What exactly is functional medicine?


Welcome to one of the most exciting and life-changing, holistic doctorates we offer. That's really saying a lot because all of them are so incredible. 


Besides targeting, reversing, and eliminating root causes, our mantra at Rockwell is 'functional medicine is functional blood chemistry, and functional blood chemistry is functional medicine.'


But what is functional blood chemistry exactly? 


I don't know who coined the term, 'functional blood chemistry,' but when I think of FBC, I think of Dr. Dicken Weatherby ND, a licensed naturopathic physician of about 20 years, out of the Pacific Northwest, living in Portland, Oregon, originally from England, and author of a functional blood chemistry book that we required in our earliest program.


Dr. Weatherby has since created his own functional blood chemistry software, Optimal DX, which you'll have access to inside our program through our partnership with Evexia.


Weatherby is one of the key pioneers of functional medicine, along with Dr. David Brownstein MD, Dr. Mike Hyman MD, Dr. Ben Lynch ND, Dr. Chris Kresser DC, and the famous Dr. Eric Berg DC, of YouTube fame.


There are several more names we could add here, but for the sake of brevity, we won't. 


How we came to use the word 'functional' to describe this type of practice is most likely due to conventional lab ranges being anything but. Conventional lab ranges may be status quo, but they defy logic. 


Some people were more aware of this and as a response, they created solutions. And because of them, we can now enjoy the benefits of functional alternatives in testing.


This DFM kicks off with the following course learning objectives.


  • conventional medicine vs. functional medicine

  • functional medicine and why it's needed


You'll learn key differences between the two and why conventional medicine is best suited for acute and emergency care only. 


You'll also learn:


  • the conventional vs. functional approach to blood chemistry 

  • functional brain chemistry and its relevance (unique to Rockwell)


By the time we're done with this module, you'll know the functional blood chemistry testing industry inside and out.


This is a complex arena, and we want you to be literate about the entire scene. 


Knowing how to order and read a few tests just isn't enough. To be a Rockwell grad, you'll need to know the key players and gain contextual background on the tests, the test manufacturers, the lab providers, and all the people behind the scenes, which we walk you through.


To properly represent Rockwell, you'll learn:


  • test manufacturers

  • test types and mediums

  • lab providers + test distributors


You'll also learn how functional blood chemistry integrates with:


  • Ideal Health Theory® 


IHT is a revolutionary model designed by our founder, Ava Rockwell, to help us all manifest our full health potential in this lifetime. 


You'll duplicate our ideal health theory and our functional blood chemistry model in your own practice. 


You'll also learn:


  • best tests and interpretation practices


Conventional Medicine vs. Functional Medicine 


What's the difference between functional and conventional medicine? Functional medicine takes a proactive approach, whereas conventional medicine is more reactive. 


One is preventative and the other is remedial. One focuses on creating health, the other focuses on treating and diagnosing disease.


Functional medicine prevents suffering in advance, before it happens, whereas conventional medicine seeks to alleviate suffering after the fact, or post issue. That's good for acute, emergency care, but it's not helpful for chronic disease. 


Conventional blood tests, —and conventional medicine in general, is geared towards diagnosing and treating disease in the present, not proactively preventing it altogether.


Functional medicine takes preventive measures before a health crisis, whereas conventional medicine steps in when health concerns are critical and oftentimes irreversible.


Functional medicine is more intuitive and even-keeled. 


The conscious idea of 'do no harm' is taken more seriously.


Conventional lab ranges, or how lab tests are currently interpreted, reflect another challenge of conventional medicine. 


Conventional lab ranges are outdated and overly broad. 


For all the credibility that conventional medical industrial complex claims to have, and for all the science-based requirements needed to apply and gain entry into med school, lab test ranges are nonsensical and defy mathematical logic. 


Go with us on a journey to map out who approved this and how old it is, in the first place. 


If lab ranges were language it would be like making sweeping generalizations and all-or-nothing, blanket statements. 


That's why knowing the answers hidden in your labs is really only possible if the interpreter is functionally trained. 


Because we have to work inside the system, we teach you how to analyze subtleties. 


At Rockwell, you're trained to look at results through a narrow lens. 


We note nuances within a smaller 'normal' range and analyze and define new markers indicating a 'high normal' and 'low normal.' 


We cross reference other tests, like genetics, to corroborate our findings, and share those with our clients as further proof of their health or lack thereof.


FBC enables us to notice micro changes and imbalances in blood chemistry, which indicate pre-disease or the acceleration of an active diagnosis.


We also use the most advanced functional blood chemistry software in the world, which helps support our understanding.


