Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to the doctor, weren’t seen on time and then spent just a few minutes with your doctor before being ushered out? Or perhaps your health care provider sent you home with a few new prescriptions and no real explanation as to why your health was suffering?
Welcome to medicine in 2017 where we now have more progressive, holistic and effective options. While many traditional doctors do their best, unfortunately, they only treat the symptoms and in most cases their patients never actually get healthier. The good news is more physicians are being trained in functional medicine and integrative medicine where the focus is on addressing the root cause of disease.
Many of these doctors recommend solely natural approaches where some combine holistic and only use conventional if necessary. These practitioners will use a blend of dietary recommendations, nutritional supplementation, nutrient blood work profiling, stress reduction techniques, exercise recommendations and natural treatments from IV chelation to stem cell therapy.
As complementary and alternative medicine continues becoming more mainstream, there’s no doubt that you’ll see more functional doctors in medical practices. Below are 50 who are doing amazing things. This list is by no way exhaustive — I wish I could add even more! Keep your eyes on these superstars who are truly shaping the functional and integrative medicine fields.
In her early days of practicing medicine, Dr. Connealy noticed something peculiar: while patients were being prescribed medication for their ailments, few seemed to be improving. In fact, many seemed to get sicker. This led Dr. Connealy down the path of integrative and complementary therapies, looking for the root cause of illnesses and combining traditional medicine with nutritional and lifestyle options to treating disease.
Today, Dr. Connealy is the medical director of the Center for New Medicine, which she founded. She’s also opened the Cancer Center for Healing. She’s become renowned for her whole-person approach to treating cancer, outlined in her recent book “The Cancer Revolution.” While she doesn’t discount the place that therapies like chemotherapy and radiation have in treatment, Dr. Connealy focuses on addressing some of the key causes of cancer through natural approaches.
49. Will Cole, DC
Dr. Will Cole is a leading functional medicine practitioner who specializes in clinically investigations of underlying factors and customizing health programs for chronic conditions, such as thyroid issues, autoimmune, hormonal dysfunctions, digestive disorders, diabetes, heart disease and fibromyalgia and more. He consults locally in the Pittsburgh, PA area as well as consultations for people across the country and around the world. Dr. Cole is a health writer for international publications and lectures nationally as well at conferences, including PaleoFX and the Autism Education Summit.
48. Dan Pompa, PScD
With a background in chiropractic, Dr. Pompa follows his “5R Principles” of cellular healing as the roadmap to healing. He’s all about addressing the root cause of disease, not chasing medicine to treat symptoms. He specializes in detoxification and was one of the physicians to bring back ancient medicine practices such as intermittent fasting, the ketogenic diet and doing a bone broth fast.
Dr. Pompa fought through a three-year battle with chronic fatigue syndrome, which he ultimately came out all the better for. His victory against the disease, extensive research and faith have led him to help others suffering from chronic diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, autism, sensory integration disorders and other neurotoxic conditions.
No grain, no pain is Dr. Osborne’s philosophy (and also the name of his book!). Known as “The Gluten-Free Warrior,” he’s well-versed in the health problems that can stem from gluten and how to support chronic autoimmune issues using gentler, natural methods. He sits on the advisory board for Functional Medicine University and frequently teaches functional medicine seminars, training other doctors to incorporate dietary therapy, nutritional supplementation, blood work analysis and natural options into their clinics.
When it comes to disease prevention, Dr. Katz knows his stuff. He founded Yale University’s Prevention Research Center in 1998 and serves at its director, investigating chronic diseases and how to prevent them, particularly through nutrition and weight control.
His passion for evidence-based, integrative medicine led him to found the True Health Initiative in 2015, an international organization dedicated to creating a world that’s free of preventable chronic diseases and people can live long and healthy lives. Dr. Katz recognizes there’s power in numbers; the organization is made up of more than 250 world-renowned health experts from nearly 30 countries. Preventing almost 80 percent of chronic disease and premature death might sound like a lofty goal, but I love Dr. Katz’s willingness to go all in on it.
