Defining Functional Medicine

Functional Medicine

In medical school, when we first began to study the human body, lessons in anatomy. We also studied physiology emphasizing the interconnectedness of organs and systems.  Form influences function, and function influences form.    

Additionally, in the study of immunology; we are impressed with the communication between natural, and specific immune responses. Not to mention, the tremendous innate healing force within us all. We learn that in times of stress, sympathetic nerve fibers send signals from the brain to our lymphoid tissues, to elicit an immune response.  An adaption our ancestors evolved to ward off infection in the event they sustained injury in a time of danger.

Furthermore, we also study the characteristics of immune cells, and learn lymphocytes possess adrenergic receptors, which account for several immunological changes during times of chronic stress, specifically reduced activity of natural killer cells; therefore, reduced viral resistance when cortisol levels remain high.

In like manner, we study physiology and begin to understand the immense coordination and communication required by every cell, organ, and system, to maintain homeostasis. For example, it is well known that endocrine function influences the cardiovascular system. Even conditions such as hyperthyroidism can have a multitude of cardiovascular effects. 

Countless mechanisms such as these are covered in various health science programs.  However, within the traditional medical school model, a shift in focus occurs. The doctors of the future learn to address the so called disease states of their patients through the study of pharmaceutical and surgical interventions, as well as proper labeling and diagnosing.

The average medical doctor learns to take an organ/symptom based approach.  If the patient is lucky, and symptoms and laboratory findings are obvious, they are given medications to “fix” the problem, and all is well.  Of course, the cause of something, such as thyroid dysfunction, will never be addressed.  The traditional allopathic medical doctor is content with the management of symptoms associated with chronic health conditions, most of which are diet and lifestyle related.

Should the patient have symptoms, or test results, that fall outside diagnostic criteria, they are often shuffled from one specialist to the next, in search of a diagnosis.  Or perhaps there is more than one ailment, asthma, for example, coupled with irritable bowel syndrome.  For these conditions, the patient will be required to see two different specialists, never addressing the root cause of underlying disease processes.

This was not always the case. Allopathic medicine became popular in the mid to late 1800’s, with the scientific advances such as vaccines and antibiotic’s, causing a rise of power in the pharmaceutical industry, ultimately leading to the creation of the AMA and MD degree.

Traditional forms of medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, were pushed out, and we lost many of our healing traditions.  We adopted an assembly line approach to healthcare, much the same as taking the family car to a mechanic.

With advances in high tech diagnostic equipment, such as MRI, and CT scanning, doctors have begun to forgo the physical exam; which is time-consuming, and by its nature, subject to human error, as well as interpretation. These advancements are vital, especially in acute care situations, but what is lost is the human touch, and establishment of trust between doctor and patient.  Lost as well, precious details that could help to find the root cause of an illness.

Throughout history, human beings have looked to treat the body as the dynamic, intertwined unit it is. Chinese medicine refers to creating balance within the five organ systems. Ayurvedic medicine describes the need for balance between body mind and spirit.

Over the years, we have experienced a de-evolution of consciousness in our disease management system, we can no longer call health care. America is sicker than ever before, both mentally and physically, and an aging population threatens to further burden an overtaxed system. The health care crisis focuses now on how to improve access to care, but does not address the flaws in the current therapeutic methods of treating patients.  

Steadily, consciousness is increasing, and we are looking to take back the tradition of a more functional approach to patient care.   Doctors, and patients, are beginning to question what it means to truly be healthy. 

The definition of health itself is changing, as increasing numbers of people begin to define health as more than merely an absence of discomfort, or disease.   How can we say we are truly healthy, but have to take a handful of pills every morning to keep our thyroids levels happy and our cholesterol in the standardized reference ranges?

Functional medicine doctors, and nutritionists, forge a partnership with their patients. They recognize the difference between a systems approach to medicine, and an organ based approach.  They take the necessary time to access, and create strategies to serve their patients.  This requires special education to address the complex causes of chronic disease states, and a willingness to learn the concepts no longer taught in medical school.