When we preemptively test our clients' blood work, they can make necessary lifestyle changes in time to prevent potential health crises from developing or progressing.


It's well known that certain early tests indicate patterns of future illness, such as insulin resistance which typically progresses towards diabetes. 


While we do not treat, diagnose, or prescribe pharmaceutical drugs, a physician's diagnosis, misdiagnosis, or lack of diagnosis is heavily based on egregious lab ranges and limited testing options.


Disease can usually be predicted and prevented far in advance with early and routine blood work, done quarterly or bi-annually, to enhance positive health outcomes and raise quality of life.


As a doctor of functional medicine, you won't practice medicine, but you'll know functional medicine as functional blood chemistry, which is the ability to order and interpret labs for yourself and your clients.


This does not involve treating, diagnosing, or prescribing. It's using testing as a tool to see where our clients are at in terms of their health or the lack thereof, through a more functional lens. 


You'll need to know a bit about the history of functional medicine. 


Chiropractors are the licensed medical professionals who've led the charge and pioneered this area of practice. They're the ones who put functional medicine on the map.


Historically, their practice ethos and contribution to medicine has been ostracized and shunned by the conventional medical industry. 


For a very long time, chiropractors had a hard go of things. 


Once dismissed as 'quacks' and not always covered by insurance, they are all the rage now. And interestingly, they are the ground zero of functional medicine. 


Many chiropractors practice in the top echelon of functional medicine, bridging the gap between holistic and conventional care. 


And they are finally getting the credibility and recognition they deserve. Now that chiropractors have brought functional medicine to the forefront, it's currently trending with conventional providers.


This is good for the planet as a whole, because functionally trained conventional medical doctors can truly make the world a better place. 


They make the conventional arena safer. 


Eventually, it would be nice if functional training was mandated across the board for all conventional providers, 


—and those who wish to refuse could reduce their license to practicing emergency medicine, surgery, and acute care only. 


Functional medicine is the darling, the 'art nouveau' of conventional medicine. As is, conventional medicine doesn't prioritize lifestyle change, stress management, nutrition, or disease prevention. 


Conventional medicine is often disempowering because it doesn't give you control of a problem to resolve and find solutions to. This is unfortunate. 


And that's why the only time we need to use it, is when circumstances are outside of our control and there's essentially 'no choice.'


There comes a time and place when conventional medicine is needed, and we should not shun it.


There are things that require conventional antibiotics until better natural medical alternatives are more solidly researched, accessible, and in place.


I know there are solutions, but those transitions take time.


Until then, as a responsible provider, you listen to your intuition and you encourage your clients to make responsible calls in terms of their medical choices to seek emergency care.


Even having to rely somewhat on conventional medicine for acute care, which we are all very grateful for, times have changed and doctor physicians now need to prove to us that they are not 'conventional' in the 'bad' way.


I'm not saying to avoid all physician oversight in your life, especially if you've had cancer in the past, or are a high-risk individual, or had a life-threatening infection.


I'm saying that we need to avoid invasive care as much as possible to maintain health, independence, quality of life, and longevity. 


This helps us avoid the risk of iatrogenic illness, or disease caused by medical treatment and becoming a 1 in 3 statistic. 


Conventional medicine is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States due to medical errors, according to John Hopkins University. 


When a conventional provider learns functional, holistic medicine, they get the education they didn't get in med school.


Functional medicine teaches conventional providers a natural, holistic approach, focused more on the tenets of 'do no harm' than profits, prescriptions, and pills.


It helps get the physician out of their rigid, dogmatic mindset and gives them a completely different way of approaching patient care. 


When a provider is functionally trained, invasive care becomes a last resort. When someone is functionally trained, they actually understand the roles food and nutrition play in our health. They look at diet and stress and take them seriously.


And unless functionally trained, conventional medical doctors study nutrition arbitrarily, like an elective. 


This is not adequate and does not qualify them to dispense nutritional advice outside of known food/drug contraindications. And I say that with confidence.


There are some exceptions to the rule for the self taught physician, but in general it is not a large part of their curriculum.


For the more aware, holistic-oriented physicians, insurance limits their freedom and the scope of practice they can work within by putting caps on patient testing and coverage options.


Due to this, many conventional turned-functional providers have left the conventional medical model to practice functionally outside the failed insurance paradigm on a cash-only basis. 


Otherwise, they can't practice as independently within the conventional model and insurance framework as they would like. 


These providers do very well, perhaps surprisingly so, since their services are no longer covered by insurance. 


Chiropractors, osteopaths, and functionally trained physicians are our best allies in the realm of conventional medicine.


Holistic providers, like Rockwell graduates, often work alongside these licensed medical professionals, shoulder-to-shoulder, in the same office, helping with caseload due to an overflow of business. 


