Turning Over Rocks as a Functional Approach to Health

Rocks for Functional Approach

When you’re desperate, you’ll try anything … you’ll look under every rock.  (Source unknown)


I remember reading these words not long ago.  They resonated with me at the time … the desperation that had taken up residence in my own mind and body as I attempted to find answers and understanding to a current life crisis. Isn’t this what we do? We try, we search, we attempt, we pray, we learn as much as we can to figure out a solution or to right what has gone wrong or to find healing even in the midst of impossibility?


We never stop turning over rocks.


Especially with health. It is in our nature to keep persisting. If health is to be had, we continue to ask questions, and, more importantly, we long to be heard. We long for someone to listen so intently to our story that, one by one, each rock is turned and each symptom is heard for what it is: a cry for help, a longing, a dissonance. There are always a myriad of triggering insults that precipitate symptoms or the expression of disease. And our story needs to be heard and addressed if resolution or reversal of symptoms is going to occur.


This is the beauty of the Functional Question:

A functional question is a question about the terrain. Instead of asking ‘what is this?’ and ‘how do I treat it?’, it asks ‘why is this happening?’ and ‘what can I do to reverse it?’   –Andrea Nakayama’s Field Guide to Functional Nutrition


Whereas the first two questions are framing the conventional approach, the latter two are interested in turning over the rocks and really understanding that any symptom or diagnosis is about the whole person. It is about getting to the root cause, whether physical, physiological, spiritual, cognitive. It is about finding the meaning of what our physical body, deemed our subconscious, is trying to bring to light.


And when one turned rock fails to reveal the whole picture, we continue to turn the next rock and the next and the next.


There are no magic pills. But there IS a discovery of one’s unique bioindividuality. One person’s “terrain” is very different from another’s. One person’s thyroid may have become disregulated due to gut infection, another’s due to gluten sensitivity but both diagnosis’ are the same. This is why it is so very important to ask the “Functional Questions” and look under each rock and listen.


Mark Hyman, the director of the Cleveland Clinic for Functional Medicine as well as Chairman of the Board of The Institute for Functional Medicine, among many other things, says this about the functional approach:

Most medicine of the future will not be about treating illness. Instead, it will be about creating health. Disease simply goes away as a side effect of creating health.


We are living in an exceptional time for reclaiming and maintaining not just health but VIBRANCY and DYNAMIC WELL-BEING, as functional medicine and nutrition have begun driving change in how medicine and healthcare are being done.


Finally there is an approach that addresses the restoration of health, not just a diagnosis and treatment of chronic disease! And thankfully a diagnosis does not have to carry the weight of prognosis that it once did in the conventional mindset. There are self-discoveries to be made.


There are always rocks to overturn.  We are not alone in this process any longer.


Dani MacKenzie, RHN, Functional Nutrition and Wellness Advocate