Understanding the Treatment Components of Functional Medicine

The human body is a complex system. Centuries’ worth of genetic variants and environmental stressors impact how the body functions.  Functional medicine is a clinical model that takes all of these factors into account. Treatment is personalized to each individual patient based on their family history, personal story, and current lifestyle. Here, our experts at Personal Health Care Providers further explain the treatment components of functional medicine.

Overview of Functional Medicine

Functional medicine is a systems-based clinical model that interprets how bodily systems relate to one another and impact health and performance. It also aids with the prevention, early detection and reversal of chronic disease. Using this model, a functional medicine provider can identify contributing factors to disease and help restore normal human function. 
Because each individual patient has unique genetic variants, environmental stressors, and personal goals, functional medicine takes a highly personal approach to patient care. Functional medicine practitioners consider all of these variables when determining a patient’s prognosis. Patients are prescribed treatment programs that take into account all aspects of their life.

Developing a Treatment Plan in Functional Medicine

Before any diagnosis can be made or treatment can be given, a functional medicine provider must obtain a comprehensive history. One of the cornerstone tools that a functional medicine provider will use is the Functional Medicine Matrix. The matrix is essentially a schematic to help clinicians understand the relationship between various biological systems. In addition, the matrix helps organize the patient’s health history and relevant details about their lifestyle. After discussing these details with the patient, the functional medicine practitioner can develop a customized treatment plan.

Elements of Functional Medicine Treatment

The following lifestyle interventions are personalized in functional medicine treatments.


Exercise is important to improve fitness, strength and overall metabolism.  There are various types of exercise.  The right exercise depends on a person’s unique condition and personal goals.  It is important to personalize exercise recommendations based on the individual, so the benefits of exercise can be maximized.


Proper nutrition not only includes the reduction of unhealthy foods, but also the promotion of healthy micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals and trace elements.  Proper nutrition is critical for normal cellular function.  Based on a comprehensive evaluation, personalized nutrition plans and supplement recommendations can be made to help the body function more efficiently.


Quality sleep is essential for good health.  Poor sleep can prevent normal recovery and repair processes leading to chronic health conditions.  There are many factors that can impact a good night’s sleep, and these must be evaluated and addressed in order to maximize sleep quantity and quality.


Chronic exposure to environmental stressors can dysregulate the autonomic nervous system leading to disordered physiological function and disease.  Meditation and related strategies can help stabilize the autonomic nervous system improving health, performance and sense of well-being.


Humans are social beings.  Healthy relationships can buffer stress and improve health outcomes.  Conversely, unhealthy relationships can cause stress leading to disordered function and disease.  Identifying ways to promote healthy relationships is part of personalizing a lifestyle prescription.

Make a Change with Functional Medicine

If you have long standing problems that conventional medicine has not solved, or if you simply want to improve your overall health, consider the benefits of functional medicine. Using a systems-based model, functional medicine can help prevent disease and improve your overall sense of wellbeing. In our next post we will discuss the elements of Functional Medicine testing. To learn more or schedule a consultation, contact a functional medical physician with Personal Healthcare Providers.

Dr. William S. Queale and Erin Prokop are both certified in functional medicine. To learn more about the benefits of functional medicine, we encourage you to visit The Institute for Functional Medicine at https://www.ifm.org/