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.
Why did you decide to make functional medicine your focus?
FB: After 25 years in Emergency Medicine, I wanted my focus to be more on well care and less on acute care. My passion shifted into helping patients reach their optimal health and wellness, discovering the root cause of why they weren’t feeling their best, and making targeted improvements through focused attention to lifestyle medicine.
Who have been your greatest mentors in your functional medicine journey?
FB: I received my Functional Medicine training through the Institute of Functional Medicine, so I had a number of great role models and educators to follow. Dr. Jeffrey Bland (known as the “father of Functional Medicine”) and James Maskell have also been inspirational mentors on my FM journey.
What excites you most about your day to day work?
FB: I love helping my patients discover new ways to improve their health and wellness. Oftentimes small changes in nutrition, sleep and stress reduction can make significant changes in overall health. A big part of my care with patients is education, helping them learn lifestyle changes they can take each day to see improvements.
What’s the most challenging part of your day to day work?
FB: Accountability and follow-up are very challenging. Implementing lifestyle changes are hard and take a lot of dedication and self-determination. Often patients are looking for the one “magic bullet”, or the quick and simple fix. Helping patients realize that change is not a straight line, but if they stick to it, they will see improvements.
What do patients most commonly get wrong about functional medicine?
FB: Many people think that Functional Medicine is “woo-woo” medicine, or that it requires expensive lab testing and multiple supplements to work. Functional Medicine actually layers on conventional medicine and strives to work alongside it. Though not a requirement to see changes and improvements, lab testing and supplements complement the care being provided.
What’s holding the field of functional medicine back?
FB: One of the biggest challenges is helping patients to understand what Functional Medicine is, and how it can help them in all aspects of their life. Many patients are seeking new alternatives to traditional healthcare, and are always excited when they discover what Functional Medicine can do for them.
What has your experience been with genetic testing?
FB: I have had a number of patients that are interested in learning more about their genetics. The most common genetic markers encountered so far have been MTHFR, HFE, and ApoE. The more patients become educated about their overall health, the more they are interested in learning all they can about their genetics.
How do you see the practice of functional medicine evolving in the years ahead?
FB: I see Functional Medicine becoming more well known in the future, with practices continuing to become busier and busier, with patients seeking out optimal care and connection. Functional Medicine will continue to make strides in the health and wellness of those that participate in it.
About Fera K Butts
Fera received her nursing degree from Loma Linda University in 1998, with a majority of her nursing career spent in Emergency Medicine. Fera is now a Functional Medicine Practitioner through the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), with a focus on peak performance and optimal wellness. As a certified nutrition and wellness consultant and Level II Reiki Master, Fera specializes in the mind-body-spirit approach to wellness. When not at work, she enjoys being outdoors or traveling with her husband and two daughters, or teaching as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver.