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Functional Medicine

Functional Medicine (FM) asks how and why illness occurs and restores health and balance in the body by addressing the root causes of disease on a very individual basis. By addressing the root cause, rather than symptoms, practitioners become oriented to identifying the complexity of the disease. Often, one condition has many different causes and, likewise, one cause may result in many different symptoms or conditions.

The Functional Medicine model is a patient-centered, science-based approach that creates a therapeutic partnership between patient and practitioner.

Together they address the underlying causes of disease to promote optimal wellness. By shifting from the traditional disease-centered focus to a more patient-centered approach, Functional Medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms.

Functional Medicine requires a detailed understanding of each patient’s genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors. Practitioners then utilize that data to create a personalized treatment plan. For example, two patients that present with the same general complaint – let’s say chronic back pain – will often require completely different treatment plans. Customized recommendations are based on such factors as medical history, existing lifestyle factors, current diet, triggers for pain, how it occurred, and more.



Conventional medicine looks at a constellation of symptoms first, which results in a disease diagnosis. This diagnosis often leads to drug-based therapies prescribed to treat the symptoms. That is usually the end of the story. This approach, however, neglects the fundamental aspects of health.

In Functional Medicine, these are referred to as foundational lifestyle factors: sleep, exercise, nutrition, stress levels, relationships, and genetics, which are obviously very different for everyone.

Conventional medicine separates doctors based on specialties such as neurology, gynecology, and cardiology. Functional Medicine is holistic and whole systems based. One practitioner looks at all aspects of the patient, instead of saying, “Oh, that sounds like a hormone problem. Let me refer you to someone else.”

Functional Medicine is cost-effective. This is because it focuses on prevention, rather than treatment. Practitioners “prescribe” health-promoting lifestyle changes and sustainable treatments that address the underlying causes of dysfunction. Conventional medical treatments are often expensive medications, procedures, or surgeries. Medications often need to be taken indefinitely and do not address the underlying problem, but merely suppress symptoms.

Functional Medicine empowers patients to take an active role in their own health.
Functional Medicine vs. Conventional Medicine

Our Practice

With more than 22 years of experience, we blend the best of ancient Chinese Medicine and modern clinical functional medicine. While it might seem that they are worlds apart, we feel that Chinese Medicine is the Eastern counterpart to functional medicine. The former’s approach is also to uncover the root cause of distress and treat the entire person and system rather than just the symptoms or diagnosis.

Your First Visit

Your first visit consists of a lengthy intake and review of your medical history, dietary intake, and lifestyle factors. During this visit, we discuss individual antecedents, triggers, and mediators. Antecedents are factors that predispose to illness (think genetics); triggers are activators that provoke symptoms and signs of illness (as in an event triggers stress, which leads to IBS symptoms); and mediators are contributing factors (these could be environmental, dietary, etc.). Understanding the antecedents, triggers, and mediators that underlie illness or dysfunction in each patient permits therapy to be unique and customized to the needs of the individual.

Organ System Diagnosis

The tree illustration represents the core elements of FM. In order to keep a tree healthy and allow it to flourish, you need to support the most basic and essential elements first (roots and soil). The very foundation of good health roots in quality sleep, movement, nutrition, stress, relationships, environmental pollutants, trauma, and microorganisms. Similarly, when health is off, the first place we look for answers is in those same elements.

“When the roots and soil are not nourished, the leaves above cannot flourish.” Dr. Michelle Iona, DACM, L.Ac.

Ready to get started?

We offer in-person and Telehealth appointments. Work with us from anywhere.

Patient Love

Dr. Iona has helped me tremendously. I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and every treatment and nutritional recommendation she has made has brought an alleviation of my symptoms. She strives to understand her patients needs and then exceeds them. She continually furthers her education in order to stay top of her field. Dr. Iona truly cares and wants to see an abundance of health for all who cross her path. I would and have recommended her to all seeking better health.

Nicole A.

Dr. Michelle Iona is an extremely gifted acupuncturist. I started to see her about 18 months ago for general health, immunity, and digestive support. Every time I go I feel energized and my digestion is now working smoothly. I especially love that she is a Doctor of Acupuncture and takes a functional medicine approach to her patients. Most sessions I fall asleep on the table. Who knew you could be so relaxed with needles! I highly recommend her.

Jill G.

She is amazing! I started seeing Dr. Iona shortly after I moved here in 2020 at the height of the pandemic and just after finishing chemotherapy treatments for ovarian cancer. She has helped me build my immune system and boosted my energy levels. We work on diet, supplements, digestive issues. We discuss stress levels, sleep issues, eastern and western medicine. Dr Iona asks the tough question and truly listens for the honest answers. I credit her with my staying healthy this year and my recovery from surgery and treatment. She is a major part of my ongoing health and wellness routine.

Joan K.