The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his or her patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.

— Thomas Edison, US inventor

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional Medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic diseases. Hallmarks of a functional medicine approach include:

  • Patient-centered care.
    Functional Medicine focuses on promoting health as a positive vitality beyond the absence of disease. By listening to the patient and learning his or her story, the practitioner brings the patient into the discovery process and tailors treatments that address the individual’s unique needs.
  • An integrative, science-based healthcare approach.
    Functional Medicine practitioners look “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. Each patient’s unique genetic makeup is evaluated, along with both internal (mind, body, and spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total functioning.
  • Embraces “alternative” or “integrative” medicine.
    Functional Medicine embraces “alternative” or “integrative” medicine, creating a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and recommended supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques.

Dr. Caroline has always had a keen interest in mind-body health since childhood.

Her mother, originally of German descent, was an advocate of holistic health practices standard of the European wellness model. Rather than taking medications as the first course to “treat” an illness, boosting the immune system with herbal teas, essential oils, wholesome soups, bodywork, and plenty of rest was perfectly normal. While there is a place for medication in times of crisis, she learned at an early age to honor the intelligence of the body. When we nurture our mental and physical state of well-being rather than suppress and ignore symptoms, we are better able to express our true health potential.

In 2001, without any warning signs and despite having led an extremely healthy life, Dr. Caroline’s mom was diagnosed with stage three lymphoma at a routine physical. Six weeks later, she passed away. Twelve years later, her father was diagnosed with CLL, a chronic form of leukemia. Despite a brave fight and many rounds of chemo, the disease won. Losing both parents to cancer served as fuel for Dr. Caroline’s need to understand health at a deeper level. Rather than placing the focus on fighting disease, her goal was to become an expert in wellness. Instead of fearing sickness, it was about embracing wholeness.

Her personal story, combined with nearly twenty years of reading patient health history forms, led her to incorporate Functional Medicine into the scope of services offered at Balance Atlanta.

Despite a person’s healthy exterior, she realized people of all ages are suffering from conditions not addressed by the allopathic medical system. Being frustrated by impersonal doctor-patient relationships, skyrocketing insurance costs, and alarming drug side effects, patients are seeking a safer and more logical approach to health care. The time to integrate health from the standpoint of Functional Medicine was only fitting.

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 shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional Medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual. Functional Medicine does not replace the need for patients to seek care from their medical doctor. Nutrition and lifestyle recommendations are not a substitute for prescription drugs. Functional Medicine does not cure or treat disease. Instead, its goal is to support the body in its ability to restore homeostasis naturally.

Why do we need Functional Medicine?

Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. The system of medicine practiced by most physicians is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as appendicitis or a broken leg. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.

Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic diseases. In most cases, it does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or factors such as environmental exposures to toxins and the aspects of today’s lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise in chronic disease in modern Western society.

There’s a huge gap between research and the way doctors practice. The gap between emerging research in basic sciences and integration into medical practice is enormous—as long as 50 years—particularly in the area of complex, chronic illness. Most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of complex, chronic diseases and to apply strategies such as nutrition, diet, and exercise to both address and potentially prevent these illnesses in their patients.

Six core principles of Functional Medicine:
  • Understanding of the biochemical individuality of each human being, based on the concepts of genetic, environmental and lifestyle uniqueness.
  • Support a patient-centered rather than a disease-centered approach to treatment.
  • Dynamic interconnection between all cells, tissues, organs, and systems of the body.
  • Mental, emotional, spiritual, and social health are equally important to physical health.
  • Identification of health as a positive vitality, not merely the absence of symptoms and disease.
  • The promotion of wellness is to enhance the quality of life of patients, not merely to extend their life span.
How is Functional Medicine Different?
Functional Medicine Conventional Medicine
Health oriented Sickness and disease oriented
Care based on patient needs and goals Care determined by medical management group, insurance limitations
Biochemical individuality Everyone is treated the same, one size fits all
Holistic – encompasses entire body Specialization by organ systems (ENT, ob/gyn, gastroenterologist)
Cost effective Expensive and driven by insurance carriers
Looks at underlying cause of disease Diagnosis based on symptoms or lack of symptoms
Proactive Reactive
Correction and prevention Early detection of disease, suppress symptoms
High touch + interpersonal + high tech High tech, little personal interaction

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

— World Health Organization
Objectively measure the chemical biomarkers contributing to your state of “dis-ease”.
  • Adrenal Fatigue
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  • Apathy/Indifference
  • Arthritis
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  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
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  • Insomnia
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  • Low Blood Sugar
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  • Loss of Appetite
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  • Nutrient Deficiencies
  • Obesity
  • Oily/Dry Skin
  • Osteoporosis/Osteopenia
  • Premenstrual Syndrome
  • Susceptibility to Colds/Flu
  • Stress/Irritability
  • Thyroid Disfunction
  • Unexplained Weight Gain/Loss
  • Unexplained Hair Loss/Growth
  • Urinary Tract Infections
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