The History of Functional Medicine“Twenty years ago, functional medicine was an idea without a movement.  It is now a movement that is the single biggest game-changing idea in health care.”

The Functional Medicine Movement became more widely known after the inception of The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM).  Founded 20 years ago by Susan and Jeffrey Bland, the Institute’s charter was conceived as a systems-biology approach to the prevention and management of chronic disease utilizing appropriate tools including nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, environmental, structural, cognitive, emotional, and pharmaceutical therapies to meet the individual needs of the patient.

It was Bland’s vision to change the future of health care by developing new thought leaders and practitioners, skilled at preventing and treating chronic disease.   They put it this way:  “We are preparing for the next 20 years with a clear strategic plan based on education, research, and collaboration. Our goal is to reverse the epidemic of chronic disease and to continue advancing the leading edge of knowledge in the decades ahead.”

To accomplish this goal, IFM built an educational platform “using innovative technologies and teaching methods that can be incorporated into medical school curriculums, residencies, fellowships, and continuing medical education”.  Bland’s efforts have to lead to the development of research models that evaluate whole-systems practices and treatment plans that involve “individualized and diverse interventions”.  To achieve these educational and research goals, IFM has collaborated with leaders in academic medicine, the private sector industry, insurers, and government agencies to create pilot programs that will help integrate functional medicine into the nation’s healthcare system.