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and autoimmune disease—you will likely be given a drug to manage your symptoms and not much else. The key to successfully treating these conditions, however, is addressing their underlying cause. This is the promise of Functional and evolutionary medicine.

why we get sick
Getting to the root of why we get sick is how we determine how to get well. Okea/iStock/Thinkstock

We’re in the midst of the most serious epidemic of chronic disease humans have ever faced. Six in 10 adults in the United States have a chronic health condition, and four in 10 have two or more. (1) Seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2010 were chronic diseases, and two of them—heart disease and cancer—together accounted for almost half of all deaths. (2)    

While some of these problems (like heart disease) are fairly well-understood by conventional medicine, others are more mysterious. Conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), chronic fatigue, diverticulosis, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune disease together affect hundreds of millions of people around the world, but in most cases, patients are told that the causes of their condition are unknown and simply prescribed drugs to manage the symptoms.

But is it really true that we don’t know what causes chronic illness? Certainly, there are particulars related to each specific illness that we don’t yet understand. But I would argue that we do, in fact, have a solid grasp on the most important factors that contribute to virtually all chronic disease. This means that it is within our power now to prevent, and even reverse, many of these conditions.

Do you know the eight underlying causes of most chronic disease? Check out this article to find out and learn how Functional Medicine can solve them. #functionalmedicine #unconventionalmedicine #kresserinstitute

The Functional Medicine Systems Model

As many of you know, I train clinicians in Functional Medicine through the ADAPT Practitioner Training Program. In preparing for that program, I created a “unified theory” of what causes disease that I call the Functional Medicine Systems Model. I’d like to share that with you here, and use it as a springboard for our discussion.

exposome + genome copy

As the diagram illustrates, the interaction between an individual’s genome, epigenome, and exposome is at the core of what determines our health.

The genome is our complete set of DNA, containing all of the information needed to build and maintain the human organism.

The epigenome consists of chemicals that modify the genome in a way that tells it what to do, where to do it, and when to do it. These modifications do not change the underlying genes, but they can be passed on to future generations.

The exposome represents the sum total of all non-genetic exposures an individual experiences from the moment of their conception through the end of their life. It includes the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the chemicals we’re exposed to, the social connections we have, and the environment we live in.

To use an analogy, the genome is like a piano; the epigenome is like the sheet music, and the exposome is what determines how the music is written and performed. The quality of the piano will certainly affect the sound that it produces. But the finest piano in the world will still sound terrible if the sheet music and performance are terrible. Likewise, a virtuoso pianist performing a Mozart piece will not be at her best playing a poor-quality piano.

In the same way, genetics do play an important role in human health and disease. However, we now know that the exposome (and its influence on the epigenome) is far more significant in most cases. In fact, it is responsible for more than 90 percent of human disease. That is why the exposome is at the core of the Functional Medicine Systems Model, and should always be the first thing addressed regardless of the patient’s complaint.

The modern diet, lifestyle, and environment affect the expression of our genes and lead to pathology, which in turn cause disease and symptoms in the patient.

But what are those pathologies?

The Eight Core Pathologies That Underlie All Chronic Disease

I believe that virtually all diseases and symptoms that we experience are caused by one or more of the following eight core pathologies:

1. Gut Dysfunction

Gut dysfunction includes small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), infections (e.g. parasites, pathogenic bacteria, viruses), low stomach acid, bile, and enzyme production, intestinal permeability, and food intolerances.

2. Nutrient Imbalance

Nutrient imbalance includes deficiency of nutrients like B12, iron, folate, magnesium, zinc, EPA/DHA and fat-soluble vitamins (most common), and excess of nutrients like iron (less common).

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3. HPA Axis Dysregulation

HPA axis dysregulation includes regulating the communication between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands, and balancing the production of hormones associated with those glands (e.g. DHEA, cortisol)

4. Toxic Burden

Your toxic burden includes exposure to chemicals (e.g. BPA, phthalates, etc.), heavy metals (e.g. mercury, arsenic), biotoxins (e.g. mold/mycotoxins), or impaired detoxification capacity due to nutrient deficiency, GI issues, or other causes.

