3X4’s new State of Functional Medicine series features interviews with a diverse range of active practitioners and established thought leaders to learn more about why they chose the field of functional medicine, what excites them most about their work, the most common misconceptions they hear from patients, and most importantly — how they see the field evolving in the years ahead as healthcare shifts to be more personalized, proactive, and preventative.
Functional medicine practitioners play a key role in helping patients understand who they are so they can improve their quality of life which is what we’re all about here at 3X4. Our goal with this new series is to celebrate the work these practitioners are doing and inspire others to explore the exciting field of functional medicine.
The following is an interview we have recently had with Marsha Nunley, MD, Heal Medical.
Why did you decide to make functional medicine your focus?
MN: When my own health took a dive in my late 40’s, I found no answers in the traditional medical community. I did find answers in Functional and Lifestyle medicine and thus began a whole new field of study for me. Almost like going to medical school again with a focus on health rather than disease.
Who have been your greatest mentors in your functional medicine journey?
MN: Jeffrey Bland, Mark Hyman, Mark Houston, Neil Rouzier, Pam Smith, Teri Wahls, and many others.
What excites you most about your day to day work?
MN: Changing people’s lives by shifting the focus from disease to health and seeing them take a healing journey to their best health and life.
What’s the most challenging part of your day to day work?
MN: Seeing people fail to fully commit to change and failing in their goals.
What do patients most commonly get wrong about functional medicine?
MN: They assume that because I am a physician that I am going to “fix” their problems when in reality, I am just a guide and the real work of change comes from them. There are no magic potions…
What’s holding the field of functional medicine back?
MN: I would say insurance but really it is more about education about what is healthy and making sure people have access to healthy food both geographically and financially. The focus of our healthcare is disease and NOT health. I think with national healthcare, we could shift the focus more easily to health and not symptoms of disease. The payor system and incentives for client as well as provider are all wrong.
What has your experience been with genetic testing?
MN: Beneficial in general but I don’t see it as ready for prime time for all. Have had luck in looking for specific SNPs in various areas (autoimmune, autophagy, diet, cognitive risk) and managing those with supplements and lifestyle.
How do you see the practice of functional medicine evolving in the years ahead?
MN: I hope we will continue to see it grow with an emphasis on lifestyle and health. Focusing on education about health and lifestyle to equip everyone with a basic knowledge and provide them with the tools to make the changes they need. Need to end government subsidies to big Agriculture, sugar, dairy, industrial farming, etc and provide support and subsidies to small organic farmers. Healthy food is not available to all (see “A Place at the Table” and many other documentaries on this topic) and change this. We need a change in our culture around food and lifestyle.
About Marsha Nunley
Dr. Marsha Nunley is an Age Management Medicine MD specializing in bio identical hormones at Heal Medical, Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, and Hospice and Palliative Medicine.
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