top of page

Why Functional Medicine

Our Approach

Our Approach

Our approach is truly holistic and comprehensive.  We work with patients with a wide variety of symptoms and health conditions.  Our approach is to start with the symptoms and ‘diagnoses’ the patient comes in with and evaluate them to determine the underlying causes.  We then develop a detailed plan to support the patient’s healing.


Some of the conditions we work with can be found on the Conditions We Support page, but we always work with the patient and not specifically with the “condition.”  This is because the same symptoms can arise from many different causes.

Why We Can Help when Conventional Medicine has Failed

- Riffat Qadir MD, FACS, FAAOA, IFMCP

Most people who come to see us have seen many conventional (allopathic) doctors.  They have seen multiple specialists who have each focused on a particular symptom and attempted to remedy it with one or more medications.  Some have gone to “Medical Meccas” such as the Mayo Clinic or the Cleveland Clinic or MD Anderson.  They have undergone tens of thousands (or more) of dollars worth of testing only to be told that there is no “cure” for their condition. So how is it that we are able to help these people?

Conventional (allopathic) doctors practice a system of medicine that seeks to find a drug to “treat or control” a person’s symptoms or remove/repair a diseased organ or tissue with surgery.  This is the only system of healthcare taught in medical schools and hospitals and recognized by the American Medical Association, Medicare and all insurance companies.  

The reason that we can help people resolve problems that allopathic medicine fails at is because we don’t limit ourselves to a strictly allopathic approach.  We use an Integrative Functional approach that combines the best of the allopathic approach with other approaches to healing.  These include Lifestyle medicine (nutrition, fitness, sleep, stress management), Naturopathic or herbal medicine, Orthomolecular medicine (using vitamins and minerals that are normally present in the body and are required for health), Homeopathy, alternative therapies such as Medical Ozone and many others.   

The Allopathic Approach

As noted above, the allopathic system only treats with drugs or surgery. The drugs are by definition not natural to the human body. In order for a pharmaceutical company to obtain a patent on a drug, it has to prove that the drug is not natural to the human body.  These drugs generally only manage symptoms so long as they are taken (except in the case of antibiotics which can help the body eliminate the infection) and do not cure or prevent disease. They are prescribed to alleviate symptoms and they can do that reasonably well, at least for a period of time, but often result in side effects.  This is because all drugs are designed to block particular chemical reactions in the body and blocking the body’s chemistry WILL result in problems (side effects) at some level.  Nature is a complex web and when we disturb one aspect of it, the rest is impacted.  

The allopathic system is like a quick, simple, and easy cookbook. The doctor evaluates the symptoms (or soon Artificial Intelligence will), names the patient’s diagnosis and follows ‘established treatment guidelines’ and prescribes the medication that is “approved” to control the symptoms.  Generally, the underlying cause of the symptoms is not sought out and is not directly treated for permanent resolution of the problem.  

Drugs target symptoms and not specific underlying causes.  For example, an acid suppression medication is prescribed for reflux whether the reflux is due to being overweight, having food allergy/sensitivity or dysfunctional GI system due to imbalanced gut flora.  This medication will not “cure” any of these underlying issues and likely make the person worse in the long-term by further disturbing normal digestion due to decreased stomach acid production.  Another good example is ‘irritable bowel syndrome.’  This diagnosis is tied to a number of drugs that are prescribed to manage the symptoms, but what is causing the ‘irritation of the bowel’ in the first place is never pursued.  Symptom management is the approach that keeps people on medications for the rest of their lives. This is fundamentally different from Integrative Functional medicine.

Prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer in the United States and Europe. Around half of those who die have taken their drugs correctly; the other half die because of errors, such as too high a dose or use of a drug despite contraindications.  According to the United States Office of General Accounting, over 125,000 people are killed every year from drugs that are PROPERLY prescribed by allopathic doctors. This is because drugs are inherently dangerous. They often produce side effects, many of which then need to be treated with yet one more drug. It is common to see patients receiving more than five different drugs. But drugs are not always bad, and there are times when they are needed. They can also be prescribed to help with the symptoms while the underlying cause is being addressed.