5. Chronic Infections

These include “stealth” infections by tick-borne organisms (e.g. Borrelia, Babesia, Bartonella, Erlichia), intracellular bacteria (e.g. Mycoplamsa, Chlamydophila), viruses (e.g. HHV-6, HPV), and dental bacteria.

6. Hormone Imbalance

Hormonal imbalance can include those associated metabolism (e.g. insulin, leptin), thyroid, and gonads (e.g. estrogen, progesterone, testosterone).

7. Immune Dysregulation

This includes autoimmunity, underactive immune function, and chronic, systemic inflammation. 

8. Cellular Dysfunction

Cellular dysfunction can refer to impaired methylation, energy production, and mitochondrial function, and oxidative damage.

These pathologies (and the exposome-genome-epigenome interactions that lead to them) are at the root of everything from obesity, to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, to asthma, to autism spectrum disorders, to depression. The understanding that the same eight core pathologies underlie most modern, chronic diseases has profound implications for how we should address these conditions.

In conventional medicine, the focus is often on diseases and the symptoms; it works “from the outside in.” For example, let’s say that you go to the doctor for your annual exam and your blood tests reveal that you have “high cholesterol”. The most likely outcome in this situation is that you’ll be prescribed a statin, and in some cases be told to exercise more and eat better. There is rarely any serious investigation into what caused the high cholesterol in the first place.

In Functional Medicine, however, we work “from the inside out.” We pay less attention to the symptoms and more attention to the pathology that produces those symptoms.

High cholesterol is a symptom, not a pathology. The pathologies that can lead to high cholesterol include poor thyroid function, intestinal permeability, disrupted gut microbiome, chronic viral or bacterial infections, insulin and leptin resistance, and nutrient imbalances—to name a few. If I find high cholesterol in a patient, we will examine all of these potential pathologies, and of course, we will also look at how the individual’s genetics, diet, lifestyle, and other factors related to the exposome may be contributing to them. Once we have addressed all of the core pathologies, the cholesterol levels typically normalize on their own.

Whether the patient’s main complaint is infertility, fatigue, sinusitis, or skin problems, I will focus on these eight core pathologies because I know (from both clinical experience and research) that they are the most likely underlying causes of their condition. In my practice, most of my patients are dealing with not just one of these pathologies, but several.

As you can see, this is a fundamentally different approach than what is typically done in the conventional setting. The downside is that it requires a lot more testing and investigation up front, which can be costly and time-consuming. The upside—which obliterates any of the downside considerations—is that it becomes possible to not only prevent but even reverse many chronic disease conditions without the need for taking medication for the rest of your life.

Unfortunately, the Functional Medicine approach is not yet embraced within the conventional healthcare model. But I believe that is changing. The prestigious Cleveland Clinic established the Center for Functional Medicine, directed by Functional Medicine pioneer Dr. Mark Hyman. This is a big step toward mainstream acceptance of Functional Medicine, and the research the center is engaged in will almost certainly lead to even broader recognition.

I think health insurance companies will also see the benefits of Functional Medicine. They’ll recognize that spending a little more money up front to properly diagnose and treat the root of the problem will lead to enormous savings down the line.

These changes aren’t going to happen overnight, and we still have a lot of work to do. But the tide really is starting to turn!

If you’re a healthcare practitioner and you’re interested in training in this approach, learn more about the ADAPT Practitioner Training Program.

If you’re struggling with a chronic health problem and are interested in learning more about this approach, click here to learn more about how the team at the California Center for Functional Medicine can help. The membership-based health transformation service offered by CCFM is 100 percent virtual, and it’s designed to offer you the support, tools, and team you need to get well.

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Join the conversation

  1. Wow! First of all my deepest empathy to all of you who are suffering in one form or another and koodo’s to all of you for being open minded enough to look beyond traditional medicine. I do believe that functional medicine is the way to go and strongly believe it can work if you make the commitment to what ever life style changes are required. I also hope the traditional medical community will take off their blinders to see a different side of health care.
    I suffer from silent reflux. A condition that has severely affected my breathing. It just crept up on me one day. I have gone from being a 10km runner to not running at all and sometimes even struggle to catch my breath going up stairs. The traditional medical community went straight to Nexium (I don’t take it). I have started seeing a local naturopath who strongly believes in functional healing and I sure I will be running again in no time. Keep the faith, things can change.

