Why Functional Medicine Credentials Matter

healthy happy through functional medicine at golden gate bridge

Why Functional Medicine Credentials Matter

When looking for a safe, effective healthcare alternative to conventional medicine, what should be a simple Google search becomes a rabbit hole of alternative therapies, confusing terms, and misinformation. At first glance, terms like “naturopathic,” “homeopathic,” and “functional medicine” can all seem confusing.  Let’s look at functional medicine to understand better why it’s so effective and how a provider’s functional medicine credentials can make all the difference in your healthcare.


What is the Functional Medicine Approach?

Functional medicine is a holistic medical approach that focuses on treating the root causes of your symptoms, which are many and complicated.   Your functional medicine doctor understands that your body is a complex network of interrelated systems, each relying on the others to maintain optimal health. If one system fails, the entire network fails.


A conventional treatment plan involves resolving symptoms through medications, as it’s focus is to treat acute life threatening illnesses.  It does not spend much time finding the source of the ailment.   For example, a traditional approach sees high blood pressure as a stand-alone condition and prescribes medicine to lower it to acceptable standards.  This is important to stop the high blood pressure, but does not take the next step which is needed to treat the underlying causes.  


Conversely, functional medicine providers see high blood pressure as a symptom of a more complicated condition, so they work to uncover and treat the underlying cause. Once the source of your high blood pressure has been discovered and addressed, your body’s natural healing abilities will correct it.


Functional medicine relieves patients suffering from many illnesses, including hormonal imbalances, pain, inflammation, autoimmune diseases, anxiety, depression, and vague symptoms such as fatigue, low energy, mood swings, and GI conditions. 


Doctors with functional medical credentials study whole-body health and understand how imbalances in any system can affect your overall physical and emotional well-being. They recognize that one condition can have multiple underlying causes; conversely, these causes may be at the root of many different conditions.


Does Science Back Functional Medicine?

A common misconception about functional medicine is that it’s not backed by science. The opposite is true. In many ways, functional medicine is more “traditional” than what we now recognize as traditional medicine.


Functional medicine is a biology-based approach relying on technology and a modern understanding of health, wellness, and medicine to implement a holistic approach to healthcare. Functional medicine credentials allow physicians to perform lab tests, recommend treatment plans, and prescribe necessary medication. Their approach is minimally invasive and depends on the body’s innate ability to heal once the root causes of a condition are addressed.


Functional medicine providers understand that multiple factors cause illnesses. Your lifestyle, genetics, environment, nutrition, and even stress can impact your health in surprising ways.


A unique blend of biochemistry, genetics, nutrition, pharmacology, cutting-edge diagnostic testing, and other scientifically recognized medical approaches is a vital part of the functional medicine approach.


Functional Medicine Credentials: Real Health Care Providers, Real Medicine

One of the biggest misconceptions about functional medicine is that its providers aren’t “real” doctors. The truth is that a functional medicine clinician has to have a sound understanding of conventional medicine. With this foundation in traditional science-based medical knowledge, they then further their education under the Institute of Functional Medicine.  


Functional medicine doctors complete traditional medical education before expanding their field of study to functional medicine. Additional training in six focus areas includes studies on the immune, hormonal, gastrointestinal, and detoxification systems as well as the psycho/social – spiritual center of the human being.  They are further trained in nutrition, natural and herbal medicine, supplements, and other therapeutics.


Before completing courses to attain functional medicine credentials and licensure, doctors must hold an existing license as a primary specialist–such as a medical doctor, doctor of chiropractic, naturopathic doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or nurse practitioner. This depth of training qualifies a functional medicine provider to specialize in primary care. 


It’s important to note that not all functional medicine providers have completed the necessary certification process. In addition, the scope and licensure of functional medicine providers are defined by state laws. Make sure to vet a provider to ensure they hold proper functional medicine credentials. Clare Cattarin (MSN, FNP, IFM-CP, S-CP) works with supervising physician Dr. Timothy Jones (MD). Both doctors are able to provide personalized and holistic treatment–as well as extensive medical knowledge–to their patients.


How Effective is the Functional Medicine Approach?

Some people believe functional medicine credentials are fraudulent because there is a lot of misinformation about functional medicine in general, including the belief that its effectiveness isn’t backed by research. 


In 2019 the world-renowned Journal of the American Medical Association released study results showing that functional medicine improved patients’ health and overall quality of life significantly compared to conventional treatment. Many other studies mirror these results, showing that functional medicine is a highly effective approach.


Functional medicine’s high success rates are due to its use of advanced diagnostic tools, its holistic approach to health, and the dedication of these providers to helping their patients achieve optimal health. This commitment includes specializing in patient-first education, comprehensive evaluations, and customized wellness plans, as well as maintaining functional medicine credentials to ensure they stay on top of medical discoveries, trends, and treatment options.


What to Expect from Functional Health & Healing

Clare Catterin holds both traditional and functional medicine credentials. She and her team believe that both conventional and functional medicine have a place in healthcare and bring both approaches together at Functional Health & Healing in San Francisco. 


Feeling better as is easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Readiness assessment: A call to determine your fit with our approach
  2. Initial appointment: Comprehensive evaluation and lab tests
  3. Follow-up: Your customized wellness plan to get you back to your best self

Ready for a healthier, happier you? Contact us to get started on your journey back to wellness.