45. Kristin Comella, PhD
Kristin is lauded as an expert on regenerative medicine, the study of using the body’s own regenerative capabilities to treat diseases and injuries. She’s the Chief Scientific Officer at U.S. Stem Cell, a company that develops cell technologies, and was named No. 24 on Terrapin’s list of the Top 50 Global Stem Cell Influencers, in addition to No. 1 on the Academy of Regenerative Practices list of Top 10 stem Cell Innovators.
She led the team that was the first to to gain FDA approval for a clinical trial that used a combination of cell and gene therapy for the heart and pioneered stem cell therapy of adipose tissue as well as cord blood, bone marrow and muscle, helping people recover from disease and lead normal lives.
Dr. Gundry is a cardiologist and heart surgeon who, throughout a 40-year career, has performed more than 10,000 surgeries. But he’s never shied away from research, either, and it was his inquisitive mind that helped change the course of his own career. In 2001, by making changes in the diet of a “hopeless” patient who wasn’t well enough to even be a candidate for surgery, Dr. Gundry watched as the man had a complete health turnaround, improving so much that Dr. Gundry was able to perform the quadruple bypass surgery that saved his life.
The experience led Dr. Gundry to dig deeper into the role food plays in our health and to understand that many of the foods we eat are toxic to our bodies, while we’re deficient in other nutrients. Since then, he’s advocated for a plant-based diet to help people not only lose weight, but fight and prevent disease. Dr. Gundry also served as President of the Board of Directors for the American Heart Association’s Desert Division and is the Founder and Current Director at the Center for Restorative Medicine.
Even after years of helping patients reach their potential, Dr. Kellyann hit a wall and struggled to feel her best. She underwent intensive research on the lifestyle changes necessary to take back control of her health, and we’re the lucky beneficiaries. Dr. Kellyann is an advocate of a Paleo diet, promotes bone broth for a healthy gut and loves helping families get their kids on board with a real foods lifestyle.
Dr. Ludwig is an endocrinologist and researcher and a Harvard professor, and is well known for his work on obesity and carbohydrates, particularly how food affects hormones and metabolism. Dr. Ludwig emphasizes that all calories aren’t created equal; diets high in refined carbohydrates and refined sugars are metabolized differently and stored in the body differently. At a time with seemingly dozens of different theories on how we should be eating, this common sense approach is refreshing.
Better known as The Paleo Mom, Dr. Ballantyne is committed to help families lead a healthy Paleo lifestyle. She’s particularly excited about sharing her Paleo modifications for people who suffer from autoimmune diseases like herself. Her blog is heavily influenced by her own experiences, too.
Dr. Ballantyne was enjoying a successful academic career when she decided to become a stay-at-home mom after the birth of her first child. Dr. Ballantyne was morbidly obese and suffering from more than a dozen immune- and autoimmune-related diseases at the time. After the birth of her second child, she discovered the Paleo diet. It transformed her health, helping her lose 120 pounds and reversing her long list of health issues, like IBS, asthma, fibromyalgia and more. Since then, she’s become a staunch advocate of the lifestyle and how food isn’t only about providing energy, but can actually transform your health from the inside out.
Dr. Minich’s background in yoga, nutrition and medical science mean she’s well suited for creating a detox program that removes not just toxins found in foods, but the harmful elements found in other parts of our life, like emotional baggage, pessimistic thoughts and stress.
She’s identified seven areas of health that are critical for a total physical and spiritual detox, and uses her own past health issues to help others create lives they love.
You might think of allergies as something inevitable that happens with the changing of the seasons. But Dr. Galland has made it his life’s work to expose how allergies lead to conditions like asthma, depression, weight problems and fatigue, and the immune imbalance that’s actually the root cause of allergies. As we continue learning more about how our immune system affects every part of our body and how to prevent allergies, Dr. Galland’s work is more important than ever.
You might have heard Dr. Hoffman before — he’s the host of the longest-running radio show hosted by a physician, no small feat. He’s also one of the early pioneers in alternative medicine. His brand of “intelligent medicine” focuses on the fact that too often, doctors are asking the wrong questions. By advocating for common sense nutrition advice, a healthy dose of skepticism and a willingness to buck the convictions of the established medical community, Dr. Hoffman is “calling ’em like he sees ’em.”