  2. I am new to this site in hope to find an possible answer and some much need help or advice to a very troubling issue.
    I started to see a nutritional it’s and a functional doctor if how of finding why I had severe depression and anxiety.
    They did the DNA methylation test and Started to work on leaky gut, celiac, and SIBO.
    How ever, after starting treatment for this we then found out I had parasites and had to do 5 month cleanse which at this point I had to stop since it became to have on my body. I had already lost a lot of weight ( down 40lbs in one yr.- 96lbs anorexic).
    But since doing the cleanse my mental state had continued to deteriorate with more depression, anxiety, confusion, brain fog, dizziness, poor concentration, and cause me much fear.
    I can’t seem to get a answer to why from either dr.
    Was wondering if I may be still having detox from supplements and toxins running wild.
    Need to find a good functional dr near Pa.
    Any one every have or experience this. Any advise from Chris or others reading my post. VERY SCARED AND DESPERATE FOR HELP!!!

    • In my opinion, it’s very likely that a mineral imbalance could be one of, if not the central cause of your issues. You may consider getting an HTMA (hair tissue mineral analysis) done to assess your current mineral status, find any obvious deficiencies, and at the same time determine if there are any supplements or substances that could actually worsen your condition. I’ve found it to be an extremely cost effective and efficient way to either determine crucial information about the health of my patients, and to also rule out any obvious imbalances in mineral ratios. Hope that helps

    • Sheila,

      Sorry you’re going through all that. Did your doctor address heavy metals? What kind of diet were you on?

      Functionalmedicine dot org has a feature to search for doctors.

      Hope this helps.

    • I have it like that Sheila. I have loose much weight now and it is just the skin and bone of me. I have SIBO. And here in Norway they can not help me. I am so sick no. The metabolism is totally wrong. I had no immune system. I not tolerated food or nothing else. I have muc much toxiner in my body. I have parasites and i CSN not swollowing,breathing. I can not be out. I have so
      Much pain in my stomach,in my body,balcpain,neck,snd muc in my head and brainfog. I think i will die soon. I am desperate. Dear Chris. I wish i live there so i could get help. Can you help me? PleSe.

  3. Chris, your initial question was regarding resolving one or more of the core pathologies listed above. Here is an interesting contrast for you.

    I have two sons, in their early 20’s each with Crohn’s disease. Last summer the younger son was also diagnosed with Celiac Disease. As a result, we changed his diet to autoimmune paleo then paleo. He still takes his Crohn’s medication but we are weaning it. He also takes supplements and has really watched his food intake to heal his leaky gut. remove toxins etc and he has improved immensely! Conversely, the older of the two, not compliant with his western meds, has had a significant downturn in his health. For the past few months he has been dealing with pain, high powered drugs and hospital stays. The result is he will be having surgery next week to remove a fistula and terminal ileum, reattaching the small and large intestine. I feel certain if I could have convinced him earlier this year about the benefits of taking control of his health he would not be in this situation. I have two young men, same disease, two differing views on health and lifestyle.

    The younger one is living at home so managing his diet is easier. We did spend quite a bit of money on his testing and supplements. My older one thought that since insurance didn’t cover the cost it was not worth the effort.

    Very saddened for my older son, who by the way, is a cancer survivor. He had Hodgkins Lymphoma at 17. Both sons…two immune diseases each….diet, environment, toxins, lifestyle…I’m convinced.

  4. I just had skin lichen planus all over my torso, front and back, for about 6 months. About a month into it, I went to my general practitioner just to see what he’s say, even though I figured he would probably prescribe a long course of oral prednisone steroids, which he did. I told him that I was going to try it my way, with something called the Autoimmune Protocol or the Elimination Diet. I also tried to manage stress, exercise, get enough sleep, and get some sunlight every day if possible, not to mention trying to be nice and care about people and life in general. It took about 3 or 4 more months, but now the lichen planus is completely gone. I’ve read that it can last years if untreated. Mine lasted about 6 months total. No prednisone needed. Love your website! I think you are helping so many people! Thanks!

