It has been described as pseudoscience, quackery and, in essence, a rebranding of complementary and alternative medicine. In the United States, the American Academy of Family Physicians has ruled that functional medicine practices are not eligible for course credits because of concerns that they may be harmful. Is functional medicine a legitimate practice? Yes, when done correctly. The tests are accurate, but they must be applied correctly.
This is part of the art of medicine. Some tests are very simple, while others require years of training to understand them correctly. Also, a test is the easy part, but the follow-up action, the treatment, is the difficult part. The legitimacy of functional medicine is determined primarily by the skill of the professional.
The functional medicine model is based on science. The main difference from conventional medicine is that functional medicine is not based on the whims of pharmaceutical companies and outdated ideas that the medical community requires you to believe. The reason, of course, is that, of all the forms of “integrative medicine pseudoscience practiced, functional medicine” is more like real medicine, so much so that it often even tricks doctors into thinking there must be something in it. For example, I see a lot of functional medicine professionals who say that bowel “dysregulation” is responsible for a whole range of specific diseases and symptoms.
The holistic, individualized approach to functional medicine is ideal for treating sneaky pathogens, as symptoms tend to “move”. There are providers outside of typical medicine who receive training in functional medicine, but sometimes there are problems with these providers. If someone wants to try functional medicine treatment that won't be harmful to their health and well-being, I recommend it. Ultimately, a functioning physician is more interested in the full picture of the diagnosis and will order laboratory tests accordingly.
The IFM also offers a “Find a Professional” list, which provides the most respected functional professionals near you. Her love for biochemistry, along with her natural affinity for healing, led her to the Oklahoma State University School of Osteopathic Medicine (OSU-COM). Functional medicine is also highly personalized and aims to examine the underlying biochemical and physiological terrain. There's this whole big pharma profit thing that some functional providers like to talk about: how doctors and conventional pill makers are only looking for profit and aren't “patient-centered,” so they ignore prevention, push pills, and only treat symptoms to keep sick people.
Many surgical instruments used today have a design based on Ayurvedic medicine that included surgery even in ancient times. Herbst's search for functional medicine was very successful and led to work to help the Cleveland Clinic start up its fledgling Center for Functional Medicine.