Those of us who’ve experienced a natural approach to health and wellness know how powerful it can be. Not everyone, unfortunately, has been exposed to it, and that’s what Dr. Murray has set out to change. As one of the most recognized authorities on natural medicine, he’s written more than 30 books about how to heal naturally. Dr. Murray is also known as a leader in nutraceuticals, or using vitamin supplements to treat health problems.
You might think about the integrative medicine for your body, but what about your mouth? Dr. Thom, as he’s affectionately known, understands that the mouth is the doorway to our health, and that inflammation and nutrition aren’t important just for the body, but also for our dental health. He practices mercury-free dentistry, and leads patients in a full detox protocol before and after removing their mercury fillings.
Dr. Thom is one of the cutting edge leaders in natural dentist movement. In addition to being a dentist, Dr. Thom also has a naturopathic medical degree (NMD), bringing holistic oral health full circle.
Though she’s trained as a medical doctor, Dr. Natasha practices as a nutritionist in the United Kingdom. She’s best known for creating the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome), which is designed to heal the gut lining, re-balance the immune system and restore the delicate balance of bacteria we need in the GI tract. Dr. Natasha has helped thousands struggling with ADHD, autism, anxiety, depression and autoimmune disease with her dietary protocols.
Dr. Jill understands the critical role that nutrition plays in fighting disease and feeling our best because she’s been there. She survived cancer in her 20s and beat Crohn’s disease through whole foods and the right supplements. By looking for the triggers that are contributing to how you’re feeling, along with using the least invasive, most gentle way of treatment possible, Dr. Jill is the future of functional medicine.
If you’re struggling with diabetes, it’s The Diabetes Coach to the rescue. He was one of the first doctors to be certified to practice functional medicine by the Institute for Functional Medicine and has focused on type 2 diabetes since 1998. In that time, he’s managed to help patients reverse their type 2 diabetes and improve type 1 diabetes using resources like a healthier diet, essential oils, supplements and stress reduction.
Dr. Wahl practices what she preaches. As a clinical researcher, she’d spent hundreds of hours in the lab and took that same scientific, methodical approach to treating her own disease, multiple sclerosis. After being diagnosed in 2000, she found herself becoming increasingly incapacitated by the disease and knew that she’d end up bedridden eventually if she didn’t make some radical changes.
Dr. Wahl created her own version of the Paleo diet, focusing on brain-boosting nutrients consumed directly from food — such as organ meats — instead of supplements. In a year, she was able to reverse her MS, walk without a cane and complete an 18-mile bicycle tour. She shares her knowledge with others interested in slowing down progressive diseases naturally, and you can watch her fascinating TED Talk here.
Dr. Stengler, “America’s Natural Doctor,” fuses his training in conventional medicine with natural alternatives for a powerful combination of modern technology and ancient therapies. When he’s not seeing patients, Dr. Stengler is often on television as a medical expert or author of books — he’s written 30 including a top selling book in health food stores Natural Cures!
Dr. Heyman is one of the leaders in integrative medicine, and dedicated to sharing his wealth of knowledge. He’s the Program Director of Integrative Medicine at George Washington University, and developed the first integrative medicine program at a four-year university. He’s the Chief Medical Officer for the Metabolic Code Enterprise, a group of clinical experts who consult with health professionals interested in developing their own wellness programs. And just in case you think he wasn’t busy enough, he’s also the online editor for the Journal of Men’s Health integrative medicine section! It’s great to see someone not only practicing what they preach, but helping others learn more about it, too.
Dr. Centeno is the pioneer of stem cell therapy and the founder of Regenexx, a company that uses a patient’s own stem cells to treat musculoskeletal injuries and degenerative conditions like arthritis. He’s taken care of numerous professional athletes helping them avoid surgery and cortisone shots helping them get back on the field faster and healthier. As founder and now Chief Medical Officer of the Regenexx, Dr. Centeno’s focus is to continue improving orthopaedic stem cell therapy, PRP (platelet rich plasma) and prolotherapy, so that eventually, invasive surgeries are a thing of the past.