  5. Hi Chris, We met at the WAPF conference a year and a half ago. We chatted; I urged you to learn German New Medicine. You said others had been urging you to learn GNM, too. I’m going to say it again: PLEASE learn German New Medicine! While this is a great article, it’s off by one component and it’s a HUGE component. Please learn GNM and you’ll understand chronic symptoms 100%.

    • The connection between the psyche and disease is indeed very real. After my father died, I was plagued for 3 years by chronic shingles. Well after the first flareup it was just a small itchy patch that grew or shrank depending on stress levels. I knew it had to be related to my father (apart from his being abusive). I finally figured out that like him, I wasn’t staying grounded in myself, my true values, etc. I often became what people thought I was or I became like them. The realization didn’t help on its own. I had to learn to live with intention (I forgave a long time ago and also acknowledged the good ways in which we were similar).

      Listening to the youtube guru Matt Kahn is what ultimately did it. After listening to his talk on intention for the third time and finding in myself a slight strengthening of conviction, the shingles started fading away. This isn’t to say I haven’t worked hard on my health in other ways and I have cut out foods that cause inflammation in my body (of which there are many). But being true to my highest self was the final piece of the puzzle.

    • Hi Andi Locke Mears,

      How would German New Medicine help if you have Vitamin D or some mineral deficiency?
      How it can explain 100% success of Chromium and Vanadium for diabetes for 2 -4 weeks?
      How it explains that babies get ill and animals get ill too?

      • This answer is for Pet who responded to my previous post urging Chris to learn German New Medicine. I appreciate your questions, Pet! There are easy answers to all your questions from a GNM perspective. I’m not sure if you know the Five Bio Laws, however, my answers wouldn’t make any sense without that knowledge. Feel free to contact me privately if you’d like to continue this discussion. Thank you!

        • Hi Andi,

          I just begin to read about Five Bio Laws – i here is what i see:
          Undernourishment, injuries, and poisoning can result in organ dysfunction(s) but cannot cause diseases such as cancer
          Well this explains everything – i can agree with the above – i am in very bad physical condition and doctors can not find what is wrong with me for years because organs are not damaged – just not functioning well. So if i understand correctly – if someone have slow thyroid – this is not disease according to GNM.

      • A vitamin or mineral deficiency would be considered malnourishment – and would require supplementation. Keep in mind some alterations is vitamin and mineral levels are side-effects of biological conflict as well. If an individual has success eliminating diabetes by taking chromium and vanadium – then it is clear a “track” to the biological program that was turned off. Biological conflicts may occur in utero. Animals are subject to biological conflicts as well. In fact out figurative human conflicts originated in the literal ones found in the animal kingdom.

  6. As an associated idea I have read and believe there to be good and evidence, that a useful first approach to a variety of chronic illness would be the treatment for candidiasis – a condition that is probably affecting a majority given our lifestyle and environment exposure and especially to medication such as antibiotics Candidiasis would seem to be part of the third layer?

    Also, I live in England and have been searching for practitioners here and abroad, especially those offering residential courses of treatment, who will take you through a course of treatment.

    I would appreciate hearing from those who have any knowledge and experience of treating candidiasis.

  7. I’m 63, been told my thyroid is dead. I’ve been gluten and dairy, sugar free (as much as possible)about 2 yrs. I’m trying to find medical support in the Chicago area. Can you offer any suggestion? Thanks for all you do.

    • Dr. Emily Lindner is a Chicago functional medicine practitioner who was very helpful with my chronic fatigue and joint pain issues.

  8. I have IBS and diverticulosis which was made worse after chemotherapy which nearly killed me because I had an adverse reaction. It is 6 years since then and I am taking tamoxifen.

    I have strong family history of allergies(sensitivities) to all dfifferent medicines mostly antibiotics( for ex. penicillan).

