How To Find A Good Functional Doctor or Practitioner
When I first got Hashimoto’s disease, I had never even set foot in a functional medicine doctors office. Actually, I had never even heard of it. I was under the impression that doctors only existed for annual embarrassing weigh ins and seemingly useless check up’s. Little did I know that functional medicine would become a huge part of my healing journey. People ask me
First, what is functional medicine? Functional medicine looks at the person as a whole rather than just zeroing in on their condition. For example, my endocrinologist worked to just mask the symptoms of my Hashimoto’s disease, where as, my functional medicine doctor looked at my gut, my toxicity, my hormones, etc. and how to heal the root cause of my condition. Functional medicine is much different than conventional, and it’s typical much more expensive, but it’s been a huge part of my own healing journey.
I’ve seen tons of functional medicine practitioners in my day. Some that didn’t help me at all, and some that helped me for years and I just grew out of. I firmly believe working to find the right practitioner that works for you isn’t easy. It’s like finding a partner or a best friend… you just can’t pick any random ol’ person. That’s why I wanted to share my tips for finding a good one from both the perspective of a nutritional therapy practitioner, and a patient myself.
How To Find A Good Functional Doctor or Holistic Practitioner
1.Ask around for recommendations
Most of the practitioners that I’ve seen have come from recommendations from friends and co-workers. In my area, a lot of the folks I know actually see a lot of the same people. Functional medicine communities are typically pretty tight knit and you can find a lot of them fairly easily once you find one or two.
It doesn’t have to be awkward to ask about doctors. Think about the people you know if your life who have had health struggles or daily members who have. Ask them who they see or have seen in the past, and you’ll be surprised of the gems that are right in your own backyard.
You can also take advantage of online groups like Facebook groups, forums, etc!
2. Look for practitioners who specialize in your area of need
Figure out what you want to target and find someone who specializes in it. Maybe that’s lyme disease, maybe it’s Hashimoto’s, etc. For me, it’s crucial to work with someone who gets autoimmunity and gut issues. Most practitioners do at this point, but I did extra research to find someone who really got me.
For example, I advertise in my own nutritional therapy consulting business that I specialize in working with women with chronic illness and autoimmunity by supporting their bodies ability to heal with nutrition and foundational work. I don’t necessarily work with people on just losing weight or getting on a Paleo diet alone.
Do some research on what exactly you want a practitioner to address and find the best option for who can do it.
3. Find a good “anchor” doctor and layer on specialists from there
This is my favorite piece of advice to give as I firmly believe that everyone needs to work with a doctor who can directly diagnose and treat your disease, and can run labs. Not every practitioner can do that. It’s important to find that anchor doctor that can really be hands on. So, what kind of doctor?
- Functional Medicine Doctor
- MD who practices functionally
- A naturopath
- An herbalist or chiropractor
Though it’s important to have your anchor doctor, they may not be able to give you all of the support you need. Lots of my own clients see a functional medicine doctor and then see me for more hands on nutrition support, or also see a massage therapist, acupuncturist, etc. So, who else could you potentially see?
- Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
- Massage therapist
- Colonic specialist
- Counselor or psychologist
4. Seek out someone you trust.
In order to heal anything, you have to believe in what you’re doing. If you’re on a protocol that you’re iffy about from the beginning or you just don’t trust your doctor, you’re already at a disadvantage.
Ask yourself… what makes someone trustworthy to you? Is it social proof like good reviews online? Is it a smiling face and a family oriented atmosphere at the office? Think about what really helps you trust someone and look for those qualities in a doctor.
5. Seek out someone you relate to.
I became a nutritional therapy practitioner because I relate to what my clients are going through, and I want to help to make their journey easier than mine was. Most (if not all) of the really good practitioners out there have a story just like yours that you can relate to. Not only does this make them more trust worthy, but they take more mindful care of you.
For example, when I was seeing my first functional medicine doctor, they would sell me tons and tons of supplements that had ingredients I couldn’t have… soy, wheat, potato starch, immune stimulants etc. The doctor knew that I couldn’t have these… they were just so busy and rushed. At the time, I didn’t know to look, and found myself with so many supplements that didn’t work for me, or ones that I had bad reactions to. After having this experience so many times, I read every single label of the supplements that I recommend for my clients beforehand to ensure that they don’t waste their time or money. Sure, that bad reactions still happen even when there are no obvious things present. But I’m not going to be the guy who gives my celiac client a supplement with wheat in it. Why? Because I relate.
Most doctors will have an about page on their website that shares their own speciality, and hopefully their story as well. A really good doctor will even share their own personal experience when putting you on a protocol!
6. Ask about how long appointments last and support between visits.
This is key. I have lots of questions when I’m seeing a doctor, and don’t want to work with someone who’s rushing me out in 15 minutes. When scheduling appointments ask about how long the initial visit and the follow up lasts. In my mind, you want minimum 45 minutes with the doctor to really dig deep.
Support between visits is another important piece of the puzzle. I’ve had entirely too many bad reactions to protocols and doctors that didn’t care to know that this something that you need to ask about. Many doctors offer zero support, while others have great email support in between visits. Ask about their policy, and how you can reach them in between visits.
7. Find out what testing you want done and see who offers it in your area
After doing my own research online, I knew that I wanted to work with a doctor who did food allergy testing, blood work, SIBO testing, etc. That piece really just comes from doing research online on websites and blogs like my own. From there, I did research for either who could run these in my area, or who I could work with online to do it.
Most practitioners list what tests they run on their website, but you may also need to call and email to confirm what they do and do not do.
8. Use search engines and search hashtags.
The internet rocks, man. We have all of this information at our finger tips right here and now!
I like to use websites like Healthgrades or Yelp and type in keywords like “Hashimoto’s” or “Leaky Gut”. That way, I can search to find past reviews about testimonials from patients who wrote about those issues with specific doctors. I also recommend this functional medicine doctor search engine!
You’d also be surprised what you can find with a hashtag search on instagram! I’ve found tons of fellow NTP’s by searching #NTP. Try searching hashtags relating to your area of need and see what you can find.
9. Don’t be afraid to work with someone remotely.
You don’t have to be limited to practitioners in your area alone to find a great doctor. Traditionally, we’re used to going to a doctors office and getting an actual physical that requires vitals, and being seen in person… and that’s still necessary to see a doctor who does that. However, if you’re just layering on something like a specialist for added support, don’t be afraid of working with someone remotely.
With Skype, Zoom, and the internet in general, working remotely is more common and more convenient than ever. I work with all of my NTP clients remotely and it works out great for everyone!
My recommendations for good functional medicine practitioners in Dallas Fort Worth
Inevitability, I know everyone will ask who I see and who I recommend in DFW! So here are my recommendations…
- Dr. Anne Coleman in Richardson, TX (who I currently see)
- Stewarding Life Wellness in Fort Worth, TX.
- Southlake Wellness Center in Southlake, TX
- Megan Purdy, ND in McKinney, TX
Working one on one with a practitioner that you love and trust is so crucial to your healing journey! I hope these recommendations helped take you one step closer to finding your own, or building a greater team