Ep 109 – All About Functional Medicine with Dr. Elizabeth Bradley, Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine

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So, [with] functional medicine we look at the root cause of why someone has a chronic disease or illness, and we dive much deeper in looking at not only lifestyle which is the fundamental basis of it.  So, looking at sleep, nutrition, exercise, relationships. And then trying to see if there’s other environmental toxins, genetic underpinnings, that could be making the patient ill at that moment. And then look back to see, because we always find that it’s compounded. I always find they’re so multiple, it’s not just one thing typically, and so we see a lot of autoimmune diseases, a lot of gastrointestinal diseases.  But a lot of times it could have been trauma earlier in someone’s life.  And then studies are now showing [that] early trauma is increasing the risk of autoimmune diseases later in life.  So, what we’re doing is really diving much deeper and we call it a different lens than what I might have done when I was an internist. – Dr. Elizabeth Bradley

In July 2017, Elizabeth Bradley, MD, stepped into her role as Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine.  She brought with her a wealth of knowledge and experience as a dietitian, internist, and a certified Functional Medicine physician.

Dr. Bradley earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in nutrition from Cornell University and Tufts University, respectively. She started her career as a clinical dietitian at Massachusetts General Hospital, but after 6 years decided she wanted to pursue further training as a physician.  She went on to earn her medical degree and complete residency training in Internal Medicine at Dartmouth.

After years of practicing Internal Medicine, Dr. Bradley’s passion for nutrition led her to find Functional Medicine and ultimately brought her to the Cleveland Clinic to direct the nation’s first academic Center for Functional Medicine.  In her role as Medical Director, Dr. Bradley is able to support the advancement of Functional Medicine through research and education while helping patients achieve optimal health through a multi-faceted approach.  She has truly come full circle and enjoys practicing as a physician that starts by using the premise that food is medicine.

I recently sat down with Dr. Bradley to chat about all things Functional Medicine, from how her own career path led her to where she is today, how the Center for Functional Medicine has evolved over the past 5 years and it’s role in bringing a Functional Medicine approach to the mainstream, and how interested practitioners and patients can become involved.

Dr. Bradley’s bio was adapted from clevelandclinic.org

In this episode we discuss:

  • Dr. Bradley’s background and how she became interested in nutrition
  • How her nutrition experience influenced her time in medical school and her internal medicine practice
  • How Dr. Bradley got into functional medicine training
  • A general overview of functional medicine
  • Starting a functional medicine practice in a traditional medical setting
  • The evolution of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine
  • How Dr. Bradley approaches someone who doesn’t understand the value of functional medicine
  • Research the Cleveland Clinic is working on to support functional medicine
  • Group visits: how they work, and their advantages and benefits
  • How Dr. Bradley sees functional medicine fitting into a primary care setting
  • Some of the challenges of collaborating with other medical departments
  • The differences between complementary, integrative, alternative and functional medicine
  • Her advice to patients who are interested in pursuing functional medical care
  • How practitioners can become involved in functional medicine
  • Bradley’s vision for the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine
  • Three things Dr. Bradley does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
  • One thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her health
  • What a healthy life looks like to her

You can follow Dr. Bradley on LinkedIn.


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This episode is brought to you by Thrive Market. By cutting out the middle man, Thrive Market delivers your favorite healthy food and lifestyle products to your doorstep at 25-50% lower cost than you would spend in the grocery store. Visit http://www.thrivemarket.com/ph to receive an exclusive offer from Thrive Market for being a listener of Pursuing Health: 25% off your first order + a free 30 day trial!

This episode is also brought to you by Siete Foods. When Veronica Garza was facing a series of major health challenges as a teenager, her entire family of seven jumped on board to help. Together, they adopted a low-inflammation, grain free diet. As a Mexican-American family living in south Texas, they couldn’t imagine life without tortillas and it wasn’t long before Veronica came up with a delicious solution and Siete Foods was born. Visit www.sietefoods.com to try some of their delicious grain-free, dairy-free and paleo-friendly tortillas, tortilla chips, quesos, and hot sauces yourself and use code Julie19 for 10% off your order.

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.

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