    I am an active sport minded woman of 67. In the last few months I have managed to get off meds for the IBS after believe it or not matzoh. It changed the system and I only take omepredex for gerd. And I feel best when eating meat. Most foods, vegetables, legumes, high fiber would make me suffer. However since about 4 months I have been able to bring these things back into my diet.

    Here is the question. I never got sick before this(cancer) and everytime I have an infection it takes much longer for me to recuperate. This is intolerable for me. I have had pneumonia this past month and it is going on 6 weeks and still am not myself. No tennis zumba or pilates.

    Just so you know I have nueropathy in my legs/feet which is also part of family history…but may have been exacerbated by the chemo. No one knows. I am never pain free but never let it totally stop me from doing what I love.

    I am not in the states now but will be in August. What suggestions do you have?.I am tired of being tired. Life is too short.

  9. I found this very interesting and hopeful for the future of medicine. Common sense says that the pharmaceutical companies would not be happy for Functional Medicine to take off in this country. They would prefer to keep going with status quo. Healthier people need less medications; people with proper nutrients and detoxification need less medications.

    I would be curious to hear from you re: any impact Moringa could have on these conditions. The NIH (www.researchmoringa.com) seems to believe it can be very helpful.

  10. Hi Chris–I am eighty four years old and have a severe curvature of the spine that I have had to live with my entire
    life. I am now unable to stand up straight and in constant pain.
    I have been taking Ibuprofin for years to help ease the pain but
    this doesn’t help very much. I realize that nothing can be done
    with my back so dealing with the pain is about all that I can do.
    Other than my back, I am in good health overall. I am 5’11” and
    weigh 165 lbs, never have smoked, do not drink, never had
    high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems etc. I walk every day a mile or so, get 6 or so hours sleep, eat healthy as is possible with the foods that we have these days etc.
    Since my having to deal with pain and take Ibuprofin now I
    would rather take something that would help with the pain
    and not have to use the drug. Any help or suggestion that
    you might offer would be greatly appreciated. My walking is
    made a bit tough not being able to stand up straight and being bent over a bit. I want to thank you in advance for your
    advice or help of any kind.

    • Hi John,

      I’m sorry about your back, chronic pain is tough. I have back trouble due to injury. I had pretty good results from taking white willow bark, or curcumin. Chiropractic and acupuncture helped as well.

      Hope you find relief.

  11. Hi chris i live in toronto and would love ro find a dr like you for my husband who suffers from ibs, diverticulitis etc etc..the list goes on and on! Any canadian directory info would be most helpful. Thanks!

  12. Hi Chris. You are the main blog I follow.
    I’m 74, never felt better and of course, it wasn’t always that way. I was over “Antibioticed” at an early age, and on, my dad being a doctor, and Penicillin the recent “wonder Drug”.
    At middle age, Eczema, Fatigue, foggy thinking, very underweight except swelling legs and ankles, also a dry cough. 7 or 8 local Chico, CA doctors included 2 Dermatologists, 2 internists, an Alergist, a few Family doctors….You name it. No One Ever Addressed my Gut.
    Finally Diagnosed by a Farm Lady I happened to run into: “lady, you’ve got the worst case of Candida I have ever seen. When my animals have too many Antibiotics, it ruins their Gut. and that’s what you’ve got….a Ruined Gut”
    Gave me a start to research. Finally met up with Butte Valley Weston A Price group and in 3 mos on a modified GAPs diet, my skin cleared, energy returned….been going strong every since and that was 7 years ago.
    During my worst period, I kept eliminating foods from my diet until I was down to Brown Rice and Apples….and thank God for Blue Green Algae supplement, I think that is what kept me alive. no fun.

  13. conditions like heart disease are well understood. conditions like IBS, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and autoimmune disease, are less understood. These diseases affect hundreds of millions across the globe.

    the unknown!!! We need to prevent and reverse these diagnoses of exclusion.

    exposome + genome and epigenome.
    exposome- the sum total of all environmental exposure from conception to death, including air, water, food, relationships, and our living spaces
    Genome- complete set of DNA containing all the information needed to build and maintain us!
    epigenome- chemicals that modify the genome in a way that tells it what to do, where to do it, and when to do it. These modifications do not change the underlying genes, but they can be passed on to future generations.

    genetics play a role in human disease, but the exposome is far more important, and should be addressed first and foremost

    Thesis: The modern diet, lifestyle, and environment affect the expression of our genes and lead to pathology, which in turn cause disease and symptoms in the patient.