Integrative Functional Approach

The Integrative Functional approach begins by identifying the underlying causes of a person’s health problems and develops a holistic plan to actually resolve them, rather than just manage symptoms.  It further treats each person as an individual complete human being (not individual organ systems that are divided up among different specialists) and takes into consideration his/her genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Our approach prioritizes lifestyle and natural therapies with substances that support the body’s chemistry and do not block enzyme systems.  We also incorporate scientifically based therapies that are safe and effective.

Integrative Functional medicine is often not quick, simple, or easy. Investigating causes and finding the right treatment can take weeks to months. That’s because the imbalances in the body that are causing the symptoms are often completely different in each individual patient, even though the symptoms themselves can be the same.  This approach is highly effective and inherently safe.  Unlike the allopathic system of healing, once the underlying cause has been addressed, on-going treatment is no longer required. 

How Integrative Functional Medicine Works

Would you like to buy a car that fixed itself? The tires would never wear out. Spark plugs would be continuously renewed. If someone crashed into it, the car would automatically repair the dent. And as soon as the engine started getting out of tune, it would immediately tune itself so that decades later it would still be running perfectly well. Here’s an absolutely amazing fact. Our bodies are designed to be just like that – to heal themselves. And in general, that’s exactly what they do hundreds of times a day.

You get injured – your body fixes it. You get a cold or a flu – your immune system cures it. You’re exposed to a toxin – your liver eliminates it. The only time you really need to see a doctor is when your body doesn’t do what it is supposed to do. There are two reasons why this might happen.  One is that you are not giving the body enough of all the things it needs to heal itself. This would include anything from sleep to diet to exercise to vitamins to hormones.  The other is that your body is being or has been exposed to some toxin or infection that is blocking its healing ability. This can include heavy metals like mercury and lead, smoking, chronic infections, allergens, chemicals and drugs – even the drugs that doctors prescribe.

In the Integrative Functional medicine system of healing, the doctor’s job is not to diagnose your condition and put you on the latest miracle drug. According to Dr. Frank Shallenberger, one of the leaders of Integrative Medicine, the doctor’s job is twofold: 1. Find out what things your particular body needs that it isn’t getting, and make sure that it gets them, and 2. Find out what factors are blocking the healing process in your particular case, and get rid of them. The first process is called rejuvenation, and the second is detoxification. So the doctor and the remedies he/she prescribes don’t actually do the healing – your body does.

The Challenges

There are three really big challenges that both doctor and patient face in doing this. One is obvious – no two human beings are the same. Thus, even though a lot can be determined about a person from history, physical examination, and testing, in many cases there is a fair amount of trial and error before the “code is cracked”. This requires diligence and some patience.

Second, although the body can heal itself of almost anything, it often doesn’t do this quickly. This is especially true for long term conditions. The longer that a condition or disease has been present, the longer it is going to take for it to resolve. With our instant gratification mentality, we find it hard to be patient. Many patients make the mistake of giving up on an Integrative Functional program that is working simply because it is not working fast enough.

Third, most people have been programmed to think that all healing approaches are like the allopathic system – a cook book affair. They often consult with an Integrative Functional doctor thinking that they are going to simply get a diagnosis and a pill – something quick and easy. When they are told that they need to exercise, change the way they eat, get more sleep, optimize detoxification and take supplemental vitamins, hormones, and herbs, they may feel surprised and intimidated.  The Integrative therapies are unfamiliar to them and they are divided because they are getting very different advice from their other doctors. 


The best way to treat a disease is not to get it.  The vast majority of diseases can be prevented, even strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, many cancers, or even arthritis.  One of the great geniuses of the twentieth century, Thomas Edison saw the future, and said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” And for those who want it, that future is here right now. 


But prevention is a hard thing to sell. When people are sick and miserable they have a very high level of motivation to spend money and to make whatever changes are necessary to feel better. But, when they feel all right, the motivation is not nearly so intense. However, when you are feeling good is actually the best time to be working on staying that way. That’s why Integrative Functional medicine focuses so much on preventive testing including panels that assess toxicity, and hormone, vitamin, mineral, and circulatory status.  There are many ways to tell whether or not a person is on the road toward a disease long before they actually get it.  Getting a less-than-perfect test report often provides the motivation to make any needed changes. 


An Integrative Functional approach is not for everyone. It often takes time. It always requires lifestyle changes. It is not usually quick and some of the treatments and tests are not covered by insurance. But it is literally the only way to go if you want to maximize your chances of living a healthy, fully functional life free of disease. 

bottom of page