Dr. Wolfson runs a full-service holistic cardiology practice to help people tackle their heart health naturally, without pills or invasive procedures. His point of difference? The focus on eliminating the cause, not just treating the symptoms. He recommends getting back to the hunter-gatherer diet of our ancient ancestors, taking supplements including fish oil and turmeric, and also refers some of his patients get chiropractic adjustments. Though he sometimes has controversial stances compared to most other cardiologists , Dr. Wolfson’s willingness to eschew conventional trends and take a closer look at what’s being prescribed is welcome.
As a holistic cardiologist, Dr. Kahn focuses on plant-based nutrition to help prevent heart disease. He began practicing traditional cardiology in 1983, but it wasn’t until he switched to a plant-heavy vegan diet that he dived deeper into non-traditional ways to treating the heart. Today, he’s in the midst of his own personal mission to prevent 1 million heart attacks over the next two years, a goal that’s been embraced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Surgeon General.
You might be surprised to learn that one of the 50 most influential pharmacists is also a leader in the integrative health field, but that’s just the dichotomy of Dr. LaValle. He’s adept at integrating natural therapies into people’s treatment plans and understanding what nutrients are being depleted from their bodies in order to address their metabolic issues. As an instructor for the Fellowship for Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Valle is also helping to train the next generation of integrative healthcare professionals.
If you’re looking for information on heart disease and aging, Dr. Steven Masley is your go-to doc. A nutritionist, physician and educator, Dr. Masley has published health books, such as “Smart Fat,” “The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up” and “Ten Years Younger.” He’s all about transforming your health through diet and healthy living. An avid chef, Masley practices what he preaches through healthy eating, clean living and slowing aging through lifestyle habits.
Dr. Barnard is a true health leader and someone we need more of in Washington. In 1985, he founded the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an organization focusing on health and compassion in medicine that advocates for prevention, better nutrition and higher ethical standards in research.
He’s authored more than 70 scientific publications and champions for food as medicine and nutrition as a way to reverse disease.
Dr. O’Bryan is one of the world’s leading experts in the going gluten-free movement — and, in particular, the disorders such as autoimmune disease that gluten can contribute. He’s the founder of the Certified Gluten Practitioner training program to help healthcare providers better understand gluten-related autoimmune disorders, how to test for them and how to support patients.
Dr. O’Bryan has more than 30 years of experience in working with gluten disorders such as celiac disease and is the author of the bestselling book “The Autoimmune Fix.” If you’re looking for a doctor who can support you in going gluten-free and overcoming autoimmune-related illness, then Dr. O’Bryan is an incredible resource.
Dr. Houston is co-founder of the Hypertension Institute, a world-class facility that blends western medicine with natural medicine to treat heart-related diseases. He originally became interested in fusing the two types of medicine after he kept seeing patients with “good” numbers who were still having recurrences of heart disease.
As we keep learning more about the differences between good and bad cholesterol and how certain foods affect our risk of heart disease, having people like Dr. Houston, who understand the whole-body picture, becomes even more important.
21. Frank Lipman, MD
As a medical student, Dr. Lipman was taught to focus on the disease, not the patient. It’s no surprise that he found himself treating symptoms and not the root cause of illness. This frustration led him to explore other areas like nutrition, Chinese medicine and meditation. As Chief Resident at one of New York City’s leading hospitals, he was excited to share his knowledge, but found that others weren’t so keen on listening. Undeterred, Dr. Lipman eventually founded the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, allowing him to combine his appreciation for modern medicine with the healing techniques from the East.
With his down-to-earth attitude and realistic approach to wellness, Dr. Lipman is leading the way in “good medicine.”
Dr. Fuhrman created the nutritarian diet, a way of eating that emphasizes a nutrient-dense menu filled with plants and anti-cancer superfoods. It’s the result of nearly three decades of treating patients and understanding that food is emotional as well as something we need to survive. His website is full of healthy recipes and tips on helping to reverse chronic disease.
Dr. Junger moved from his native Uruguay to New York City to complete his postgraduate medical training. The drastic change in lifestyle and diet that came with the move left him sick and depressed. It also led him to look for an alternative answer to his health issues, as the standard advice wasn’t working for him.
