Trying to Find a Functional Medicine Doctor? 6 Questions You Should Ask

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Trying to Find a Functional Medicine Doctor? 6 Questions You Should Ask 

Functional medicine is growing in popularity, and with proven success in treating many different illnesses and chronic diseases, it’s easy to see why. However, the popularity of functional medicine means an increasingly wide choice of providers. Many people wonder how to find a functional medicine doctor they can trust with their healthcare.


Why is Functional Medicine So Popular?

Functional medicine is the perfect blend of science-backed technology and trusted healing therapies. Functional medicine providers embrace the body’s natural ability to heal with proper support.


Did you know that the average patient takes four medications per day? An estimated four billion prescriptions are filled annually, costing patients nearly $1300 yearly. Conventional medicine’s approach is a “pill for every ill” to reduce the symptoms of a disease or illness.


Functional medicine providers, by contrast, understand that every illness has a root cause and the symptoms experienced are a warning that something is wrong. Rather than just treating these symptoms, functional medicine uses science to uncover root causes. After this cause is found and reversed, symptoms will disappear.


You can find a functional medicine doctor to use for your primary care or to complement your conventional medical treatments. 


How Can I Find a Functional Medicine Doctor I Can Trust?

It’s important to understand that not all functional medicine providers are equal. Some hold certifications, while others don’t. Some are medical doctors or nurse practitioners who can prescribe medications if necessary, while others aren’t. 


Here are six questions to ask the functional medicine doctor you find before committing to treatment.


1. Can They Work within a Conventional Medicine Framework?

While functional medicine is a natural approach to healing, there are times when it should complement conventional medicine. Find a functional medicine doctor who believes that a more conventional method may be appropriate in some cases and is willing to provide more traditional treatment or partner with your doctor if necessary.


2. Do They Take the Time to Listen?

Communication is an essential part of the principles guiding functional medicine providers. This means your doctor takes the time necessary to listen, evaluate, and educate.


  • Listen: A functional medicine appointment can last more than an hour. Your provider uses the office visit to listen to all medical concerns. You should never hear that your concerns are “all in your head” or that they “aren’t a big deal.”
  • Evaluate: Your provider should conduct an extensive evaluation of your past medical history, including your lifestyle, diet, and genetic risk factors. A comprehensive physical and recommendations for lab work will give your doctor the complete picture of your health status.
  • Educate: Your provider should take the time to explain findings and how they impact your health. You can then leave your functional medicine appointment fully understanding your health status and treatment options.


3. Can They Treat a Wide Variety of Conditions?

While some functional medicine doctors specialize in specific medical fields, such as women’s health or pediatrics, they are all well-suited to be primary care providers. Some of the conditions functional medicine can treat include the following:


  • Anxiety and depression
  • GI and digestive disorders
  • Chronic diseases
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Reproductive disorders
  • Weight management
  • Allergies
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Respiratory illnesses


The most common reason patients find a functional medicine doctor is because they experience vague symptoms, such as pain and inflammation, digestive issues, fatigue, brain fog, insomnia, headaches, or other recurring problems. Functional medicine doctors are uniquely qualified to find out the cause of these symptoms and eliminate them.


4. What Tests Do They Recommend?

Your provider can’t create a personalized treatment plan without fully understanding your current health status. Your comprehensive lab tests should include the following:


  • GI testing
  • Genomics testing
  • Immune system deficiencies
  • Environmental toxins
  • A complete nutritional assessment
  • Neurotransmitter evaluation
  • Hormone and endocrine function


A good provider also recommends additional testing and blood work based on your unique health status. 


5. Do They Focus on Prevention?

Everyone benefits from a functional medicine approach, even those not experiencing any medical issues. When you’re healthy, the role of your functional medicine provider is to recommend a wellness plan that keeps you in optimal health.


Prevention is a core principle of functional medicine. Find a functional medicine doctor who stresses the importance of preventative measures to keep you healthy.


6. Are They Flexible?

Flexibility is important when you’re looking for a functional medicine provider. 


Find a functional medicine doctor who can adjust treatments based on feedback. Some aspects of the plan can’t be modified, but some may have a little flexibility. A treatment plan is effective only if you follow it, so look for providers willing to work with you.


Next, consider their availability. Is telehealth available? Will they give phone consultations? Are they responsive to email or after-hours communications?


Find a Functional Medicine Doctor in San Francisco

If you’re looking to find a functional medicine doctor in San Francisco, Clare Cattarin, MSN, FNP, IFM-CP and her team at Functional Health & Healing are ready to help you feel your best. Ready to live life ridiculously healthy? Contact us and get started today.