    The 8 core pathologies:
    1. gut dysfunction, including SIBO

    2. Nutrient imbalance, including B vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins. That’s why I’m going to be getting my vitamin K from Life Extension sent to me right quick!

    3. Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis. Mine use to be buggered. Using these principles, I feel more energetic than I have EVER felt before. Not exaggerating.

    4. Toxic Burden. I’m currently doing oral chelation therapy to reduce my lead and mercury levels. DMSA is the only chelating agent (I think) that removes lead from the brain!! Check out this link for more.

    5. Chronic infections, I wonder if H. Pylori is included in this?

    6. Hormone imbalance, staying active and limiting carbohydrate intake is how I deal with this. Also, adequate protein intake 🙂

    7. Immune dysregulation, Vitamin C? managing stress? Managing sleep? managing diet? Managing exercise?

    8. Impaired methylation. I have a gene mutation in my MTHFR gene. So I take B vitamins on a daily basis and extra B12 and folate (methyltetrahydrolate) every other day.

    I love how Chris says that these 8 pathologies are at the root of EVERYTHING, including complicated social and medical diseases like obesity and depression. Imagine a cure for depression that doesn’t involve drugs!

    “The upside—which obliterates any of the downside considerations (which means high cost of time and money)—is that it becomes possible to not only prevent, but even reverse many chronic disease conditions without the need for taking medication for the rest of your life.”

    This has certainly been true in my case. I have been working with a functional medicine practitioner for months now. For the first 6 months of my treatment, I was presenting with hypothyroidism, which according to old school thinking, is a problem that requires nonstop medication for your entire life! Yet, after 6 months of focusing on my health, changing my sleep, exercise, and eating habits, my thyroid levels normalized and they’ve been great ever since. Chris’ book on thyroid disorders and Hashimoto’s was invaluable in helping me become informed and communicate effectively with my doctor.

  14. Interested in finding a reputable functional medical doctor/physician in Sydney Aus. And recommendations? Cheers !

  15. Chris, you are a bright, steady light in a very scary, dark sea of health information available. Traditional medicine information overall is very negative and generally hopeless, often resorting to dangerous drugs, surgery or your told the problem is due to old age. Alternative medicine is full of endless conflicting opinions of the best diet or of endless amounts of supplements to take that don’t help. Personally my functional medicine doctor gets frustrated when I try to explain that my body can’t handle so many supplements, or when I want to find the cause of my health problems. Chris, thank you for being my main source for finding information that I feel I can trust. You always make sense to me! You are a great public servant, because for most of us, we do not have access to “true” functional medicine that treats us as individuals.

  16. Chris thank you for your invaluable continuous contribution to my life. I have been following you for a long time now and I have seen various health benefits by practicing your advice. I have been on a low carb diet, gluten free, high in quality fats (from meat, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, etc), protein from meat, fish and dairy products, among which keffir and plenty of live yogurt. Also I take probiotics plus digestive enzymes to support my gut, and brazil nuts for detoxification, plus 4000 IU of vitamin D per day because I have hashimoto’s and lichen planus (hoping to raise my blood levels to between 60-90 per Dr Amy Myers suggestion for people with autoimmune problems). Any other suggestions for my two autoimmune conditions will be truly appreciated. Thanks Chris! Keep up the good work

  17. There has been a lot of talk about gut dysbiosis and leaky gut etc. recently but nothing said about diverticulitis. I would very much appreciate some information about how to improve this condition.

    • Hi Jan, I have Diverticulosis and about two years ago I had 6 months of continual colds or flu and was going to the emergency once a month for antibiotics. My daughter, who was on the Paleo Diet urged me to try it. So I tried only cutting out grains and legumes and I notice a hugh different in how my gut felt by that same afternoon, then I tried the complete diet and I haven’t had any problems since. I hardly ever get sick anymore either.
      Hope this helps, it really helped me.