Since then, Dr. Junger has become popular for his 21-day cleanse program, with celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Campbell and Martha Stewart all singing his praises. Also, he is the author of the best selling books Clean and Clean Gut which focus on healing the entire body through first healing the gut.
Dr. Ornish has been helping others change the way they think about their lifestyle choices for more than 35 years. He was one of the first to prove through clinical research that even severe heart disease can be transformed with a lifestyle overhaul, without medication or surgery.
His research has also shown that lifestyle changes can lengthen telomeres, the ends of our chromosomes that affect aging, slow early-stage prostate cancer and “turn off” genes that promote heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Dr. Ornish shows no signs of slowing down, either!
When it comes to science-based natural medicine, few people are as in tune as Dr. Pizzorno. He was the founding president of Bastyr University, the first accredited, multidisciplinary university of natural medicine and the first NIH-funded center for alternative medicine research, no small feat.
Dr. Pizzorno is a staunch believer in the fact that all the toxins found in our food and environment today are a leading cause of inflammation and illness, but also that the negative side effects are reversible.
Dr. Sinatra is a modern-day cardiologist who embraces conventional treatments along with alternative, individualized therapies. He was one of the first cardiologists to say that saturated fat isn’t causing heart disease and that cholesterol isn’t actually a risk factor for cardiovascular issues.
Dr. Sinatra emphasizes reducing inflammation and eliminating added sugar as two of the best ways to reduce your risk, something I can get behind!
This holistic doctor uses natural hormones and nutritional therapies to treat the whole person. In his practice, Dr. Brownstein has taken an alternative approach to tough illnesses like adrenal health, thyroid disease autoimmune disorders and allergies, and turned away from prescription drugs in favor of natural remedies. Healing instead of just treating? I’m all in.
If you want to slow down aging, Dr. Sears is the go-to guy. While we’re all going to get older, he believes that accelerated aging is caused by the modern toxins, chemicals, preservatives and other threats we face daily.
Dr. Sears is also a leader in the study of telomeres, proving that they can be lengthened to keep aging from happening so rapidly, and was one of the first doctors to be board-certified by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.
Dr. Gottfried is like a smarter older sister being your gynecologist. At the core of her philosophy is that she addresses the root causes of health issues, to help women feel balanced “from their cells to the souls.” Dr. Sara is also the best-selling author of the Hormone Cure and the Hormone Reset Diet which combine diet, supplements and lifestyle to improve women’s hormonal health.
She went down this journey herself when she tackled her own health concerns, ranging from weight to relationships. Dr. Gottfried’s refreshing approach to hitting the reset button on your own wellness journey will resonate with women.
As one of the most popular psychiatrists in America, Dr. Amen has taken on the challenge of improving our brains and retraining our brain to protect against diseases like Alzheimer’s.
His Amen Clinics use brain imaging science to understand how an individual’s brain works, so a individual treatment plan designed specifically for a person’s brain can be created, with less medication and other toxic solutions. I love that Dr. Amen helps people work through the emotional blocks that might be affecting their physical health, and does it in an easily accessible way.
When it comes to hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease, Dr. Wentz is one of the world’s leading authorities. Combining her pharmacological background with several years of research and using herself as a guinea pig to combat her own disease, she was able to reverse her own symptoms and is now sharing that knowledge with others. She’s doing some incredible work at educating people — including other doctors on how to treat the root cause of thyroid disease not just treat the symptoms. In her bestselling book, “Hashimoto’s Protocol,” she unveils her secrets on how to heal Hashimoto’s disease holistically.
As a child, Dr. Christianson was teased about his seizures and obesity, a byproduct of the cerebral palsy he had. So in the seventh grade, he did as much reading as he could on nutrition, fitness and health and designed his own exercise and diet program. This set the stage for a life-long passion of changing lives through health. Today, Dr. Christianson is one of the leading natural doctors specializing in endocrinology and thyroid disorders and is the bestselling author of the “Adrenal Reset Diet.”
Dr. Myers is a physician after my own heart, as she believes that inflammation is the root cause of most diseases. She’s dedicated to providing a personalized approach to treatment, rather than the cookie cutter option found at most doctors’ offices. Dr. Myers is also the creator of the Autoimmune Solution, a diet and lifestyle program to help reverse autoimmune diseases.
