Our Health Care Approach: About integrative and Functional Medicine

At the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health and the Myrna Brind Center we treat people with functional and integrative health care services rooted in both complementary and mainstream medicine.
Functional medicine is the field of health care whose mission is to improve physiological, physical, emotional, and cognitive function.

Functional medicine focuses on the interdependent relationship between biochemical individuality, metabolic balance, ecological interactions, and unique personal experience in the dynamics of health.

Functional medicine integrates knowledge across disciplines, including biochemistry, botanical medicine, clinical ecology, endocrinology, environmental toxicology, gastroenterology, genetics, hepatology, immunology, immunotoxicology, natural medicine (naturopathy), neurology, neurotoxicology, nutrition, physiology, psychoneuroendocrinology, and psychoneuroimmunology.

The knowledge and practice of functional medicine draws upon the experience of a range of professionals, including medical doctors, osteopaths, naturopathic doctors, nutritionists, dietitians, acupuncturists, nurses, dentists, and physical therapists.

Knowledge from these professional areas helps assess and determine a therapeutic plan for the whole person. A complex and comprehensive evaluation process is conducted for each individual. In our experience, when care is done this way, results are definitely superior.

Three major fundamental concepts of functional medicine are biochemical individuality, health as positive vitality, and patient centered diagnosis.

Biochemical Individuality

Biochemical individuality is the cardinal principle of functional medicine. Biochemical individuality means that we are as different from one another biochemically as we are psychologically.

For example, the way a person’s liver reacts to its environment such as through foods and pharmaceuticals differs from one to another. Accordingly, the same foods, or the same drugs, have different effects on different people. Unfortunately, in conventional HMO medicine, the drug is often chosen by the HMO, and not the doctor. This “one size fits all” approach treats the disease name instead of the individual. That’s part of the reason why many people with chronic diseases go from drug to drug and many times have difficulty improving their health in a comprehensive fashion.

Health as Positive Vitality

“Health is more than absence of disease.”
-The World Health Organization, 1948

When this realization is taken seriously, it creates the need for new assessment tools helpful in quantifying individual well-being.

These tools include the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) contained in FWSI’s Initial Patient Questionnaire (IPQ) and the  genomic testing that help evaluate function in relationship to individual vitality. Investigating the patient’s history by inquiring about times in his or her life when they felt their best, and exploring future circumstances under which they can imagine feeling truly well again, provides clues and strategies toward reestablishing optimal health and vitality.

Patient Centered Diagnosis

Functional medicine treats PEOPLE, not diseases.

Even if various people have been given the same diagnosis, the biology of each person is unique, like their fingerprints. Their condition represents a different disease state that will respond differently to various therapies. The point is to explore all angles until favorable results are achieved in an individual.

If you want to know more about functional medicine, including some tests used at our clinic, please visit FWSI’s Links.

Phases of Care

Regardless of the particular problem, the course of care usually follows three phases.


This is when patients first come to the office. They are in trouble. Things are not going well. This is usually a highly involved and productive phase where people find help and start to feel better.


This is strategically the most important phase. This phase occurs after the initial improvements when patients feel better, but still have some symptoms. In this phase, the physiology has improved enough to get them out of the state that brought them to our office. The critical point here is to build a “physiological reserve”  so that the improvements achieved can last. If people stop treatments here before completing the stabilization phase, they usually go back to where they came from.


Here the physiology has been “turned around” enough to hold. The job now is to keep things going in the right direction. This is usually much easier than the previous phases. We are now closer to lasting health.

In the maintenance phase, a great learning curve and personal experience have also taken place in an individual. They understand much more about their own health and their condition. They have gone from “ being given a fish to be able to fish on their own.”

The process from rescue to maintenance can take from 6 months to a year, or even more in certain patients. The great news is that results can be obtained in people who have been told there is nothing more that can be done for them. Understanding this will pay big dividends for your health. 

Wide-Angle View

Medicine is an ever-evolving field. Through training and experience, we have come to realize and understand the importance of functional and integrative health care. We provide guidance and expertise in areas where the conventional system is unable and/or unwilling to assist.

Whenever possible we work in conjunction with patients’ existing practitioners to assess, complement, and coordinate all aspects of care. Our goal is to allow patients who so desire to continue to see their doctors and the structures they currently use such as HMOs, hospitals, and other.

Too many times patients see a number of specialists, but have no master plan coach to bring everything together. We  provide this service.