Functional Medicine Doctors and Nutritionists or Naturopaths that use a functional medicine approach go through a significant amount of training. It enables them to support patients with a host of conditions whether it be Thyroid issues, Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue and rmany more.
When training to become a Functional Medicine Doctor, expert practitioners like the team here at the London Clinic of Nutrition generally study with the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) or Functional Medicine University (FMU). The courses upskill medical professionals over a number of modules, aiming to add integrated medicine to their clinical approach.
Outline of a Functional Medicine Course?
Here’s a breakdown of the modules requied to gain a qualification:
GI Function and Dysfunction
The module on GI Function and Dysfunction in the IFM certification focuses on the crucial role that gut health plays in chronic illnesses. Taking a whole-systems approach to evaluating and treating not only local gastrointestinal issues but also systemic diseases that are linked to gastrointestinal dysfunction. In line with the principles of functional medicine, the training covers essential lab tests to be considered, appropriate clinical connections that must be made, and effective treatment approaches, including the use of nutrition, to restore optimal gut health.
The Environmental Health module in the IFM certification covers the impact of toxins in our environment on our overall health. It provides a comprehensive understanding of the foundational biochemistry and genetics of detoxification pathways, and lab evaluations useful in assessing both toxic load and responses to toxins and toxin exposures. As a nutritionist, it is essential to understand the role that nutrition plays in reducing toxic exposure and supporting the body’s natural detoxification processes.
The Immune Systems module focuses on understanding how imbalances in the body’s immune system can impact our ability to deal with medical conditions. The module provides in-depth knowledge of chronic inflammation, systemic influences on the immune system, and the underlying immune mechanisms that may result in dysfunction. With an emphasis on functional medicine, the module offers effective interventions, including nutrition and lifestyle changes, to support the optimal functioning of the immune system.
The Hormones module covers the crucial role that hormones play in our overall health and how imbalances can create different reactions to illnesses. The module provides a comprehensive understanding of how to approach hormone dysregulation from a functional medicine perspective, with an emphasis on hormonal assessment and an integrative approach to treatment, including the use of nutrition, to restore hormonal balance.
The Cardiometabolic module in the IFM certification explores the significant role that functional medicine and nutrition play in preventing and managing heart disease. The module provides a deeper understanding of the physiology underlying the cardiometabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, and approaches to effective assessment and treatments, including the use of nutrition and lifestyle changes, to support optimal heart health.
The Bioenergetics module focuses on the science of how the body uses energy and how this can contribute to disease and illness development. The module investigates the science of mitochondrial function and dysfunction, oxidative stress, and the impact of nutrition and lifestyle on both health and disease. As a nutritionist, it is essential to understand the impact of nutrition on energy production and to provide effective interventions, including nutrition and lifestyle changes, to support optimal bioenergetics.
To complete the certification and become accredited by the Institute of Functional Medicine, the clinician will need to do a written exam, a case report, a certification exam and also has to complete a repeat exam every 10 years and be an active practitioner. Typically in the UK nutritionists and the naturopaths who have already done three to four years of integrated and natural medicine training and practice, will likely then decide to complete the FMU or IFM qualification as a complimentary certification to support in accrediting their holistic approach to patient care.
Are there differences between FM Doctors and Nutritionist?
The IFM training differs from the training that a herbalist/nutritionist will undergo in that it is quite a short course, whereas nutritionists and herbalists have to train for three to five years to become a practitioner.
You could be argue that functional medicine doctors are less qualified and experienced in natural and integrated medicine in comparison to a naturopath or a nutritionist who has trained for at least three years before adding their accreditation.
Following qualification, there are a number of options in terms of continuous training and development for functional medicine practitioners and a lot of those courses will be integrated medical conferences. There is an annual Institute for Functional Medicine conference which is delivered over four days and will bring practitioners up to date with new discoveries, tests and techniques, which is another opportunity amongst others. With functional medicine the designation is to be an Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner and able to use designation letters of IFMCP.
In the USA there are Naturopathic Doctors that are able to prescribe clinical medicines and combine them with functional medicine techniques to create a hybrid approach to treatment. This is not something that Functional Medicine Doctors or Practitioners in the UK are able to do as the UK does not recognise these experts as primary care physicians in the same way.
Trust in the training
In summary, becoming a functional medicine doctor or nutritionist requires extensive training and education. These professionals typically study with institutions like the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) or Functional Medicine University (FMU) to gain a deeper understanding of different medical conditions and how to treat them through an integrative approach. They go through various modules such as GI Function and Dysfunction, Environmental Health, Immune Systems, Hormones, Cardiometabolic, and Bioenergetics, among others.
At the London Clinic of Nutrition we have used this approach to health and wellness to support over 20,000 clients in easing and even curing a number of diseases and chronic illnesses, often getting results where other techniques haven’t.
To conclude, becoming a Functional Medicine Doctor requires a significant amount of training, education, and experience, providing a unique approach to treating medical conditions and improving patient health outcomes and this is why many have turned to this holistic approach to support their health concerns