Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice® is a well-orchestrated, comprehensive, patient-centered educational program that helps you deepen your clinical understanding and practical application of the Functional Medicine Matrix Model.
An epidemic of chronic disease threatens to compromise the health of our population and the effectiveness and economics of our healthcare system. Alarming projections suggest that future generations may have shorter, less healthy lives if current trends continue unchecked.1 Because of its focus on acute care, the current medical model fails to confront both the causes of and solutions for the chronic disease epidemic, and must be replaced with a model of comprehensive care and prevention that is systems-based, integrative, patient-centered, and much more effective. AFMCP™-UK has been designed to meet that challenge.
1 Olshansky SJ, Passaro DJ, Hershow RC, Layden J, et al. A potential decline in life expectancy in the United States in the 21st century. NEJM. 2005;352(11):1138-45.
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional Medicine asks how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual.
The Functional Medicine model is an individualised, patient-centered, science-based approach that empowers patients and practitioners to work together to address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness. It relies on a detailed understanding of each patient’s genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors and leverages that data to direct personalised treatment plans that lead to improved patient outcomes.
By addressing root cause, rather than symptoms, practitioners become oriented to identifying the complexity of the disease. They may find one condition has many different causes and, likewise, one cause may result in many different conditions. As a result, Functional Medicine treatment targets the specific manifestations of disease in each individual.
The Functional Medicine model evolved from the insights and perspectives of a small group of influential thought leaders who realised the importance of an individualised approach to disease causes based on the evolving research in nutritional science, genomics, and epigenetics. These thought leaders found ways to apply these new advances in the clinic to address root causes using low-risk interventions that modify molecular and cellular systems to reverse these drivers of disease. LEARN MORE
These Functional Medicine thought leaders were able to apply new research in a way that often brought dramatic results to patients who had previously received unsuccessful treatments. Part of this advance was a return to scientific principles of finding new ways to look for unifying factors at the cellular and systems levels that underlie organism-wide problems. LEARN MORE
As others became interested in learning Functional Medicine, it became necessary to systematise the approach so that it could be taught to a wider group of practitioners of differing backgrounds. The IFM approach to applying Functional Medicine is mainly practised through a set of tools that formalises both history-taking and mapping symptoms to the categories of root processes that underlie illness. Three of these tools are the Functional Medicine Matrix, Timeline, and the GOTOIT framework. More information about each may be found below.
What is Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP™)?
Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP) synthesises the latest medical research with a model of care that integrates each patient’s individual history, genetics, and lifestyle factors. AFMCP equips clinicians to design effective, personalised treatments for each patient.
In a case-based setting, a team of experienced Functional Medicine clinicians teach participants how to use IFM’s tools to improve outcomes for patients with chronic diseases.
What Clinicians Will Learn
- Established and emerging diagnostics, therapeutics, and prevention strategies.
- How to design nutritional and lifestyle interventions to improve patient compliance and outcomes.
- How to integrate appropriate assessment tools to diagnose, treat, and assess patient outcomes from a Functional Medicine approach.
- How to utilise innovative and practical assessment tools.
- Methods to establish a mutually empowering partnership between clinician and patient.
- The scientific basis for Functional Medicine principles and fundamental clinical imbalances.
- How to apply key elements of the Functional Medicine Model in clinical practice.
Functional Medicine Tools
In addition to being the founders of the Functional Medicine model, The Institute for Functional Medicine developed a set of tools that are used exclusively in its education programs.
The Functional Medicine Matrix
The Functional Medicine Matrix assists the clinician in organizing and prioritizing each patient’s health issues as elicited by a thorough personal, family, social, and medical history. The Matrix is akin to a web decoder—it organizes what seems to be disparate issues into a complete story to help the clinician gain a comprehensive perspective of the patient and subsequently facilitate discussion of complex, chronic disease with the patient.
All clinicians take patient history, but what makes the Functional Medicine Timeline different is that it has the effect of giving the patient insight into previous life events to motivate them to change and participate in treatment. As an intake tool for organizing the patient’s history chronologically, the Functional Medicine Timeline is a graphical representation that allows clinicians to identify factors that predispose, provoke, and contribute to pathological changes and dysfunctional responses in the patient. In this way, practitioners will be able to view temporal relationships among events, which can reveal cause-effect relationships that might otherwise go unnoticed. By covering the period from preconception to the present, the Timeline reflects the connection between the whole lifespan and one’s current health.
“GOTOIT” is a simple framework practitioners can use to discover the root of each patient’s dysfunction and subsequently apply individualized treatments that address specific causes. Standing for “Gather, Organize, Tell, Order, Initiate, and Track,” GOTOIT is a teaching tool to help practitioners complete the Matrix and Timeline. Using the GOTOIT framework can help providers establish rapport with their patients, identify unhealthy patterns, get to the root cause of their problem, and propose appropriate, personalized treatments and lifestyle modifications.
The History of Functional Medicine and The Institute for Functional Medicine
The Institute for Functional Medicine grew out of the energy and dedication of Susan and Dr. Jeffrey Bland. They had the vision of bringing to clinical medicine the emerging evidence and insights that would enable it to move from the drug-based model of fighting infectious diseases that worked so well in the 20th century to a systems-oriented, patient-focused clinical model designed to reverse the growing chronic disease epidemic. The Blands recognised that today’s most prevalent health issues are mostly caused by the interactions between genetics, lifestyle choices, and environmental exposures and that treating them requires understanding these interactions and subsequently using that understanding to design appropriate treatments that are personalised to each individual.
Over the past 25 years, the prescience of this vision has become increasingly apparent. Leading scientists and clinicians have taken up the challenge of researching and developing applications for genomic (personalised) medicine, and the field has been growing rapidly. The emerging science of the origins of disease has validated the broad principles of Functional Medicine by convincingly demonstrating the critical influence of epigenetic factors—including diet and nutrition, environmental toxins, and lifestyle choices—on the development of chronic diseases. While many of today’s tools were not yet available in 1991, IFM was already focused on using this emerging knowledge to adapt therapies to the patient (rather than the reverse) by training clinicians to examine the genetic and epigenetic factors for each patient and to develop an individualised therapeutic approach that addresses these underlying factors.
The result is an ever-evolving, cutting-edge, systems-biology approach to health that treats each patient as a whole person. No longer is the patient seen purely through the lens of a dysfunctional organ system, a disease, or a syndrome, but instead as a person who can be helped on the path to optimal wellness. By evaluating a matrix of fundamental causes in the diagnostic and therapeutic process, we can more accurately understand the roots of pathophysiology, leading to earlier and more effective interventions that not only extend lives but also give patients back years of good living.
IFM is more determined than ever to help clinicians and patients alike develop the nutritional, environmental, social, and lifestyle strategies that, over time, will move us away from reacting to the chronic disease epidemic and toward a preventive, patient-empowered healthcare system focused on optimum wellness, not just freedom from symptoms. As long as the world pours most of its resources into post-diagnosis, pharmaceutical-based care, we shall not fully succeed in this great task. IFM seeks your help in our mission of making Functional Medicine the standard of care worldwide.
The Institute for Functional Medicine, IFM, Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice, and AFMCP are marks owned by Jeffrey and Susan Bland, used under exclusive license.