Originally trained as a psychiatrist, Dr. Brogan hit the books again after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease and looking for natural alternatives to a life dependent on medication. After two and a half years, she was symptom- free and did it naturally.
Dr. Brogan understands the connection between the food we eat, the bacteria in our gut and our moods — and it’s exciting to see her share her experience and knowledge with other women. For anyone looking to overcome ADHD, anxiety, depression or be set free from their medications her advice is brilliant.
Dr. Mercola is one of the leading voices of alternative medicine today and has been championing things like healthy fats before they were “trendy.” He has a knack for providing easy-to-understand, timely information that stresses treating the whole person and focusing on preventive care. He runs one of the largest health websites in the country and has been a pioneer in bringing natural medicine and dietary therapy to the world.
Dr. Roizen has a seriously impressive resume. He’s the Chief Wellness Officer of the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute and is the founder of RealAge, which posits that, depending on your health, your body’s age can actually be different than how long ago you were born. He’s published more than a 160 peer-reviewed publications, launched seven different companies and has committed himself to helping Americans lead their healthiest lives.
Dr. Bland is considered the father of functional medicine. He’s a biochemist by training and also a Certified Nutrition Specialist. Not content to just share what he’s done in journals, Dr. Bland, along with his wife, founded The Institute for Functional Medicine in 1991, a not-for-profit organization that educates healthcare practitioners on more natural, effective approaches to the treatment and prevention of chronic disease. Between lectures and medical education events, he’s reached more than 250,000 health care providers around the world!
4. David Perlmutter, MD
A neurologist who cares about what you’re eating? That’s Dr. Perlmutter. He understands the connection between gut health and what happens in the brain, and advocates, among other things, avoiding gluten entirely, taking probiotics and following a Mediterranean-style diet. While he has his detractors, Dr. Perlmutter continues furthering our knowledge of how our brains and guts are intertwined and how the integrity of our microbiome is essential to total body health.
Dr. Weil has merged his Harvard education with decades of integrative medicine to create an approach to life that fully cares for the body, mind and spirit. He’s the Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, which trains health care providers from around the world in treating the whole patient.
In fact, a huge part of Dr. Weil’s philosophy goes back to helping others. He donates all of his after-tax profits from his Weil Lifestyle products to the Weil Foundation, a nonprofit he founded to support integrative medicine through training, education and research. Since 2005, the foundation has awarded more than $5 million in grants to nonprofits and medical centers throughout the country.
Dr. Hyman believes that what you eat is the most powerful tool to transform your health, and I can’t argue with that! While he’s the director of several medical centers, a frequent medical contributor on a variety of TV programs and has testified before the White House and the Senate on alternative medicine, he’s still a practicing physician. It’s exciting to see how people like Dr. Hyman are helping to turn the dial on how we view complementary medicine, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.
As one of the most famous doctors in America, Dr. Oz has brought natural healing to the masses through his weekday TV show, The Dr. Oz Show. He received a bachelor’s degree in biology at Harvard, and then earned his MD and MBA degree at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine and the Wharton School.
Dr. Oz is a cardiothoracic surgeon and teaches at Columbia University, but he first became known to most of the country during his appearances as a health expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show. His embrace of alternative medicine and willingness to seek out natural approaches made him an audience favorite and in 2009, his own show was launched.
Dr. Oz isn’t a stranger to controversy, as big pharma hasn’t always loved his segments shedding light on some of medicine’s most dubious practices. But his commitment to health and helping patients get better is what drives him, and he’s encouraged quite a lot of Americans to think a little bit more about their health — and isn’t that what it’s all about?
Editor’s Note: This list was compiled through a set of criteria to determine which doctors were having the biggest global impact on increasing the awareness of functional medicine both to colleagues and to patients. We considered a number of factors, including frequency of speaking engagements, distinguished positions, website visits, social media followers, traditional media mentions, accomplishments and judgement of our editorial team. In addition, we sought out and interviewed several top leaders in the field of functional and integrative medicine who had the largest influence and who submitted nominations for the doctors in the years of 2016–2017.