Dr. Mark Hyman And The Institute For Functional Medicine | Well.org

Dr. Hyman: Hi, I’m Dr. Mark Hyman, and I’m
chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine. Functional medicine is medicine by cause,
not by symptom. It’s a reframing of how we think about disease
to understand that everything is connected in the body. Just because you have a stomach ache and joint
pain and a rash and headaches and sinus problems, it doesn’t mean you need to see five or six
different doctors. Everything is connected, and functional medicine
connects the dots. It understands that it’s medicine by system,
not symptom. All right, it’s medicine by where the whole
process is working in your body. Now we have medicine by geography. Where is the symptom in your body? Do you have a heart problem, a lung problem,
joint problem? We’re not interested in geography. We’re interested in the underlying mechanisms
and in the causes of your symptoms. For example, if you come to see the doctor
and you have a low mood and you’re sad and you feel hopeless and helpless and you can’t
sleep and you’re not interested in food anymore, the doctor says, “Oh, I know what’s wrong
with you. You have depression,” but depression is just
the name of the problem. It’s not the cause of the problem. Depression didn’t cause those symptoms. It’s simply the name that we give to people
with those symptoms, and that’s true for all diseases. Then, we say, “Okay, what’s the treatment?” “Well, it’s an antidepressant,” so we try
to blame the name for the problem, and we tame it with a drug instead of saying, “What’s
the cause?” If you have those symptoms of depression,
there could be many causes, and there could be many treatments. For example, you might have low thyroid function
because of eating gluten that causes an autoimmune reaction against your thyroid, causing Hashimoto’s
and depression. You could have been taking an acid blocker
for heartburn for 10 years, which blocks B12 absorption and you get depressed. Or you could be living in a northern climate
and have no sun exposure and be Vitamin D deficient, also a cause of depression. Or you could be eating fish, like mercury-containing
fish like tuna, and have mercury poisoning, which can cause depression. Or you can hate fish and have omega-3 fat
deficiency, and that causes depression. Or you can be eating sugar too much, which
causes pre-diabetes, and that causes depression. The diagnosis and treatment of each of those
is very different. Functional medicine is personalized lifestyle
medicine that deals with the root causes of illness and helps you restore optimal function
and balance. The Institute for Functional Medicine’s mission
is to end needless suffering for millions of people through the power of understanding
the body as a system, by dealing with the root causes of illness and helping tailor
and personalize therapies to help people restore balance. It’s a very powerful model, where we’ve trained
thousands and thousands of doctors to think this way, to practice this way, and to help
millions of people restore health. The medicine that we have today is based on
outdated 19th and 20th century ideas. If you had a headache, you went to the head
doctor. If you had a stomach ache, you went to the
stomach doctor. Then medicine got organized in these specialties. The problem is these specialties have nothing
to do with the way the body’s truly organized, and as the science advances, as we understand
the body as an integrated system, as an ecosystem, all those ways of framing disease become more
and more irrelevant. We need to shift our thinking, and emergent
thinking of systems thinking is what functional medicine provides. It’s a way of connecting the dots and linking
everything together and moving away from a pill for every ill to dealing with the root
causes of illness, to getting rid of the things that cause impediments to health, providing
the things that restore health and thriving, and letting the body heal and repair. In functional medicine, we see patients that
fail often conventional care. I recently saw a little girl who had psoriasis
from head to toe since she was a baby. She was four years old, and she was on heavy-duty
drugs. Nothing worked. She, in fact, was on such powerful drugs that
shut off her immune system, she got an infection, ended up in the ICU for a month, almost died. Her parents came to me desperate. Within three weeks of changing her diet and
fixing her digestive tract, getting her healthy flora back in balance, all of her skin cleared
up, all of it, for the first time in four years. The power of this model is enormous. We have patients who are diabetic, off diabetes;
people with autoimmune disease, correcting that; people with chronic digestive issues
getting better; migraines getting better. Things that other people can’t fix, we fix
in functional medicine because we have an entirely different road map about how to get
to the answer. Rather than treating the disease, we treat
the person. That’s the fundamental difference in functional
medicine. Everybody’s unique. Everybody has their own story. The causes and the cures for each person’s
condition is different. How do you find a doctor who doesn’t just
give you a standard prescription for your disease based on current medical thinking? You go to a functional-medicine doctor. If you’ve seen doctor after doctor and searched
for answers for your health conditions and you’ve failed to find the answers, you need
to go see someone who’s a functional-medicine practitioner because they can get to the root
of the problem and get you healthy when other doctors fail. I’m on the faculty of the Institute for Functional
Medicine, and we train doctors all over the world. I’m the Chairman of the Board of the Institute
for Functional Medicine, which is designed to help us expand our educational curriculum,
expand our certification, and our mission is to change medicine and make functional
medicine the standard of care. If you want to find a functional-medicine
practitioner, we’ve created a database that you can search online, so simply enter your
zip code, enter your state and city, and you’ll find practitioners close by. You have to vet them, and there are some practitioners
that are better trained than others. We now have a certification program, so it’s
best you choose someone who’s gone through and passed the certification program, but
you’ll be able to find a practitioner in your area if you search. Yeah, if you’ve been seeing a regular physician
and not had success in fixing your issues, a functional-medicine doctor is going to be
more likely to find the root of the problem and help you relieve your suffering.


  1. I think Functional Medicine is a truly exciting new avenue towards health that will impact our tomorrow in more ways than we can imagine today.

  2. Dr. Hyman is a pioneer and going to do revolutionary things in the near future. I hope he is able to change the scope of medicine as we know it today. IMHO, there are just too many hurdles to get through because for the modern medical establishment, ignorance is truly bliss. It's much easier to write a prescription and see 30 patients a day then to evaluate each individual more in depth. They rather "moderate" the individual's RX cocktail with each successive visit….

  3. Does standard insurance, medicaid pay for functional medicine Dr.s? I have multiple diagnosis and symptoms. I am 59 years old and I am almost bedridden in a nursing home. We have spent our life savings and my inheritance on my health care and are now on state of Colorado medicaid. My Dr at this point just says "you are a complex case". I was a Registered Nurse for 18yrs and I was trained to assess and treat the whole patient. I would like to learn more about this.

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