Dr Debbie Smith, Plettenberg bay, Garden route, Bryanston

Treat the Cause

Why should you consider working with a Functional Medicine Practitioner? 

As Functional Medicine Practitioners we promote wellness by focusing on the underlying factors that influence your experience of health and disease.  This means our interest is to treat the underlying cause of disease. This translates in long term success of eliminating your symptoms without being dependant on medication. 

What does functional medicine offer you?

Any complex, chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness and auto immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis can be treated with the end in mind which is to re-establish normal physiological function of the body and in doing so eliminating or decreasing symptoms significantly. 

How is functional medicine different?

Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention and treatment of complex, chronic disease.

  • Patient – centered care, promoting health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease. This means that as a patient we want optimal health for you. If you ever had a blood tests done by us you would have noticed when we look at blood tests we are interested in optimum results and not just average range. An example would be Vitamin D. The reference range of laboratories is that anything above 30 is normal. We aim for above 50 blood level to improve your health longterm.
  • An integrative – science based approach. Functional medicine practitioners look ‘upstream” to consider complex web of interactions in your history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. Your unique genetic makeup is considered, along with both internal (mind, body, spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total functioning. An example of this would be a patient that indicated their problem started 6 years ago after an emergency appendectomy. She has never been well since. This is an important factor when the physiology went out of balance. The time factor, does not matter how long ago it happened is of utmost importance. 

  • Integrating best medical practices. Functional medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with “alternative” or “integrative” medicine, creating a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise: use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques and prescribed combinations of drugs and / or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs or stress management techniques. So you get the best of both worlds – the science and the medicine with no harmful chemicals.


We promote wellness by focusing on the underlying factors that influence every patient’s experience of health and disease.

As functional medicine practitioners we are trained to assess the patient’s clinical imbalances through careful case history, physical examination and laboratory testing, considering multiple factors: 

  • Environmental inputs – The air you breathe the water you drink, the particular diet you eat, the quality of the food available to you, your level of physical exercise, toxic exposures or traumas you have experienced.

  • Mind Body Connections – Psychological, spiritual, and social factors all can have profound influence on your health. Considering these areas helps us see your health in the context of you as a whole person, not just physical symptoms.

  • Genetic Makeup – Although individual genes may make you more susceptible to some diseases, your DNA is not an unchanging blueprint for your life. Emerging research shows your genes may be influenced by everything in your environment, as well as your experiences, attitudes, and beliefs. That means it is possible to change the way genes are activated and expressed. A recent study showed that eating a healthy meal can suppress some genes within 6 hours.

Why do we want to know the root cause?
If we understand the root factors contributing to your health we can better treat long term health and longevity. Rather than focusing only on symptoms we look at and the systems of biology like: detox, hormones, digestion and further reflecting on lifestyle factors like diet genetics and stress, beliefs.

How do we find out the root causes?
By reflecting upon the contributing factors at the root level. These include stress, diet, exercise, genetics, sleep and emotional health. Blood and functional tests are used to gather information about the root level (the cause). These are the building blocks from which the systems function and produce the symptoms.


Lets look at an example how Functional Medicine has helped one of Dr Sandra’s patientsReal life example:A patient I saw was a lady in her early forties who was complaining of having no energy, she was exhausted, she felt like she couldn’t even stay awake driving the kids to school in the morning yawning uncontrollably and she was drinking a lot of coffee to stay awake. She wasn’t interested in her usual activities and hadn’t been able to bake or cook with her usual enthusiasm. Her libido was non existent and it was really starting to affect her relationship with her husband. She was irritable with the children and emotional sensitive all the time too.We agreed that we needed to gather some more information and do some blood tests. Her results came back with very low levels of Vit D, she had a lot of inflammation showing up in her bloods, and her thyroid was completely out of balance.She was really motivated to make some changes in her life because she is still so young and needs a lot of energy to be a mom, a wife, run her home, and work.We changed her diet, gave her some supplements, supported her thyroid gland. We retested her bloods every three months to make sure everything was working well and changed her medications accordingly.

After 9 months of treatment all her inflammation is gone, her thyroid levels have improved and she is back to baking and cooking. She has even taken up yoga and art classes. She has so much more energy and feels she relates better to her children and husband than ever before. 

By this example we see how an approach looking at many angles has shifted her towards improved health and away from disease and better quality of life. Diet, exercise, relaxing response, supplements as a complex approach has helped her a great deal.

Book an appointment with us today 

This will close in 0 seconds

Scroll to Top
× How can I help you?