Your principles and values align and your knowledge is on par with theirs. It is an opportunity for a complementary meeting of the minds. 


We both use lab testing to piece together, sleuth, and suss out critical information and we both analyze it narrowly. 


We are familiar with as much, or more of the actual testing, although they will have more initial experience with lab interpretation. 


You'll gain immense experience as you go, though, and you'll eventually be just as good, or better in your own way, at reading labs.  


Functional medicine is functional blood chemistry and functional blood chemistry is functional medicine. 


These licensed medical professionals can work in tandem with you and in mutual mentorship, because as a graduate of Rockwell, you have an immense amount of knowledge to offer an established practice. 


We show you all of this inside of the program, and you'll come to understand on many different levels, your power as a provider and your contribution as an industry leader.


For many reasons, conventional medical providers generally do not utilize advanced-level lab testing, in part because they are not trained or informed to do so, and in part due to insurance limitations and outdated med school curricula. 


Their understanding of cutting-edge, modern medicine is somewhat skewed due to the restraints of their entire practice model.


Modern medicine is cutting-edge and conventional medicine is generally outdated.


Most providers never address what we've termed functional brain chemistry.


We believe maintaining a healthy lifestyle becomes more viable when the body and brain chemistry are balanced. 


Food, particularly refined sugar, is a primary cause of an imbalanced brain chemistry and neurotransmitter issues.


You'll learn how diet and stress affect our neurotransmitter levels and activity. 


And when this has been addressed, we can more easily make healthy choices over a longer period of time, because the end goal of a Rockwell provider is always to help others manifest their full health potential. 


Consistency over time is required to meet that goal.


You'll learn holistic aspects of practice throughout the remainder of our program, with teachings in traditional naturopathy, clinical herbalism, advanced holistic nutrition, and spiritual medicine, with a heavy homeopathy base. 


These holistic modalities further enhance a functional practice model which focuses on targeting, eliminating, and reversing root causes to align the body, mind, and spirit. 


We take a multi-targeted approach using the most powerful tools available, leaving no stone unturned in our quest for ideal health.


In the Doctorate of Functional Medicine® module of the Rockwell Tri-Doctorate Certification Program®, you'll learn what it takes to start ordering and interpreting labs for yourself, your family, and your clients. 


There's an incredible freedom in this and you'll never have to wonder what a lab result means again. 


You'll never have to depend on anyone but yourself. 


Ordering and reading our own labs is one of the most empowering actions we can take in terms of our personal health. 


That's why you shouldn't delay. Learn today.




Lab tests may not be our definition of 'fun,' yet they are fun because they tell us exactly what's going on with our bodies at a micro level in a way that no other tool can. 


We go through our ideal functional blood chemistry testing model for you to use in your practice. It tells you which tests to get for your clients and what you need to know.


Tests tell us stuff.


  • if we have proper nutrients in our body 

  • if our hormones are sufficient and balanced

  • if we have heavy metals or parasitic infection

  • if our thyroid is functioning

  • if we have a bacterial infection or anemia

  • our response to EMF, (electromagnetic fields)

  • what foods our body is reacting negatively to

  • what may be triggering our autoimmunity


Our options are endless, because there are over 6,000 tests to choose from. Don't worry, we provide an ideal testing model for you to follow and build your practice on so you don't have to start from scratch or guess. 




Most people assume that labs = blood, but that's not always true.


Testing mediums come in the following categories; 


  • hair

  • blood

  • saliva

  • serum 

  • stool

  • urine

  • skin


Skin is only used for a few tests, as is hair.


Most functional tests will use saliva, stool, and urine. 




Test manufacturers often have their own tests and they are the sole distributors of those tests. Other test manufacturers sell and allow certain labs to distribute their tests. 


Other brands will only distribute their tests through specific, limited, and exclusive channels. You'll learn who does what in the module. 




We'll teach you how to use functional blood chemistry as a tool for prevention and self-empowerment for yourself and others. You're going to learn a lot by running tests on yourself and your family, initially, so after you graduate, you can be ready when you open your practice and take those first five clients. 


You'll learn with each client you work with, but this gives you a solid foundation to begin.


As we move through each test recommendation, we teach you best practices for ordering and interpretation. 


Some testing products will be used on an as needed basis, or for a particular speciality, like an early development panel, for those who specialize in children's issues, and other tests will be used routinely with almost all clients. 


Our functional blood chemistry model suggests a base of tests for all clients, with optional tests at your discretion. 


Learning functional medicine presents us with an intriguing labyrinth of sorts, where any number of things is possible.


Ready to enter the world of Rockwell?