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Del Mar, CA

Functional Medicine in Leucadia, CA

A picture of Dr. Mark Stengler

Functional Medicine

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

A diagnosis can be the result of more than one cause. For instance, depression can be caused by many different factors, including inflammation. Similarly, a cause such as inflammation may lead to a number of different diagnoses, including depression. The exact manifestation of each cause depends on the individual's genes, environment, and lifestyle, and only treatments that address the right cause will have lasting benefits beyond symptom suppression.

The Functional Medicine Model

The functional medicine model evolved from the insights and perspectives of a small group of influential thought leaders that understood the importance of a personalized approach to illness causes based on the evolving research in nutritional science, genomics, and also epigenetics. These thought leaders discovered ways to apply these new advancements in the clinic to address root causes using low-risk treatments that adjust molecular and cellular systems to reverse these drivers of disease.

These functional medicines thought leaders were able to use new research in a way that frequently brought dramatic results to individuals who had previously received unsuccessful treatments. Part of this advance was a return to scientific concepts of identifying new ways to look for unifying factors at the cellular and systems levels that underlie organism-wide issues.

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

The Functional Medicine Matrix

The functional medicine Matrix helps the clinician in organizing and prioritizing each individual's health issues as elicited by a detailed personal, family, social, and medical history. The Matrix is akin to a web decoder-- it arranges what seems to be diverse issues into a complete story to help the clinician gain a comprehensive perspective of the patient and ultimately facilitate discussion of complex, chronic illness with the patient.


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 inspire them to change and participate in treatment. As an intake tool for organizing the patient's history chronologically, the functional medicine Timeline is a visual 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 relationships among events, which can reveal cause-effect relationships that may otherwise go unnoticed. By covering the time from preconception to the present, the Timeline reflects the connection between the whole lifespan and one's current health.


"GOTOIT" is a basic framework practitioner can utilize to identify the origin of each individual's disorder and therefore use personalized treatments that address specific causes. Standing for "Gather, Organize, Tell, Order, Initiate, and Track," GOTOIT is a teaching device 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 source of their problems, and propose suitable, individualized treatments and lifestyle changes.

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

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