  18. Thanks Chris for this well explained article. I found out a year ago that my multiple pathologies were related to each other (HT, infertility, hormonal issues, skin issues, gut issues).

    I want to be on the road to recovery and find a good Functional Medicine doctor that understands everything you just said. What is the best resource/directory to find one? I live in Seattle, one of the best cities in the nation for medical treatment, yet I have no clue how to sift through all of the crap doctors.

    • I too am in need of a functional medical doctor in the Seattle, Edmonds or Kitsap county in Washington state.

  19. Re: functional medicine practitioners — there are several comments here about how some have not been as helpful as hoped for. This is a real issue, and I know it first hand. There are many good ones, but also many others who call themselves FPs but who really only layer a few tests or protocols on top of conventional medicine, and some of whom don’t even evaluate lab results by apply FM optimal lab ranges. It can be very costly and frustrating. When the great divide between science and medicine finally comes together, hopefully that will change. Thanks to people like Chris, there is hope that it will, eventually.

    • I’m afraid that’s what I’ve encountered thus far. I read all of these articles and apply the concepts to my own life as best I can, but how do I know what applies to me without first consulting a competent practitioner? I currently live in Alabama. I have searched for a doctor that I can have confidence in, but have yet to find one. I don’t suppose you have any recommendations do you? Thanks for your comment

      • Philip, how frustrating it is. You may need to travel for a first visit, and then many of the docs can do Skype visits after that. I don’t live in your part of the US. The only ones I know of in the south are in Texas, Nashville. Amy Myers MD is in Austin and Dr. Josh Axe is in Nashville. I don’t know if either are taking new patients, but you might try contacting their offices to find out and to see if they know of someone good who’s closer to you. Also, you might see if someone who works for Sarah Ballantyne PhD (aka The Paleo Mom) knows of someone close to you. She’s in Atlanta I believe.

        • Susan, thank you very much. I will look into all of those. Nashville and Atlanta are both approximately 4 hours from me so either would work. Thanks again

          • Philip, I do online consultations for people like yourself across the world. I offer functional lab testing and any nutrients you may need. I design protocols based of the results of the lab tests. Feel free to reach out if you need help.

          • Philip, I live in Montgomery AL and have an autoimmune disease that I’ve been trying to treat with alternative methods. I have thought of getting in touch with Sarah Ballentyne since I find all of her information very informative.

            Currently, I am doing GutThrive with Christa Orecchio (sp?) who is in California. It is done over the web and seems to be a good program.

          • Hi Phillip. I’m in Birmingham and see a functional medicine practitioner here who takes insurance (!). Please email me at mpmandsgw at gmail dot com if you’d like her info. Best, Mo

  20. I am a certified health coach who has been self studying for almost 15 years (everything from anatomy to disease-conventional and functional approaches). When I work with clients I focus on five foundations of health: Whole food, Sleep, stress reduction, safe movement and fun….but the one I have added in the last couple of months is the most important in my opinion. That’s instinct. I think the biggest piece people are missing is instinct. People rely way to heavily on what practitioners tell them to do….recommendations and suggestions are important, having a guide is crucial. But, it boils down to what works for you? What feels right? What doesn’t work? I have seen more proteins, supplements and meal plans on my clients intake form (people buy these things because they are told it will help) then even if they get digestive upset/rashes, headaches etc they continue to use them “because my doctor told me to”. I teach my clients how to listen to their own body, and I even tell them if what I tell you doesn’t resonate with you at your deepest gut level? Don’t do it. We are putting way too much responsibility on other to get us well. I certainly hope I can participate in your training Chris….I have many years of experience in working with the toughest cases but having your credentials behind my name would be even better.

    • I think you’re right about instinct. We’ve lost the ability to listen to our own bodies, and a host of addictions from legal drugs like caffeine to “foods” like refined sugar makes it even more difficult. I work in the supplement industry and I can’t tell you how often people continue to take supplements that aren’t helping them at all.

    • Carmen, you are EXACTLY the kind of FM doctor I would love to have. God bless you.