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Functional medicine is a form of alternative medicine that encompasses a number of unproven and disproven methods and treatments. Its proponents claim that it focuses on the "root causes" of diseases based on interactions between the environment and the gastrointestinal, endocrine, and immune systems to develop "individualized treatment plans". It has been described as pseudoscience, quackery, and at its essence a rebranding of complementary and alternative medicine.
The discipline of functional medicine is vaguely defined by its proponents. Oncologist David Gorski has written that the vagueness is a deliberate tactic, but that in general its practice centers on unnecessary and expensive testing procedures performed in the name of "holistic" health care.
Proponents of functional medicine oppose established medical knowledge and reject its models, instead adopting a model of disease based on the notion of "antecedents", "triggers", and "mediators". These are meant to correspond to the underlying causes, the immediate causes, and the particular characteristics of a person's illness respectively. A functional medicine practitioner will devise a "matrix" from these things which acts as a basis for treatment.
Institute for Functional Medicine
|Founder||Jeffrey Bland, PhD|
|Focus||"To serve the highest expression of individual health through the widespread adoption of functional medicine as the standard of care."|
|Method||Education, Research, Collaboration|
|Mark Hyman, MD, Chairman|
Functional medicine was invented by chemist Jeffrey Bland. He and Susan Bland founded the Institute for Functional Medicine in 1991 as a division of HealthComm. That year, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said that Jeffrey Bland's corporations HealthComm and Nu-Day Enterprises had falsely advanced claims that their products could alter metabolism and induce weight loss. The FTC found that Bland and his companies violated that consent order in 1995 by making more exaggerated claims. The UltraClear dietary program was said to provide relief from gastrointestinal problems, inflammatory and immunologic problems, fatigue, food allergies, mercury exposure, kidney disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis. The companies were forced to pay a $45,000 civil penalty.
The opening of centers for functional medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and at George Washington University has been described by Gorski as an "unfortunate" example of pseudoscientific quackery infiltrating medical academia.
In 2014, the American Academy of Family Physicians withdrew granting of course credits for functional medicine courses, having identified some of its treatments as "harmful and dangerous" In 2018, it partly lifted the ban, but only to allow teaching an overview of functional medicine, not to teach its practice.
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