Functional medicine offers a modern solution for a modern problem. Many people find their lives out of balance, plagued by chronic health and wellness issues. As a society, we are overworked, stressed out, have poor nutrition, and don’t get enough sleep or exercise. Worse yet, we are at increasing risk for – or already living with – chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. In some cases, traditional medicine and a disease-centered approach are not enough for addressing these systemic health and wellness issues.
Functional medicine looks at the whole person
Functional medicine doctors offer a personalized medicine approach that digs deeper, exploring and addressing all underlying issues that may be contributing to a chronic condition. Some hallmarks of functional medicine include:
- Evidence-based medicine: Functional medicine uses the latest medical science and research to guide diagnosis and treatment decisions.
- Specialized techniques: Functional medicine doctors use specialized tools and tests to gain a complete understanding of an individual’s medical and personal history, lifestyle and physiological function.
- A comprehensive health study: This includes reviewing digestive health, immune function, metabolic function, hormonal imbalances, inflammation, food sensitivities, genetics, and physical and social environmental factors.
- Applies to any condition: Functional medicine doctors work with all specialties in the treatment of any condition.
- A focus on quality of life: This type of personalized medicine focuses on health as wellness – not just the absence of disease.
Functional medicine approach: Step 1 (Questionnaire)
This whole person health review contains very specific questions that go beyond the traditional medical history. This includes:
- Birth and infancy history: Including if you were born via C-section or bottle-fed, both of which may contribute to chronic conditions later in life
- Personal history: Including any physical or mental traumas, stressors and major life events
- Personal and family medical history: Including current and past conditions, diagnoses and treatments
- Environmental exposures: Including time lived in any high-risk or industrial areas
- Lifestyle habits: Including sleep, exercise, tobacco use and daily activities
- Nutrition: Including a one-week food and symptom diary
This comprehensive questionnaire gives your functional medicine doctor more insight into what may be contributing to the health and wellness issues, and it sets up the next step, the initial consultation.
Functional medicine approach: Step 2 (Initial consultation)
Functional medicine doctors spend more time with their patients, typically 1-2 hours for the initial consultation. During this visit, your physician will:
- Listen to you and learn your story
- Discuss the answers to your questionnaire
- Ask you additional questions, including discussing your health and wellness goals
- Give you the opportunity to express concerns or ask questions
- Recommend follow-up testing
Functional medicine approach: Step 3 (Extensive testing)
Depending on your specific case, your functional medicine doctor may order a variety of blood work, urine testing, stool samples or saliva tests, including:
- Genetic testing
- Testing for biological markers of inflammation
- Hormone testing, including estrogen and testosterone
- Metabolic testing, including cortisol levels
- Testing for microtoxins such as mold
- Nutritional deficiency testing
In addition, where necessary, your functional medicine doctor will order MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds or other diagnostic imaging tests.
Functional medicine approach: Step 4 (Personalized treatment plan)
With the results from these tests, your functional medicine doctor will work with you to develop a comprehensive, personalized treatment and wellness plan that integrates the best of all medical practices. Depending on your specific case, this may include:
- Changes in diet and nutrition, including adopting a specific diet such as gluten free or dairy free
- Exercise prescription
- Lifestyle changes
- Stress-management techniques
- Pharmaceutical-grade vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements that have been researched and certified through absorption studies
- Alternative therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic care
- Prescription medication
If you are currently seeing another specialist for disease maintenance, your functional medicine doctor will also coordinate your treatment plan with this specialist.
Functional medicine for wellness
With its focus on wellness, functional medicine is also a good approach for those who do not have any chronic conditions, but who are interested in developing a healthy aging plan. The same four-step process applies, although with a wellness plan, your Henry Ford functional medicine care team will look for specific health trends and use different measuring to personalize your healthy aging plan.
Coordinated functional medicine care
Dr. Swenor and her team at the Henry Ford Center for Integrative Medicine (CIM) also work closely with other Henry Ford specialists to provide streamlined referrals and multidisciplinary, coordinated care for those patients who need it. This includes:
- Henry Ford Medical Group physicians in other specialties
- Acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists and other complementary and alternative medicine practitioners in the CIM
Is functional medicine covered by insurance?
Your insurance company may cover some of the testing, and functional medicine treatment is also an eligible expense for flexible spending and health savings accounts. However, consultation appointments typically are not covered by insurance.
Make a functional medicine appointment
We offer functional medicine appointments at the Center for Integrative Medicine in Novi. Call today.
Henry Ford Medical Center - Novi
40000 West 8 Mile Road
Northville, MI 48167
(Enter off Orchard Hill Place)
About Dr. Swenor
The Functional Medicine program at the Henry Ford Center for Integrative Medicine is led by M. Elizabeth Swenor, D.O. Dr. Swenor began her career as an elementary school teacher before transitioning to medicine. This strong educational focus has become a pillar of her medical practice – driving her unique approach in helping patients learn more about themselves while achieving the highest quality of life. In addition, Dr. Swenor is:
- Board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine
- Licensed by the American Academy of Anti-Aging, Functional and Regenerative Medicine
- Fellowship-trained in Anti-Aging, Regenerative and Functional Medicine
- Fellowship-trained in Aesthetics Medicine