Treating the Whole Patient:

Functional Medicine is the Key to a New You

by David Modica

sch-april1It’s the 21st Century, and medical research is rapidly discovering what makes you tick and keeps you ticking; but with unlimited access to information on the internet, and a plethora of watered-down medical articles barraging our inboxes and newsfeeds, it’s becoming harder than ever to weed out the bad advice from the good.

That’s where functional medicine comes in. The functional medicine providers in the Swedish Covenant Medical Group believe in a patient-centered approach to health care, providing expert care and comprehensive treatment plans that take into account the various factors that contribute to a patient’s wellbeing.

“The reason many patients choose to visit a functional medicine provider is because we look at the whole picture,” said Angel Rivera, D.O., a primary care physician with Swedish Covenant Medical Group who specializes in functional and integrative medicine. “We examine a patient’s stress level, food habits and lifestyle choices in addition to possible genetic risk factors and other comorbidities which could affect a patient’s health.”

 What is functional medicine?

sch-arpil2Functional medicine examines a patient as a whole person instead of an isolated set of symptoms. By understanding where complex chronic diseases originate, functional medicine physicians assist patients in preventing and treating these conditions, helping patients feel and stay better on a long-term basis.

In addition to using traditional western medicine treatment modalities, functional medicine utilizes lifestyle modifications, supplements and homeopathic approaches. At times, physicians may also refer to complementary treatment health practitioners such as acupuncturists, massage therapists and psychologists.

Functional medicine operates under the following beliefs:

  • Prevention is the most effective method of treatment. Caring for a patient is about  more than treating their illnesses. Functional medicine physicians suggest patients limit exposure to harmful environments and lifestyle choices to minimize the  risk of chronic illness occurring in the first place.
  • Positive adjustments to a patient’s lifestyle have significant medical benefits. To aid in prevention, functional medicine providers utilize a full spectrum of methods to create individual, customized treatment plans to help reverse negative processes that  make the patient more susceptible to illness.
  • Genes do not define a patient’s quality of health. Recent research shows that genes  are triggered by controllable factors like a patient’s outlook, environment and lifestyle  choices. By consciously seeking to improve these areas, patients can obtain the  freedom to be happy and healthy despite genetic limitations.
  • Health care is a partnership. Patients improve their own quality of life by becoming  actively involved in their care plan.
    “Functional medicine is about more than treating difficult illnesses—that’s only one component,” Dr. Rivera said. “I aim to impact the patient directly, improving quality of life and avoiding future illness and preventable conditions. It’s about how the patient feels day to day. My goal is to have the patient feel better and experience a higher quality of life than when I started seeing them.”

sch-april3Angel Rivera, D.O., is a board-certified internal medicine physician with the Swedish Covenant Medical Group. His clinical interests include endocrinology, integrative and functional medicine, lifestyle and exercise. He treats a full range of conditions, including chronic illness, cardiopulmonary conditions, autoimmune conditions, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and major and minor psychiatric conditions including insomnia.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Rivera, call  773-878-3627.

For more information, visit his Find a Doctor profile.


What is Functional Medicine?, Version Two. The Institute for Functional Medicine, Federal Way, Washington

Comments are closed.