While functional medicine certainly aims to treat disease, it does so with profound respect for the innate healing potential of the human body, the doctor within us all.  Functional Medicine attention is given to all aspects of health; nutrition, detoxification, microbiome, emotional health, endocrine balance, environmental factors, and nutrigenomics, with the focus always on the prevention of future illness and the creation of greater health. Functional medicine, simply put, is a return to medicine as nature intended, and a return to sanity in a medical system gone awry.  Click here for an appointment.


About five years ago I became a strict vegetarian because I thought it would be good for my health and would help me to loose weight. It did not work as I did not loose weight and my blood sugar became elevated. As a referral from Dr. Gordon Scherzer DN DC I made an appointment with her. After thoroughly reviewing my blood work and asking questions, she provided me with a personalized eating plan that included much more protein and fewer carbohydrates. I also learned about choosing healthy oils. After following my new eating plan, I lost 30lbs in 120 days. My blood pressure which was high even on medication, went from 159/99 to 115/75. My blood sugar also dropped from 125 to 105. I am very pleased with my results.


Amy has been incredible to work with! What began with a quest for better understanding my own nutrition needs ended up with a whole “plan” for my family and their needs as well! While working with me specifically, she was able to pinpoint areas of my diet and help me make changes. Then, through careful listening she was able to make recommendations for good, sound, healthy changes I could incorporate for my children to help navigate their own allergies and sensitivities. She is ethical, knowledgeable and caring and clearly has her clients’ best interests in mind. I proudly refer to Amy as “my nutritionist”! — thanks again for everything!!

LUCY A. Clarendon Hills, IL.

Amy is absolutely Amazing. A few other nouns I could use to describe her would be: a miracle worker, an intuitive healer, and basically a Godsend! She’s now my go-to health practitioner that I’d see before any conventional medical doctor. I met Amy last year and was immediately
impressed with her knowledge about anything and everything related to health. But it wasn’t until I consulted her regarding my own health challenges that I realized that depth and skill she possessed when it came to diagnosing and healing my digestive inflammation and menopausal symptoms including hot flashes and weight gain. I’m happy to say that after I started on the herbs and dietary changes she recommended I’m feeling fantastic…clear thinking, weight going down and no more hot flashes.
My digestive inflammation is improving and am confident will continue to get better. I tell everyone I know that is open minded to alternative modalities for healing to contact Amy.

KATHY JOHNSTON Lake in the Hills, IL

I was referred to Amy Kinzie from a friend. At the time I was suffering from gastritis and had been experiencing very bad pain in my stomach and having other GI issues. I was not able to eat without pain. I scheduled an appointment with her. Though a consultation about nutrition, and muscle testing she was able to give me insight on what was going on with my gut. We also addressed some ways to help support my body to heal joint damage. The first of the food suggestions I tried was a special low temperature cooked organic chicken broth to nourish and calm my intestines. It was the first thing I could eat without pain. I also followed her advice on juicing and other specific recommendations. She suggested a few supplements made by Biotics that really helped with the gi distress including a really good probiotic. I am happy to say I currently have no digestive issues. In addition, my doctor told me to “keep doing what I’m doing” because my thyroid levels have normalized without drugs. I have gained so much knowledge on how to handle different things going on with my body. I am no longer scared of how my health will be as I age. I feel Amy is an excellent source to help me address my concerns. Thank you Amy!

Robin Thursday, 12/15/11, 3:58 PM

I began seeing Gordon after suffering for years with migraine headaches, they occurred as many as ten or twelve days a month. The first time I was treated with a cervical adjustment and cranial work was during a headache. After the treatment it was almost completely gone. Since then he has helped me find supplements that help prevent them. If I feel one coming on they can even be prevented by getting in for a treatment. He understands the urgency and always makes time. Don’t know what I would have done without him. Thanks Gordon.


I have gone to a few other chiropractors that spend about 5 minutes with me on a maintenance visit and I feel like I just wasted my money. Not so with Dr Scherzer. He takes his time on every visit and is thorough. He works more with his hands rather than instruments – almost like integrating massage therapy with chiropractic adjustment – which has been much more effective for me. I highly recommend Dr Scherzer.