The Call of Functional Medicine

By Dr. Stephen Stevenson

So what's a physician with a family practice of over 20 years doing in the field of Functional Medicine? When I discovered Functional Medicine in 2015, I realized I had been looking for it my whole life, so I devoted myself fully to this form of medicine.

I have worked in various settings as a doctor, including at the Haskell Indian Health Center for my first eight years of practice, treating people struggling with a wide variety of illnesses and conditions. Toward the end of my time at the clinic, I was becoming increasingly disillusioned by the results I was getting in treating people because prescribing medication doesn't often tend to make a major difference in addressing chronic health conditions.

For years, I had been into organic foods and crafting a pretty healthy lifestyle, which seemed at odds with focusing on Conventional Medicine's propensity for prescriptions to treat symptoms rather root causes. I also worried about the impact of the side effects of many medications considered the standard of care, yet medications I wouldn't take myself.

Eventually, I shifted my medicine practice toward working with a private practice specializing in hormone therapy for men, something I was passionate about after discovering how balancing my own hormones made a significant difference in my health. Over time, I noticed that the men I prescribed hormone therapy for often got great results at the start, but as months went by, the hormones weren't as effective, and at best, hormone therapy was a bandaid approach to bigger health issues.

Then I heard the term “Functional Medicine” from a colleague getting her certification in it, and I knew this was the direction I had to pursue. I read a little about Functional Medicine, fell in love, and immersed myself in a two-year certification program through the Institute of Functional Medicine, considered the gold standard of F