Guest Post: The Goal is Wellness – An Introduction to Functional Medicine

The Goal is Wellness: An Introduction to Functional Medicine by Dr. Tom Sult | happyliving.com - image via Death to the Stock Photo

“When we optimize wellness, there is no room for disease. There is only, once again, the chance to just be well.”
(Dr. Tom Sult, in Just Be Well)

Hello, Kaileen here. Since there are many facets to wellness, there is no “one” way to lead a healthy and happy life. However, trusted experts and mentors can help guide the way. It’s easy to think that our physicians can be that type of advisor, but just like any field there’s a range of perspectives, experience, and ways to practice.

If you are unfamiliar with the term functional medicine, today’s guest post from Dr. Tom Sult will be a breath of fresh air. We will share a follow-up post in the coming weeks with more information on how to find a functional medicine doctor, so stay tuned!

Dr. Tom Sult is board-certified in family medicine and integrative holistic medicine. He practices functional medicine and strives to find the fundamental cause of health issues. Dr. Sult is also an inspirational speaker and the author of Just Be Well: A Book For Seekers of Vibrant Health. For more information about Tom and the Just Be Well Movement, click here.

And now, I’ll let Dr. Sult take over…


How would you define wellness? Wellness is more than just the absence of sickness; I believe wellness is a vibrant state of well-being. It is true, though, that disease can only exist in the absence of wellness. In functional medicine we look for the imbalances that have led a person from a place of ease to a place of dis-ease. Understanding that path can help us lead the patient back to his or her place of wellness.

There are a few important things to know about functional medicine. It is:

1. Patient-centric. Traditional physicians are trained to not get emotionally involved with patients, but I decided that I would treat every patient as if he or she were a loved one of mine. It is not uncommon for a patient appointment to last up to two hours. Taking the time to listen and discuss health with a patient is a hallmark of functional medicine.

2. In-depth. Functional medicine is focused on restoring balance to your total lifestyle. So, we look at the nutrition, lifestyle, environment, and personal history of the patient to discover why he or she is unwell. No two patients are treated the same, because everyone has unique biological and environmental factors influencing their wellness.

3. Process-oriented. Functional medicine does not divide disease by organ system (as traditional medicine does). Instead, it addresses the underlying physiological process(es) contributing to a patient’s condition. This approach isn’t something patients are used to, as today’s traditional physician is far too busy to delve into the causes of a complex condition in a person.

4. Focused on the long-term. Most physicians have been trained to practice “acute care” — in other words, they’re focused on diagnosing and treating short-term or urgent conditions. In functional medicine, we begin by exploring the patient’s underlying physiology to look for potential causes of the disease. In other words, whatever the answers are, by understanding why, we can move forward into how how to go from dis-ease to ease. There is no quick fix once we begin looking into how to bring about wellness. Treatments may include both conventional medicines and “green pharmacy” treatment with herbs or vitamins. It will also likely include changes in lifestyle and eating habits.

Functional medicine seeks to treat patients as partners and to address the underlying causes of discomfort and disease. By looking at the whole person, from the outside in, functional medicine doctors can help patients find a vibrant sense of well-being.

To find a functional medicine doctor near you click here.

Image via Death to the Stock Photo | This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click and then purchase we will receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for reading & supporting Happy Living!

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