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Cleveland Clinic Study Connects Functional Medicine Model of Care to Quality of Life

Study Connects Functional Medicine Model of Care to Quality of Life

An October 2019 study conducted at the Cleveland Clinic found that the functional medicine model of care is associated with health-related quality of life.

America spends nearly twice as much per capita on health care than other nations. Despite this massive investment, Americans' are less healthy and happy than their peers.

With health care costs already breaking the bank, interest in new models of care is skyrocketing. Recently, hope emerged in the form of a Cleveland Clinic study. Keep reading to learn what the Functional Medicine model of care is and how it stands to revolutionize Americans' health.

What Is Functional Medicine?

Functional Medicine is a patient-centered model of care. It is fundamentally different from Conventional Medicine.

Mainstream or conventional Medicine uses a reductionist paradigm. It focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of individual diseases. Functional Medicine, by contrast:

  • Focuses on promoting health and preventing disease
  • Seeks to identify and address the root causes of health problems
  • Takes a personalized and holistic view of patient health and well-being

Functional Medicine doctors treat the whole person. They focus on the patient rather than his or her symptoms. The goal of Functional Medicine isn't to avoid disease so much as to achieve true health.


One of the most important aspects of Functional Medicine is bio-individualization. Bio-individualization is a fancy way of saying that Functional Medicine recognizes that each person is different. Every individual has a unique combination of:

  • Diet
  • Genes
  • Environment
  • Personal health history
  • Values and habits
  • Sleep
  • Relationships

All of these things play a role in wellness. Functional Medicine doctors recognize that and take all of these factors into account when helping people improve their health. There are no "cookie-cutter" practices or treatments such as are common in Conventional Medicine.

Chronic Disease

America is currently experiencing an epidemic of chronic disease. More than 100 million Americans have at least one chronic health condition.These conditions are costly.

Chronic disease care accounts for up to 90 percent of America's health care costs. Conventional medicine does a poor job of managing chronic conditions.

Functional Medicine, by contrast, is uniquely well suited to addressing the needs of patients with chronic diseases.

Is Functional Medicine Evidence-Based?

Opponents of Functional Medicine often accuse it of being unscientific. Some refer to it as "pseudomedicine." They argue that it is not evidence-based.

Are these accusations true? Or is Functional Medicine evidence-based?

Why There Was Doubt

Conventional Medicine has narrowly-defined ideas about proof of efficacy. For decades, the gold standard has been the double-blind controlled research study.

This model works very well for Conventional Medicine. This is because Conventional Medicine uses a one-to-one model. It pairs a single symptom or disease with one drug or treatment.

Unfortunately, proving Functional Medicine's efficacy using this model has been a challenge. This is because Functional Medicine works differently. It addresses the underlying causes of poor health.

These causes cannot be paired with single Functional Medicine treatment approaches. This means they often cannot be tested well using traditional controlled research studies. As a result, there has been a lack of studies proving Functional Medicine's efficacy.

This does not mean that it does not work.

In fact, one in five Americans has been paying for Functional Medicine out of pocket. Even low-income families chose to pay for care with their own funds. It was simply that effective.

Opponents of Functional Medicine, however, used the lack of studies to disparage its validity.

The Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine Study

Recently, the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine set out to silence naysayers by proving the value of Functional Medicine in Americans' health and quality of life outcomes.

For two years, the Clinic followed more than 7,000 patients. Using an NIH-approved assessment tool, doctors tracked patients':

  • Physical health
  • Pain and fatigue levels
  • Gastrointestinal health
  • Mention and emotional health

The ground-breaking study showed that patients receiving services under the Functional Medicine model of care saw clinically significant improvements in their health and well-being. In fact, 31 percent of study participants improved their overall scores by a truly impressive 5 or more points.

The study solidly demonstrated Functional Medicine's ability to help patients achieve sustainable improvements in their health and overall quality of life.

While it will take more time and additional studies to fully document the many benefits of Functional Medicine, the Cleaveland Clinic study does resolve the question " is functional medicine evidence-based?"

Functional Medicine Model of Care and Allergies

Functional Medicine can improve patients' health and quality of life outcomes across all conditions. This includes acute and chronic conditions, as well as things like seasonal allergies.

This is good news, since allergies are progressively getting worse in Chicago. Both environmental and food allergies are on the rise. In fact, food allergies among children have increased by more than 50 percent since 1997.

Functional Medicine doctors can help you:

  • Identify allergies and sensitivities
  • Reduce your reactiveness to allergenic substances
  • Lead a more comfortable, functional life around your allergies

Working with a Functional Medicine doctor to resolve allergies, or any other condition, is not an overnight process. However, long term, it can be a powerful way to improve your health and quality of life.

Should You See a Functional Medicine Doctor?

Anyone can choose to visit a Functional Medicine doctor instead of a Conventional Medicine doctor at any time. However, you may particularly benefit from seeing a Functional Medicine doctor if you:

  • Have one or more chronic conditions
  • Are unhappy with your current treatment
  • Are experiencing new health concerns
  • Persistently feel fatigued or unwell but cannot determine why
  • Are not unwell but seeking to improve your general overall wellbeing

Choosing a good Functional Medicine doctor can be the first step in revolutionizing your health.

Getting Started

Does the Functional Medicine model of care sound like it might be right for you? If so, or if you're simply curious to find out more about it, don't wait. Contact Chicago's premier Functional Medicine practice today to make an appointment. Good health awaits!