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Natural Awakenings Rhode Island

Whole Body Whole Mind Physicians

by Achina Stein

The philosophy of functional medicine is to begin treatment with the least invasive, least toxic, least dependent and most empowering choices. They combine the best conventional Western medicine, which can be life-saving in acute symptoms, with alternative methods ideal for the treatment for chronic and persistent symptoms. 

Functional medicine practitioners spend a considerable amount of time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, diet, environmental and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. At the core of the practice of functional medicine is the understanding that each patient is unique and requires a personalized approach to reach their peak expression of health and vitality. They acknowledge and are familiar with the web-like interconnections of internal physiological factors, and act as a detective to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Functional medicine practitioners use a combination of nutrition and lifestyle changes first as the foundation then add natural agents (supplements, herbs, nutraceuticals and homeopathics), health coaching, spiritual/emotional counseling and pharmaceuticals, if necessary, to prod a patient’s physiology back to an optimal state. In addition, educating the patient about their condition empowers them to take charge of their own health, ultimately leading to greater success in treatment. The purpose of supplements is to act as a bridge to provide nutrients until one can begin doing so through lifestyle changes. Some have a genetic predisposition for a higher need of certain supplements and may need to continue a few supplements long term.

Very often functional medicine practitioners use advanced laboratory testing to identify the root cause or causes of the patient’s health problem. It’s also important to note that in functional medicine, the treatment plan for similar symptoms might vary tremendously for different patients, according to their medical history and results of laboratory tests. Factors that can come into play in producing the same symptoms include vitamin deficiencies, food intolerances, environmental exposure, pathogenic bacteria, parasites, chronic viral pathogens, structural abnormalities, and finally emotional toxicities like anger, shame, fear or guilt.

Ultimately, the goal of functional medicine is to help one restore and reach optimal health by facilitating the healing process—to remove obstacles that impair healing and empower individuals to take control of their health, bringing body, mind and spirit back into balance.

Achina P. Stein, DO, is board certified in psychiatry, integrative and holistic medicine and is presently one of three certified functional medicine practitioners (IFMCP) in Rhode Island. Functional Mind LLC is located at 250 Wampanoag Trail, Ste. 305, East Providence. Learn more at  See listing in Resource Guide on page ??.