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Del Mar, CA

Functional Medicine in Del Mar, CA

A picture of Dr. Mark Stengler

Functional Medicine in Del Mar, CA

Functional Medicine

Functional medicine is a systems biology-- a based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the source of disease. Each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of several contributing to a person's illness.

A diagnosis can be the result of more than one cause. For example, depression can be caused by many different factors, including inflammation. Likewise, a cause such as inflammation might result in a number of different diagnoses, including depression. The precise manifestation of each cause depends on the person's genetics, environment, and lifestyle, and only treatments that address the right cause will have lasting benefit beyond symptom suppression.

The Functional Medicine Model

The functional medicine model evolved from the understandings and perspectives of a small group of prominent thought leaders that understood the value of a personalized approach to disease causes based on the evolving research in nutritional science, genomics, and also epigenetics. These thought leaders found ways to apply for these new advances in the clinic to address root causes using low-risk interventions that modify molecular and cellular systems to reverse these drivers of illness.

This functional medicine thought leaders were able to apply new research in a way that frequently brought dramatic results to individuals who had previously received unsuccessful treatments. Part of this advancement was a return to scientific principles of finding new ways to look for unifying factors at the cellular and systems levels that underlie organism-wide problems.

As others became interested in learning functional medicine, it became necessary to systematize the approach so that it could be taught to a broader group of practitioners of differing backgrounds. The IFM approach to applying functional medicine is mainly practiced with a set of devices that defines both history-taking and mapping symptoms to the categories of root processes that underlie disease. Three of these tools are the functional medicine Matrix, Timeline, and the GOTOIT framework.

The Functional Medicine Matrix

The functional medicine Matrix assists the clinician in organizing and prioritizing each individual's health problems as generated by a detailed personal, family, social, and medical history. The Matrix is like a web decoder-- it arranges what appears to be diverse issues into a complete story to help the clinician gain a comprehensive perspective of the individual and therefore promote discussion of complex, chronic illness with the individual.


All clinicians take patient history, but what makes the functional medicine Timeline different is that it has the effect of giving the patient insight into previous life events to encourage them to change and participate in treatment. As an intake device for organizing the individual's history chronologically, the functional medicine Timeline is a graphical representation that allows clinicians to identify factors that predispose, provoke, and contribute to pathological changes and dysfunctional responses in the patient. By doing this, practitioners will be able to see temporal connections among events, which can reveal cause-effect relationships that could otherwise go unnoticed. By covering the period from preconception to the present, the Timeline shows the link between the entire lifespan and one's current health.


"GOTOIT" is a simple framework practitioner can use to discover the root of each individual's dysfunction and subsequently use personalized treatments that address specific causes. Standing for "Gather, Organize, Tell, Order, Initiate, and Track," GOTOIT is a teaching tool to help practitioners complete the Matrix and Timeline. Utilizing the GOTOIT framework can help providers develop rapport with their patients, identify unhealthy patterns, get to the root cause of their problem, and propose suitable, personalized treatments and lifestyle changes.

For further information about Dr. Stengler’s practice and his clinic in Del Mar, California, please visit our website at or give us a call at (760) 274-2377

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